Frankly, brethren, I deeply feel that the next two to three years of your life will see big changes—perhaps more than any we have seen in modern times. It looks like many massive changes are beginning to come together in our society—new leaders with drastically different ideas taking over the United States, big changes coming in Europe and a possible disintegration of the entire European Union, along with increasingly dangerous threats from China and the Far East. We need to realize that more and more reports are coming out almost every month about the threat of the Zika virus and a “new” virus against which there are apparently no defenses! So it is possible that the massive disease epidemics prophesied in the Bible are slowly beginning to develop. Also, bigger upsets and natural disasters than ever before will occur, including powerful storms, fires, earthquakes and other events of increasingly unprecedented magnitude.
All of this certainly indicates the need for us to “step up our game” and have a real impact on this terribly deceived world while we have the opportunity. It means each of us whom God has called needs to realize that our lives are short and we need to act to do God’s Work while we have the opportunity. As you know, many of our older ministers and brethren are dying. Each of us still living needs to truly go “all out” to seek God like never before, as the final years of this society close in upon us. Are you, personally, truly seeking God and His power? I know that most of us are sincere, and are attending Sabbath services and tithing regularly. But, in many of our personal habits and ways of life, are we just drifting rather than powerfully growing and “crying out” to God for all of us to have a much bigger impact on this sick world?
When the Apostle Paul realized that he was on a completely wrong course, what did he do? The Bible is clear about what all the great men of God did in such circumstances. For, after Paul was stricken with temporary blindness, his reaction was dramatic: “And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank” (Acts 9:9). He began to cry out to God and involved himself in a complete fast as part of his response in that time of trial—and he was certainly “praying” (v. 11).
When the prophet Daniel began to ponder Israel’s suffering during the seventy years of captivity Jeremiah had prophesied, what did he do? “Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, ‘O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land’” (Daniel 9:3–6).
So Daniel set himself to seek God in a powerful way over a period of many days or weeks! He confessed his sins and the sins of his people. He let God know that he wished with all his being for God to intervene and set things straight. He began to truly “seek God” as never before!
When Moses was confronted with the sin and total worldliness of his people just after he had been given the two tablets of the Ten Commandments, he truly sought God in a powerful way: “And I fell down before the Lord, as at the first, forty days and forty nights; I neither ate bread nor drank water, because of all your sin which you committed in doing wickedly in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger. For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure with which the Lord was angry with you, to destroy you. But the Lord listened to me at that time also” (Deuteronomy 9:18–19).
So Moses totally fasted for a long period of time as part of this total action in seeking God. He said: “Thus I prostrated myself before the Lord; forty days and forty nights I kept prostrating myself, because the Lord had said He would destroy you. Therefore I prayed to the Lord, and said: ‘O Lord God, do not destroy Your people and Your inheritance whom You have redeemed through Your greatness, whom You have brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand” (vv. 25–26).
Brethren, I have now been full time in the Work of the ministry since my graduation from Ambassador College back on June 4, 1952. After all those decades of experience and “seeing” how God has worked and is working, I tell you urgently: we now are at a time when we need to seek God just as those servants of God did in the past. We are stricken with a kind of a “malaise” that makes us lukewarm and has no doubt kept God from pouring out His Spirit upon us with a power to heal the sick, discern spirits and cast out demons which we ought to have! We need to fully realize this!
Each of us needs to beg God—on our knees—to collectively clean us up and scrub us out, spiritually, so that we may be worthy of the gifts of His Spirit just as the early New Testament Church was. Brethren, we are not asking for something “unusual.” For it is exactly what God did do with the early Church to show His power and help the world understand where He was working, so they would respond and more people would be added to the Church. He worked with them in a powerful way so His Work could grow in power at that time.
Also, as many of us ought to carefully read and meditate on, even before the Spirit-led New Testament Church actually began, Jesus appointed “seventy others also” to go out across Israel and preach the Gospel, heal the sick and cast out demons. Nothing indicates these were converted men—since the Holy Spirit was not even given until the Day of Pentecost. Obviously, they were not the twelve apostles, as they were called “seventy others,” and no mention is given of the apostles. Jesus commanded these men to go out and preach the Truth, “And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you’” (Luke 10:9). Later, we find, “Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.’ And He said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven’” (vv. 17–20). So they were also able to “cast out demons” in the name of Jesus Christ.
It is important to realize that—since Jesus is “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8)—He was willing to do those things even with unconverted people. How much more—if we truly cry out to Him—will He use us today, even if we are weak, to have the power to show that He is God and that He has true servants on this earth?
Matthew 10:1 shows that Jesus called the twelve apostles, and that “...when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.” Later, when they returned, He told them: “But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:6–8). So Jesus gave His apostles—even before the Holy Spirit was given on the Day of Pentecost—the power to heal the sick and to cast out demons! This was always part of preaching the Gospel. So it is our responsibility to carry on with this very same type of ministry today, and we need to beseech God to grant us these gifts more than ever as the end of this age approaches!
As the original Church of God—under the apostles’ faithful leadership—began to do the Work, notice how God reacted after He was forced to strike down Ananias and Sapphira for their obvious cynicism and rebellion against His leadership: “So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things. And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch. Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly.And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women” (Acts 5:11–14). Notice that it was after God began to intervene with “signs and wonders” that great numbers were added to the body of Christ, “multitudes of both men and women.”
Do you begin to realize the “signs of the times” in which we are living? Will you then join me in crying out to God so that we in this Work may be given the power of God’s Spirit as never before?
Brethren, I hope that all of you will. For, to the extent that you yield yourself to God and beseech God to send Jesus to live His life within you (Galatians 2:20), you will be part of the body that is going to do a powerful Work before the end of this age and you will be rewarded forever—as we all know—because you have been willing to “turn to God” at a critical time in human history.
All of us should know what God says about these things, but let us, once again, review God’s promise to those of us who are willing to be spiritually “wise” and do God’s will in getting out His Work powerfully: “Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:3).
With Christian love,