NOW YOU SEE THEY TOOK THEIR TURNS: THEY CAME, MINISTERED IN THE TEMPLE, and WENT HOME. They didn't just have one guy that did all the ministering all the time, some preacher that was a big shot all the time, but they took turns. The Jewish Temple was a very democratic set-up. They had a lot of priests and a lot of laymen who ministered there, and nearly everybody had their chance. I think we're more like that than any church I know of. The old Quaker church used to be that way, they deliberately sat around in a circle, the Brethren Church is that way. They deliberately didn't have a stage up front or a pulpit, to show that God could work through anybody in the circle. In form, at least, they're supposedly sharing the ministration of the Spirit.
BUT I THINK OF ANY CHURCH I KNOW OF, YOU GUYS HAVE MORE TO SAY THAN ANY CHURCH I EVER PREACHED TO, THAT'S FOR SURE! In fact, I have a hard time sometimes getting through what I'm trying to say! Ha! But I like that! Like school, I loved to teach school because the students could participate, ask questions, make comments and get answers, and that's the way you learn. People that just sit around and go to sleep while the preacher is droning on and on, learn little or nothing. And as my wife was remarking after service last Sunday morning, how in the World do they expect those people to learn anything when they only go to church one hour a week? What do they expect to accomplish? She said she discussed it with a reporter.
SHE SAID, IN ANYTHING YOU DO, WHAT CAN YOU ACCOMPLISH IN ONE HOUR? What job of any kind that you know of can you really accomplish in one hour? You can hardly even see a movie on TV in one hour! You don't go to school for just one hour a week! You don't go to work just one hour a week! You don't take exercise just one hour a week! You don't study just one hour a week! You don't eat just one hour a week! My God! What does the church expect to accomplish in only one hour a week? Well, I'll tell you what you've accomplished, they've accomplished little or nothing! That's the mess they're in today!
THIS WAS A TOUGH MINISTRY DEAR JOHN THE BAPTIST HAD, and he wasn't a member of the Baptist church incidently! He didn't even found the Baptist church. In fact, he'd probably be ashamed of the Baptist church. God bless the Baptists who love the Lord, don't misunderstand me. Thank God for all Christians, thank God for all true churches of Jesus Christ, whatever their denomination, don't misunderstand me. I really get teed off at'm sometimes.
BUT HOW ARE THEY GOING TO KNOW UNLESS YOU TELL'M? Their preachers aren't telling'm. And how's the preacher going to know unless you tell him? Because their seminary didn't tell'm. And how's the seminary going to know unless you tell'm? Because the denomination didn't tell'm. How's the denomination going to know unless you tell'm? Their forefathers didn't tell'm!
THEY'VE BEEN IN THE SAME RUT FOR GENERATIONS, same rut ever since they cleaned out that pagan temple in Rome in 222 AD and put up new idols and new pictures and a new priesthood and called it Christian -- sad day for the church! Before that they were doing a pretty good job, up till then, but that was the beginning of the end. That was the first church building in history. First building ever used exclusively for the purposes of Christian worship recorded in history is that building in Rome 222 AD, and it was an old renovated pagan temple.
"AS SOON AS THE DAYS OF HIS MINISTRATION WERE ACCOMPLISHED, HE DEPARTED TO HIS OWN HOUSE." They took turns ministering in the Temple. He went home. "And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived and hid herself five months, saying, Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein He looked on me, to take away my reproach among men." Was she thankful? (Staff member: Amen!) What did she mean by "take away my reproach"? You mean it was a reproach to have family planning? It was a reproach to restrict the population explosion? You mean to tell me that birth control was a reproach? That it was a reproach not to have children? Yes!
IT WAS A SHAME and A REPROACH TO A WOMAN NOT TO HAVE CHILDREN IN THAT DAY! I think maybe a little bit along that line even today unless God has separated you utterly to His service. Even Paul who seemed to sound like he's so much against marriage sometimes, says "nevertheless let the younger women marry and bear children!" (1Tim.5:14 .) He doesn't say the old woman or the old maids, but the younger women! -- And you can have kids pretty young, as a lot of girls have found out! But that was God's plan, that was God's way, and if a woman didn't have children in that day it was considered a terrible reproach that God must have cursed her, she must be a terrible sinner of some kind -- struck barren! And some women are struck barren, did you know that? Some women couldn't have children if they tried.
IN THAT RECENT REPORT ON HUMAN SEXUALITY WRITTEN BY THOSE TWO DOCTORS, MASTERS and JOHNSTON, they discovered that certain women who cannot have children have some kind of acid or fluid or something in their female organs which kills the sperm the minute it hits that organ! It doesn't last a fraction of a second, it kills it. And it's not a disease, not diseased women, either. It's not women that have some kind of disease, but perfectly healthy normal women in every other respect. There's something there that God has allowed that kills the sperm immediately. They've been struck barren by the Lord, couldn't have a child no matter how hard they tried. So it was a reproach to be barren in those days.
"AND IN THE SIXTH MONTH THE ANGEL GABRIEL WAS SENT FROM GOD UNTO A CITY OF GALILEE NAMED NAZARETH, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph of the House of David; and the virgin's name was Mary." What does this mean, "espoused"? Let's don't use that word "engaged," it doesn't mean a thing today. Betrothed, promised! They hadn't actually lived together yet. "And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women."
I'M GOING TO TELL YOU SOMETHING VERY SHOCKING HERE! I don't know whether you're strong enough to bear it or not. I don't know just what this means or how it happened or how God did it, but I will tell you this much: From constant usage in the Scripture throughout the whole Bible, this terminology here "came in unto her" usually meant the sex act! Now Jesus was the child of God, He was the Son of Jehovah, right? But if God means by this that He used the Angel Gabriel as a part of God Himself, representing God to accomplish the act, that I don't know, but it's something to think about for people that theorise about how God did it. I don't know, I'm just telling you the meanings here as they are in other passages.
"But the angel came in unto her and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: Blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be." Certainly she was surprised! "And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God."
HISTORIANS THEORISE THAT HER AGE WAS ABOUT 16 AT THIS TIME. I don't know where they get that, but that's what they say, about 16. "Oh no," society would say today, "she should have waited till at least she was 18 or 21! I wonder if her parents gave acceptance! You've got to finish college first. You can go out and live all you want to with any number of men, but just don't get married yet!" Our modern society and its mores and its standards of morality so-called, or standards of immorality, and its laws, literally encourage the immorality of youth today! We have had parents tell us with their own mouths, they offer to set the young people up in an apartment and let'm live together rather than let them get married. "We don't mind you living with a girl, but just don't marry her!"
MODERN SOCIETY CONDONES IMMORALITY! IT ENCOURAGES IMMORALITY! Its laws almost compel immorality amongst young people, forbidding them to marry without parents' consent, and the parents forbid them to marry, so my God, what are they going to do? We've got cases in our own midst where they've had problems along that line. Society, parents and the laws forbid them to obey the will of God! Now you can understand with wicked parents having wicked children, why they should be concerned about these things and figure, well, they don't have enough sense to get married until they're 18 or 21. Let me tell you, if they haven't got God, they'll never have enough sense to get married! And it doesn't matter how much they marry or how many times, they'll still not have enough sense to stay married or have a decent marriage or a happy marriage! I don't care how old you are, age has nothing to do with it. If God is in it they could get married at 12 and it still be of God!
WELL, THE CHURCH HAS MADE ALL THESE THINGS SO ETHEREAL and SO SPIRITUAL and SO FAR AWAY! I'm trying to bring it down to Earth and show you how human in was, how literal it was, how real it was, it happened to a woman, who was a woman just like you! And it happened literally! She literally conceived and bare a child without any human agency! How it happened, I don't know. We have God's Word, and that's all we know. How the Holy Ghost did it, we don't know.
"AND BEHOLD, THOU SHALT CONCEIVE IN THY WOMB and BRING FORTH A SON, and SHALT CALL HIS NAME JESUS. He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: And He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His Kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?" -- which shows obviously she hadn't yet married her husband. "And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God."
"AND BEHOLD, THY COUSIN ELISABETH, SHE HATH ALSO CONCEIVED A SON IN HER OLD AGE: and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren." Now where was Mary? What was her hometown? Where was she living? (Staff member: Nazareth.) Where was that? Well, it was way up North near the Sea of Galilee, quite a ways North of Jerusalem -- a long journey. I think it was about a three days journey, they figured about 25 miles a day in those days, it was quite a distance North. Where did Elisabeth and Zacharias live? Well, apparently they must have lived fairly close to Jerusalem, because he was a Levite and a priest and a regular minister there. So later when Mary came to visit her cousin Elisabeth, she had to make quite a trip! So God is appearing, His angel is appearing to these two different women in two different places, and also to the husband Zacharias.
SO IT WASN'T EASY, BUT NEVERTHELESS, LISTEN TO WHAT SHE HAD TO SAY -- a little 16-year-old girl who loved and believed God so much! They say, "Ah, these teenagers, what do they know? What can they do?" I'll tell you what they know, they know enough to know the World's in a mess! And I'll tell you what they can do, they can take it over! And they can even be the Mother of the Son of God! She was! "Oh, how could my daughter, only 16, know anything about God or religion at that age? She's crazy! She's gone fanatical on religion down at that Light Club!"
MARY WAS SO YIELDED TO GOD, SO DEDICATED, SO CONSECRATED, and LOVED THE LORD SO MUCH, that though she was already betrothed to another man, she was willing to say what? What was her answer? (Staff member: "And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to Thy Word. And the angel departed from her.") "Here am I, Lord! Take me! Whatever You want to do, Lord!" Are you willing? Even if it almost breaks up your engagement? Even if your loved one maybe can't understand? Are you willing to say, "Lord, here am I! Behold, I'm Your handmaiden, I'm Your servant!"
YOU KNOW, WE GLOSS THESE THINGS OVER WITH SUCH BEAUTIFUL LITTLE SUNDAY SCHOOL PICTURES and we don't really know the agony and the torment of soul and the battle that some of these people may have had! Mary was just as human as you are! Joseph was just as human as you are! All these characters were. But the churches gloss them and glaze them over into a separate sphere of the untouchables: "These holy ones! Nobody ever like them any more! Nobody could ever be like them any more! This is something special, it only happened once and there's not going to be any prophets or any priests or anything like that any more! No more. It all happened way back 2,000 years ago and forget about it. We've got our own way now; we've got our own system now. The church can't be expected to live that way today." How many times have you heard this? (Continued in part 4)
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