One Major Question
October 1, 2008

C. R. Oliver

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October 1, 2008

One Major Question

The following treatise are excerpts from a message delivered August 29, 2008, to those in attendance for the Labor Day Conference, Lake Hamilton Bible Camp, Hot Springs, Arkansas. Glenn Miller, Director.

It was early Wednesday morning, at the King Sejong Hotel in downtown Seoul, S. Korea, that the Lord awakened me and instructed me to write down three questions based on Mark 8:27, 29, and 37.
Mark 8:27 "Who do men say that I am?"
Mark 8:29 "But who do you say that I am?"
Mark 8:37 "What will a man give in exchange for his soul?
I wrote these questions and their references on the back of a hotel envelope, not knowing why it was so important that I do so. The envelope was placed in the back section of my Bible cover. Little did I realize what the Spirit had in mind for those three dynamic questions, but the following week would reveal all. Having accomplished the work in Seoul, our ministry group moved to Busan, the coastal city to the South. From there, one can see Osaka, Japan, on a clear day. It is there, also, that the Presbyterians had built a large seminary and their "proficient in English" students were chosen to act as interpreters.

My assignment was the church in Tai Yon, where a spiritual battle went on between culture and the will of God. The will of God prevailed.

The opportunity to use those three questions, however, did not surface until Saturday afternoon. Being the only team member without a Saturday afternoon assignment, I was singled out to answer the last minute call from the Song Do High School (S. Korea uses a track system for education. Those who are academically fit, as well as physically fit, are separated at middle school. Boys are sent to military training schools, girls to separate campuses.) By 2 p.m., I found myself being ushered onto a balcony overlooking the parade grounds where about 3000 students were assembled, standing at attention in full uniform. At my side were three American college students who played instruments and sang contemporary gospel music. Their eyes were big as they realized the import of the occasion. I was equally sober from contemplating the portent of speaking an oracle from God. The three questions burned into my spirit and consumed my inner man. Something like the following words came forth:
Today, God has sent us over 10,000 miles to ask you three important questions. You have been tested many times on your academic and military skills, but none of the questions you have answered until now will be as important as the ones you will be asked today. Your very life depends on your answers. Where you will spend eternity rests squarely on your responses.
The three questions were postulated, along with the background for their original query. Because of the sovereignty of God on that sunny day, over 1200 students responded to the call of Christ to be their Lord. Our team labored for several hours answering questions and dealing with many converts. (I like to think that some of those students comprise the growing number of Christians in the military. A recent survey claimed that over 38% of the military in S. Korea are born again believers.)

Point Man in the past:
The Lord has often spoken to me in advance of using me to deliver a specific or specialized word. Often times, that word comes without my knowledge of where the application will take place, but with it comes a sense of intense readiness to do what the Spirit says. Ministry, after all, is doing what God says, when He says it, how He says it, where He wants it said and to whom He directs it. (The same goes for action deeds. It's not ministry if He doesn't call for it.) For me, the results have taken many forms. In Costa Rica, I was used like a spiritual assassin to bring down a religious regime that had infiltrated theological training and poisoned pastors with liberation theology. The Lord used a week of nightly preaching from First John (when He directed me to change my messages just 5 minutes before entering the pulpit on the first Sunday of the series). The Lord used this meeting to uncover the agenda of two ministers who promoted discord among pastors and were responsible for breaking them away from a missionary work that had taken 50 years to establish.

Sometimes, the Lord has sent me to special places to bring an abundance of blessings to those who were to be the recipients of ministry. Special words, prophetic utterances, accompanied by healing (and other manifestations of the Spirit), would flow through His glory. Almost always, He used a specific passage of Scripture as the catalyst. Many times, a specific word or question would parallel those verses. (I can remember occasions of this happening over a large universe, ranging from Virginia in the USA, to Curitiba, Brazil.)

Making it Specific:
Tonight, the Lord has sent a special word to this gathering. Although I was not officially "on the program," I knew 10 days ago that I would speak. (It was like that time in Santiago, Chile, when I knew several days in advance I would speak at the Seminary, even though there was a full schedule of speakers during the time I was there…when I spoke, it was to bring a message about the Sons of Zadok. Once delivered, three seminary students were touched, confessed their transgressions and offered themselves to the faculty in openness. Their careers and lives were in jeopardy until this happened.)

The Specific Message:
This time, the Lord began speaking while I was soaking in a tub of warm water at home…the Spirit moved upon me with an outpouring He entitled: "One Civil Question and 10 Civil Answers." He had my attention when He said, "Hurry, get up and go to the computer you have left open and record what I say." I jumped and did. When finished, I inquired, "What folder or place should I place this?" His reply, "Label it: 'Message for Lake Hamilton Bible Camp.'" That was the first I knew about my involvement as a speaker. (My plans were to be the guests of friends from S.C. who wished to attend the meetings and had invited us along.) I inquired of the Lord again, "They don't know me at LHBC (except our books are in their bookstore); they have never heard me speak, how is it I am to be on the program which is already filled and advertised?" His reply, "There will be a vacancy." By the way, "They didn't know the guy from Tekoa either, but they knew him after he spoke the oracle of God (Amos 1)."

Sure enough, one of the program personalities went to the hospital, and I went to the platform. This was such a surging thrill for me…because I turn away most speaking engagements, but I knew this one was ordained to be…its words had to be "out there." Regardless of the crowd numbers, this message was to be spoken at this specific time, to this special people. It had to be put out into the "air" in order to accomplish its task. (Some words or messages are like that; they must be given in a specific way and place and whether spoken to an inanimate mountain or a valley of bones---they must be given.)

Since the ekklesia has been substituted for the "congregation of I see You," and saints have been substituted for "spiritual sycophants," the question the Lord gave me is more valid today than any day in history. This question is valid because the early church was always to be the example; they were to be the visual expression of the work of the Holy Spirit working through flesh. The question God gave is valid for the time because the modern church is looking up to the characters of the book of Acts from a hole they have dug for themselves. Instead of being on equal ground, the modern church must bow its head in shame under the epithet of Vance Havner, who said, "The disciples could indeed fellowship with the modern church, but they would have to severely backslide in order to do so!"

The Question:
"Tonight, I present to you the most important question the church must answer, 'How in the world have we gotten to the place we have gotten?'" (Once, many years ago, I spoke in Colorado under the title, "How in the world did we wind up with Jim and Tammie Faye?") The issue, however, is more serious now…because every day the church lingers in this silage, the more prodigal they look.

Indeed, the "Rabbi's of Redefinition" have made it easy for the modern church to proclaim itself the inheritors of the promise, but how does God view the church? The Rabbi's have redefined every aspect of religion, whether it be salvation, grace, righteousness or the Spirit. Some have even written new dictionaries for their redefined terms, but hear this: the Holy Spirit is taking back territory tonight. We must come to Him for the real definition of terms and whatever His definition is IS!

We stand in history at the same place the Temple stood when Jesus came the first time. He did not seek to reform it, revive it or restore it. He came to tear it down. Its usefulness had waned to the degree it had become a social and cultural malaise. Jesus established His new domain and called it the church---but alas, the organized church today looks like the ancient Temple. Here, at the Second Coming, no amount of preaching will restore, revive or reform it. The new thing that arises is as apart from the modern church as the early church was to the Temple. It is foreign in almost every arena of religion and is characterized as the glorious bride, the "Holiness Ones."

Getting personal:
The church, however, must now examine itself in light of God's question. How did IT get where it is now? The Lord gave 10 civil answers. They are as follows, with some embellishments (prompted by the Spirit).

"One caution is to be understood; on this campus, however, I was specifically told that those in this building are to be respected greatly as they are precious, tender-hearted and can be characterized as those of the great heart.' I was specifically instructed not to offend, not even the smallest of you, so I ask you to stand and repeat after me, 'I will not be offended, regardless of what he says.' Repeat it twice, so I have a double witness. Ha!"

"Since you are in the confession mode, I ask you to stand when I proffer God's 10 answers and say, 'That's right, Brother!' That way I not only know you are awake, but you are affirming the project. Besides, I was a college professor and I know that 'the mind can only receive what the rear can endure.'"

Ten Civil Answers:

Answer # 1: Could it be that we (the modern church) have compromised where they (the early church) would never compromise? (That's a question answered by a question, I know, but it is a method Jesus used.)
a. Spiritual transgression was quickly dealt with by the early church. It took Simon Peter about 5 seconds to say all that he said to Ananias regarding his land deal. Boom! (The early church felt they could not afford the spiritual loss garnered from sin. Today, the modern church has forgiven where God has not! They have excused far worse than this couple would have dreamed of, and I need not elaborate, for this is a universal practice. Otherwise, the modern church would not be convening councils to discuss homosexual church leadership.)

b. "Confusion in Corinth" was addressed immediately by Paul, just like many of his epistles zeroed in on doctrinal and practical issues. The early church dealt with issues quickly!

c. The theological bargaining of the Jews was shot down in the book of Romans, just as the 'genealogical theorists' were put to rest in the book of Hebrews.
Answer #2: Could it be that the early church responded more rapidly to the call of the Spirit? (That's a rhetorical question…the answer is a resounding YES.)
a. Philip, in Acts 8:26, was sitting home when the Angel of the Lord appeared and directed him to the Eunuch with the words, "Arise and go." Unless something is wrong in my Bible, the next verse says, "he arose and went." How long a gap was involved between the command and the carrying out of the command? (Everybody wants the Azotus transfer without the discipline of immediate obedience.)

b. Simon, resting on the roof, saw a munificent apparition. It was a sheet coming down with many a detestable dish. With this sheet came a command to eat, which was met with resistance. Again, he was given the sheet treatment, but with a new response, "what God calls clean is clean." He then was instructed to go with messengers that would be at his door. They came…he went. (What does that tell us? After all, what message is more important than to do what God says…right now!)
Answer #3: Could it be that the early church stood more firmly on what they believed than the modern church?
a. Paul rigorously overcame the spiritual despotism of the Jews. Moving often from one synagogue crisis to another, Paul did not relinquish one opportunity to express, "Jesus is the Messiah." If one reviews the number of times he mentions "Christ," one will surmise that he intentionally repeated "Christ, Messiah," until every phrase, every lesson was covered with this Name!

I must now give you the Scripture the Lord gave me in conjunction to these words; they sum up Paul's adamant foundation.
For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
Philippians 3:3 NKJV
b. Stephen, the deacon, was said to be "irresistible (Acts 6:10)" in his appeal to those who stoned him. Why was that phrase, "Not able to 'resist' him" used? Why was it interjected into the whole scene of the most profoundly apologetic display in the Word? I will tell you. The Holy Spirit wanted it used to express the power flowing out of Stephen that drew men to Christ. Where is that power today?

c. When imprisoned, the members of the early church sang, testified and worshipped. When they were flogged and told, "Speak no more in this name," their response was, "Lord give us more opportunities to speak and make us more bold than before." How does that compare to today's churchy activities? NO! I will not be deceived; what the modern church displays is no where near the early church.
Answer #4: Could it be that they, the early church, felt that Holiness and Righteousness were not an option?
a. I John 3:10 expressed it overtly,
In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God

(One quick review of the past messages one has heard on Sunday morning will reveal the difference between the early churchman and the modern clergy.)

b. Paul wrote in Romans 1 and I Corinthians 1, that these epistles were directed to those "called to be saints." There is just one word for "Saint" and "Holy" in the N.T., that word is agios. "Called to be Holiness Ones" is an apt definition of the word used in these contexts. (Review this in the books, The Regal Pair and the forthcoming book, Called to be Saints.)

c. "Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Scribes and the Pharisees, you shall in nowise enter the kingdom of God (Jesus' own words)." "Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord (Hebrews)." (How long has it been since the sermoneutics on Sunday included these verses in your congregation? Well, that's too long.)

d. Paul called for the "glorious church," while Jude and 2 Peter described an "inglorious" one…which describes your church?
Answer # 5: Could it be that they, the early church, loved and invested themselves more deeply into each other's life than this age is capable? (Say, Yes.)
a. Communion in the early church involved more than a wafer and wine. It involved an investment of overlapping lives. When one was imprisoned, they prayed for release like all where in prison. When one suffered, they all suffered with him/her. When one rejoiced, they all rejoiced. When one was burdened, they all bore his or her burden. I am here tonight to say that is simply not the case today.
(The Lord then directed me to go to a man in the audience, a total stranger to me, and use him to illustrate the personal touch needed. Little did I know what burden he was bearing at the time. When I embraced him and blessed him, I felt his body shaking with emotion as tears streamed down his face. I rose and said, "Listen, audience, investment in each other is an absolute for the true Christian. When one hurts, we all hurt; when one succeeds, we all succeed.")
b. When Peter's mega church formed with 5,000 and then 3,000, the early church ingested them in a flash because Peter's bishopric and apostleship did not form when this happened. He was already those two things…long before this occurred. I tell you tonight, we have to change something…there are worlds of folks meeting in huge auditoriums who come in alone, assemble alone and leave alone. That would never have happened in the early church where "they had all things common."
Answer # 6: Could it be that money was not their God?
a. Yes, I know the laws of prosperity and they work…BUT the primary consideration of the early church was building the kingdom of God. Regardless of cost…it was the kingdom that came first.

b. Ezekiel had a statement that should be echoed through every church hall in the world, "How dare you put your door by my door."
When they set their threshold by My threshold, and their doorpost by My doorpost, with a wall between them and Me, they defiled My holy name by the abominations which they committed
Ezekiel 43:8
Gold domed dominions are built from heaven's pavement and will be trodden upon by the saints of glory!

Ezekiel's affront is the modern church's affront. How dare the modern church offer the world an invitation to join it when to do so means spiritual suffocation?
Answer #7: Could it be that they, the early church, hungered for the supernatural and got it…that they were not satisfied with the ordinary?
a. A quick review of the supernatural in their lives IS the book of Acts. John Lake was correct when he said, "All of Christianity is supernatural." Whether or not we are talking about a prophetic utterance by Agabus or the huge scenario of John, the Revelator, it melts down to one premise…the early church had something the modern one does not have. They hungered for the express presence of the Most High and the signs and wonders came as outcroppings of their supernatural lives.

b. One must think only of John Lake's "out of body" experiences to validate a Twentieth Century example. Modern ecclesia has settled for too little. This is why the slightest manifestation of the supernatural draws the attention of millions, when in early church times, our glitz would have drawn a yawn or, at best, suspicion!
Answer #8: Could it be that the early church viewed the political arena from a vantage unknown to its modern offspring?
a. They were convinced that God was in control, and they were in control with Him. They understood that the Nebuchadnezzar's of their world were subject to the judgment of the Almighty.

b. There is a little passage in Luke that causes me to jump straight up. It's in Luke 3.
Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, while Annas and Caiaphas were high priests, the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying:

"The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
'Prepare the way of the LORD,
Make His paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled
And every mountain and hill brought low;
The crooked places shall be made straight
And the rough ways smooth;
And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.' "

Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him.
Luke 3:1-7
The reason this verse affects me so much is that it shows the word of God by-passing every political leader and church leader on the scene in that day in order to come to John, on the backside of nowhere! (I want to assure you, it is the same today. Elijah couldn't preach in your pulpit…he isn't credentialed with your group, neither is John. Outside the sacred halls of government and religion, God brought HIS message with Divine swiftness. It was so different than what had been heard to that point…the multitudes left their employment, city lights and secular piosity to stand in the water of the Jordan and be overseen by a "Man with the Message" dressed in skins.
(In the Old Testament, many a 'man of God' remains unnamed; nonetheless, they remain ensconced even to this day. The man of God would not be welcome in the modern forum because, "he doesn't network with us!")

Answer #9: Could it be the early church's ministry was to God, not just to the people?
a. If the book of Acts teaches anything, it teaches this, that their expectation level was directly proportioned to their ministry to God. The Secret Place was real to them. Rees Howells said it this way, (paraphrased) "We discovered that it was not a case of giving our lives to Him, it was a matter of His living His life through us."

b. In the Old Testament, Ezekiel 44 clearly draws the line between ministry directed to the people versus ministry directed to God. Both ministries involve people, but the Sons of Zadok were the pure ones. In their ministry to God, He said, "Only the Sons of Zadok may minister unto Me." The Sons of Zadok were clearly giving example to the people that the focus of all ministry is to lead the congregation to the Most High, and in order to do so, there must be presented the delineation between "the clean and the unclean" and "holy and the unholy."
And they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the unholy, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.
Ezekiel 44:23
Answer #10: Could it be that their expectation level was attached to their prayer quotient? (They asked God about everything before making one move.)
a. Clearly, there was no need for media hype (word was out that they had turned the world upside down without CNN). Clearly, cultural expectation and role definition had nothing to do with their power, for no generation, people or body had ever experienced what they experienced and were called to do what they were called to accomplish. No one said, "A pastor is supposed to do this…or that," "A bishop is supposed to exercise dominion over these…," "An apostle is to have final say in all matters…." No one had been a pastor, bishop or apostle before them. There was no model. They only knew this, "that whatever they did became the foundation for the superstructure to come."
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
Ephesians 2:19-22
b. Yes, they knew the word of God backward and forward. They were Hebrews, well acquainted with Scripture, but they also knew that their view of the application of the Word had drastically changed with the advent of Jesus. Suddenly, they understood what the prophets were talking about to the fullest. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they were endowed with a gospel that must be heralded. They sought the Holy Spirit's leadership like no other people could have done before. Surprisingly, they needed no Rick Warren to direct them to the Purpose Driven Life; they had the Spirit to lead them into all truth!
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.
John 16:13-15
Exit Remarks:
This message's civil question probably has more than 10 civil answers, but the ones cited here beg another question. It too is found in Ezekiel, but in an earlier chapter. This question is tied to a response and the reader's response to it will determine the "state of the church" and its future. Jehovah's quest must have had this question, "Are you the one?" Alas, His "results of survey" formulated a disastrous conclusion.
I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.
Ezekiel 22:30

Until Next month,

Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD.


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