Conversatio Divina

Part 7 of 10

The Concluding Acts of Peter Recorded in the New Testament

Originally given in a Sunday School class at Woodlake Avenue Friends Church

Dallas Willard

A study of the book of Acts for a Sunday School class at the church where Dallas Willard and Richard Foster met. Expositions of Acts 9:32-12:25

Dallas: We are going to see the astounding fact of the Holy Spirit falling upon uncircumcised Gentiles. I can see that you are not at all astonished. And you know one of the reasons we have a hard time in understanding the Bible is because the truly astounding thing in there, we are already familiar with; and consequently they don’t mean anything to us and consequently we lose the point of the lesson for us today.

In order to get the point of the lesson that we are looking at today, we have to say something like this and it may enrage you. I rather hope it does because if it does, it may get you to reading this. To see something of what was written, suppose I was to tell you that you could have all of the blessings of God without being a Christian? Suppose I were to tell you that you can have all of the blessings of God without believing that the Bible was verbally inspired? Suppose I tell you that you could have all the blessings of God if you didn’t believe in the blood atonement? Maybe it’s coming home a little bit. Maybe it’s coming home a little bit. [1:46]

Now, some people will fight about different things. They will say okay about some things but if you say for example, if you don’t believe in the mid-tribulation rapture, then the whole place goes up in smoke. It depends upon what particular thing you know, people have identified as “THE THING.”

Now for the people of this day, it was always the uncircumcised Gentile. They had this awesome thing about circumcision. Circumcision was taken as THE MARK of being “in” and when Peter went up to Caesarea and talked with Cornelius, you remember the charge, “Thou didst go in unto and eat with uncircumcised Gentiles.” Bad thing to do! You don’t sit down with these people who aren’t circumcised. [2:50]

You see, we may want to pin God into our own cultural—and religion is a part of our culture—we always like to say, “Oh, not our religion. Not our religion.” That’s God-given and since there is one God, that’s universal—our religion! You see, in some sense, that’s true but the difficulty is for God to lead people out to the point to where they can separate the Word of God from the traditions of men. Now, Jesus said over and over to the people of his day, “You’ve turned the traditions of men into the word of God. [3:51]

Now, the word of God is very simple. That’s one of the things, which make it sort of complicated, because it’s so simple it doesn’t allow us to shut anybody out; and the root evils in which we dwell in by nature and by flesh and in the world tells us we must shut others out. But God comes to us and says, “That is not your business to shut others out. It is your business to love others.” That’s the law.  But we want to be selective and love the right kinds of people and He says to us, “Oh, it’s easy to love people who are lovable to you. Thank you.” We put the politician and his crooks and the tax collectors, they like people who are lovable. You love your enemies. That is, you love the people who are most unlovable to you.  That’s what God says.

Now, Peter was going around on his circuit. He seems to have been sort of a circuit rider in those days. He was going around on his circuit outside of Jerusalem, ministering to Jews only and he went down to Lydda and there he found Aeneas. Aeneas was eight years an invalid and he was made whole by Jesus Christ when Peter came and Peter looked at him and said unto him, “Aeneas, Peter makes you whole.”  WHAT? Oh, no. “Jesus Christ makes you whole.” He is the healer. Peter isn’t the healer. “Jesus Christ maketh thee whole.” That’s what happened. He was whole. [6:12]

Now, the effect of this was of course, everyone was greatly impressed but Peter didn’t live to impress people. Jesus never healed to impress people. Jesus healed because people were sick and He liked to do good for them. Jesus went about doing good. Remember the way he responded to Cornelius in the sermon at Cornelius’ house? Jesus Christ went around doing good. Gee, that sounds drab, but He just went around doing good. There ought to be something more impressive than that about Jesus but Jesus was not looking for the big smash. He was simply going around doing good and healing all that were oppressed as it says and so Peter brought Jesus Christ to Aeneas’ house. [7:05]

Well, the word got abroad and over at Joppa, which is just very close to—you know today of modern day Hypha? It’s almost the same place as Joppa—there on the seacoast, more west and slightly north or Jerusalem. You go out to Amaus and then to Lydda and then to Joppa. As Peter was working there in Lydda, this wonderful disciple of the Lord named Dorcas, who was a woman “full of good works and alms deed.”  There is more of that boring sounding stuff. “Full of good works and alms deed.” There is no one quite the guy “the do gooder is.” Isn’t that right? [8:00]

Just to do good, but that’s what this woman did. She sat around sewing clothes. She was a good sewer—seamstress and so she sat around doing that and it’s what she would do with the clothes after she got them made—she would give them to someone who needed them. This had impressed some of the people who were there and they thought that she was really a good thing to have, but she got sick and died.

She got sick and died. It doesn’t say why she died. It just says that she did and they washed her and laid her out in the upper chamber and in Acts, verse 38 of the 9th chapter, it says, “And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them.” [9:00]

See, Peter was a man who could bring Jesus Christ to other people and because he was this, he was known because he could minister Christ to other people and when a need arose, they sent for him. “Peter arose and went with them.” Notice how this progresses. “ . . .they brought him to the upper chamber.” Notice that the first thing that happened is, they showed him the “good works” quilts. I love this verse and I often wonder, you know, when I lie—when I am laid out, what are they gonna have to show for me? You ever think about that? They could show her good works and Peter when he saw these good works; he had something to base his prayer on because he had here a woman who wasn’t just wasting her time. She wasn’t just contemplating her emotional problems or she wasn’t just gossiping about the neighbors. She was doing something good. When Peter began to pray, he could say, “Lord, here is a woman who has a good work to do. Won’t you renew her to life that she might continue?”

There’s a good reason for prayer. God doesn’t just consult our conveniences as matters, you know? The only reason for praying is for the honoring of God and Peter could pray for the honor of God that this woman would be returned to them. So he prayed and then he took forth his hand and lifted her up; after speaking to her, and she was restored to life.

Now, you say, please explain all of that to me and I am sure I can’t begin to do it. I am sure I can’t begin to explain that to you. I can’t explain how prayer works ultimately on anything but I am sure it does and given the surety that it does, I see no reason why one should limit it in any respect.  [11:42]

The assumptions of prayer are something, which we need desperately to talk about because we don’t pray. This is not a group of praying people here.  I’m sorry if that hurts anyone’s feelings but the truth of the matter is this. We pray to have some sense that we like to think about God and often lift a little something up to Him in a way of a thought but we are not a group of people who work by prayer and we are going to see some more of this as we go along. [12:17]

When Jesus came, He drove the people out of the temple. Do you remember what He said, “My house is a house of prayer”—of prayer—“but ye have turned it into a den of thieves”—a house of prayer. You remember the long dedication, which Solomon gave to the old temple when he built it? It was geared merely entirely around prayer in the house.

We are not a praying people here. We don’t have that uniqueness. Most churches don’t have it and the reason why we don’t pray is because we don’t understand the Word and because we don’t understand the Word, we don’t have faith. And so, when the time of prayer comes, we may out of desperation attend to something.  We may almost scream at God and think that that’s prayer.  We may, like those prophets of Baal who tried to stand off Elijah to top ourselves and make an attempt to prove to God that we are serious by putting ourselves through a lot of pain but prayer is not our life. [13:53]

Now brothers and sisters, it will not be right until it is our life. When we spend as much time praying for one another as we do gossiping about one another, we are going to see a lot of things—great things. When we spend as much time praying for one another as we do worrying and being angry or frustrated and hostile with one another, then we are going to see a lot of things breaking through. But it’s easier to rail at a brother than to pray for him if we don’t have faith in God.

We must come to the point to where we face this issue of faith and its place in our life because we have; by in large we fall in the same trap today that the Jewish people fell in the day of Christ. We compliment ourselves that we believe all of the right things, that we have the right faith and we have the right practice and consequently we are the people. But it is one thing to have the form of Godliness and it is another thing to have the power of God and it is a simple fact that the form of Godliness has been broken over and over and over and over again as God has attempted to get His people to believe rightly about Him. [15:37]

The first commandment—Harriett and I were talking about this this morning and how difficult it is to come to the place to where our ears are sufficiently circumcised that we hear only the truth about God and we get rid of all of the lies—the idols that are erected—merely always erected and maintained by group ego. I say we are in the group. We are the people who need prayer. We need God and need prayer.

You are going to observe that Peter spent much of his time in prayer. In the last verse of the 9th chapter, “And it came to pass, that he tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner.” I put a note in your outline on tarrying because there are many, many places that we miss tarrying and the only sure guarantee that we are not just running blindly ahead with some form of Godliness that we or someone else has cooked up for us. The only sure guarantee is I really want us to tarry, to wait, to subject our plans and our procedures to the full word of God and to the fellowship of those around us and to prayer and to mediation. Be there tarrying and if you look on in the next chapter, you see what He was doing while He tarried. He was praying. He was in an upper room—the upper room of Acts chapter 1 and 2 was not the last one that Peter saw. A lot of us, we have a little experience and we hit the ground running and we think, “Oh, now we’ve got it.” We NEVER get it! We only get it partly. [17:57]

Peter tarried and as he tarried, he prayed. Now, as he tarried and prayed, we find that God was at work with the Gentiles and He was about ready to take Peter in a direction that he never dreamed of. If you had said to Peter, “Hey, Peter, do you know that in a few months you are going to be over here ministering to the Gentiles? You are going to be sitting around eating with them. You are going to be ministering the Holy Spirit to them. They are going to have all the blessings of God that you’ve got.” He would say, “What? No, this is obviously contrary to the Word of God.”  That’s possibly what he said but the Lord didn’t consult him. He just took him down to Joppa where Jonathan was off to, to go to the Gentiles. He got him all set there and had him in the place of prayer; then God was at work with another man—Cornelius, a Roman. [19:04]

As far as the Jews were concerned, about as far down on the pole you could get was Roman—a Roman. Romans were Polytheists. Romans ate pig. Romans did all sorts of ungodly things like that but there was a man who prayed and did good things. That was Cornelius and as he prayed, he had a vision. A messenger appeared to him and said, “Cornelius, thy prayers and thine alms have come up before God.”—thy prayers and thine alms. [20:03]

Now alms are just good deeds. Thy prayers and thine alms. Now, Cornelius was not with these people but he managed to reach God because God is everywhere and Jesus the Son of God is the light, which “lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” And if we stop chiseling on Him to make Him fit into our little mold, He’s pretty expansive and large in the Biblical. He is the one, which informs the whole universe. This is the doctrine of the Old Testament and the doctrine of the New Testament. [20:54]

Paul, the apostle in the letter to Colossians said that it is the logos, which was entirely in Christ. That logos was what holds everything together. You think it stuck together with Elmer’s Glue? It is in Him that all things consist. He is everywhere. He is everywhere. And Cornelius prayed. He telephoned also. He’s almost everywhere and Cornelius prayed and he did good deeds and he wasn’t hindered by someone coming and telling him, “Look, fella, good people aren’t saved.”

You know, I’ve heard people say that. Good people aren’t the ones that are saved; it’s people who have faith that are saved. See, there is a case of a truth, which is distorted in Christians until it becomes a deadly force. The truth is we are not saved because of our good works; we are saved by the mercy of God. That’s the truth and that’s the only way that the poison of boasting and pride can be excluded from our relationship with God and our relationship with people. It’s that firm belief that we are not saved because we are good. We are saved because of the mercy of God and once we get that lesson, then we never “lord” it over another person. We never try to prove to God that we deserve anything. We just live with others and with God on a basis of mercy and grace, and acceptance without righteousness. Even if you want to start with that, you pair down good works and prayer and so on. Well, even in Paul’s day they would say, “Oh, let’s really send it up so that grace can really show off how big a deal it is.” Show it off! [23:27]

Now, Cornelius was not into something that had been twisted like that. He was sincere and earnest in his prayers and in doing of good deeds and these came up before God. God heard him and when God heard him, God knew just where to take him. He had a prepared man. He had a prepared man down there in Joppa who was just the person to meet this hungry individual up there in Caesarea and he knew just how to manage the letters of introduction given today. Cornelius, a centurion of the Italian band, a devout man, prayed God always and he saw a vision evidently about the ninth hour (3:00 in the afternoon) and he was told what to do. [24:25]

Now, the next day while the people were going from Caesarea down to Joppa, Peter had gone up into the room to pray and as they went on their journey and drew nigh to the city, the letter of introduction arrived. The mailman just stopped there a little bit before, but it was a very special letter of introduction because Peter had to be taught something before he could receive it. Peter went up to the house top to pray about the sixth hour “and he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance;” and he saw Heaven opened” and now a horrifying thing happened. It would be almost as if he had a dream but someone told you that you weren’t or whatever you find revolting.

This is what happened to Peter—“. . . all manner of four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things . . .” –probably be a few worms in that. “ . . . and fowls of the air. All of these things came down, and “ . . . a voice said, ‘Rise, Peter, kill and eat.’ ” Isn’t it interesting? Well, it’s never interesting; it’s just lovely to watch how when the message of God comes, it fits right into the human course of events—Peter was hungry. See? That’s what it says. “He became very hungry.” (Acts 10:10) [26:14]

Now, starting off right there, we go into the message of God. God takes his hunger and teaches him how to eat meat. Peter responds, “Not so, Lord”—no matter how hungry I am—“I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call thou not common. This was done three times. . . ” The Lord knew how hard-headed Peter was; he was almost as hard headed as we are and he gave that little object lesson three times—audio visual aids are not a thing of the present only. [27:08]

Now, why Peter doubted in himself what the vision should mean. See, he doesn’t get the meaning of this yet and there is a great testimony here to the progress, which Peter had made in openness that he—he kind of filed this in the back of his mind now. Be attentive—doubting what does it mean —wondering what is would mean and then learn as he goes along. “Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, ‘Behold three men seek thee.’  Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing, for I have sent them.”

He had put the object lesson there. Now he makes the connection, okay, and then seeking them, knocked on the door, stayed overnight and gets up the next day, Peter goes into Cornelius’ house—the 25th verse of the 10th chapter (of Acts), Cornelius meets him and falls down and worships him and Peter says unto him to “ . . .Stand up, I myself also am a man” and he talked with him awhile and then they went in. Cornelius went over the story of how he had his experience of vision and then Peter began to get the message in the 34th verse (Acts 10:34). All of this comes home for him. All of it comes home. [28:45]

Now, do you see what that means? It didn’t really have anything to do with either of them—the 28th verse (Acts 10).

Comment: Inaudible

Dallas:  Right; that’s a good verse. “Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company . . . but God hath shewed me”—that’s right, he gets the message there, doesn’t he? . . .”Therefore came I unto you” (Acts 10:29) and in the 34th verse, he applies this in the terminology beck in the 28th verse he says, “shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.” In the 34th verse, he uses the traditional language of respecter of persons, which was a term that, just like common and unclean was present in the old law. “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons.” [29:40]

Now, I want to ask you to really look at this next verse because many people among evangelical Christians do not believe this. They don’t believe this. Besides, many of the Jews did not believe what Micah said, “ . . .what the Lord require of thee but to do good justice and love mercy and walk confident with thy God.” (Micah 6:8) That’s too simple. “But in every nation . . .”—that means in every cultural group—“. . .he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted”—accepted—“with him.” What do we do when we read that? How do we manage to complicate that with all of the other things, which we judge people on? Their denominational association is always important and there are many denominations, which will simply tell you that no one is saved if they are not a member of that. Peculiar brands of religious experience—they will tell you if you haven’t had this, you are not right.

Many people think, for example that if you have not walked forward at an invitation service, you can’t possibly be saved. You can’t possibly be saved. All sorts of ways of saying, “Sorry, Peter, you are wrong.” [31:24]

Look with me at Romans the 2nd chapter. This is very complex English and we too, if you have a modern version, it reads better in some of those but I want read the point that Paul puts here in the 2nd chapter of Romans.  I am going to begin reading at the 6th verse and following for a ways. Speaking of God, he says, “Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.”

Now, don’t you, in the name of some doctrine, please don’t deny what Paul says here. He knows what he’s talking about. “But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness . . .”—and we can put here very emphatically because he is going to add it later in the chapter; no matter what they may profess to believe or what church they attend, if they “ . . . are contentious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first . . .” because the Jew is the one who has many advantages. That’s why it’s going to come to him first. Hmm…uh? [33:06]

Comment: Inaudible

Dallas: You mean for contentious? Yes, that certainly will; that certainly will. Selfishly ambitious—that’s the whole story, isn’t it? That’s where our troubles come; where the wars come, “selfish lusts,” James says. Why aren’t our prayers answered?—Because we lust. We want to use God for our purposes and our prayers are simply trying to manipulate Him. Selfish ambition. Maggie?

Comment: Inaudible

Dallas: To draw all men unto Him. To draw all men unto Him and anyone who is drawn unto Him and really comes of it can be saved. And I say, “You can’t be saved and continue on your own.” [34:18]

Comment: Inaudible

Dallas: Well, I think it means both of those things. I think it means the lifting up on the cross was a part of what was involved with the other and especially involved in reaching people who were all stuck down in the morass of selfishness and deceit. The lifting up on the cross, you see, is an opportunity for men to come on another basis than their righteousness. [34:49]

Now, where we get into trouble is we are so concerned that God is going to let someone in, see? And we don’t understand the liberality of God. There is a lot of or several historical reasons why we get into this position. We are so concerned to exclude. We can’t leave that up to God. See? So we want to lay down ways in which we can mark people off.

Comment: I don’t believe that!

Dallas: You don’t?

Comment: NO!

Dallas:  Well, you mean YOU don’t do that? [35:27]

Comments: Inaudible

Dallas: Yes, that’s right.  That’s right if you can see what it is, but look—I mean, now this refers to some things we were working over earlier. Jesus, being lifted up on a cross was a manifestation of what? A number of things but one of the most important things it was a manifestation of was what the law or legal righteousness could do. Mainly, it could kill the best possible man who ever lived on the face of the earth and it could do it in the name of legal righteousness and that’s why it was the end of the law because it could bring people to see what the law was and to see that the law was killing them. [36:29]

Now, in this passage, Paul is pointing out that God is not going to reward you for being in this group or that group or the other but because you fear Him and do what is right. Now, you say, “Well, how can we do that?  We’ve already shot the works?” Of course, I haven’t anyway. If someone else says they haven’t; praise the Lord! I’m glad!

I would be happy if there were, for example, if you could find a tribe. Let’s say in Australia somewhere, who had never sinned. I wouldn’t feel it in the least anything about that. I would be so thankful. A lot of people I know would say, “Well, how can these people be saved?” What about all of them that have died in the past without sinning? Oh, you say but there is no such tribe. The point here is not whether or not there is—the point here is a way of thinking about how people come to God and Paul and Peter here saw something very clearly and that was no matter what nation, what culture, anyone who fears God in righteousness is acceptable to God and what that person needs beyond where he is, God will supply. God will supply. [38:00]

And Paul comes down to the end—a very important verse and we need to read it with a little different word than the ones that are in it in the 28th verse of the 2nd chapter (of Romans)—“For he is not a Christian, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision (or baptism or whatever it is that people might count on), which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Christian, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter . . .”—and oh, this last phrase just caps it off—“ . . . whose praise is not of men . . .” Now, we read that perhaps while thinking—well, that means all the other men who aren’t in our group. We want our little group for prayer. No, no! It doesn’t give us that advantage. In fact, it just says, “ . . . whose praise is not of men, but of God.”  This commendation comes from God, not men. [39:11]

Comment: Inaudible

Dallas:  Yes, and I would wish that it was just a matter for non-Christians but you know it isn’t.

Comment: Inaudible

Dallas: But the truth of the matter is, this is always present. It is just a pervasive plague, which it seems so difficult for people to get out of. Fox, you know, George Fox is always talking about “bringing people off of men—bringing people off of men.” [40:20]

Don’t you remember, we saw earlier on in this course of this study how difficult that was and how the early Israelites when they were faced with the manifestations of God there on Sinai? And they cried out, “Oh, appoint someone to stand and pick me up!” Get someone up there! But, we always get delight in a distorted way when it comes to a man and I want to say that we do not get the pure life even in the atonement of Christ because we are . . .[inaudible—his voice fades.] His work could not be done while he was in the flesh. He had to do a work in the flesh but then he said, “I go away.” “It is necessary for you that I go up.” And He said in that same passage, there are many things, which I have to teach you but you can’t stand them yet. You are so, so stuck down in your little cultural hole that you can’t stand what I have to say to you. [41:33]

See, this is what is happening to Peter. Some of those things, which Jesus couldn’t help—they couldn’t stand it. Now, as Christ is out of the Incarnate and now He is the resurrection, the risen Christ and He sends forth His spirit. His spirit can then lead these people step by step to the point to where they could do things and accept things and see things, which was impossible for them.

There is so much in these passages that we want to say. It’s impossible to say them all and of course, that was the assumption of the study that we are going to take the responsibility of searching the word yourself and looking carefully at these things that I say and not accept them as authoritative in any sense but simply as ways of attempting to lead you into thinking out and praying out and studying out what you ought to be doing. [42:41]

Now, brothers and sisters, I must say. If you don’t study, it could mean practically nothing to you. You have to study. I haven’t said that to you in awhile so I want to reiterate it. IF you don’t study this and if you just sort of come and rattle it around in your brain for an hour on Sunday, it won’t do you any good or it will do you so little good that it will probably just amount to a little self righteousness because you did your duty on Sunday. But, if you really want to get into this thing, you have to study it.

Let me give you a verse on that. The 17th chapter of Acts, the 10th verse, and Paul came to Berea because he got ran out of Thessalonica and the brethren sent them away to Berea and they came to the synagogue of the Jews and in this 11th verse, it reads different in different versions but I wish you would look at this and apply it to your own case. “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind . . .” Now, that doesn’t mean they believed it from what the rest of the verse says. You will see, it doesn’t mean that.  “ . . . They received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” These were more noble than those in Thessalonica. You want to be a Berean about this thing, you see and if you do, God will have a blessing for you. Dorothy, you had a remark to make? [44:21]

Comment: Inaudible

Dallas: Sure. Well, I don’t see that there is anything to explain really, Dorothy.  I mean, it says to baptize—he says to baptize. Christ didn’t baptize him, that’s true. Paul baptized very few people.  A lot of people didn’t baptize. I’m not certain that was THE important work to do but still baptism was a standard way of testifying that you had entered in to the new way of life and the points is to take some way of open manifestation that you were following Christ.

Now, God said it was perverted and it is perverted into a mark of saving grace communicated by an authoritative church which had excluded everyone else and he said now, we have the corner on it and the way we let out the stuff that we have all bottled up here is in the sacrament and no one can let that out except people who have especially been appointed and approved by us. See, it’s the matter of a group of people getting a corner on the power of God once again and saying we will “dole” it out—you pay your tithes to us and not to the radio evangelist or whoever and you be sure to pay those tithes into our plate”—so, it was distorted. Then, Dorothy, when Fox arose, see he reacted against it as he should have but then it leaves Quakers in an embarrassing position explaining what about water baptism. They often find it in there. See, there is no reason why they should find it in this. None whatsoever. [46:25]

Comment: Inaudible

Dallas: Well, yes. [More inaudible comments] That doesn’t mean he won’t baptize with water. [More inaudible comments]  That is the essential baptism. That’s the essential baptism, right. This is the baptism, which came to Cornelius. This is what capped it off.  Cornelius was reached by God through a visionary messenger, through a human messenger, and then finally by the power of God which came upon him. Now, that’s the essential, you see. Now, how do you manifest this to an unbelieving world? Any of a number of different ways. Any of a number of different ways. [47:31]

One way of doing it is by the right of water baptism. Now, in the book of Acts, this is recognized. It is recognized all through the New Testament and all through the New Testament, it is very plain and this is not the essential baptism.

Comments: Inaudible

Dallas: That’s right. I know, it’s true. [More inaudible comments] [48:27]

That’s good, but for Fran, it was a matter of conscious. She was concerned to follow this word of direction to be baptized in water baptism and that’s fine. That’s exactly what she ought to have done—exactly what she ought to have done.

The Baptists have a fairly good teaching and some of them do wrong. There are all kinds of Baptists of course and there are some who would regard you just about like someone would regard an uncircumcised person if you haven’t been baptized—a Jew might have been regarded an uncircumcised person. So there are all kinds of variations but now look, listen, please let me try to make this clear—you see, these are exactly the kinds of details which bring people into bondage and enslave one another and get people to standing over against one another and looking at them and saying, “Now, you’re not really as good as I am.” These are the kinds of things which if we aren’t careful, we will begin to blaspheme God by believing He is a respecter of persons about it and it is a blasphemy against God.  [49:34]

Listen, we must close but I want to lay this burden on you now. This church, if it’s going to go forward has got to break through on this matter of prayer. If we don’t, then we are simply going to be a more or less pleasant group of people who have more or less have warm interest in religious things.

Now, we have people—this church, of course is made out of human beings. There are sick people—in body, in spirit that make up this church. There are people with all kinds of difficulties of finance, of business, of vocation, etc. Do you realize how little prayer there is for these people of this church? And you may say, “Well, I pray a lot for them privately.” [50:36]

What about the church praying together? The church in the book of Acts prayed together. They prayed together.  Now, if we don’t come to the point to where we can pray together for the needs of the body of Christ, we are going to be at a stand still or we are at a stand still.  When people are sick and in need at various times, the response of the body of Christ is to pray. It is to pray and if we can’t overcome the lack of faith that keeps us from praying, we are playing at religion. We are playing at religion.

There is a way in which faith comes and I’ve told you that so many times, we surely don’t need to go into that again. The transformation of the mind through the scripture to the point of where faith is as natural as breathing, when that is spread out within a group of people and potentialized by meaning of the increased wonder, then we begin to see the kind of power that is present in a building like this. Then we begin to see people genuinely revolutionized—people who aren’t even in the group. Then we begin to see people healed. Then we begin to see people rejoicing in the Lord and not just whistling in the back spiritually. Rejoicing because the word of God is going on in their midst and needs are being met, not by human strength, but by the presence of God in this church. [52:36]

Now, this is not so much responsibly that you can shift to Dick Foster or to me or to anyone else, this is your responsibility and you will face it or not and you will be responsible before God for facing it or not. You will be; not me. I won’t be responsible for you and Dick won’t be responsible for you and no one else will. You will be responsible for you.

Now, we’ve come to the point in our study, you see, where a sufficient amount of truth has been presented to people but they must be faced; you must be faced; I must be faced with the responsibility to such true things to us and it is an individual responsibility. You are responsible for your brothers and sisters in the body of Christ. You are responsible for your neighbors because you have the truth. You are better to them and you and I can discharge that debt only in the power of God. It is up to us to receive it. [53:51]

“Lord, please, teach each one here what they should be seeing from Thy word. Make it your word and not my word and blot out anything, which is only my word. Help us to live before you as mature and responsible individuals who know the power of God on the basis of the mercy of God and not on the basis of the mercy of God and not on the basis some little distinction which we received from our fore bearers or cooked up for ourselves to mark ourselves out as special.  Teach us to live on the basis of grace and to receive Thy power upon that basis. Please, Lord, for thy name’s sake. Amen.”