The Danger of an Easy Life

Gary Wilkerson

I’ve been in 60 different nations around the world, and many of those countries are places where you will suffer just for being a Christian.

For instance, in Turkey or Jordan, kids from Christian homes are treated like outcasts at school. They’re called all sorts of names. They’re given poor grades. Their reports are diminished simply because they call on the name of Christ. There’s tremendous persecution. In most of the world, persecution for being a Christian is the norm. Right now, somebody is dying for their faith in some part of the world. In the U.S., on the other hand, we’ve had religious safety and freedom.

I was talking to a pastor — he’s actually the head of a denomination in Jordan — and I mentioned, “How hard it must be for you and your two boys who have grown up in these Muslim centers. With the persecution you’ve personally received and your children have received, it must be so hard for you to stand up and be a Christian in a culture like this.”

He responded, “It’s easy to stand up in a culture like this. Where it’s hard is in America. I would rather my children know that it’s a fight living for Christ. I would rather my children grow up in an Islamic state like this than in America where they would be bombarded by secular agendas to pull us away from God and Jesus Christ.”

Church, we must not allow ourselves to be seduced away from God by the apparent ease of being a Christian in our culture. The greatest tragedy of all will be when the church stops shining its light, when it stops seeing Jesus as high and lifted up, when it stops exalting God as holy, pure, true, righteous and just.

As scripture exhorts us, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:10-12, ESV).

Our greatest hope is truly being a faithful church to the Word of God, true to his Word and consistently bringing honest, full revelations about God.

Samson’s Call and Commission

Keith Holloway

Everyone knows Samson in the Book of Judges for his feats of strength, but I’ve noticed some things about Samson that we tend to overlook.

His whole life from womb to tomb was to be committed to Christ, to God and his service. He was not to cut his hair; he was not to drink anything alcoholic; he was not to touch any dead bodies. These were signs of a separateness, a holiness. Not only was he given a call, but Judges 13:5 gives us a peek into the purpose of his life.

“For behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb, and he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines” (Judges 13:5, ESV).

Samson would grow up and begin delivering God’s people out of the hands of their enemies. What a wonderful promise! He was given a call and commission directly from God, and I think that’s very important.

So many of us today think, “I’m just a normal person with no special skills or abilities. I have to wonder what my purpose in life is.” Many people go through life without realizing that, in the scriptures, everyone whom God has set apart for himself and destined for salvation is born with a call of God on their lives.

Paul writes, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). We are meant to be doing the work that God has put us on earth to do, and the importance of this is emphasized in another of Paul’s letters. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:10).

You have a holy calling. Do you know what that is?

If your answer is “No, I don’t”, I strongly encourage you to ask the Lord to show it to you. We all have a similar call and commission as Samson. It doesn’t matter what your age, gender, income, education level or location is. All of us have been commissioned to save lives out of the hands of the enemy. Our lives are not to be lived for ourselves!

The Lord of the Harvest

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

As Jesus looked out to the end of the age, he pointed out a terrible problem. “He said to his disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.’” (Matthew 9:37, NKJV).

As I read these words, I wonder, “What’s the solution? How can more laborers be raised up to go the nations?” Jesus gave the answer in the very next verse: “’Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’” (Matthew 9:38). You may think, “Doors are closing all over the world.” That may be true, but it doesn’t matter how closed some nations may look to our eyes. If God can tear down the Iron Curtain in Europe and the Bamboo Curtain in Asia, nothing can stop him from working wherever he will.

The apostle Paul was sent forth as a missionary through the power of prayer. It happened in Antioch where leaders of the church were praying over the harvest (see Acts 13:1-5). Paul’s first missionary journey came out of a prayer meeting. It was the direct result of godly men obeying Jesus’ words to pray for God to send laborers into the harvest. 

In the 1980’s, when our ministry was headquartered in Texas, I spent a year praying that God would send someone to New York City to raise up a church in Times Square. I pledged to help whomever God chose, to raise money, to hold meetings, to build up support. While I was praying for God to send a laborer into this specific harvest, the Lord put the burden on me, and Times Square Church was the result. 

The same is true today. We are to be about the work of praying for the harvest. While we’re praying, the Holy Spirit is searching the earth, putting an urgency in the hearts of those who desire to be used by the Lord. He’s touching people everywhere, setting them apart for his service. 

While we’re asking God to send forth laborers, the Holy Spirit is stirring someone somewhere, and it doesn’t matter where it takes place. The powerful truth is that our prayers are being used to send laborers into the harvest.

Having the Life and the Light

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Why are our government leaders and the media so condescending to Christians? Why have so many young people written off Christianity as totally irrelevant to their lives?

It’s because, for the most part, the church is no longer a light. Christ isn’t ruling in our society because he doesn’t reign in our lives. As I look around today, I see few in God’s house who are truly in union with Christ, and few ministers refuse worldly methods in order to trust God for their direction.

Dear believers, we cannot blame the darkness of the world around us for the church’s lack of impact. Consider the spiritually corrupt kingdom of Babylon during the time of Nebuchadnezzar. This was the mightiest empire on earth at that time, but Nebuchadnezzar was not the real ruler in Babylon. The power behind the empire wasn’t in the golden statue that he would later erect. No, Babylon’s authority rested in God’s providence and in the hands of a small group of men directed by God.

The Lord had set up a secret, heavenly government, and it was ruled by Daniel and his three friends. These men were God’s governing instruments because they operated in the heavenly realm. As a result, these holy men knew the times. They could tell the people what God’s will was for the nations. They were bright, shining lights to everyone around them because they had the life of God within them.

In 2 Kings 6:8-23, we read about another man of God having a great impact on the kingdom where he lived. At that time, Syria was at war with Israel. During this conflict, the prophet Elisha was God’s secret government, and he ruled with authority. Elisha heard from the Lord and sent messages to Israel’s king, warning him of every move the Syrian army made. When the Syrian king found out about Elisha’s messages, he surrounded the prophet’s hometown with a battalion of troops. God blinded the Syrians, and Elisha ended up leading them captive into the Israelites’ camp.

Elisha had the light because he had the life of God in him. Today, our country needs believers who have that kind of holy passion and nearness to God. For God’s authority to have any impact on our nation and culture, it must be lived out in obedient vessels.

Limiting the Holy One of Israel

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

“Yes, again and again they…limited the Holy One of Israel” (Psalm 78:41, NKJV). The word for ‘limited’ here comes from two root words that mean “grieving God by scratching out an imprint.” In short, limiting God means drawing a line or a circle and stating, “God is in here, and he goes no further.”

That’s just what the early church in Jerusalem did. They limited Christ to a small circle, confining him to the Jewish population. We may scoff at this idea now, but this thinking also describes many believers today. We’ve marked in our minds a very small imprint or concept of Christ’s magnitude.

Jesus can’t be confined. He is constantly breaking out of our little, confining circles and always reaching out to the uttermost. 

Let me give an example. Years ago, Pentecostals seemed to have the baptism of the Holy Spirit confined to their movement. Many Pentecostals thought, “We are God’s Spirit-filled church!” Pentecostal preachers bemoaned the deadness of mainline denominations. “They don’t have the full gospel like we do,” they declared. Suddenly, God’s Spirit burst through everyone’s drawn circles. The Holy Ghost fell on believers in all kinds of denominations. A classic book was written about this move of the Spirit, called They Speak with Other Tongues by John Sherrill.

The Lord also used my book The Cross and the Switchblade, especially in Catholic circles. Like Peter in Acts chapter 10, I had to allow God to work in my heart before I could accept what was going on. I had been raised Pentecostal, and for the first time in my life, I saw priests weeping with conviction, crying out to Jesus.

Soon I had evangelical preachers contending with me, demanding, “What about those Catholics’ Mariology? How can you minister to people who believe in that?” I found myself answering in the same spirit as Peter did: “I don’t know anything about Mariology. All I know is there are spiritually hungry people in the Catholic church, and there are true Jesus worshippers among the priests. God is filling these people with his Spirit.”

God has his people everywhere, and we are not to call any of them unclean. As Peter was told in his vision, “What God has cleansed you must not call common” (Acts 10:15). We have to be careful that we do not represent Jesus as being small and box him in with our puny thinking.