Psalms 71:5-7 O Lord, you alone are my hope. I’ve trusted you, O lord, from childhood. Yes, you have been with me from birth; from my mother’s womb you have cared for me. No wonder I am always praising you! My life is an example to many, because you have been my strength and protection.
John the Baptist gave his questioners a brief sentence that I have called the “hope and the despair” of mankind. He told them that “a man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.”
John was not referring to men’s gifts. He was speaking of spiritual truth. Divine truth is of the nature of the Holy Spirit, and for that reason it can be received only by spiritual revelation. In his New Testament letters, the Apostle Paul declares again and again the inability of human reason to discover or comprehend divine truth.
Furthermore, in that inability we see human despair. John the Baptist said, ” . . . except it be given him from heaven”-and this is our hope! These words do certainly mean that there is such a thing as a gift of knowing, a gift that comes from heaven. Jesus promised His disciples that the Holy Spirit of truth would come and teach them all things. Jesus also prayed: “I thank thee, 0 Father, because thou hast hid these things from the wise, and hast revealed them unto babes” (Luke 10:21).
The Lord said that we should become children. If we all became children, how beautiful that would it be. You could walk up to a man and shake his hand without wondering, “Do I know enough just to hold his hand?” He would not hurt you.
Henceforth, Christians here are not going to hurt anybody, so just be perfectly candid. This is one passage you can practice no matter who you are, or where you are. It touches you right now. “I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God.” (Luke 12:8).
This passage tells us we are to testify and witness boldly about our Lord Jesus. If some of you would begin to quietly witness where you work, you would find a change coming over you. “Whoever has my commands and obeys them. . . [I will] show myself to him” (John 14:21). You will get out of the rut when the Lord begins to manifest Himself to you. But you would rather go off somewhere and get down on your knees and pray.
Now praying is right–I have taught, preached and practiced it since I was converted. But do not try to pray down something that the Lord is telling you to do. Do what you are told, and the Lord will be right with you.
What are the terms of discipleship? Only one with a perfect knowledge of mankind could have dared to make them. Only the Lord of men could have risked the effect of such rigorous demands: Let him deny himself. We hear these words and shake our heads in astonishment.
Henceforth, can we have heard aright? Can the Lord lay down such severe rules at the door of the Kingdom? He can and He does. If He is to save the man, He must save him from himself. It is the himself which has enslaved and corrupted the man.
Continuously, deliverance comes only by denial to self. No man in his own strength can shed the chains with which self has bound him, but in the next breath the Lord reveals the source of the power which is to set the soul free: Let him take up his cross. The cross has gathered in the course of the years much of beauty and symbolism, but the cross of which Jesus spoke had nothing of beauty in it. It was an instrument of death.
Furthermore, Slaying men was its only function. Men did not wear that cross; but that cross wore men. It stood naked until a man was pinned on it, a living man fastened like some grotesque stickpin on its breast to writhe and groan till death stilled and silenced him. That is the cross. Nothing less. And when it is robbed of its tears, blood and pain, the cross is no more. Let him take his cross, said Jesus, and in death he will know deliverance from himself.