Posted - 13 Sep 2006 : 17:11:21
| Chapter 1
The Divine Blue Print
Phillipians 3:20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence
also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Philippi was a colony that was established by the Roman Empire as
a strategic military centre.
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 the Roman Empire were significant. One of
these was the spirit that they had. “Spirit” is a characteristic
that is conferred upon a people and moves through their hearts and
lives. In the Old Testament God said to Moses, “I will take of the
spirit that is upon you, and I will put the same upon them the
leaders of the people” (Numbers 11:17). He also said “Take Joshua
the son of Nun with you, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay your
hand upon him, and you shall give some of your authority to him”
(Numbers 27:18,20). When Moses laid his hands upon Joshua there was
a conferral of spirit and he acquired some of the spiritual
authority that had rested upon Moses.
You have probably observed that entire communities and locales are
affected by certain spiritual characteristics. Some years ago, when
we were in Europe ministering, we swung down through the area of
Bastion in Belgium. There we experienced one of the heaviest
oppressions I have ever felt. That entire area had been seized by a
spirit of despair, oppression, and lack of dignity. The feeling of
grime and oppression was noticeable while, just a few miles from Bas
tion, when we crossed the border into Holland, we saw paint,
flowers, beautiful cobble stones and industriousness. The difference
was astounding, a perfect example of how a spirit can take control
of an entire country.
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 14:24 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
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 Rome had. We ought to get hold of
the God and the heaven of the Bible. There ought to be an excitement
for God - a stirring in our souls. Something should move you for God
beyond the ordinary. People ought to look at you and say, “I don't
know if he's crazy or not, but something's wrong with him!”
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
Rome had a dignity that was tied to being Roman. The Roman
government would not allow the rights of a citizen to be violated
any place on earth. It did not matter how far away from Rome they
were, these colonies were representatives of Rome and Rome protected
the sanctity of its persons. When Paul was being bound with thongs,
(Acts 22:25-26) he asked the Roman centurion if it was lawful to
scourge a man who was a Roman and uncondemned. When the centurion
heard this, he told the commander, “Take care what you do, for this
man is a Roman.” When the commander heard that, he went immediately
to Paul and asked, “Are you a Roman?” When Paul answered, “Yes, I am
a Roman,” it meant that there were rights that belonged to him as a
citizen of Rome. They would not dare do to him what they would do to
other prisoners because his citizenship gave him dignity. The
institution of Rome existed only to serve the individual and the
sanctity of persons was a most holy thing. This gives us some
understanding of the honour, privilege, and responsibility Paul is
talking about when he says, "We are a colony of heaven."
Paul says in Acts 23:1, (Barkley translation), “I have lived as a
citizen to God.” In Philippians 1:27 (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 Rome, Paul tells us that we must never forget that we are
citizens of heaven. Our conduct must match our citizenship.
These are not light words. We're talking about a pattern that
began in heaven and reached down upon earth and touched Prescott,
Arizona. It touched a congregation here and a congregation there and
the principles of heaven were reproduced and people were
transformed. There was a revival where bikers and hippies and drug
addicts were changed. Heaven came' down upon earth, and in the
process of time workers were sent out as representatives of that
colony. We are under heavenly authority to uphold a holy reputation.
We can no longer say and do whatever we please. We can't just go
where we want to go because we are people like the soldiers of Rome,
under orders, under authority, and we are marching in the light of
Paul wrote, “I am set for the defence of the gospel” (Philippians
1:17). 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 Rome. He thought he had lost what had been given
into his trust. He was going to take his life because as a citizen
of Rome he could not stand to dishonour the community.
When Mount Vesuvius erupted in Pompeii, a soldier manning his post
was encased in lava by the volcanic tragedy. He stood watching the
danger coming, but as a soldier of Rome he would not leave his post
without being duly relieved. Centuries later, archaeologists have
uncovered this for us as a picture of the loyalty to duty felt by a
citizen of Rome.
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 1:11,12 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
The changing of the guards in Buckingham Palace provides an
interesting study in self control. These fellows in the tights and
big beehive hats are trained to never flicker an eyelash. You can
get in front of them and move back and forth but their eyes remain
glued in one position by self discipline. Would to Gad that in the
colony of heaven we could find believers who would lay hold of this
wonderful truth. You and I, as a colony of heaven, have a
responsibility to demonstrate that same self discipline, self
control, and military bearing whatever culture or locale we are in.
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
Roman Empire. Paul understood this and tied this into the thought
here. Because the people knew that they were special they bore
themselves with dignity and pride in the days of their grandeur. The
apostle uses this to bring to us the understanding that the true
treasure of the church is her people. When people understand that
they bear themselves differently.
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 their allegiance. Rome had a cause.
That cause was to establish Roman rule, government, justice, and
morals in colonies all over the world. They did this with great
dedication. In the text that we read the thought is that we have a
cause. We are a colony of heaven.
One of the most astonishing sagas ever played out in human history
is the story of Masada. This is a desert fortress above the Dead Sea
where nine hundred renegade Jews fled to escape Roman domination.
This stronghold had a source of food and water that could have
allowed them to hold out indefinitely, but they flaunted the Roman
cause and Rome would not let these Jews live at any price. They
built a mountain so they could literally walk up a ramp over to the
top of the fortress. Rome conscripted ten thousand Jews. Ten
thousand Roman soldiers camped in the desert around that mountain to
keep them from escaping. It took a minimum of ten thousand gallons
of water a day that had to be hauled twenty miles to that place. It
was a monumental undertaking just to keep them alive, much less to
assault that fortress! They did all this for nine hundred measly
Jews who couldn't hurt anybody, but they had dared to flaunt the
You and I have a cause. We should have at least as much
commitment, excitement, and consecration as the soldiers of Rome
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 Rome. How much greater is our cause and our God?
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 the Middle East, to the city of Petra.
Until about 1860, this city was lost to civilization. It is built in
a canyon below what is known as Moses Spring. This body of water
springs out of a dry desert and runs down the canyon floor. It is
astounding that at one time perhaps half a million people lived in
this isolated canyon, eighty miles south of Ammon Jordan. There were
several reasons that this isolated spot was picked. It had an
abundant supply of water, it was in the middle of an impregnable
canyon (fifty men could hold off an entire army), and it was
adjacent to what was called the King's Highway (the trade routes to
Africa, the Orient, and Arabia).
In the Middle East, for centuries, cities have been rebuilt on the
ancient foundations of previous cities. Archaeologists can go to
these ancient ruins and trace civilization for thousands of years.
In many cases it might have seemed easier to build somewhere else,
but the old location had qualities and traits that were greatly
desirable and there was a reason those cities were built there in
the first place. They were not just hung on that spot for
sentimental reasons. The locations had been picked for critical
qualities and traits. It is not an accident that we do things the
way that we do.
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
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 Jerusalem and Rome and today in
Prescott, Arizona and the world. We are not going to leave it for
anyone else's idea. The fruitfulness we see comes because we are
working by God's pattern. Would to God that he would reach down into
our souls and make us to understand the significance of these simple
words, "We are a colony of heaven."
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
Damascus road. In the rehearsing of this scene, (which transformed
his life and put him on the paths of evangelism), we have the Magna
Carta of world evangelism. From this experience, he went on to blaze
the trail and set the example for foreign missions. He came from
this point, the great missionary evangelist and church planter we
still admire today. Throughout the years of church history, this man
has been studied as a pattern and we should look to his life to
gather an understanding of the heavenly vision.
Acts 26:12 states, “Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority
and commission from the chief priests, At midday, 0 king, I saw in
the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun,
shining round about me and them. which journeyed with me. And when
we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me,
and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why do you persecute
me? It is hard for you to kick against the pricks. And I said Who
are you Lord? And He said, I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But
rise, and stand upon your feet: For I have appeared unto you for
this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of these
things which you have seen, and of those things of which I will
appear unto you; Delivering you from the people, and from the
Gentiles, unto whom now I send you, to open their eyes, and to turn
them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God,
that they might receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among
them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. Whereupon, 0 King
Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision, but showed
first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all
the coasts of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should
repent and turn to God and do works meet for repentance.”
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
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
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 c**ked, but having said that we
need to understand that God has given us a responsibility to the
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
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 res
ponsibility 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
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 c**kpit 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
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
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 Cor
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
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 Prescott and other places reproduce assemblies.
Who are you to feel that you have a better idea? This does not take
from you the flexibility of spontaneously moving in the cultural
distinctions you find yourself in, by the Spirit of God. But, there
are some principles that never change, and those principles are the
heavenly principles of reproduction that have to do with spirit,
lifestyle, allegiance, preaching, world evangelism, and sovereignty.
We are called to pattern ministry.