Thursday, April 7, 2011

Personal Revelation of the Gospel

Sometime in the early 1980s I met with my fellow elders of the church of which I was the Senior Elder (Pastor) in a December to pray and talk about direction for the coming year.  We came to a conclusion that the people needed teaching about spiritual warfare.  I begin preparing the first lesson for a series on the subject.  The first lesson was a discussion of Ephesians 6:10-20.  I spent some time researching and studying the passage for exposition.

The church, Bethany Church, was meeting at that time on Sunday afternoons as we were using the building of another church.  Early in January of the year following the December mentioned above I went to the pulpit to expound the lesson.  As I read my text, Ephesians 6:10 the Holy Spirit spoke explicitly to me in my spirit and said, “You will never exercise more authority than you stand in.”  When this was spoken to me I was filled with something much like liquid poured from a pitcher into a vessel.  I physically felt I was being filled from my waist up to the top of my chest.  The feeling lasted about two weeks.  I knew that God had actually spoken something into me, but I lacked comprehension of what it was.  I perceived it was a “word” God had spoken into me.

Within a week of this experience I met at my home with about four leaders from the Body and related to them what had happened.  The feeling of fullness persisted and great joy poured out of my inward man, but I had no comprehension.  I asked the brethren to pray for me that I might be enlightened.

Two weeks following the filling I was preparing my message on a Monday for the following Sunday.  I was impressed that I was to speak on the passage in 1 Corinthians 2:2, “I have determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”  I was certain that this was the passage God wanted me to speak.  I wrote the scripture in longhand at the top of an 8½ by 11 inch notebook paper.  My mind then drew a complete blank as to what I was to say about the scripture.  I could not even think thoughts about it.  The page remained like my mind, blank, all through the rest of the week.  On Sunday I had a chat with the Lord about the problem.  I told Him that if He did not give me light about the verse all I could do was read it and dismiss the congregation.  Somehow, I thought that it would threaten God into releasing information to me, as I was certain He would not desire such a short message.  Why I had such a foolish thought I cannot tell you.  However, God said nothing to me.  I sat through the praise time, nothing, and during the announcements and offering God was silent.

It was time to go to the pulpit and again I informed the Lord that I was fully prepared to read the passage and dismiss the people for I could not speak as He had not informed me of what I was to say.  I began to read the 1 Corinthians passage and suddenly the Spirit spoke to me.   In what must have been a nanosecond I had a full conversation with the Lord.  He first asked me, “Reckon what Paul wanted them to know about the crucifixion.”  My mind was immediate filled with recollections of the gist of sermons I had heard about the cross.  The main point was descriptions of the sufferings of Christ on the Cross.  It was effective to elicit emotion from the hearer.  But, I perceived that could not be Paul’s goal. 

The Corinthians were a people subjugated by the Roman Empire.  Rome used crucifixion to intimidate the conquered.  Paul’s hearers had observed crucifixion and no one needed to tell them of joints pulled apart or of suffocating pressure on the chest.

The implication hit me like a hammer.  If Paul was not telling them about what they could see, he must tell them about what they could not see.  It was as if I stood in the heavens and the curtain of time was opened and I viewed the crucifixion from heaven’s point of view.  From that perspective Jesus was not bound to the cross, but spiritual adversaries surrounded Him.  His hands freely wielded a sword and He delivered a mortal blow to His enemies.  Those enemies had names like “addiction,” “greed,” “lust,” and so forth.

I cannot recollect the rest of the sermon but for a period of nine months the Spirit illuminated the scriptures to me.  One scripture that was especially meaningful to me was 1 Corinthians 1:18, “the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness: but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”  There is a great difference between producing emotion and producing power.  I do not remember hearing a preaching of the cross that was the power of God to me.  I thought that preaching of the cross was the power of God to them that perished.  Here Paul proclaimed that it was power to those, which are saved.

The great insight to me was that the good news was not that Jesus died, was buried and rose again; i.e. the good news is not just a collection of facts.  The good news is what Jesus accomplished in my behalf when He died, when He was buried, and when He rose again.  That is powerful news.  He made me the righteousness of God.  He defeated once for all time those spiritual powers that harassed me.

I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God for salvation to every one that believeth.  Only believers profit from the work of the cross.  That is the message of the cross Paul was determined to make known.

1 comment:

Alice Hernandez said...

Brother Van Gill, I'm Pastor Jesse's mom, Alice Hernandez. May I ask you to pray for me. I am being taken to Isaiah 53 and it is my deepest desire to have a greater understanding of the Cross because somehow I know, that's what I need. I want to have the Cross and it's understanding laid across my heart in such a way that I will never lay it down. I realize that this understanding may cost me pain as I see the Cross from heaven's view, but I feel that it is a necessity for myself and for all believers in Christ.