Today I would like to speak to you from the theme, “Ten Shekels and a Shirt,” as we find it in Judges chapter 17. I’ll read the chapter, and then I will read a portion also from the 18th chapter so that the background might be clear in our minds. “And there was a man of mount Ephraim whose name was Micah.” There was a situation where the Amorites refused to allow the people of the tribe of Dan any access to Jerusalem, and they crowded them up into Mount Ephraim. It is a sad thing when the people of God allow the world to crowd them into an awkward position! So the people of Dan were unable to get to Jerusalem. Out of this comes the problems that we are about to see.
Now a man named Micah from the hill country of Ephraim said to his mother, “The eleven hundred shekels of silver that were taken from you and about which I heard you utter a curse—I have that silver with me; I took it.”
Then his mother said, “The LORD bless you, my son!”
When he returned the eleven hundred shekels of silver to his mother, she said, “I solemnly consecrate my silver to the LORD for my son to make a carved image and a cast idol. I will give it back to you.”
So he returned the silver to his mother, and she took two hundred shekels of silver and gave them to a silversmith, who made them into the image and the idol. And they were put in Micah’s house. Now this man Micah had a shrine, and he made an ephod and some idols and installed one of his sons as his priest. In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.
A young Levite from Bethlehem in Judah, who had been living within the clan of Judah, left that town in search of some other place to stay. On his way he came to Micah’s house in the hill country of Ephraim. Micah asked him, “Where are you from?”
“I’m a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah,” he said, “and I’m looking for a place to stay.”
Then Micah said to him, “Live with me and be my father and priest, and I’ll give you ten shekels of silver a year, your clothes and your food.”
So the Levite agreed to live with him, and the young man was to him like one of his sons. Then Micah installed the Levite, and the young man became his priest and lived in his house. And Micah said, “Now I know that the LORD will be good to
In those days Israel had no king. And in those days the tribe of the Danites was seeking a place of their own where they might
The men entered the hill country of Ephraim and came to the house of Micah, where they spent the night. When they were near Micah’s house, they recognized the voice of the young Levite; so they turned in there and asked him, “Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? Why are you here?”
He told them what Micah had done for him, and said, “He has hired me and I am his priest.”
Then they said to him, “Please inquire of God to learn whether our journey will be successful.”
The priest answered them, “Go in peace. Your journey has the LORD’s approval.”
Then the five men who had spied out the land of Laish said to their brothers, “Do you know that one of these houses has an ephod, other household gods, a carved image and a cast idol? Now you know what to do.” So they turned in there and went to the house of the young Levite at Micah’s place and greeted him. The six hundred Danites, armed for battle, stood at the entrance to the gate. The five men who had spied out the land went inside and took the carved image, the ephod, the other household gods and the cast idol while the priest and the six hundred armed men stood at the entrance to the gate.
When these men went into Micah’s house and took the carved image, the ephod, the other household gods and the cast idol, the priest said to them, “What are you doing?”
They answered him, “Be quiet! Don’t say a word. Come with us, and be our father and priest. Isn’t it better that you serve a tribe and clan in Israel as priest rather than just one man’s household?” Then the priest was glad. He took the ephod, the other household gods and the carved image and went along with the people. Putting their little children, their livestock and their possessions in front of them, they turned away and left.
(Judges 17:1-13; 18:1-6, 14-21)
But you see nevertheless there was a desire to get along as best he could. So he took a little bit of the world and a little bit of Israel, that which had been revealed by God, and he sort of mixed them up, until he had something that he thought might please the Lord. Then of course he was delighted beyond words when a wandering young preacher came along from Bethlehem, Judah. He was a Levite, and his mother was of the tribe of Judah. Though he himself was a Levite, God had given permission through Moses that the Levites might marry into and join themselves to other tribes.
This young man didn’t like the living provided for every Levite. He had wanderlust and an itching foot, and so he started off to see if he couldn’t do better for himself than was being done. He felt that being a Levite was good, but there should be opportunities associated with it, and so he came to the house of Micah. There he waited and there he was invited in and asked to become the priest. And Micah made a deal with him. He said, “If you’ll be my father and priest, then I’ll give you ten shekels and a shirt.” It says “clothing,” but you understand that the people of the day wore what would be called a gelabia, a sort of a long, oversized nightgown. He gave him a suit of clothes, or a change of apparel, and his food and ten shekels a year. This was a pretty good living for him, so he decided that he would stay there and enter into the mixture of idolatry and so on that was in the house of Micah.
But the people of Dan came along. They were supposed to have driven out the Amorites, but the Amorites were too difficult, and they wanted to find someone that was a little easier to get out, to move. They came to Micah’s house, and the Levite told them to go ahead. Then you find that they discovered that there were people after the manner of Zidonians at Laish. They were peaceful, and no one was there to protect them, and so they figured this would be very good place to take some land for themselves. When they came with the men that were sent to conquer this area, they figured that since they found the land through the young Levite, it would be splendid to have his assistance.
And so they went into the house of Micah and took all the things that he had made. And it cost a good bit of money, because at least two hundred shekels had been given for this one piece of furniture. And so they just took it all, made it theirs, and took the Levite. Rather hard on Micah, but you’ll notice the young Levite was able to adjust himself to this. It was amazing how flexible he was and how easily he could accommodate himself to such changes when there was a little rationalization along the way. He could begin to see that it was far more important to serve a tribe than one man’s family. And he could minister to so many more.
Why, he could see the wisdom of this, and he could justify it. With no real strain of conscience he could make the adjustment and hold his hand over his mouth while they took the furniture out of the little chapel that Micah had built. He was a wise man nonetheless. Rather than go along either at the front or at the rear, which put him in a place of danger, he put himself right in the middle, so that if Micah had sent any of his servants to get him he was safe with soldiers on every side.
What can we call this and how will it apply to our day’s generation? Would I be out of line if I were to talk to you for a little while about utilitarian religion and expedient Christianity and a useful God? I would like to call attention to the fact that our day is a day when the ruling philosophy is pragmatism. You understand what I mean by pragmatism? Pragmatism means if it works, it’s true. If it succeeds, it’s good. And the test of all practices, all principles, all truth (so called), all teaching, is: do they work? Now the greatest failures of the ages—according to pragmatism—have been some of the men God has honored most.
For instance, whereas Noah was a mighty good ship builder, his main occupation wasn’t shipbuilding, it was preaching. He was a terrible failure as a preacher. His wife and three children and their wives were all he had. Seven converts in 120 years, you wouldn’t call that particularly effective. Most mission boards 3 would have asked the missionaries to withdraw long before this. I say as a ship builder he did quite well, but as a preacher he was a failure.
And then we come down across the years to another man by the name of Jeremiah. He was mighty effective preacher, but ineffective as far as results were concerned. If you were to measure statistically how successful Jeremiah was, he would probably get a large cipher. For we find that he lost out with the people, he lost out with royalty, even the ministerial association voted against him and wouldn’t have anything to do with him. He had everything fail. The only one he seemed able to please was God, but otherwise he was a distinct failure.
And then we come to another well known person, the Lord Jesus Christ, who was a failure according to all the standards. He never succeeded in organizing a church or denomination. He wasn’t able to build a school. He didn’t succeed in getting a mission board established. He never had a book printed. He never was able to get any of the various criteria or instruments that we find are so useful. I’m not being sarcastic at all; they are useful. And our Lord preached for three years, healed thousands of people, fed thousands of people, and yet when it was all over there were 120 faithful out of 500 to whom he could reveal Himself after His resurrection.
And the day that He was taken, one man said, “If all the others forsake you, I’m willing to die for you.” He looked at this one and said “Peter you don’t know your own heart. You’re going to deny me three times before the cock crows this morning.” So all men forsook Him and fled. By every standard of our generation or any generation, our Lord was a singular failure. The question comes then to this, what is the standard of success, and by what are we going to judge our lives and our ministry? And the question that you are going to ask yourself, “Is God an end, or is He a means?” Our generation is prepared to honor successful choices. As long as a person can get the job done, then our generation is prepared to say well done.
And so we’ve got to ask ourselves at the very outset of our ministry, and our pilgrimage, and our walk: “Are we going to be Levites who serve God for ten shekels and a shirt? Are we going to serve men, perhaps in the name of God, rather than God?” For though he was a Levite and performed religious activities, he was looking for a place which would give him recognition, a place which would give him acceptance, a place which would give him security, a place where he could shine in terms of those values which were important to him. His whole business was serving in religious activities, so it had to be a religious job.
He was very happy when he found that Micah had an opening. But he had decided that he was worth ten shekels and a shirt, and he was prepared to sell himself to anyone that would give that much. If somebody came along and gave more, he would sell himself to them. But he put a value upon himself, and he figured then his religious service and his activities were just a means to an end. By the same token, God was a means to an end.
Now in order to understand the implications of that fact in the twentieth century, we must go back 150 years, to a conflict that attacked Christianity. Just after the great revivals in American with Finney, when the Spirit of God had been marvelously outpoured onto certain portions of our country, there came an open attack on our faith in Europe under the “higher critics.” Darwin had postulated his theory of evolution, certain philosophers had adapted it to their philosophies, and theologians had applied it to the Scripture.
About 1850 you could mark the opening of a frontal attack upon the Word of God. Satan had always been insidiously attacking it. But now it was open season on the Book and open season on the Church. Voltaire in France could declare that he would live to see the Bible become a relic placed only in museums, that it would be utterly destroyed by the arguments he was so forcefully presenting against it.
Well, what was the effect of this? The philosophy of the day became humanism. And you could define humanism this way: humanism is a philosophy that declares the end of all being is the happiness of man. The reason for existence is man’s happiness. Now according to humanism, salvation is simply a matter of getting all the happiness you can out of life. You can be influenced by someone like Nietzche, who says that the only true satisfaction in life is power, and that the power is its own justification, and that after all the world is a jungle. It is therefore up to man to be happy and become powerful by any means he can use.
For it is only in this position of ascendancy—or, as we saw, in the worship of Molech— that one can be happy. This would produce in due course a Hitler who would take the philosophy of Nietzche as his working operating principle and guide and would say of his people that they were destined to rule the world. Therefore any means that they could use to achieve this was then salvation. 4 Somebody else turns around and says, “Well no, the end of being is happiness, but happiness doesn’t come from authority over people, happiness comes from sensual experience.”
So you would have the type of existentialism that characterizes France today, that’s given rise to beatnikism in America and to the gross sensuality of our country. Since man is essentially a glandular animal whose highest moments of ecstasy come from the exercise of his glands, salvation is simply to find the most desirable way to gratify this part of a person. And so this became the effect of humanism, that the end of all being is the happiness of man.
John Dewey, an American philosopher who influenced education, was able to persuade the educators that there were no absolute standards. Children shouldn’t be brought to any particular standard, that the end of education was simply to allow the child to express himself, expand on what he is, and find his happiness in being what he wants to be. So we had cultural lawlessness, when every man could “do as seemed right in his own eyes” and we had no God to rule over us.
The Bible had been discounted and disallowed and disproved. God had been dethroned. He didn’t exist, and He had no personal relationship to individuals. Jesus Christ was either a myth or just a man—so they taught—and therefore the whole end of being was happiness. The individual would establish the standards of his happiness and interpret it.
Liberal, Fundamentalist…or Neither
Now religion still had to exist. There were so many people that made their living at it, they had to find some way to justify their existence. So back about the time, in 1850, the church divided into two groups. The one group was the liberals, who accepted the philosophy of humanism and tried to find some relevance by saying something like this to their generation: “We don’t know there’s a heaven. We don’t know there’s a hell. But we do know that you’ve got to live for 70 years. We know there’s a great deal of benefit from poetry, from high thoughts and noble aspirations.
Therefore it’s important for you to come to church on
And so this became the essence of liberalism. It meant simply nothing more than to try and put a little sugar in the bitter coffee of the journey and sweeten it up for a time. This is all that it could say.
Well now the philosophy of the atmosphere is humanism; the chief end of being is the happiness of man. There’s another group of people that have taken umbrage with the liberals. This group is my people, the fundamentalists. They say, “We believe in the inspiration of the Bible. We believe in the deity of Jesus Christ. We believe in hell. We believe in heaven. We believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.”
But remember the atmosphere is that of humanism. And humanism says the chief end of being is the happiness of man. Humanism is like a miasma out of the pit, it just permeates every place. Humanism is like an infection, an epidemic—it just goes everywhere.
So it wasn’t long until the fundamentalists knew each other, because they said, “We believe these things!” They were men for the most part who had met God. But you see it wasn’t long until having said, “These are the things that establish us as fundamentalists,” that the second generation said, “This is how to become a fundamentalist: Believe in the inspiration of the Bible! Believe in the deity of Christ! Believe in His death, burial, and resurrection! And thereby become a fundamentalist.”
And so it wasn’t long until it got to our generation, where the whole plan of salvation was to give intellectual assent to a few statements of doctrine. And a person was considered a Christian because he could say “Uh huh” at four or five places when he was asked. If he knew where to say “Uh huh,” someone would pat him on the back, shake his hand, smile broadly, and say “Brother, you’re saved!”
So it had gotten down to the place where salvation was nothing more than an assent to a scheme or a formula, and the end of this salvation was the happiness of
The liberal says the end of religion is to make
But again! The end of all of the religion, it was proclaimed, was the happiness of man. And where as the liberal says, “By social change and political order we’re going to do away with slums, we’re going to do 5 away with alcoholism and dope addiction and poverty. And we’re going to make HEAVEN ON EARTH AND MAKE YOU HAPPY WHILE YOU’RE ALIVE! We don’t know anything about after that, but we want to be happy while you’re alive!” They went ahead to try and do it, only to be brought to a terrifying shock at the first World War and utterly staggered by the second World War, because they seemed to be getting nowhere fast.
And then the fundamentalists, along the line, are now tuning in on this same wavelength of humanism. Until we find it something like this: “Accept Jesus so you can go to heaven! You don’t want to go to that old, filthy, nasty, burning hell when there is a beautiful heaven up there! Now come to Jesus so you can go to heaven!”
And the appeal could be as much to selfishness as a couple of men sitting in a coffee shop deciding they are going to rob a bank to get something for nothing! There’s a way that you can give an invitation to sinners, that just sounds for all the world like a plot to take a filling station proprietor’s Saturday night earnings without working for them.
Humanism is, I believe, the most deadly and disastrous of all the philosophical stenches that’s crept up through the grating over the pit of Hell. It has penetrated so much of our religion. AND IT IS UTTER AND TOTAL CONTRAST WITH CHRISTIANITY! Unfortunately it’s seldom seen as such. And here we find Micah, who wants to have a little chapel, and he wants to have a priest, and he wants to have prayer, and he wants to have devotion, because “I know the LORD will do me good!” AND THIS IS SELFISHNESS! AND THIS IS SIN!
And the Levite comes along and falls right in with it, because he wants a place. He wants ten shekels and a shirt and his food. And so in order that he can have what he wants, and Micah can have what he wants, THEY SELL OUT GOD for ten shekels and a shirt.
THIS IS THE BETRAYAL OF THE AGES! And it is the betrayal in which we live.
I don’t see HOW GOD CAN REVIVE IT, until we come back to Christianity, in DIRECT AND TOTAL CONTRAST WITH THE STENCHFUL HUMANISM that’s perpetrated in our generation in the name of Christ.
I’m afraid that it’s become so subtle that it goes everywhere. What is it? In essence it’s this: This philosophical postulate—that the end of all being is the happiness of man—has been sort of covered over with evangelical terms and Biblical doctrine until God reigns in heaven for the happiness of man, Jesus Christ was incarnate for the happiness of man, all the angels exist for the happiness of man. Everything is for the happiness of man! AND I SUBMIT TO YOU THAT THIS IS UNCHRISTIAN! Didn’t God intend to make
Reverence For Life
Albert Schweitzer, a good man highly admired by the fuzzy thinkers of our day, lived for years in Congo, East Africa. He was a brilliant man, a philosopher, doctor, musician, and composer. But he should never be called a Christian. He doesn’t see Christ as having any relevance to his philosophy or life. He is a humanist.
A favorite sport of the Belgian government officials who were expert marksman was crocodile-shooting from the deck of a streamer on the Congo River. They kept tally by means of a knotted string around their gun barrel, counting the number of crocodiles killed. Schweitzer was rightfully appalled by their revolting sport.
He deemed it a colossal waste of life. From these experiences Schweitzer gleaned the essence of his philosophy, summed by these words: reverence for life. Crocodile life…human life…and all other kinds of life. Dr. Schweitzer was so convinced of reverence of life that he didn’t like to sterilize his surgery. He had the dirtiest surgery in Africa. Bacteria are life and must not be destroyed.
George Kline, a veteran missionary with the South Africa General Mission, lived about 60 miles from Dr. Schweitzer’s station. George was an accomplished organist and organ repairer. He was asked by Dr. Schweitzer to come to his station to check out his malfunctioning organ, donated by a friend in Germany. George went over to see the good doctor.
“George, do you think you can fix my organ?”
“I’ll try,” he responded.
George took the back off the organ and to his amazement discovered a huge nest of cockroaches. With characteristic American enthusiasm and zeal George started trampling all over the cockroaches so as not 6 to let a one of them get away. And the good doctor came out, his hair standing straighter than it had for a long time. And because of his anger he said, “YOU STOP THAT RIGHT NOW!”
George said, “Why? They’re ruining your organ.”
Schweitzer said, “That’s all right, they were just being true to their nature. You can’t kill those.”
So one of the boys came in and said, “It’s all right, Mr. Kline.”
And he reached down very tenderly, picked them up, and put them in a little bag, and crimped the top. Then he took the roaches out into the jungle and let them loose.
Now here was a man that believed his philosophy of reverence for life. He was UTTERLY COMMITTED TO IT, UTTERLY CONSISTENT, even when it came to the matter of a cockroach or a microbe. Do you see? This is humanism, this is consistency.
NOW I ASK YOU, WHAT IS THE PHILOSOPHY OF MISSIONS? WHAT IS THE PHILOSOPHY OF EVANGELISM? WHAT IS THE PHILOSOPHY OF A CHRISTIAN?
If you’ll ask me why I went to Africa, I’ll tell you I went primarily to improve on the justice of God. I didn’t think it was right for anybody to go to Hell without a chance to be saved. So I went to give poor sinners a chance to go to heaven. Now I hadn’t put it in so many words, but if you’ll analyze what I just told you do you know what it is?
Humanism. I was simply using the provisions of Jesus Christ as a means to improve upon human conditions of suffering and misery. And when I went to Africa, I discovered that they weren’t poor, ignorant, little heathen running around in the woods looking for someone to tell them how to go to heaven.
But they were MONSTERS OF INIQUITY! They were living in utter and total defiance of far more knowledge of God
When I found that out, I assure you that I was so angry with God that on one occasion in prayer I told Him it was a mighty little thing He’d done, sending me out there to reach these people that were waiting to be told how to go to heaven, but when I got there I found out they knew about heaven and didn’t want to go there, and that they loved their sin and wanted to stay in it.
I went out there motivated by humanism. I’d seen pictures of lepers, I’d seen pictures of ulcers, I’d seen pictures of native funerals, and I didn’t want my fellow human beings to suffer in Hell eternally after such a miserable existence on earth. But it was there in Africa that God began to tear THROUGH THE OVERLAY OF THIS HUMANISM! And it was that day in my bedroom with the door locked that I wrestled with God.
For here I was, coming to grips with the fact that the people I thought were ignorant and wanted to know how to go to heaven and were saying, “Someone come teach us”, actually didn’t want to take time to talk with me or anybody else. They had no interest in the Bible and no interest in Christ, and they loved their sin and wanted to continue in it. And I was to that place at that time where I felt the whole thing was a sham and a mockery, and I had been sold a bill of goods! I wanted to come home.
There alone in my bedroom as I faced God honestly with what my heart felt, it seemed to me I heard Him say, “Yes, but will not the Judge of all the earth do right? The Heathen are lost. And they’re going to go to Hell, but not because they haven’t heard the gospel. They’re going to go to Hell because they are sinners WHO LOVE THEIR SIN, and because they deserve Hell. BUT, I didn’t send you out there for them. I didn’t send you out there for their sakes.”
And I heard as clearly as I’ve ever heard, though it wasn’t with physical voice but it was the echo of truth of the ages finding its way into an open heart. I heard God say to my heart that day something like this:
“I didn’t send you to Africa for the sake of the heathen, I sent you to Africa for My sake. They deserved Hell! But I LOVE THEM! AND I ENDURED THE AGONIES OF HELL FOR THEM! I DIDN’T SEND YOU OUT THERE FOR THEM! I SENT YOU OUT THERE FOR ME! DO I NOT DESERVE THE REWARD OF MY SUFFERING? DON’T I DESERVE THOSE FOR WHOM I DIED?“
I was there not for the sake of the heathen. I was there for the Savior who endured the agonies of Hell for me. But He deserved the heathen, because He died for them. My eyes were opened. I was no longer working for Micah and ten shekels and a shirt, but I was serving a living God.
Do you see? Let me epitomize, let me summarize. Christianity says, “The end of all being is the glory of God.” Humanism says, “The end of all being is the happiness of man.”
One was born in Hell: the deification of man. THE OTHER WAS BORN IN HEAVEN: THE GLORIFICATION OF GOD! One is Levite serving Micah, and the other is a heart that’s unworthy, serving the living God, because it’s the highest honor in the universe.
What About You?
What about you? Why did you repent? I’d like to see some people repent on Biblical terms again. George Whitefield knew it. He stood on Boston Commons speaking to twenty thousand people, and he said, “Listen sinners, you’re monsters, MONSTERS OF INIQUITY! You deserve Hell! And the worst of your crimes is in that criminals though you’ve been, you haven’t had the good grace to see it! If you will not weep for your SINS and your crimes against a Holy God, George Whitefield will weep for you!”
That man would put his head back and sob like a baby. Why? Because they were in danger of Hell? No! But because they were MONSTERS OF INIQUITY, who didn’t even see their sin or care about their crimes. You see the difference? The difference is, here’s somebody trembling because he is going to be hurt in Hell. AND HE HAS NO SENSE OF THE ENORMITY OF HIS GUILT AND NO SENSE OF THE ENORMITY OF HIS CRIME AND NO SENSE OF HIS INSULT AGAINST DEITY! He’s only trembling because his skin is about to be singed. He’s afraid.
I submit to you that whereas fear is good office work in preparing us for grace, it’s no place to stop. The Holy Ghost doesn’t stop there. That’s the reason why people cannot savingly receive Christ until they’ve repented. And a person can repent only if that person has been convicted. And conviction is the work of the Holy Ghost that helps a sinner to see THAT HE IS A CRIMINAL BEFORE GOD AND DESERVES ALL GOD’S WRATH. AND IF GOD WERE TO SEND HIM TO THE LOWEST CORNER OF A DEVIL’S HELL FOREVER AND TEN ETERNITIES, THAT HE DESERVED IT ALL! And a
There was a difference in the time of John Wesley in the 18th century England. Wesley was a preacher of righteousness who exalted the holiness of God in his two to three hour open air sermons. He dwelt on the law of God, the justice of God, and the wisdom of His requirements. He would depict to sinners the enormity of their crimes and their open rebellion and treason and anarchy. The power of God would so descend on the congregation that people were smitten to the ground, utterly unconscious. They had had a revelation of the holiness of God and had seen the enormity of their sins. The Spirit of God had penetrated their minds and hearts.
This phenomenon also happened in America in the 18th century at Yale University during the time of John Wesley Redfield. Outdoor evangelistic meetings were held in the amphitheater at Yale University. Policeman controlling the crowds were cautioned to delineate between the common drunk, whose alcohol breath betrayed him and who was to be locked up for drunken behavior, and those who had been smitten by God and were diagnosed as having “Redfield’s disease.”
They were to be removed to a quiet place until they returned to consciousness. Lives were transformed. If men had been drunkards, they stopped drinking; cruel persons changed; immoral people gave up immorality. Thieves repented and returned what had been stolen. Men and women had seen the holiness of God and the enormity of their sin. The Spirit of God had driven them down into unconsciousness because of the weight of their guilt. Somehow in the overspreading of the power of God, sinners repented of their sin and came savingly to Christ.
But there was a difference! It wasn’t trying to convince a GOOD MAN that he was in trouble with a BAD GOD! It was trying to convince BAD MEN that they had deserved the wrath and anger of a GOOD GOD! And the consequences were repentance that lead to faith and lead to the life. Dear friends, there’s only one reason, one reason, for a sinner to repent. That’s because Jesus Christ deserves the worship and the adoration and the love and the obedience of his heart. Not because he’ll go to heaven.
If the only reason you repented, dear friend, was to keep out of Hell, then all you are is JUST A LEVITE SERVING FOR TEN SHEKELS AND A SHIRT! THAT’S ALL! You’re trying to serve God because He’ll do you good! But a repentant heart is a heart that has seen something of the enormity of the crime of playing God and denying the just and righteous God the worship and obedience that He deserves! Why should a sinner repent?
BECAUSE GOD DESERVES THE OBEDIENCE AND LOVE THAT THE SINNER HAS REFUSED 8 TO GIVE HIM!
Not so that he’ll go to heaven. If the only reason he repents is so that he’ll go to heaven, it’s nothing but trying to make a deal or a bargain with God.
WHY SHOULD A SINNER GIVE UP ALL HIS SINS? WHY SHOULD HE BE CHALLENGED TO DO IT? WHY SHOULD HE MAKE RESTITUTION WHEN HE’S COMING TO CHRIST? BECAUSE GOD DESERVES THE OBEDIENCE THAT HE DEMANDS!
I have talked with people that have no assurance that sins are forgiven. They want to feel safe before they’re willing to commit themselves to Christ. But I believe that the only ones whom God actually witnesses by His Spirit are born of Him are the people who come to Jesus Christ and say something like this:
“Lord Jesus, I’m going to obey you, and love you, and serve you, and do what you want me to do, as long as I live, even if I go to Hell at the end of the road, simply because YOU ARE WORTHY TO BE LOVED, AND OBEYED, AND SERVED, and I’m not trying to make a deal with you!“
Do you see the difference? Do you see the difference between a Levite serving for ten shekels and a shirt or a Micah building a chapel because “God will do you good” and someone that repents for the glory of God?
Why should a person come to the cross? Why should a person embrace death with Christ? Why should a person be willing to go in identification down to the cross and into the tomb and up again? I’ll tell you why! BECAUSE IT’S THE ONLY WAY THAT GOD CAN GET GLORY OUT OF A HUMAN BEING! If you say it’s because he’ll get joy or peace or blessing or success or fame then it’s nothing but a Levite serving for ten shekels and a shirt.
THERE IS ONLY ONE REASON FOR YOU TO GO TO THE CROSS, DEAR YOUNG PERSON.
And that’s because until you come to the place of union with Christ in death you are defrauding the Son of God of the glory that He could get out of your life. For no flesh shall glory in His sight. And until you’ve understood the sanctifying work of God by the Holy Ghost taking you into union with Christ in death and burial and resurrection, you have to serve in what you have. And all you have is under the sentence of death: human personality, human nature, human strength, and human energy. And God will get no glory out of that!
So the reason for you to go to the cross isn’t that you’re going to get victory. You will get victory. It isn’t that you’re going to have joy. You will have joy. But the reason for you to embrace the cross and press through until you know that you can testify with Paul, “I am crucified with Christ” (Gal 2:20), isn’t what you’re going to get out of it, but what He’ll get out of it, for the glory of God.
By the same token: Why aren’t you pressed through to know the fullness of the Holy Spirit? Why aren’t you pressed through to know the fullness of Christ? I’ll tell you why! BECAUSE THE ONLY POSSIBLE WAY THAT JESUS CHRIST WILL GET GLORY OUT OF A LIFE THAT HE’S REDEEMED WITH HIS PRECIOUS BLOOD IS WHEN HE CAN FILL THAT LIFE WITH HIS PRESENCE AND LIVE IN IT THROUGH HIS OWN LIFE.
The genius of our faith wasn’t that we were going to go through the motions like a Levite that was hired to serve God. No, No! The genius of our faith was that we’d come to a place where we knew we could do nothing, and all we could do would be to present the vessel and say, “Lord Jesus, You’ll have to fill it. And everything that’s done will have to be done by You and for You.” But, oh, I know so many people that are trying to know the fullness of God so that they can use God.
The Power of the Spirit
A young preacher came to me down in Huntington, West Virginia. He said, “Brother Reidhead, I’ve got a great church. I’ve got a wonderful Sunday School program, got a growing radio ministry, but I feel a personal need and a personal lack. I need to be baptized with the Holy Ghost. I need to be filled with the Spirit. And someone told me God had done something for you, and I wonder if you could help me?”
I looked at the fellow, and you know what he looked like? ME. Just looked like me. I just saw in him everything that was in me. You thought I was going to say me before. No, listen dear heart, if you’ve ever seen yourself you’ll know you’re never going to be anything else than you were. “For in me and my flesh there’s no good thing” (Rom 7:18). He looked like me. He was like a fellow driving up in a big Cadillac to someone standing at the filling station, saying “Fill ‘er up Bub, with the highest octane you got!”
Well that’s the way it looked. He wanted power for his program. But God is not going to be a means to anyone’s end. I said, “I’m awfully sorry, I don’t think that I can help you.”
He said, “Why?”
I said, “I don’t think you’re ready. I suppose you consider yourself coming up driving a Cadillac. You’ve talked about your program, you’ve talked about your radio, you’ve talked about your Sunday School and church. It’s very good. You’ve done wonderfully well without the power of the Holy Spirit.”
That’s what the Chinese Christian said, you know, when he got back to China. “What impressed you most about America?” He said, “The great things Americans can accomplish without God.”
The young preacher had accomplished a great deal, admittedly without God. Now he wanted something of power to accomplish his ends even further.
I said, “No, no, you’re sitting behind the wheel, and you’re saying to God, ‘Give me power so I can go faster.’ That won’t work, You’ve got to slide over.” But I knew that rascal, because I knew me. I said, “No, it will never do, you’ve got to get in the back seat.” And I could see him leaning over and grabbing the wheel. “No,” I said, “it will never do in the back seat.” I said, “Before God will do anything for you, you know what you’ve go to do?”
He asked, “What?”
I said, “You’ve got to get out of the car, take the keys around, open up the trunk lid, hand the keys to the Lord Jesus, get inside the trunk, slam the lid down, whisper through the keyhole, ‘Lord look, fill’ er up with anything You want, and You drive. It’s up to You from now on.'”
That’s why so many people you know do not enter into the fullness of Christ. They want to become a Levite with ten shekels and a shirt. They’ve been serving Micah, but they think if they had the power of the Holy Ghost they could serve the tribe of Dan.
It will never work. Never work. There’s only one reason for God “needing” you, and that’s to bring you to the place where, in repentance, you’ve been pardoned for His glory. And in victory you’ve been brought to the place of death that He might reign. And in that fullness, Jesus Christ is able to live and walk in you. Your attitude must be the attitude of the Lord Himself, who said, “I can do nothing of Myself” (John 8:28).
I can’t speak of myself. I don’t make plans for myself. My only reason for being is for the glory of God in Jesus Christ. If I were to say to you, “Come to be saved so you can go to heaven, come to the cross so that you can have joy and victory, come for the fullness of the Spirit so that you can be satisfied,” I would be falling into the trap of humanism.
I’m going to say to you, dear friend, if you’re out here without Christ, you come to Jesus Christ and serve Him as long as you live, whether you go to hell at the end of the way, BECAUSE HE IS WORTHY!
I say to you, Christian friend: come to the cross and join Him in union with His death and enter into all the meaning of death to self in order that He can have glory. I say to you, dear Christian, if you do not know the fullness of the Holy Ghost, come and present your body a living sacrifice, and let Him fill you so that He can have the purpose for His coming fulfilled in you and get glory through your life. IT’S NOT WHAT YOU’RE GOING TO GET OUT OF GOD, IT’S WHAT’S HE GOING TO GET OUT OF YOU.
Let’s be done, once and for all, with utilitarian Christianity that makes God a means, instead of the glorious END that He is. Let’s resign. Let’s tell Micah that we’re through. We’re no longer going to be his priests, serving for ten shekels and a shirt. Let’s tell the tribe of Dan we’re through. And let’s come and cast ourselves at the feet of the nail-pierced Son of God and tell Him that we’re going to obey Him, and love Him, and serve Him as long as we live, BECAUSE HE IS WORTHY!
The Lamb Who Was Slain
Two young Moravians heard of an island in the West Indies where an atheist British owner had 2000 to 3000 slaves. The owner had said, “No preacher, no clergyman, will ever stay on this island. If he’s shipwrecked, we’ll keep him in a separate house until he has to leave, but he’s never going to talk to any of us about God. I’m through with all that nonsense.” Three thousand slaves from the jungles of Africa brought to an island in the Atlantic, there to live and die without hearing of Christ.
Two young Germans in their 20’s from the Moravian sect heard about their plight. They sold themselves to the British planter for the standard price for a male slave and used the money they received from their sale to purchase passage to the West Indies. The miserly atheist planter would not even transport them. 10 The Moravian community from Herrnhut came to see the two lads off, who would never return again, having freely sold themselves into a lifetime of slavery. As members of the slave community they would witness as Christians to the love of God.
Family members were emotional, weeping. Was this extreme sacrifice wise? Was it necessary? As the ship slipped away with the tide and the gap widened, the housings had been cast off and were curled up on the pier. The young men saw the widening gap. They linked arms, raised their hands and shouted across the spreading gap, “May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering!”
This became the call of Moravian missions. And this is our only reason for being…that the Lamb that was slain may receive the reward of His suffering!
Ten Shekels and a Shirt is the transcript of a spoken teaching by Paris Reidhead, delivered spontaneously from the heart during the mid-1960’s. Used by permission. You may reproduce this writing if you wish, so long as you copy it in its entirety (including this notice) and distribute it free of charge. Scriptures in the original message were from the KJV. These are from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. ©1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.