Archive: Jesus Christ: Master of the Crisis

Archive: Jesus Christ: Master of the Crisis

Archive: Jesus Christ: Master of the Crisis

Condensed from an address by Dr. Akbar Abdul-Haqq, Associate Evangelist with Billy Graham

The Lord of the Church calls us to repentance. We fail to love and serve Him above all.

I would be belaboring the obvious if I were to say that the world in which we live is already in the midst of perhaps the deepest crisis in human history. And the crises of the world around us strangely have found their way into the Church.

What is happening today is not something which would surprise the Lord of the Church. He knew it all along. Actually, almost from the very beginning there have been crises. And as Master of all crises He also dealt with them, in His own way.

The first great crisis in the I ife of the Church was the incident of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11). Here, the Church right at its very birth, would have gone wrong. But the Holy Spirit, under the orders of the Master of every crisis, acted quickly. And Ananias and Sapphira were eliminated – without much notice!

Another crisis in the early Church was due to some people called Nicolaitans (Revelation 2: 6). We don’t know much about these people. Scofield tells us the Nicolaitans were a group of people who began to introduce the pernicious distinction between the clergy and the laity – the beginnings of the secular power structure in the Church. And the Lord Jesus Christ says, “I hate them.” He didn’t say, “I dislike them.” Jesus said, “I hate them.”

Brethren, the Lord Jesus Christ has a place for hate and love, both. Even psychologically, it is unsound to say that you love, love, love, and nothing else. There has to be someplace for hate. Because we have a capacity to hate, and if we don’t express it in the right way, it will find expression the wrong way. And the right way has got to be the way of Christ. He got angry when he cleansed the Temple. Now if He could get angry, am I more Christian than Christ to say, “Oh, no, I don’t feel any anger. I’m just a lamb.” (Even a lamb feels angry if you kick it hard.)

The zeal of the Lord has to consume a Christian. Not the zeal of my ambition. Not zeal in terms of what somebody has done to me, insulting me and so on. But if the House of God is being contaminated, I have to get angry. It has to be cleansed, according to the ways of the Lord.

He says, “I hate” these Nicolaitans, who are trying to build up a power structure. Because the way of the kingdom of the world is being smuggled into the Kingdom of God. They had built up quite a power structure by the time Constantine comes on the scene (312-337 AD). Read in that part of Church history how the bishops and the patriarchs were fighting against each other tooth and nail.

By the time you come to the 7th century appearance of Islam, Mohammed, the prophet of Islam, started his search after God. He was looking for an experience of God, and he came to Christians. The Christians had nothing to tell him except the ecumenical discussions in those days. And Mohammed left a record of those Christians in his book called the “Koran.” He said in one place, these Christians speak about the Messiah, but no sure knowledge have they about him, only an opinion. And so Mohammed turned against Christianity.

And after his death, the armies of Islam moved out of the cradle of Arabia and devastated the organized Church over much of the known world. It was the judgment of God upon a degenerate Church. Are we going to say that God will spare His judgment from our kind of Church today? It is already there – in terms of the world outside just ignoring the Church.

The Lord’s ways are not our ways. He doesn’t think the way we usually like to think. In the second chapter of the Book of Revelation, for example, He addresses Himself to all those in the Church at Ephesus. He says to them, I know your works. You are suffering for Me. You have patience when you suffer. You have capacity to distinguish between the right prophet and the wrong prophet. You have some of the great qualities that any church would love to have, any time in history. But then, in spite of all your great qualities, the Lord says, I have something_ against you also.

And what that something might be? In the fifth verse of the second chapter He says, “I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.”

If you go to the 19th chapter of the Book of Acts you learn there that Ephesus began as a church of born-again people. And yet the Lord had a serious complaint against them.

Many of us say we love the Lord. That’s good. But do we love the Lord first? Many of us say we live by the experience we had of the Lord. Are you living by the experience, or by the One whom you experienced?

I can look back into my own life. When I was in college, the Lord Jesus Christ met me for the first time. I had been seeking God for seven long years, in my own ways. But He came upon me a day when I least suspected. There were four or five other college students who had a similar experience, and it was as if we were drunk with new wine. A day before that we used to run after girls, we used to have gang fights, and all those things that carnal people may want to do. But within a few hours, we found this strange change: our only preoccupation was the Lord Jesus Christ.

I have known human love. I have known the love of my wife. My children. It is no critIcIsm or rejection of that love when I say that it does not begin to compare with the grand intoxication of falling in love with Christ.

After I had this first romance with the Lord, I entered the ministry of The Methodist Church. I was considered a pretty good minister. Even my wife thought that I preached good sermons once in a while.

Everything was going fine and one of the great evangelists of our age invited me to participate in a crusade – ostensibly to help him. And so I arrived in America. In this crusade, my first contact with him, I sat on the platform. The first evening he was beginning to speak to about 22,000 people in Louisville, Kentucky. He started by giving the first message on the Ten Commandments.

I sat there throughout his message and tried to improve upon his entire sermon. (I don’t mind telling you now because I have told this to him already.)

The second day the same thing. And on the third day I also was trying to just glorify myself. But around the fourth evening, as the evangelist was drawing to a close, all of a sudden I felt that I was there alone by myself. And I heard Someone speak to me exactly in terms of the first five verses from the second chapter of the Book of Revelation. I knew it was the Lord. He said to me, “Akbar, I know your works. I know you have preached here; you have preached there. I know once in a while you have suffered for my Name’s sake, but not with much patience. I know you have had some privations, but still you complain. I appreciate it all. Nevertheless, I have something against you.”

At this I pricked up my inner ears to hear what that might be. And the message came clearly across the horizon of my being! “You have forsaken your first love. Remember that day, from where you have fallen.”

I realized that the grand intoxication of the first love of my Lord had been dissipated. I still loved the Lord. But I did not love Him with the first love.

I want to thank God again that at this crisis in my life, the Master of crisis gave me the capacity to repent. I felt broken down. The most unworthy person. I hardly could control myself.

By this time the evangelist had finished his message. I followed him to his private room and as soon as we arrived there I broke down, in tears and crying. Perhaps for the first time in my life I did that.

The evangelist was completely taken by surprise. He tried to console me, and wondered what had happened. Then I told him what the Lord had spoken to me about. I knelt down and confessed to God my sin of this reduction of my devotion and dedication to the Lord of my life. I asked His forgiveness. Then the evangelist prayed for me.

I got up beginning to feel a new man. That was the beginning of another chapter which the Lord of life is still writing, in the book of my life.

I have given you just an illustration. I don’t know what you are going to call it theologically, backsliding or what. But the question is, how about our first love for Christ? Is it still the same as it used to be when we began with Him the first time? Or even more?

If so, God bless you. You are going to be a firebrand in the hands of the Lord. But if not, the Lord Jesus Christ says, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear what the Holy Spirit has to say to the churches.”

The Lord says, you have to repent. And if you don’t repent, then tragedy. Jesus warns, “I am going to come to you quickly and will remove your candlestand from his place.” Which means Jesus is going to reject you completely. (See Romans chapter 1 – Editor.)

The Book of Acts tells how Peter and John were taken to task by the Sanhedrin and the political powers in those days. And told not to preach Christ’s Gospel. They were the first evangelicals who felt helpless in the face of a formidable opposition. What did they do? Just discuss it? Talk about their trouble and then disperse?

No, they went on their knees to the Lord. They said, Lord please see what is happening here. They didn’t know what the Lord was going to do. They only said, “Lord please give us the boldness to proclaim this Gospel, to be evangelicals in the teeth of this great opposition. ”

What happened? A second Pentecost came. The whole place was shaken, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit once again.

And I think a second Pentecost is needed here before this Convocation disperses. Because the Lord Jesus Christ said, “If you being evil know how to give good things to your children how much more your Heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to them who ask it.”

You see, it’s just a matter of asking. But is there some impediment between the Lord and us which would keep us from a grand experience of a second Pentecost? If so it has to be within us. Some lack of repentance. Some lack of confession. Some lack of brokenness before the Lord, which would keep from us the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Now this is a simple matter isn’t it? If there is a confession or an acknowledgement to be made … a praise to be given which we have not given … any missing of doing the right thing – why don’t we do it right now? Ask God the Father, according to His blessed promise, to pour out His Holy Spirit once again upon us so that we can face the opposition within the church and without, with holy boldness.

That is exactly what we want to do before this great Convocation comes to an end. It would be a pity, wouldn’t it, that we talk about the need for renewal, we talk about the need for repentance, we talk about the need to be filled by the Holy Spirit, but never do anything about it?

First, we are going to have a session of prayerful waiing upon God our Lord. A few minutes where we are going to pour ourselves out personally and individually before the Lord, whatever our situation might be, whatever our confession might be. Just make that confession before Him. If you feel impelled by the Holy Spirit to lift up your voice and pray aloud, do so. But just please remember, just pray a sentence prayer. And after th is prayer session is over, I’ll conclude it with a brief prayer myself. Then we go into the next time of another few minutes duration, when we will ask God to pour out His Holy Spirit upon us. And I shall lead you in that prayer, as all of us would offer ourselves to Him.

Therefore let us go into the first part of our engagement with God at this time. We are going to pray quietly, silently, in the privacy of our own being. Let the Spirit of God lead us. God bless you, as we pray.

Oh Lord of crisis, do Thou receive our offering of ourselves, as we have poured ourselves out in Thy presence. And then, oh Father, do Thou bathe us afresh in the blood of the Lamb. Cleanse us of everything that might hinder the free work of Thy Holy Spirit. And thus, oh Lord, prepare us for the outpouring of Thy Spirit and Thy presence in a fresh anointing, in a second Pentecost. We pray these petitions oh Lord, to Thy glory, in Thy holy and blessed name. Amen.

A second Pentecost occurred in the closing moments of the Convocation. Heartfelt prayers came from everywhere. Quiet tears of repentance flowed freely. Then tears of joy as the Spirit of conviction brought a sense of cleansing and forgiveness to many layman and pastors – Charles W. Keysor, Editor.