“The spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Isaiah 61:1-2a).
The Spirit of Christ mentioned in this Scripture has been absorbing my whole attention. I need the Spirit of Christ. The Spirit of Christ brings complete freedom from sin. Sadhu Sundar Singh [a Sikh who decided to follow Jesus] used to say, “Salvation is not merely forgiveness of sins, but freedom from sin.” What a wonderful salvation and freedom from sin!
Man must know that he is nothing and worthless. Prayer helps him to come to this knowledge. Before meeting Jesus, a man thinks he is a great person and wants to become still greater.
It is good to come to Jesus to know you are nothing. A man who prays very soon comes to know that he can do nothing by himself. Jesus came to this position: “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me” (John 5:30).
My dear friends, the positive thrust in your life and the spiritual drive that you can have in your life, must they always be retarded and braked? No. Jesus gives freedom and liberty to the captives. You can never have a prison with an open door. In that case, it is no longer a prison. But the Spirit of Christ opens your prison door. You and I that were captives are completely unbound and released by the Spirit of Christ. You should not rest until it has become your daily experience.
This is followed by the proclamation of “the acceptable year of the Lord” [verse 2]. Now to proclaim this, we need courage. Some of us have become a bunch of cowards. So preachers also just say, “Oh God is going to bless you. Just drop a hundred into the offering. That will do it.” But God says, “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift” (Matthew 5:23-24).
Nowadays I don’t see even preachers doing this. They leave a word here, a word there—some words of dissension. But the Christ-like spirit gives you a Christ-like character. The heathen character, the character born of idolatry, is an ugly character which tries to mix and mingle truth and untruth.
God has a great purpose for each one of you. “And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations” (Isaiah 61:4). I am deeply burdened about the old ways. The temptation is to say, “Alright, let’s leave these former desolations alone.” God wants to cleanse and sanctify some of the old desolations in your own life. For any kind of cleansing, there should be a recognition and acknowledgement of the evil that has been wrought. One of the marks of real turning to God is godly sorrow. The sorrow of this world brings sickness and death. But godly sorrow brings repentance. There is nothing to regret about that.
To build the old ways is not an easy undertaking. It requires your whole personality and all the powers that you can summon. Some people sit and study all night when they have university exams. Some forget food, sleep, and other necessities when it comes to research. Now even in ascending Mt. Everest, a man of 80 conquered Everest and a woman with prostheses managed to climb Mt. Everest! Look at the excuses people come up with for not doing anything for God.
Building up the old ways and raising up former desolations is not an undertaking for lazy men or half-hearted people. When Nehemiah heard of the fallen walls of Jerusalem, he “sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven” (Nehemiah 1:4). What a concern he had for God's name! This is a day of blasphemy. We are told to lift up the fallen desolations. Are we doing that?
We read in Nehemiah 6:15 that the fallen walls were rebuilt and [the Jews] finished that work in 52 days! Those were not like the 9-inch walls of today. They were massive walls. To build such fallen walls is a great task! When you are repairing a wall, you have to begin with the foundation. That involves immense work. But they completed that work in 52 days! Look at this oneness. Those walls needed to be joined. What precision it would have required! Just imagine how hard they all laboured.
The psalmist says, “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise” (Psalm 57:7). A fixed heart is a great blessing. A heart that flirts with the world will accomplish nothing. The mind-set of today is that everything should be comfortable and one’s security and income should be assured. With that mind-set, we cannot rebuild the fallen walls of Jerusalem. It requires a fixed heart to do great things for God.
Everywhere, people just want a temporary relief. If you just heal a person, he goes back and serves the devil and comes back with a worse disease. My father used to say, “I am not here to heal your diseases that you may go and serve the devil.” He would not pray for them till they had heard the Word of God for three days. When they heard the Word for three days, that was generally followed by repentance, as they would not be able to resist the truth of God. In fact, my dad would have no need to pray for them, because God would have already given them the whole package—His touch and blessing upon their spirit, soul, and body! So when they repented and turned to Jesus, their diseases were also healed by the Lord.
How much grief it gives me to see the condition of so many of our fine boys and girls who have passed through our students’ camps and retreats! They don’t have a fixed heart. They could have taken the revival blessing to every corner of the world. But they never desired a heart like that of Nehemiah.
Are we mere spectators at a time like this? A Christian can never be a spectator. Alright, America is a sinking ship. Don’t say, “Let me get a few dollars before the ship sinks.” What kind of mentality are you teaching your sons and daughters? When they go and work there, they don’t weep for America or seek the restoration of that great nation. They are a bunch of hirelings. Have you brought forth hirelings? Our children must rise up and lift up the fallen desolations.
Beware, my friends, we are living at a time in history when the end is very close. This is no time to dance around and prance around, but a time to build the old wastes and raise up the former desolations. May the Lord help us to do so.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon