In the last chapter, I alluded to the importance of going by the Word of God more than anything else — more than your fears, more than "expert" opinion, more than what your family thinks, etc. In this chapter, I want to stress that truth in a major way.
Try Again, Thomas
In John 14:4, Jesus said that His disciples knew where He was going and they knew the way. But Thomas didn't believe this. He knew Jesus, but he didn't recognize that Jesus was the way. He didn't know the answer.
What Jesus said was true. Thomas should have said, "Jesus, you know more than I'll ever know. Explain to me how I know the way. Explain to me what I don't know." That's the way we should approach the Word. We should say, "God, your Word says that I'm healed. I believe it. So why does my body hurt? Please explain to me." God will explain it to you and tell you what to do.
But when you're exalting what you see, hear, taste, smell, and feel above God's Word, you're saying, "God, you're wrong. This is the way I am. I can feel it." If you do that, you're in trouble. And you won't come out of that trouble until you exalt God's Word above everything else.
In 2 Peter, the Apostle is writing to the church at large. He's trying to convince people that what he's saying is not something out of his own heart. He says, "This isn't me speaking. It's God speaking." He's trying to get people to listen to the voice of God. How did he do that?
Not like people do today. People today are so carnal that if someone were to advertise over radio and television "I've had a vision. God appeared to me, and told me to share this vision with you at the First Intergalactic Christian Church on December 5th and 6th," you couldn't hold the people. They'd pack the place out because they'd want to hear something directly from God.
The Visible Voice of God
Peter was trying to convince people that what he was telling them was directly from God. In 2 Peter 1:16-18, he says, "For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount."
Peter was referring to the transfiguration. He said, "I was with Jesus — I saw Him radiating light. A cloud came over Him, the Shekinah glory of God like in the Old Testament. The glory came over Him, and an audible voice from heaven said, 'This is my dear Son.'"
Now that's strong. When people first read that, they probably thought, "Boy, we'd better listen to this guy. He was with Jesus. He heard the audible voice of God. He saw things we haven't seen. He's got a revelation." But in verse 19, Peter says,"We have also a more sure word of prophecy." What could be more sure than the visible glory and audible voice of God from heaven?
Verse 20 tells us: "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation." The thing that is more sure than an audible voice or a visible manifestation of God is Scripture — the written Word of God. I can't overemphasize this. It's critically important.
We need to exalt the written Word of God above any visible manifestation. If I had a meeting at your church and called you up from the audience and said "Joe or Mary, anything you want tonight, God says He'll give it to you," I guarantee that you'd go out of there excited, telling everybody what God had said. You'd hardly be able to contain your enthusiasm.
Did you know God's Word promises that exact same thing in several places?
However, most of us don't exalt God's Word to that place. If we had to choose between two doors, one marked "visible manifestation" and the other marked "Word of God," most of us would choose the visible manifestation every time. "Give me an experience," we'd say. But did you know that an experience is inferior to the Word of God? That's what Peter is saying. There is a greater blessing on believing the Word than there is on seeing a visible manifestation and then believing.
Jesus Shows His Hand
In John 20, the disciples were telling Thomas about the resurrection of Jesus. Thomas replied to them, "Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe" (verse 25). Eight days later, Jesus appeared and said to Thomas, "Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing" (verse 27). Thomas fell down saying, "My Lord and my God" (verse 28).
Jesus looked at him and said, "Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed" (verse 29). In other words, Jesus said there is a greater blessing on believing God's word than on experiencing a supernatural manifestation.
I'm not telling you to turn down anything from God. Many powerful men in the word of God had visible manifestations, but their hearts weren't on them. They were seeking God. If God gives you a visible manifestation, don't reject it. But don't seek it. Get to the point that you exalt God's Word above everything else. Until you get to that place, you aren't going to be capable of handling a visible manifestation. It would ruin you. It would destroy you.
That's the reason we don't get more of them. We'd start following visions and just run wild. Satan can counterfeit visions, but he can't counterfeit the Word of God. The Word of God is superior to all of Satan's wisdom, and there is no way he can touch it. He can give you a dream. He can give you goose bumps. He can give you an angelic vision. He can give you messages that can fool you if you don't know the Word, but he can't counterfeit the Word of God.
The Word of God is superior to everything else.
Our senses go against that. In John 14:8, the disciples were saying, "Lord, show us the Father and that'll be enough for us." Jesus replied, "Have I been with you this long, and you still don't know Me?" They knew Jesus, but they didn't really know Jesus. They hadn't fully discerned Him. They didn't recognize who He was. They were looking at Him from a physical, natural viewpoint. They hadn't perceived the spiritual truth about Him. They hadn't had a revelation of who Jesus really was.
Where's My Name in the Bible?
One time, David Engles was preaching at a meeting and I was there. I went up to talk to him after the meeting was over and was standing in line. The fellow in front of me had a huge Bible under his arm. He walked up and said, "Brother Engles, I've just been told I have cancer. Do you have any scriptures or a word from God that He will heal me?" So David Engles rattled off Isaiah 53:5, Matthew 8:17, 1 Peter 2:24, and 3 John 2 to him — all of the major healing scriptures. He said, "I know all of those. Do you have anything specifically for me?"
I thought, "What does this guy want, a scripture with his name engraved on it?" God's Word is God speaking to us. God's Word is the answer for you, it's the answer for me, it's the answer for everyone.
Many times people come forward at my meetings, and I'll pray for them. The Lord often gives me discernment about a problem they have. For example, when a person is just weary and about to give up, I'll say something like, "I see that you're weary, that you're ready to quit and give up." That person will begin to cry and say, "That's of God," which, of course, it is (after all, it's a gift of the Spirit). Then I'll give them Hebrews 12:1-2, but I'll put it into my own terminology. I'll say, "Thus saith the Lord, the reason you're weary is because you haven't been looking at Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith. If you keep your attention stayed on Him, you won't be weary." The person will say, "That's a word from God just for me," and they'll go out of there all excited.
All I did was paraphrase Hebrews 12:1-2, which they have available to them all the time. They won't read it, yet they'll receive it if it comes through someone with their eyes closed saying, "Thus saith the Lord." I'll use it to bless people, but that's carnal and immature. We ought to grow up and get beyond that. God will use it, and I don't feel bad about doing it, but it's a shame to have to have spoken over you something that's already in your Bible. God has given you the answer.
The problem is that we aren't taking God's answer, meditating on it, and making it ours. We're crying out to God for something else. Any time you're in a crisis, you'll be tempted to say, "O God, what do I do? I need a special word from you. God, say something to me." We get desperate for a Word from God. The first thing you should say is "I've already got the answer. It's in my Bible somewhere." Then pore into the Word of God. Take every scripture you've heard of on that subject and look it up. Meditate on it. Don't expect God to speak something special to you when He's already spoken it in His Word. That's a more sure word of prophecy than anything God could speak to you.
Time Travel: 30 A.D.
Sometimes people think, "If only I'd lived in the days of Jesus, if only I'd been one of His disciples, if only I'd seen all those great miracles, I'd have been powerful. You couldn't have stopped me." No, actually I believe it would have been harder to believe in Jesus if you were one of His twelve disciples than it is now. Why? For one thing, familiarity breeds contempt. "A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin" (Mark 6:4). When you're familiar with a person and you know his or her human side, it's harder to believe. It's actually easier to visualize Jesus now, sitting at the right hand of God with all His power and glory, than it would be if He were walking on earth.
The Bible says that some have entertained angels unaware (Heb. 13:2). I think many of us have seen angels and didn't recognize them because they're very plain looking. They can disguise themselves as people. In Phoenix, a strange man walked in during one of our meetings. He looked like a drunk, a derelict. He was huge, he had tattoos all over him, and he rode a motorcycle. This fellow knew more of the Bible than anybody I've ever seen in my life. He could talk to anybody. He'd be over there talking to somebody, then he'd be over here talking to somebody. I didn't see him walk from place to place — he was just everywhere!
He led many people to the Lord that night. He may have been an angel. I wouldn't have thought an angel had B.O., wore a leather jacket, and had tattoos, but I really believe he was an angel. I believe God delights in manifesting Himself in ways that it takes faith to perceive. In Isaiah 53:2, it says that Jesus had no special form or comeliness that we should desire Him. Physically, Jesus was very ordinary. I believe it took more faith for the disciples to believe in Jesus than it does for us because they had to look beyond the physical and see into the spirit realm to perceive who He was.
The Disciple Andrew (Wommack)
I had a dream some time ago. In it, I was one of the Lord's disciples. It was real — I dream in Technicolor! I was there when He raised Jairus' daughter from the dead. I remember the thrill of it — we were just running down the road, so excited. There wasn't any "holy" or religious thing about it. We were celebrating, and our hands were in the air. We had also fed the 5,000. I was right there when it all happened.
Right in the midst of this, Jesus turned around, stuck His finger in my face, and asked, "But who do you say that I am?" This was the same thing He asked the disciples in Matthew 16. I knew the answer. Peter said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (verse 16). But when Jesus asked me that, I just looked at Him. He was as plain as day. I could see the miracles and relate to them. By His actions, by the Word of God, and by the witness of my heart, I knew that He was the Son of God, but my flesh said that He was just a man. When I finally said, "You are the Christ," it took more faith than I'd ever had to muster in my life.
Jesus' disciples knew Him, but they didn't really know Him. They knew Him as a man. In 2 Corinthians 5:16, Paul says that we knew Christ once in the flesh, but now we know Him that way no more. In other words, we knew Jesus once as a physical man, but we didn't perceive who He was. Even Peter, who said that He was the Christ, didn't always relate to Him that way. Peter vacillated back and forth between seeing Him as a man and perceiving who He really was.
The same thing happens to us. We lose sight of the Word of God. We forget how powerful it is. We forget that Jesus is the Word, the Word is God, and the Word created the heavens and the earth (John 1:1-3). The Word created your body, and if you speak the Word in faith, your body has to respond to it. The Bible says that when Jesus comes back, He's going to destroy His enemies with the Word of His mouth (Rev. 19:15). I don't believe He's going to create some kind of nuclear blast. I don't believe He's going to unleash angels to kill everybody. I don't believe He's going to speak anything new. I believe He is going to speak the written Word of God.
When Jesus was being tempted by Satan, He said, "It is written." He could have said "La, la, la," and that would have been Scripture — anything He said would have been Scripture. But He went back and quoted the Old Testament from Deuteronomy 8:3. Why? Because He couldn't improve on it. The Word of God is perfect in every way, and even Jesus could not improve on it. All He did was quote the Word.
"And His Name Is the Word of God..."
I believe that when Jesus comes again, He's going to quote scriptures from the book of Revelation, and that that will destroy His enemies and bring in the reign of righteousness. The same Word we now have between the covers of our Bible will be greater than all of the nuclear bombs, "Star Wars" weapons, poison gas, or anything else the world can throw at Him. The Word is powerful — we don't begin to recognize how powerful it is. We're sitting here waiting on God to give us something, and it's right in our laps.
We're far below where God wants us to be. People are not meditating on the Word day and night. We all want the benefits of God without getting into the Word of God. We don't take heed to it. We'd rather sit down and watch the bad news on television than to read the good news of the Scripture. Something is wrong when we spend more time in the world than in the Word. God does not intend it to be that way.
You shouldn't ever get out of the Word — that alone would prevent a lot of crises. But if a crisis comes, you need to turn off the television, go back to the Word, and saturate yourself in it. If you're sick, don't lay in bed with your feet propped up, popping pills, and watching television. Get into the Word.
A friend of mine, Joe Ney, was holding a meeting once and was extremely sick. Instead of going to bed and "suffering through," he got up, but he was too sick to stand up too. So he lay on the floor, put his Bible in front of him, and for twelve hours pushed it around the room with his nose, saying, "By the stripes of Jesus I am healed." That's how hard it was for him to do — but he came out healed.
No Pain, No Gain
If that's what you have to do to get into the Word of God, do it. We think, "That's a little fanatical, isn't it? You don't have to be like that." The woman in Mark 5 could have been more reserved, but she wouldn't have been healed. She touched the hem of Jesus' garment and was ridiculed because of how desperate she was. She probably had to crawl on her hands and knees to touch Him. Yet the Bible says that for twelve years, she had wasted all of her money and suffered many things of many physicians (verse 26).
Some medical practices today are barbaric. Yet nobody thinks anything of going through that kind of torture in the name of science. But if it takes any effort at all to pray or get into the Word of God, people won't do it. We put ourselves through sheer agony to follow the ways of men, yet we expect God to work automatically!
I was talking to a man once in Germany. He said, "I don't understand it. Either you're healed or you aren't. It doesn't seem like you should have to stand on the Word of God." But it doesn't work that way in the natural, and it doesn't work that way in the supernatural. There's a place for standing. There's a place for fighting the good fight of faith, to speak the Word of God regardless of what happens.
It begins by getting into the Word. It's going to take some effort. Satan will fight you to keep you out of God's Word. He will give you more things to do than you ever could do. It's never going to be convenient to study God's Word. It's never going to be convenient to know it frontwards and backwards. It's never going to be convenient to pray. If you're waiting for a convenient time, you might as well quit now, because it will never come.
We Interrupt This Broadcast...
It won't even be fun at first. But after you get your mind renewed, it will be more fun. It will be more fun than watching the junk on television. For me, it's not fun to watch television any more. I watch it a little bit, but after a while, it just isn't fun. A little bit goes a long way!
After a while, the Word of God will be fun. It's fun to have joy, peace, and the anointing of God. It feels good. Watching people cursing, stealing, killing, and committing adultery is not fun. If you're used to that, if your mind is corrupted by all that, when you start into the Word of God, it's not going to be fun. You'll have to retrain yourself. But you can do it.
A person who has gorged themselves on sweets all of their life won't think anything else is good. But that can change. For a long time, my wife and I didn't use any sweets at home except honey. She even cooked with it. There was no sugar of any kind in the house. We got to a place where we couldn't tolerate anything with sugar. When you change your diet and begin to eat healthy food, you get to where an orange is as sweet as you stand. You can't stand food with sugar in it. You condition yourself to the way you eat. That's where you are.
...for a Special Word from God
Emotionally and intellectually, it's the same way. If you feed on junk all the time, it begins to be appealing. It's the norm. That's where you are. We're so polluted today that if we don't have access to all the garbage on television, we get bored. But you can renew yourself. You can separate yourself. At first, it will be hard, but after a while, the Word of God will begin to taste better and better to you. In Psalm 19:10, it says that God's Word is "more to be desired...than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb." You can get to a place where reading God's Word is the most exciting thing you do.
If you haven't reached that place, you haven't begun to mature in the Word of God. You need to reach a place to where God's Word is exciting, where it's your meditation day and night. That's the beginning.
When you're in a crisis situation — especially — shut down everything and get into God's Word. The Bible says in Romans 8:6, "For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." Spiritually minded is Word minded. John 6:63 says "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." God's Word is spirit and life. So when you're thinking God's Word, you're spiritually minded. The Bible says that will produce life and peace.
If you're depressed, you haven't been keeping your mind on the Word of God. If you're discouraged, you haven't been keeping your mind on the Word of God. If you're defeated, you haven't been keeping your mind on the Word of God. If you're sick, you haven't been keeping your mind on the Word of God. The Word will produce only life and peace. Isn't that simple? As a man thinks in his heart, so is he (Prov. 23:7).
Sow Wheat, Reap Wheat
I used to pastor farmers. I learned some very simple things from those farmers. There are laws that govern their lives: they plant wheat, they get wheat. They plant soybeans, they get soybeans. They plant weeds, they get weeds. Yet, the God who created those natural laws also created spiritual laws. Actually, spiritual law supercedes natural law. Spiritual laws are more accurate, more steadfast, and more certain than natural laws.
Yet most people have the concept that natural laws are absolute and that spiritual things are subject to change. It's exactly the opposite. Natural things are subject to change, while spiritual things are eternal (2 Cor. 4:18). There are spiritual laws. For example, "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Gal. 6:7). There are people who say, "I'm sick. I'm having financial problems. I'm having marital problems. But honest, it's not anything I've done. I've done everything right. It must just be God's will." That's not so.
You don't plant wheat and get corn. You don't plant the Word of God and get sickness. You don't plant the Word of God and get depression, defeat, sorrow, anger, and all those kinds of things. If those things are operating in your life, you haven't been meditating on God's Word. Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks, says Matthew 12:34. If you're speaking anger, strife, fear, jealousy, and things like that, it's because you've been meditating on it in abundance.
Go back and make sure you're sowing the right thing. You shouldn't wait until a crisis situation comes, but if it does come, go back and make sure every thought, every desire, every emotion you've sown lines up with God's Word. Anything that doesn't, pull it up. Root it out.
God's Word is ultimate truth. That's what Jesus was telling His disciples. In John 14:4, He said, "And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know." Then Thomas said, "Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?" (verse 5) In verses 6-7, "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him." Notice what Jesus said here. He didn't say, "Wouldn't it be nice to know the Father and see Him? "He said from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him" (verse 7). That's a declarative statement, a statement of fact.
Then Philip said, "Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us" (verse 8). In other words, "Wrong again, Jesus. We don't know the Father." That's a blatant contradiction of God's Word, but we do the exact same thing. In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, it says "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."
The Word of God...and Then Some
Notice the word "perfect." That means there is no plan B or plan C. You don't have to learn by "hard knocks." You don't have to get it by special revelation. You don't have to have an angel teach it to you. You don't need anything else. God's Word will make you perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. God's Word will supply you with everything.
Yet, most of us don't believe that. Most of us don't turn to God's Word to supply us with everything. Most of us don't go to God's Word for every answer in our lives. Most of us use God's Word as kind of a foundation, a basic principle, but for day-to-day living, we think we need more than that. That's not true.
God's Word has an answer for everything. Everything you will ever deal with is found in God's Word. Jesus was saying, "I'm everything. If you've seen me, you've seen the Father. If you know me, you know the Father." The disciples said, "No, Lord, that's not enough. Give us one more thing — a visible look at the Father — and that will satisfy us."
If you put a carrot on a stick and hang it out in front of a horse's head, that horse will go for it. But every time he takes a step, the carrot moves. It's always just out of reach, and it keeps on moving. That's the way the devil is. The devil always tells you, "If you just had this or that from the Lord, if you just had this experience, if you just had that vision, if you just had this dream, if God would just do this for you." He's always dangling something in front of you, telling you that you need more. But you don't need anything else. The Word of God will make you perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
Let me emphasize that. You don't need anything more than the Word of God!
God's Word has a complete answer for you, whoever you are and whatever your circumstances. The problem is that we don't know what the Word says. And the things we do know, we don't meditate on. We let them slip so that we lose the revelation of it. God's Word is powerful, but it's something you can't understand just mentally. You have to let it soak down inside of you. It has to take root before it begins to release power.
Whatsoever You Sow, Leave It!
Again, it's like a seed. You don't just scatter seed and reap a harvest ten minutes later. It must have time to germinate, to put roots down, to get nourishment from the soil. You can't plant it one day, dig it up the next day to see if anything happened, then plant it again. You have to leave it there. Likewise, the Word of God is something that has to abide (John 15:7). You can't get all pumped up on the Word of God on Sunday, then Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday go out and root it up, then come back on Sunday and plant it again. It doesn't work that way. The reason most people don't experience victory is because the Word never takes root inside of them. It touches them and they'll get excited about it, but they won't abide in it. They won't allow it to stay and germinate.
The Word of God must become everything to us. It's a more sure Word of prophecy than an angel or a vision or a dream or anything else that may come our way. Paul says in Galatians 1:8 that if anyone preaches anything except the Word of God he preached — even an angel of God — let him be accursed. Then he repeats it. If something is contrary to God's Word, just curse it. God's Word is the only absolute truth.
Aw Come On, Are You Really The Messiah?
Let's look at Matthew 11. John the Baptist had just been cast into prison. John sent two of his disciples to Jesus to ask, "Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?" (verse 3). Now this is an amazing statement. To get its impact, you have to recognize that John the Baptist had announced four times publicly that Jesus was the Messiah. He said this with all the confidence and authority he could muster. He believed it with all of his heart. He had said, "He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost" (John 1:33).
So John not only had the witness of the Spirit in his heart but also a visible sign. God had told him that when he saw this happen, it would be the Messiah. John knew beyond a doubt who Jesus was, and he proclaimed it to the world. When Jesus' ministry began to prosper at the expense of his own, he even said, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30).
John the Baptist was a tremendous man, a tremendous example of a servant. Jesus said that among those born of women, none were greater than John (Luke 7:28). In other words, John the Baptist was greater than any Old Testament saint who ever lived — greater than Abraham, David, Elijah, Elisha, Jeremiah, Daniel, whoever — not to mention any of the pagan heroes.
John was a powerful man of God, and he knew beyond any shadow of a doubt who Jesus was. So now John is in prison and, by all evidence, had been there at least a year or two. During this time, he began to doubt. He doubted so much that he sent two of his disciples to ask if Jesus was really the Christ or if there was another that they should look for.
This was serious. The greatest man who ever lived up to that point was now doubting everything! For thirty years, John the Baptist had been living in the wilderness preparing for this ministry. He had spent only six months in ministry and then was thrown into prison. In six months he had revolutionized not only the Jewish nation but people from all the nations around it. He literally shook continents in six months' time, proclaiming the coming of the Messiah. The fire of God burned in his heart. For a man like that to be shut up in prison must have been hard on him. It must have grated on him day and night.
Messiah: Servant, Priest or King? (choose one)
Also, most people did not have a proper understanding of the Messiah. The Jews thought He was going to set up a kingdom immediately — perhaps by force. They didn't understand the church age, the end times, or the "suffering servant" of Isaiah. It wasn't clear. So it's possible that John the Baptist thought Jesus was going to establish a physical kingdom, and now, two years later, it wasn't working out. He probably had a lot of confusion, a lot of questions.
All of these things came to bear on John so that he actually began to doubt that Jesus was the Messiah. When his disciples finally went to Jesus to ask Him, He answered, "Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see." (Matt. 11:4). In Luke chapter 7, the same story, it says that after they asked Jesus this question, He didn't reply for a whole hour. In this hour, He opened blind eyes, unstopped deaf ears, healed lame men, and performed all kinds of miracles. Then, after an hour, He came back to them and said,"Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me" (verses 22-23).
When I first read this, it didn't seem that Jesus' response met John's need at all. John the Baptist had a serious need, and Jesus said in effect, "Just go tell him what you've seen and that he's blessed if he's not offended." It didn't look adequate, especially when Jesus went on and on about John after his disciples had gone. He asked, "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? Somebody wearing nice clothes? You don't find that in the desert. Reeds swaying in the wind? You don't find that in the desert. You went out to see the anointing of God. This man was a prophet and more than a prophet. There has never been a greater man than John the Baptist" (verses 24-28).
He said some powerful things about John. I thought, "Wouldn't it have comforted John if he could have heard all these nice things? Why didn't He send that message to John instead of the one He did?"
I can relate to that. Once, I was in a convention at Fort Worth. All the big names were there — hundreds of them. Everybody was big except me. Nobody knew who I was. Nobody cared. People were giving money to these big ministries. We needed money as badly as any of them. I was having a pity party.
I was in a huge auditorium filled with 2,000 people. They were singing and praising the Lord. Then they said to go around and hug somebody. Bob Nichols, the pastor of the host church, came directly back to me and started hugging me and just wouldn't let go. It wasn't a "charismatic" hug — this man started crying and telling me that God loved me and he loved me. It was really God. There was no way he could have known what my situation was. He really ministered to me.
I can see that it would have ministered to John the Baptist to have Jesus, whom the whole nation was clamoring after, say something like, "Don't you people know who John the Baptist is? He's a great man of God. No Old Testament saint is greater than John." It seems that would have blessed John a lot more than what Jesus actually said. I was meditating on this, thinking, "God, why did you do this?"
Then the Lord showed me the answer. In Isaiah 35 there is a prophecy about the Messiah. Verses 3-6 tell some of the things that will happen when the Messiah comes. It says, "Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert."
John the Baptist was familiar with Isaiah. When asked who he was he said, "I'm the voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord," which came directly from Isaiah 40. These were some of the scriptures God used to call John the Baptist into the ministry, to tell him what he was supposed to do, and to tell him what the Messiah would do when He came.
Again, I Say Unto You...
So what was Jesus doing when He didn't give John the Baptist a special answer and just performed the miracles? In one hour's time, Jesus fulfilled everything written in Isaiah 35. Then He told the disciples, "Go back and tell John that you see blind eyes opened, deaf ears opened, the lame man leap as a hart, and streams breaking out in the desert." In other words, "Go back and tell John the Word of God is being fulfilled!" He was saying in effect, "John, you're blessed if you'll believe what God's Word says." He actually gave John the greatest answer He could give — He referred him back to the Word of God instead of giving him some cheap, emotional thrill that would last only for a short time.
He referred him back to the Word of God because that is God's best. Jesus told John, "You're blessed if you'll believe and not be offended." I believe John knew exactly what Jesus was doing. He recognized the Scriptures, and I believe he went out with a shout.
There are times you and I come crying to the Lord for an answer when God's Word already has an answer for us. God's Word has everything we need, but we close it up and pray, "O God, speak to me." I believe it is love that God isn't speaking to us. I believe God wants us to get to the point that we don't live off milk. He wants us to get into the meat of the Word. God is trying to get us back to the Word of God. It is mercy that He's not speaking to us and giving us what we ask.
When I first got turned on to the Word, I heard stories about Kenneth Hagin having had a visitation from God. He had fire burn in his hands, and when he put his hands on other people, the fire jumped onto them. Others saw angels come into the room. I heard about these things and began seeking them. I started praying, "God, I want to see angels. I want to see visions. I want you to do something special for me."
Then the Lord began to show me that the Word of God is more powerful than all these things.
Roman vs. Israeli Faith
In Matthew 8, a Roman centurion came to Jesus for his servant to be healed. Jesus said, "I will come and heal him" (verse 7). The centurion said, "Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it" (verses 8-9).
The Bible says that Jesus marvelled saying, "I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel" (verse 10). Only two times in the Word of God did Jesus marvel — one time at this man's faith and the other at His disciples' unbelief! He marvelled that people could be so full of unbelief and that they could be so full of faith. This man's faith didn't have anything to do with the physical. He didn't have to see anything, feel anything, touch anything. All he needed was a Word. "Jesus, you just give the word and it's done," he said.
That's the highest form of faith there is. Contrast that with John 20:27, where Thomas had to physically see Jesus' hands and side before he would believe.
The highest way God will ever communicate with you is through the written Word of God. That is a more sure word of prophecy than an angel, a dream, a gift of the Spirit or anything else. Yet most people have not elevated God's Word to that status. We're making the same mistake that the disciples made — we have the Word with us, but we don't recognize the importance of the Word.
Meditate Day and Night?
Many of us who have had God's Word revealed to us don't meditate in it the way we should. We aren't planting it and letting it germinate inside us. You must reach a place to where God's Word literally dominates and controls you. If that seems out of character for you, if it seems impossible, then you won't prosper. You must see that it is possible for you.
When I say that you have to be dominated by the Word, that needs some explanation. You do not have to be reading the Word day and night. I spent a few hours reading the Word today, but there are some days I don't read the Word at all. But that doesn't mean I'm not in the Word. I've put so much of the Word inside of me that I meditate on it constantly. I get some of the greatest revelations I ever get from God without opening the Bible. You can be in the Word all day long no matter what you're doing.
Of course, you can't do that until you first put the Word inside of you. You can't bring back to your remembrance what you never put into remembrance! You need to begin to meditate God's Word. It's not how much you know. Sometimes, I've taken one verse and read it over and over for a month's time. It just ministered to me so much I couldn't read or think about anything else. I got more benefit out of reading that one verse for a month than many other times when I read chapter after chapter after chapter. It's not how much you know. It's how well you know what you know.
Can't Get There from Here
When I first got turned on to the Lord, He showed me some visions. These were not open visions but simply desires of my heart, what it was like to serve God and how He wanted me to change people's lives. Here I was from Podunk Corner, Texas. I had left college, and everyone told me that I'd be a total flop. I was drafted as soon as I quit school. It looked like I was going to die in Vietnam. I had a vision of God using me, yet it looked like I was a million miles off.
I remember kneeling at my bed one day saying, "God, what shall I do? How do get from where I am to where I'm supposed to be?" It looked impossible. Then the Lord spoke to me, "This Bible has everything you need to know." I flipped it open and found that it makes me perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works (2 Tim. 3:17). I based my life on that.
I'm still not where I need to be. I haven't arrived, but I have left! I know I'm going in the right direction. The Word of God works. Everything you need is in the Word of God. If you're ignorant of the Word of God, you're going to be a failure. There is no excuse for being ignorant. We just haven't elevated God's Word to its proper place.
In John 14, Jesus was ministering to His disciples about the importance of understanding and recognizing what they had — He was the Word made flesh and dwelt among them. Jesus is the Word.
God's Word says you're healed. Your body says you're not. Sadly, we often believe our bodies more than we believe God's Word. We need to reverse that so that God's Word is more real to us than what our bodies tell us. You can do that. I've been in so many places where everything in the natural says it wouldn't work. Yet God's Word had become more real to me than the natural. I just said, "I can't understand it. That can't be because God's Word says this." I literally could not believe it because it didn't line up with God's Word. It worked. God brought me through it. Once, I had an incurable disease, with a doctor's report to prove it. Two days later, the same doctor confirmed that I didn't have it. I knew God's Word, and I knew that was not what God promised me. I just couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe I was sick because God's Word didn't say I was sick.
I've seen it work for me on many, many occasions, and it will work for you. But it all starts with putting the Word of God first place in your life.