The Conflict of the Ages (continued)
It has been said, concerning the disciples' disputing with Rhoda about Peter, that they had prayed and prayed and prayed all night, and then when their prayer was answered they did not believe it; and some people have said that they could not have prayed in faith. But there are other points of view. Some of us pray with all our might about a dear brother now in prison. I beg to suggest that, if someone came to us and said: 'Brother... is at the door!' we should say: 'He can't be!' We should want a good deal of verification - not because we did not believe that the Lord could do it or would do it; but, somehow or other, when the Lord does the very thing that we ask for, our breath is taken away and we cannot believe it. Have mercy upon these believers, and do not impute unbelief. The fact is, that, though they may have prayed like that, and though there may have been faults and weaknesses, they were on the business, and they were one in it, and the Lord moved in.
How much came out of this! They saw through the whole situation and got to the real issue; they pushed aside all other considerations, and out of their travail something was born. You remember what follows after chapter twelve. In the previous chapter (11:19-30) Antioch had come into view: and now from Antioch Paul and Barnabas are sent forth, and on and on you go. The fire is scattered to the ends of the earth - out of this: The Church prayed.
It is a wonderful story, but I find much difficulty in seeking to convey it. It is so true to life. There is always so much room for the mystery of God's ways. Why? Why? Why? If you stay with the 'why's' of God's wisdom, you will be paralyzed. Let me recall what we were saying at the beginning of our first message. Here is a law enunciated, declared, established - that there is no scattered fire without the cup, and that cup is always a mystery. It always expresses itself in ways concerning which you can say: 'Why this?...' 'Why does He allow this?...' Those 'why's' will paralyze you if you have not reached the established, settled position, that the cup has come to stay; it will be with us to the end.
But, in the mystery of suffering permitted by God, and in all that that cup means in a crucified Son of God and a crucified Church - in all that is the way of satan's undoing and the establishment of the heavenly Kingdom. May God settle it in us, and give us grace!
(continued with # 12 - (The Positive Nature of the Holy Spirit)