What was the condition of the first man to whom Jesus addressed this word? He was “sick of palsy” on the surface, but that wasn’t what Jesus treated first. Jesus, who knows the heart, doesn’t waste words.
This chapter doesn’t make any sense to me unless Jesus saw something in the heart of that man sick of palsy that wasn’t so apparent to everybody else. To everybody else, he was sick with palsy, helpless, needing friends to carry him into Jesus’ presence and let him down before Him. But that is not where Jesus focused in. He first addressed Himself to something hidden. Jesus said, “Son, be of good courage,” to use the literal meaning; write it in the margin of your Bible. “Thy sins be forgiven thee.”
Jesus lived in a culture and came preaching in a culture that was forever linking physical sickness with sin. In John 9:1, He came upon a boy blind from birth. The scholars asked Him the question, “Who sinned, this boy or his parents?” Jesus said, “Neither one of them” and went ahead and treated the need. Everywhere a sick man was encountered, the onlookers would begin to suspect sins. Something was wilting the courage of this sick man. Jesus, in the giving of courage, removes the cause of non-courage, removes the basis of fear. He says, “Be of good courage; thy sins be forgiven thee.”
What about those “sons of the prophets”? They show me that the crowd is equally happy for you to get along without some things in God. The person who is determined to get the best tends to make the crowd nervous. And forever there is that watering-down influence that would package Christianity in one palatable formula so that everybody can get it and be done with it. With a wave at God on Sunday, like a friend in the house, they can then go their way.
This book is teaching me that there is a place in God where God will let you get along without; indeed He may even test your resolve and put up resistance to you getting it. It teaches me that the majority in the kingdom are quite willing to get along without it. Indeed, they want you to stop and stay with them. These sons of the prophets discouraged Elisha, but he would not be satisfied staying where they were.
In the New Testament, “And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus went out into a mountain to pray, and he continued all night in prayer to God.” (Luke 6:12) Before He chose His disciples He spent all night in prayer. If the Lord of Glory spent time, I’d better spend it. Stay in His presence.
What is the third ingredient of the Inner Court? Ministry to the Lord is hidden.
Hear me closely. In this outer court where I minister to human need, I am seen. There’s a guard at the gate, another guard over there, and the line of believers. Everybody sees me perform out here. They see me get the job done. Ministry to the Lord is hidden. Nobody sees what you do in there. And that, by the way, if I can parenthetically put it in, might be why the God who knows the heart puts priority here. Only a people with the faith who truly believe that the invisible God is with us will go into the inner court. You can get lost in the activity of working for the Lord, but you have to really believe He is alive to do what one old saint did, which is to just sit down, put a chair in front of him, believe God was right there and talk to Him.
This is hidden; nobody sees you do this.
God help us in our Puritan dominated work theology of the Kingdom if somebody thinks I’m not working for God; if you are hidden away ministering to Him you are viewed as a failure. But not to God.
God had moved out of the eternal and invisible realm, and the Word, that was facing God and was of the same nature as God, dwelt, tented is the meaning of the Greek word: struck a tent in human flesh and moved into a package of flesh called Jesus of Nazareth. (John 1:1-14)
And there was God in a Person on the stage of history. If you wanted to know what God was like, there He was. And when He passed by, they went with Him. That was the good news being proclaimed. Onto the stage of history, a child would come: “Emmanuel” would be His name, “which being interpreted is, God with us.”
Pastor Melissa Scott goes on to say, Dr. Scott told me that he heard Canon Bryan Green at Stanford University once describe some people’s religious search. He said they are like a little child who quit playing hide-and-seek because it was “all seek and no find.” He said that is the way some people seek after God. They are forever looking in the wrong place. God came to find us.
Psalm 84 says, “Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them.” “Of them” is in italics because it was added by the King James translators, but it is not in the original. The word “ways” modifies God, not the people who are in the valley.
Literally, “Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee and in whose heart are the ways of thee.” You read in the Bible that God’s acts were made known to the children of Israel. They saw the acts of God and the results of His acts, but to Moses God revealed His ways. It takes time to learn these things.
Again, let me demystify spiritual things. That is common language: have you ever said of any close friend, after you get to know him long enough, “That’s just the way he is”? You become familiar with your friend’s ways. Well, God has ways, and we are forever getting ahead of Him. God has always dealt with these extremes. There are those who come along who want to do it in place of God. Those are the matchbox, self-made fire builders that we are talking about here. They don’t need God; they will light the way with their own instruments. The other extreme is someone who leaves it all to God. This passage reminds me of a story about a farmer who had a marvelous crop and somebody said to him, “You ought to thank God for the crop He gave you.” The farmer said, “I do, but you should have seen the field when God had it by Himself.”
Do you know what a spiritual person is? In New Testament Greek, a spiritual person is literally “the Spirit’s person.” In the Old Testament, God says He “clothed” Himself with Gideon: God put Gideon on and wore him like a garment. A spiritual person is one so possessed by the Spirit that you can truly say, “That person is His.” That is what the church of the New Testament was. The Lord’s, they called them; a simple designation, the Lord’s. We have another phrase in the New Testament, “we have this treasure,” God’s Spirit, “in earthen vessels.” (2 Corinthians 4:7)
Spirituality is God’s own nature finding an expression through us.
Now, some people do not know how to yield to it. Those who have watched people who are in the Spirit have witnessed the tension that begins to come when they are learning how, and then that breakthrough when the flesh begins to finally yield and flow with the Spirit, and then it flows easily and the struggle is over. This current charismatic renewal is learning you don’t have to tarry and wrestle to get it; you just receive, which is the message.
There are no “volunteers” in the Kingdom. On every level, this is the commitment. It is morally wrong to subject any child in Sunday school to a teacher who thinks he is doing God a favor to teach. There is no such thing as “your work” and “His work.” You are either His 100 percent or you are not His, and it is all His. You have no family: you raise your family for His glory. You don’t have a business: you are a steward managing your business for Him. You don’t have a career or a future: you are His to command! There is no church that is mine or yours; it is His.
God will have nothing less than all of you. And that God would take such stuff on which to build His Kingdom as typified in the Adullamites and illustrated in the disciples tells me that it means a lot to Him to have 100 percent. He will start over with such as these, like the parable Jesus told of a certain man who made a great supper and sent invitations. And all those invited made excuses. One had a wife, another had a yoke of oxen to look at, another had a piece of ground. The man said to his servant, “Bring in the lame and the halt.” (Luke 14:16-24) When God calls, He wants all of you; that is a serious side of this message.
God has been wonderful to me. I’m so grateful that I can teach His Word.
The message I want to communicate is one you’ve heard many times; most of you. But because I look at this and I see myself on the Potter’s wheel just like the next person, it’s hard for me to accept that God is working a work on me. I finally have said, “There’s nothing that I can do. I’ve just got to – I trust you. You’re the one being potter. I commit myself to you” and my failures and my troubles, all of the things that I go through. He uses those circumstances, the stuff of life, to accomplish the process.
And I know without a doubt, there are times when I thought, “You know if I could be on this wheel, but if I could just control the speed or I could control how many people are looking in while I’m being spun out of control.”
Pastor Scott continued by mentioning: “Do you know how many times have I dropped my guard in the flesh and thought, “My life is spinning out of control”?
God’s got it under control. He’s got this whole picture, like He’s got the whole world in His hands. “Well, yeah, that’s great. It’s the world, but it doesn’t apply to me. God could not possibly know how badly my life is bent out of shape.” Oh, yeah?
In fact that’s the favorite type of clay that He likes. The type of clay that sits on the shelf that has this, “I’m pretty good already. Thanks.” I think He likes to leave those clay pieces there. He picks up the ones that have some mixed in ingredients, different color, different shape, different size. Some that thought they’d never get the opportunity to be shaped, He looks at those, puts you on that wheel and begins to do His work.
Now I’m sorry this appears so simplistic a message but I can’t help it. Sometimes simple is better. You go back and you read how the apostle Paul cataloged all this wonderful life of the believer and used the illustration of Christ: dead and that power that raised Him up. And then he turns around by parallel use and says, “Now you were dead.” You’re dead in another way. He that was dead was truly dead and knew no sin, but you, you were actually dead, spiritually dead and uses the same concept. If you look at this it’s like a kiosmus. He uses this same way to tell us to tell us at the end, “and hath raised us up together.”
If you’ll read that passage where it says, chapter 1 verse 20, “Which He” worked, “Which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenlies, heavenly places.” Same thing. It’s a different way of saying, as he’ll say in Romans 6, buried with Christ, raised up with Christ. Your baptism, when I baptized the people we said, “Down with the old man, up with the new.”
Pastor Melissa Scott continues and tells us that same concept being said here in this, what I call a kiosmus, which is what started with Christ, will end with Christ. But we’re in the middle like a mirror looking back and forth. And he says that in the ages to come he might display, he might show or display, the super-abounding, surpassing wealth of His grace and His kindness to uswards through Christ Jesus.
We have some idea that if we take a little tidbit of something and we mold it into what we think because we read the text and it says, “unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Well I have yet to see somebody walk in good works. I’ve yet to see it. That will hit you a little later. It must look strange. All right? Never mind. “For,” I was just checking. Come on now.
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus Unto Good Works.” Now, to convey this idea that it is nothing that we bring to the table I’m going to take you back to a passage that this church has heard at least thirty times. We’ve been there. If you listen on the network you’ve probably heard it a hundred plus times. And it is a place I’m hoping you will look at with fresh eyes today for explaining how we are His masterpiece creation.
Pastor Melissa Scott tells us that turn your Bibles to Jeremiah 18. “The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear My words. Then I went down to the potter’s house, and behold He wrought a work.” How many have that scratched out “a work”? Okay, there’s less than half of you. I’ll come back – let’s read through the text and I’ll come back to that. “He wrought a work on the wheels.