Blueprint from Heaven
A Sermon by
Pastor Wayman Mitchell
The Divine Blue Print
Phillipians For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The inhabitants were mostly soldiers who'd served their time in the Roman army and had been rewarded with full citizenship. Wherever this type of colony was founded, fragments of Roman tradition were evident. Roman dress was worn, Roman magistrates governed, the Latin tongue was spoken, and Roman morals were observed. Even to the ends of the Earth, the Romans remained unshakably Roman.
The word “conversation” comes from the Greek word “politeuma,” which literally means “commonwealth.” Goodspeed translates this scripture, “But the commonwealth to which we belong is in heaven” Moffat translates it, “But we are a colony of heaven.” What a privilege it is to have God state, through the mouth of the apostle Paul, that you and I literally are an outpost, a colony of heaven on Earth! What a tremendous dignity is given to us! We need to adhere to the understanding of that. We have a responsibility to follow the pattern that God has given us as a colony of heaven! Just as the Romans didn't go into new areas and do their own thing, but were required to maintain the Roman tradition.
Colony of Heaven - A Spirit
A number of things about
You have probably observed
that entire communities and locales are affected by certain spiritual
characteristics. Some years ago, when we were in
In the scripture here Paul develops a word picture, that every person in the ancient world understood, when he wrote “We are a colony of heaven.” He is referring to the spirit that had laid hold of the Roman people and culture. For all the sins they had become involved in, they still maintained an overwhelming spirit.
The Roman spirit was very distinctive. History records that during one certain battle, there was a powerful earthquake: The other armies were unnerved but the Roman soldiers never faltered because there was such a spirit of concentration and zeal upon them. They continued their task and pursued the battle through to victory, not heeding the surrounding circumstances.
Numbers says, “But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land to possess it.”
The Bible says in two other places that Caleb and Joshua had "another spirit" that they heartedly abandoned themselves to God, that spirit laid hold of them and became part of their personalities.
When Jesus found the money changers desecrating the temple, the Bible says He used a whip made of cords to turn over their tables and drive them out. The disciples remembered afterwards these words from the Old Testament, “The zeal of your house has eaten me up,” or literally, “The jealousy of your house has consumed me.” This was not something Jesus had taken classes in, it was something that came from within. He had an overwhelming consumption for the things of God. When He saw the scene in the temple, there was a spontaneous outbreaking of indignation inside him that had been inspired from his wholehearted service to God.
This is a spiritual phenomenon, something that captures the heart and drives it to a full commitment. The apostle Paul is writing that you and I are a colony of heaven, that our citizenship is there. We are a commonwealth of heaven. God ought to be able to lay hold of us with the same spirit that men of old had. Our hearts should be filled with the same zeal that they had in the word of God.
Full of the Holy Ghost
The early church called this zeal being full of the Holy Ghost. We often talk of “being filled with the Holy Ghost and speaking in tongues,” but this is not the context which I am speaking of. The Book of Acts talks' about men who have a spirit, which is a consuming passion for God - a wholeheartedness for God. There is something about their spirit that makes them stand out above their brethren. When the Apostles looked for men to serve God, they looked for those of whom it could be said, “they were men full of the Holy Ghost.” This is not referring to just anyone who has spoken in tongues. When the Sanhedrin saw the boldness of Peter and John they were beholding the spirit that they had. They took note that they had been with Jesus, and that they had the same spirit Jesus had.
There is more happening in a real Bible conference than words. There is a spirit there. That spiritual contagion is something that is “gonna get on you, get in you, and get a hold of you.” It's going to turn you upside down, and if you'll open your heart to it, it will make you a minister of God. You will become a flame of fire with a zeal that lays hold of God.
There is a Latin word for
enthusiasm; entheos. It is a word that literally means “full of God.”
Historically men full of God were men consumed with a whole hearted passion that
emanated from them. When Paul says we are a “colony of heaven,” he's saying that
we ought to have some of the same spirit that
Woe to the day when people can only see a small difference between us and the world in which we live. If the only difference is that we carry a Bible that is usually so small nobody can see it, if all we are is. a little bit religious and go to church once in a while, that is not enough. They ought to be able to say about us, “There is something that's burning inside them, that bums of heaven above. There is a consuming passion for God.” There should be something inside us that like the psalmist of old cries out, “Oh God my heart pants out to you as the hart pants out to the water brooks. Oh God satisfy my longing soul, let me know more of heaven above!” This ought to be the spirit that lays hold of our hearts. If we're going to follow the pattern that brings a reproduction of heaven, it's going to effect our life-style.
Citizenship and Sanctity
Paul says in Acts 23:1,
(Barkley translation), “I have lived as a citizen to God.” In Philippians
(Goodspeed translation) the
apostle says, “Whatever happens, show yourselves citizens.” You and I are
to live worthy of the honour that is ours as citizens and colonists of heaven.
We need to live in light of that and bring lives in tune with that glorious
principle because our lives are on display. Just as the Roman citizens never
forgot that they belonged to
These are not light words.
We're talking about a pattern that began in heaven and reached down upon
earth and touched
Paul wrote, “I am
set for the defence of the gospel” (Philippians ). He is saying, “I am posted
like a soldier. I am not here to do what I feel like doing but I am under
orders. I am under authority. I have gone out as a representative of heaven to
establish another Colony.” When the Holy Ghost instigated a jail break in Acts
16, the doors were opened and the jailer feared that the prisoners were gone. He
pulled his sword to kill himself, not because he had lost his prisoners, but
because he had dishonoured the community of
We are soldiers of Jesus Christ. You and I are not sent out to be-bop around on planet earth doing whatever we please. We are a colony of heaven, and God has established us as his representatives. We are under orders to the army of God and we serve the colony of heaven.
Paul writes in Titus ,12 about those, “who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake. One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are always liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons.”
These Cretians Paul spake of were a people whose tendency was to be non-disciplined. As he writes he describes the awful horror of an undisciplined people.
The changing of the guards
When Paul writes in Acts 23, “I have lived as a citizen to God,” he is talking about something specific and powerful. He's talking about the life he lived in keeping with who he was and what God had sent him to establish. We bear the weight of the Church of Jesus Christ as we go to re-establish a colony of heaven in the earth, and we have a standard to uphold.
The Roman people were the true treasure of the
In I Kings 13:33, Jeroboam did not turn from his evil way of making priests from every class of people. He consecrated whoever wished to became one of the priests of the high places. King Jeroboam had no respect for the holy things of God. He disdained holiness and consecrated men who had no excelling character traits. For this reason the Bible labels him an evil man.
We live in a day when there are few excelling character traits among the people of God. People are being exalted into places of ministry only because they have a little talent, or a little gift, or some word skills, or a little extra personality. God help us that we who God has laid his hand upon will not be common people. We must be those who will excel. Let it be said of us that we have lived a life-style that was in keeping with our citizenship that we lived in light of that privilege, responsibility and calling.
An outstanding Roman trait was
One of the most
astonishing sagas ever played out in human history is the story of
You and I have a cause. We
should have at least as much commitment, excitement, and consecration as the
There was such an
allegiance to the Roman emperors throughout the Empire that it became idolatry.
In appreciation, they had artists create busts of the Roman emperor and the
people venerated these men who brought them peace and prosperity and blessing.
This appreciation soon turned into idolatry because people began worshipping
them as gods. The people appreciated the tremendous cause of
In the Bible, there are a number of statements concerning cities. In ancient days a city's location was picked for its proximity to a water supply. City founders looked for an easily defended place, near commercial trade routes. They didn't have the technology to just build cities anyplace.
We traveled, one time, to
Faithful to a Pattern
Faithfulness to a cause is one of the major marks of Christianity. Hebrews 3: 1-2 says, “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; Who was faithful to him that hath appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house.” The Apostle Paul says Moses was faithful in all his house and compared his faithfulness to Jesus' faithfulness to the Father. He says these were faithful because there were others coming after them. For the testimony that should be spoken, they were faithful in all their house. Christianity is based on faithfulness to a cause. There are certain things that never change. God said to Moses, “See that you make these things after the pattern, upon the mount.” He did not say, to him, “See that you make these things after what you think is the pattern,” or, “What is your idea of the pattern.” God said, in most solemn tones, “You see that you make these things after the' pattern that was shown you on the mount.” Some things never change. God was establishing something about eternal revelation. One of the things Paul was talking about when he said that we are a colony of heaven is this business of patterning.
I've had three calls this year from men who began to understand that their lives were a departure from the pattern. They were not living according to the Bible and the pattern of the rest of the fellowship. Suddenly, they were in an identity crisis. We are a colony of heaven; We can't just run off on our own trip, but it is inherent upon us to discover what the word of God says concerning the pattern. We do not deviate from that pattern. We fulfil the pattern of the will of God in discipleship because we are a colony of heaven.
When we begin to take this
as our responsibility we are changed. When God calls us a colony of heaven, He
is talking about an allegiance not simply for an allegiance sake. He's talking
about an allegiance we have seen demonstrated and we know is fruitful. We have
seen it produce first in
Gods Divine Plan
In Acts, 26:12 we discover
more about God’s divine blue print. We find Paul before King Agrippa, telling
about his conversion on the
Acts 26:12 states,
“Whereupon as I went to
Here is Paul's heavenly vision, and ours as well, for you and I are very surely caught up into that same work. We fulfil our destiny as a movement by fulfilling that same calling and direction.
A Preaching Vision
This heavenly vision is a preaching vision. "We are not opposed to other kinds of ministries or people who are doing many good works; feeding the hungry, medical missions, schooling endeavours, educating the heathen, etc., but those things are not the main thrust of our commission. At the heart of the heavenly vision, is the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Jesus appeared to the apostle and said, “Paul, I've called you and my purpose is that you would be a minister and a witness to the world of my work and of my call.” The scripture records for us in Acts 9:20 that “Immediately, Paul preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God”. We are left with no doubt what the message he preached was. In II Timothy 4:1,2 the apostle said, “I charge you, therefore, before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”
In this fellowship we believe in preaching. That is what the apostle Paul was involved in. We are not talking about teaching, dialoguing, giving a discourse or seminar; we are talking about preaching. Preaching demands a verdict. When someone is through preaching, there is a responsibility placed upon the hearers to respond immediately.
In the book of Acts, when the apostles were filled with the Holy Ghost, immediately Peter stood up and delivered the message that God had given him. Wherever this gospel has gone, there have been men who were seized with a spirit of preaching. This heavenly vision is a preaching vision.
In the scripture we read, when Paul stood before King Agrippa, many translators and commentators record that Agrippa broke in and asked, “Paul do you think that with just a few words, you are going to convert me?” Yes! That is exactly what he believed! As Paul spoke forth the word of God, he expected that those words would be imbued with power and that something would happen to Agrippa's heart. The Bible tells that something did happen and God moved this man.
Preaching Under Attack
Preaching is God's great ordinance for the salvation men: Today there is a decline in the art of preaching. You and I live in a world when many other things are being done. Men such as you and I, who believe in old fashioned Holy Ghost, Hallelujah, fire-breathing, arm waving, foot-stomping preaching 'are considered fanatics.
Several years ago, I read an article, The Perils of Persuasive Preaching. A man had wasted his time writing a whole article about people like our fellowship. He claimed that the Holy Spirit can only use truth, not emotion or zeal. Somehow, he felt, truth was supposed to be disassociated from emotion and zeal; supposed to bypass all the natural human tendencies and elements of the human personality and function out of cold dead theology. Well, I beg your pardon! You won't find that in the word of God. Picture the apostle Paul before Agrippa. Do you think he was sitting there calmly with his hands folded in his lap saying, (in a mellow sing song) "O King Agrippa, there was a light that came from heaven and it struck me to the earth and I was greatly moved?" I think Paul was excited and stirred. He saw a man who was being drawn by the Holy Spirit. He saw a chance to preach the gospel to a king and I think he was waving his arms excitedly while he preached away.
The article went on to say that, “Many preachers use a familiar ‘machine gun’ pulpit pounding style of evangelistic preaching that tends to rev up the emotions, bypassing the intellect or the rational faculties. Also there is a widespread technique used by these people, of asking people to raise their hands, and come forward to be prayed for.” Heaven forbid! That boy had a problem! What disturbed him was that something began to happen down inside when real men of God began to preach that he didn't like. Conviction began to grip people and God began to move.
The Bible tells us the parable of the wedding supper. A great King made a wedding supper for his son and sent out invitations. As with all important invitations, a reply was expected. The parable tells us that those who did not respond favourably or as the king expected, upset the king and put him in a great deal of turmoil. He gave an invitation and there was not a response. This leaves us with the understanding that it is an insult to the King of Kings and the' Lord of Lords to refuse to respond to his invitation.
Preaching instructs the mind, it moves the will and it stirs the emotions. Someone has said, "Some people, have something to say and some folks have to say something, but a preacher has something to say and he must say it" That is a preacher! When a preacher is touched by God, something happens inside of him.'
History and Preaching
There are lessons we can learn from history. Wesley and Whitfield stood up and preached in a generation that knew only moral essays; innocent homilies, with empty platitudes attached to a text. Their voices, thrilling and emotion packed, fell on startled ears. "Men's hearts awoke, to realize their hunger and their despair. They felt the first stirrings and throbbings of a new and divine life within." Thank God! I'm glad that is written down. These were men who preached and who understood that the vision that Paul had was a preaching vision; not a cool dead theology, but something that burned down in the soul and moved a man's heart.
One night, C. H. Spurgeon went into an auditorium where he was to speak, to test the acoustics. These were the days before audio systems such as we have today. As he stood there, in the front of the auditorium, unbeknown to him, there was a workman in the third balcony bending over a pew. As Spurgeon lifted up his voice and said, “Behold the Lamb of God,” conviction struck that workman. He went down on his knees and got saved on the spot. That is preaching! It moves through a man's soul and makes "the word of God living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword; it pierces unto the dividing of the soul, spirit, bones and marrow.” When a preacher gets through, you know he’s had something to say. You can never be the same.
Someone said, “that Hinduism lives by its ritual, and social organization, Buddhism by meditation, Confucianism by a code of morals, but Christianity lives by the foolishness of preaching.”
A World Vision
There is something else I want you to see. This heavenly vision is a world vision. I'm not trying to persuade you to leave your pew and go running off to some place half cocked, but having said that we need to understand that God has given us a responsibility to the world.
A number of years ago, when Pastor Johnson and Pastor Houghton had both been saved about six months and still looked like they'd crawled out of the goodwill bin, we had a speaker from Mexico. He stirred us all about the great possibilities in Mexico. These two young men came to me as serious as can be. They said, "Pastor Mitchell, we believe that God is calling us to Mexico and we want to leave next week." I said, "That is a wonderful idea. Do either of you speak Spanish?" That's humorous, but I'll tell you one thing; they had a right spirit. It was that same spirit, that same stirring and ability to be moved for a lost world that has caused both of them to be outstanding ministers of the gospel today.
In the text the Lord Jesus said to Paul, “I send you to the Gentiles.” “Gentiles” is a Greek word that means “the nations.” You'll find it translated many times to mean “the heathen.” It literally means those nations that were not the nations of God, people who were known to be without God and without hope. There is a very profound truth here. Acts 26:20, tells us the apostle Paul went to Damascus, to Judea, then he went to the Gentiles preaching that they should repent and turn to God. When the apostle Paul encountered Jesus Christ he received a world vision.
In Mark 16:15, the Lord Jesus said to the disciples, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” These were their marching orders. Their commission has not been rescinded. It has never been changed. It has not been altered. It is as true today as it was the day that Jesus spoke it. “Go ye into all the world.”
The world they lived in was every bit as large as it is today. The inhabited world that they knew about seemed much larger, because they had none of the things that we have as tools put into our hands. They didn't have any airplanes, trains, buses, cars, railroads, trucks, telephones, TV, airmail or printing presses. These men lived in a primitive world. Yet, Jesus said unto them, "Go you into all the world." Have you ever thought about that?
Last November, Jack Harris, Mike Maston and I stood on the hillside where the apostle Thomas was martyred. It is said that as he preached the gospel to a wild Indian tribe they pierced him through with a spear. As we stood overlooking that city I could not help but think how far this man had come. It is so far that it staggers the mind. Remember, he had no airplanes, no modem means of transportation, none of the things we have. As we stood there, I could not help but reflect, that this man was travelling against immense odds and difficulties in obedience to the command of Jesus Christ.
We think it is a great task when we climb on one of those monstrous 747's to go around the world and land in twenty or thirty hours, but think of Thomas! He'd have to travel for several months at the very least and possibly years, to come to that wild place on the east India coast. This man had a world vision. God stir us as we read this that we may understand the seriousness of what we are talking about. When the Lord Jesus said, “I send you to the nations,” He was talking about a fundamental principle of world evangelism. Make no mistake about it. God will not hear our clichés as we say, "Well, God, this is a job for others to do." The responsibility rests upon everyone of us.
I'm not talking about running off on some wild-eyed tangent like Hank Houghton and Greg Johnson were about to do, but at least that same spirit could seize you tonight, until you be stirred inside and are willing to say "God, I'll go if you make a way."
In Revelations, the Lord Jesus Christ is described as he stands before the apostle John and His eyes are as a flame of fire. Piercing frightening eyes, eyes that look through you. He is not that sad homo looking wimp that is in so many Christian paintings. Jesus himself is looking into the hearts of men. As I saw in my mind's eye that visage I thought to myself, “We are going to have to prove to him that you and I are not called to these places. One day we are going to have to stand before Him and all the surface things that we hide behind are going to be stripped away. Every single one of us is going to have to give, proof to him that we were not called to those places.” God’s heart beat is toward a dying world, his arm is laid bare toward world evangelism. Isaiah 32:20 says, “Blessed are you that sow beside all waters that send forth there the feet of the oxen and the ass." Isaiah 28:6, “The Lord becomes a spirit of strength to those who turn the battle to the gate.” This is a world vision.
The Value of One Soul
There is an interesting article in the October "Readers Digest" about something that happened on Guam on June 13, 1944 during WW II to a man named Ensign Donald Brant. Brant was a navy pilot off of one of the aircraft carriers. As they were on a mission seeking to take Guam he was shot down by flak. The force of the air sucked him out of the cockpit of the plane, broke some ribs and injured one wrist very seriously. Half dazed, and only half awake, he drifted down into the ocean, just five hundred yards off shore from where the Japanese were entrenched. The battle was raging and five and a half inch guns were aimed at him. Snipers began to fire across the water at him, they were incensed and desperately trying to kill him, while his fighter group flew over to give whatever protection they could. Finally, they had to return to their ship and a submarine was called in. The submarine came and started to surface to retrieve him, but the shore batteries began to fire and they had to submerge again. They worked out a strategy; they would pass by with the periscope up and the downed pilot would lasso it with a piece of rope so they could drag him out to a safer place. Time and time again, the submarine tried to rescue him. He was sorely wounded and in great danger. With the Japanese firing, and lobbing shells at the submerged submarine, they were finally successful. They dragged Brant out, took him aboard, put him in the infirmary and the young man's life was saved. A Japanese soldier on shore saw this entire thing.
He was killed, but his diary was found later. This statement was written in his diary; '”The American is very stupid, they risk a submarine for one man. I think they have very foolish minds.” As I read that, I thought, “Little did that soldier know that it was that quality about the American people that would defeat Japan. By God's grace, they had been taught the sanctity of human life. It is a quality that was placed in America by the moving of the Holy Spirit. As I thought of that, I thought of those brave men, who had risked their lives again and again, to snatch one man from the water. How much more our Father in heaven who sent His Son to Calvary's cross, for dying multitudes of men and women, must yearn for the salvation of lost men. Again and again He urges you and I, who are a part of the army of God, a rescue operation for the nations of the world. How much more must God yearn that you and I would see the value of human souls and that we would thrust ourselves outward and give ourselves to the rescuing of dying multitudes in the world.
A Royal Vision
This heavenly vision is a royal vision.' I marvel at the working of a sovereign God, ruler of the heavens and the earth, and Jesus Christ, our King of Kings and Lord of Lords. That commission given to us is His, and he is sovereignly working on the earth.
In 1974, a young "wetback," came into our congregation. A hippie passing through had witnessed to this Mexican and his Apache girlfriend. They both came to the church and responded to the altar call. The young girl split, but that young "wetback" stayed. His name is Cruz Guerrero. He stayed in Prescott for a few months and then went back into Mexico with Jack Harris. At that time we couldn't see that the working of a sovereign God would one day send great revival in that nation of Mexico. As we sent Cruz to Nogales with Jack we never dreamed that throbbing powerful assemblies would rise up and that this young man would end up as a leader of the people of God in his nation. It was far beyond anything that we could foresee.
When I went into Australia in 1977, God set me up. I had no understanding of what was happening. I was simply responding to an invitation to preach at a convention there. As I stepped off the plane God struck me, as it were with a sledge hammer and made me to know that he had placed me there by His sovereign moving to respond to that need. I had resources and understanding in my ministry that I could direct into that nation toward evangelism and ministry. Little did I understand what God was going to do there. Australia is throbbing with revival and young men are in the ministry there today that are the fruit of that revival. God is a sovereign God.
When we went into Europe for the first time in 1978, we met a skinny, gangly teenager who barely spoke English well enough to communicate. Little did we know, that one day, Rudy Van Dierman would be a powerful leader in the nation of Holland.
In 1979, Jack Harris and I went into the Philippines for the first time. It was a heart rending experience, full of disappointments. Little did we understand that a sovereign God had guided our footsteps. “The steps of a righteous man are ordered by the Lord.” Today we are experiencing a move of God in that nation because of doors that were opened with that first heartbreaking trip.
In 1984, we had the privilege of standing in the nation of India; a nation that holds almost one-fourth of the worlds population. Not knowing what we were going to see Mike Maston, Larry Neville, Jack Harris and myself, were standing on the brink of destiny. God had placed within our hands the tools and the ability to affect that nation for eternity. He was opening the door. We are talking about a sovereign God, a king. This is a royal commission.
We are not discussing a program like “Amway.” We are not talking about some kind of sales seminar that helps us meet the public. We are talking about something that is ordained in heaven. The King of Kings and the Lord of Lords has called you and I to a royal vision.
I Am Jesus
Think of Paul's words again. As the apostle recounts his encounter with the Lord Jesus and he says, “Who are you Lord?” The Lord replies, “I am Jesus.” The apostle Paul is dumbfounded. He is very religious (like some of you) and going in the wrong direction. When he encounters the King of Kings he asks "Well, who are you Lord?" You would have thought he would have known who he was. The Lord simply responds, “I am Jesus." In Acts 9:15, the Lord says of Paul, “He is a chosen vessel unto me to bare my name before the Gentiles and Kings and the children of Israel.”
II Corinthians 5:20 states, “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ as though Christ did beseech you by us.” This gives us a proper perspective. If we are simply a part of a religious program, then we can discount a great deal of what we are doing. If we are simply a part of another man made denomination, we can simply write off much of what we are involved in as just a pretty good program. The girls sing well, the music is lively, the funny man who is getting old and bald is amusing to listen to, but we'll take what we want and be on our way. However, if you're in the presence of Jesus Christ, this puts all that is taking place in a proper perspective. This is not simply a religious activity, but God laying hold of our hearts. He demands sovereign attention and obedience.
II Timothy 1:9 says, “God hath saved us and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began ...” I Timothy 1: 11 says, “Whereunto I am appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher of the Gentiles.” Verse 15 of the same chapter says “that the glorious gospel of the living God was committed to our trust. I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has enabled me, in that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.” You see, this is a great commission. We are not talking about earthly things, we are talking about heavenly things.
God's Greatest Calling
John Mott, was a well known missionary statesman. When President Coolidge asked him to serve as an ambassador to Japan, Mott replied, "Mr. President, since God called me to be an ambassador of His, my ears have been deaf to all other calls."
Billy Graham tells that when the Standard Oil Company was looking for a man in the far-east, they chose a missionary to be their representative. They offered him ten thousand dollars. He turned it down. They offered twenty-five thousand dollars, and he turned it down. Fifty-thousand was turned down, too. Finally they asked, "What's wrong?" He said, "Your price is alright, but your job is too small! God called me to be a missionary."
I'm talking about a royal commission; a royal vision, about the Lord who has ordained us to carry His message. This is not a religious program, not an organization, or denomination, or a design of man. “I am not my own,” someone has said. “Seven hundred and fifty-million idle-worshipping people in India extract of me that which I have learned of God.” It is easy for you and I to just sit in church. We have peace in our country, good jobs, and homes. It is easy for us to forget the ramifications of what we're really about, but this is a heavenly vision. God is going to stir a multitude of people and you're never, ever, ever, going to be able to rest quietly without considering what I've written. There is no calling that is greater; no task that is more greatly to be reverenced, or sought. The apostle Paul said, “Let a man so account of us, as the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” I Corinthians 4:1,2.
Someone has asked, “What ever became of the twelve disciples?” Judas Iscariot, after betraying his Lord, hanged himself. John died a violent death. Tradition says he was boiled in oil. Peter was crucified head downward, during the persecution of Nero. Andrew died on a cross at Petra, a Grecian colony. James, the younger brother of the Saviour, was thrown from a pinnacle of the temple and then beaten to death with a club. Bartholomew was flayed alive in Annapolis, Armenia. James, the elder son of Zebedee, was beheaded in Jerusalem. Thomas, the doubter, was run through the body with a lance at Cormandalor, Madras, in the east of India. Philip was hanged against a pillar in Heappolis, Abyssinia. Matthew was slain by the sword in Ethiopia or Abyssinia. Thaddaeus was shot to death with arrows. Simon died on a cross in Persia, now Iran. Isn't it simple to read and say, 'Whatever became of the twelve disciples?' Yet, when we begin to bring this into perspective, we realize that these men did not all die on the same day. One by one, each of them went their way and the news of their deaths travelled back. Each of them knew that to be an apostle of Jesus Christ was to pay with their life, sometimes a horrible and a public death of suffering.
What motivated these men? What caused Thomas to travel across the Babylonian peninsula into Iran, down through Pakistan and across the length and width of India to wind up on the southeast coast preaching to a savage, native tribe? I believe they understood that this is a royal vision to establish a colony of heaven. It was not simply a little religious discipling program that was inspired out of Jerusalem. I believe that something seized hold of them. These men saw that they were serving the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
The apostle Paul lifted up his voice to King Agrippa and he said, “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision.”
There is a spirit that Paul is referring to. It is a spirit' that came from heaven and was poured out on Earth; not simply on the Day of Pentecost, but clear back in the Old Testament. It is the spirit of whole-hearted service to God, that heart aflame for the things of eternity, that enthusiasm that grips your whole being. Oh God, give us people who will follow God's divine plan to be a colony of heaven, who will live in one accord under authority. They'll live with discipline, and self-control, taking on a military mind and realizing that they are not free to march to any drummer but the drummer who is in heaven. He has given us marching orders and they are clear to every soldier of Jesus Christ: We are set for the defence of the gospel. This is our calling in life: To be a people who will have an allegiance to the kingdom of heaven and will not deviate from the pattern, who will foolishly preach in all the world, the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In Northwest Orient Magazine, there was a story about the city of Raleigh, a lost colony named after Sir Walter Raleigh. Preceding Jamestown by twenty-two years, this colony was established on the coast of North Carolina. It was the home of Virginia Dare, the first child of English parentage born on the American continent. Due to England's war with Spain, a supply ship scheduled to leave England for the colony on Roanoke Island in 1587 arrived more than two and a half years late. By then all 150 men, women, and children were gone. John Airenheart of the National Park Service's Southeast Archaeological Centre said, "I suspect that the people just moved away. They were never heard of again." I don't know what happened to them - they were established there as a colony, there was an appointment set. England did not forget them, but perhaps, in the course of that two and a half years the ship was delayed, those people in the wilderness of Eastern America decided that no one cared. They could have survived if they had stayed where they were, but they left. They had probably heard before they left England that there were going to be some other colonies established in the north, and maybe they decided in bitterness that they were not understood or that their trust had been violated. Maybe they became afraid. Who knows what happened to them? Well never know, because they're a lost colony. They were never heard from again. When the supply ship arrived two and a half years later, they found the place where they had been and the evidence that they were there, but they found no people. This man said, "I suspect they simply walked away." With all their great potential as a colony of England they disappeared.
You and I are aliens on planet earth. This world is not our home. This is not our permanent dwelling place. We’re citizens of another land. We have been sent here on this planet as colonies of heaven, as representatives of our Saviour.
We’re set for the defence of the gospel, aliens in a hostile environment. This world will never be our friend. We will never be accepted. The moment you’re accepted by this world, you are no longer a citizen of heaven, you’re a defector. You are a betrayer. When this generation or society accepts your life-style, testimony, or religion, you’re a traitor, a lost colony. You are no longer a colony of heaven.
God has sent us into the world to establish a pattern, that which was shown us, as it were, upon the mount. This is an honour, and we are not free to devise our own scheme, or have a better idea. Think of this: God says to you and I, "You are a colony 'Of heaven." This gives us a great responsibility. That responsibility is to reproduce that commission from heaven given to and seen in our home churches, and to lay hold of God.
If we have not seen our
church bear fruit, if there are no life-transforming testimonies, no dynamic
transformations of life, then we have reason to question if we are a colony
of heaven. We've seen the home churches in
We are called to pattern ministry.
This sermon was scanned from the book
Blueprint from heaven
A Sermon by Pastor Wayman O Mitchell
Edited by Ron Simpkins
Copyright©1986 Potters Press
All rights reserved
Published by Potters Press
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