by C. Parker Thomas

This article, first published many years ago, seems especially appropriate in light of the recent public focus on the great “Kingdoms” of TV Evangelists. As never before we need this timeless message that reminds us that our priority is to “hear ye Him.”

“And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James and John, his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart. And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, Behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles: one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. While he yet spake, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: Hear ye him. And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid.” Matthew 17:1-6.

Inspiration for this message came sometime back as I was praying and more or less complaining to the Lord because it seemed He very seldom spoke to me like He did at one time in my ministry. As I was praying the still small voice of the Lord seemed to say, “You are too busy to hear me. Why should I tell you things to do when you have your own schedule and program? You could not take time to obey me with so many things already planned.”

As these thoughts came into my mind it suddenly dawned upon me that I was almost like Samson grinding at the mill. Around and around I had been going in a vicious circle without having to consult the Lord day by day and moment by moment. Everything was mapped and planned in advance and it was simply a matter of my carrying out this program. Now all this had been done with good intentions. My only desire was to do something for the Lord.

I was made to see that the Lord is not interested in any kind of program that excludes a moment by moment abiding in Him. I thought of the mount of transfiguration and how the disciples were instructed to hear the voice of the Son. Like the disciples, I wanted to do something and my intentions were good but my plans so entangled and occupied me until I, like Martha (Luke 10:39-42), was “cumbered about much serving” and couldn’t take time to hear His Word. In studying the story of the transfiguration on the mount I discovered a tremendous truth that confirmed the things the Lord had revealed to me.

Perhaps, as some think, Moses, Elijah and Jesus were brought together on the mount because they represented the three different dispensations of God’s dealing with man, Moses representing the law, Elijah, the prophets, and Jesus Christ, grace and truth. It does seem logical that the great Jehovah was testifying to the fact of the Lordship of His Son, Jesus Christ. Perhaps this was His way of saying to the observing disciples, and we paraphrase, “I gave the law by Moses, and I spoke to your fathers through Elijah and the prophets but this is the day of my beloved Son, hear ye Him.” All this may be true but it is not the truth I have in mind nor the lesson made real to my heart.

The thing that struck me so forcibly and caused me to see the truth in question was the fact that the overawed disciples, who were all ready and eager to build three tabernacles, were completely ignored by the Lord Jesus. It is obvious that Jesus didn’t answer them because the Father took care of the question by speaking out of the cloud and saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye Him.”

Yes, on this occasion the Father, Himself, deemed it necessary to speak directly to the inquiring disciples regarding the building of the three tabernacles and tell them that their job was to hear the Son and take orders from Him. It was not up to them to build tabernacles or to do anything else, they were to moment by moment hear the Son and take orders from Him. Since He was their Lord and over all, they were to listen to Him. He was their commander and chief. He only had the right to lead, teach and direct their lives. They must ever remember that He was their head and all orders must come from the one who was and is “the head of all principality and power.” Colossians 2:8.

Yes, the great Jehovah was pointing to Jesus and saying, “I’ve placed Him in charge of everything, hear ye Him.” Had the disciples and church continued to hear His voice and take orders from Him the world would have been evangelized many centuries ago. But Satan was on the job and he quickly launched many counterfeit programs to divert God’s people from this original plan. They have become so entangled that they can neither hear nor obey His voice.

This is the condition we find the Church in today. They do not lack for organization: they have it. They are often zealous and sincere and we cannot deny they are doing many good works. They set up schools to teach the heathen, they are building many beautiful church buildings, schools, colleges, hospitals, old folks and orphan homes. They have great programs and are often a very beehive of activity. But I fear very few of them know what it means to “hear ye Him.”

These so-called great programs with much religious activity merely keep them from being able to “hear ye Him.” Billions of dollars and man hours have been spent in building great and beautiful buildings while most of earth’s multitudes die having never heard the Gospel one time. Yes, neither Jesus nor any of the New Testament writers ever gave any instructions for erecting buildings of any kind.

Likewise the emphasis upon “big” and “great” things, especially today, is keeping many from hearing His voice. They think God is only in the big things, the mass meetings, the great crusades, the earth-girdling programs of the so-called big men and movements. The Lord couldn’t speak to most of today’s big men and tell them to go down toward Gaza and minister to just one man riding on a chariot. They would consider it the height of folly to leave a great deliverance campaign such as Philip was having in the town of Samaria and take a foolish journey into a desert place where the chances of meeting anyone were indeed remote. In the first place they never would have gone to Samaria unless 40 or 50 of the local churches had promised to support their campaign.

Not only does this apply to the great personalities but the lesser lights are also very busy with their own programs and plans and consequently are not able to hear His voice.

Selfishness of Man
Then, too, very few of us are aware of the selfishness that rules the human heart. Being an earth creature and possessing the five senses given for life on earth, man easily yields to the many temptations to build, promote and have things that his senses apprehend and appreciate. For this reason one must have “the mind of Christ” if he is to escape this dragnet of vanity and useless occupation. Man’s own earthly, sensual nature without the sanctifying presence of the Holy Spirit will lead him into many carnal entanglements that will keep him from hearing the voice of the Lord.

It would be well if we would constantly examine our motives in everything we do. Is it for His glory and kingdom? Is it out of love for Him and His people? Can we really say it is faith which worketh by love? Would we continue to render our present service were we not surrounded by mutual friends and acquaintances? Do we attend and support a certain church because of our family connections? Is it because our society goes there? Is it because we like the preacher? Or perhaps we secretly know it is good business to go to a certain church: the influential folks, the upper bracket, the money folks go there?

Of course you might be one of those loyal neighborhood and civic-minded individuals who go to the neighborhood church because it is the decent and charitable thing to do. Then again some folks simply do not consider anything that would be contrary to the religion of their fathers. The only brand (church and pet doctrines) they can see and support is “their church.” When you confine your interest to the four walls of your own little or big group you soon cease to hear the voice of the Lord. All these things must be counted loss if we are to have fellowship with the Father and hear the voice of His Son.

Along with this type of selfishness that keeps God’s people from hearing His voice we have materialism at its zenith of power and glory. Beyond a shadow of doubt this is a far greater enemy to spirituality than most of us realize. Its effect and influence is so far reaching until it would take pages of material to show you the tremendous hold it has upon the people of God. The lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes have allured and deceived them and they too, like the world, are toiling and seeking after things rather than Christ. Seeking better cars, houses, clothes, food, jobs, vacations, entertainment and earthly security is their main interest in life. Very few have escaped this subtle yoke of bondage.

The average family is head-over-heels in debt trying to have the glorified luxuries of this world. The Babylonian debt system has made it easy for them to put things on credit. And of course the high pressure advertising makes them believe they must have these things or life isn’t worthwhile. The creditor is ever knocking at their door and as soon as they pay off one thing it is time to buy a newer, bigger, and better one. It takes husband and wife working full-time to pay the bills while a baby-sitter takes care of the children.

In addition to the worry, hypertension, ulcers, high blood pressure, mental and physical fatigue caused by such a life of bondage it is impossible for such people to hear the voice of the Lord. Their time and energy is taken up with making a living and keeping up with the rest of the world. If they would only take the simple advice of Jesus, Matthew 6:33, they would find deliverance from this terrible bondage, have the material things they need and best of all they could hear His voice.

Now, permit me to deal with certain things we need to know if we are to have fellowship with the Father and hear the voice of His Son.

God Is a Spirit
God is a spirit and as such seeks those that will worship Him in Spirit and in truth. John 4:20-24. You can never confine God or your religious activity and worship to a church, place or thing. Let me repeat, when you confine your interest to the four walls of your own little or big group you soon cease to hear the voice of the Lord.

The only kind of worship and service that He is pleased with is that in which we abide in Him moment by moment and seek to do His will as we are directed by His Spirit. Each individual is a free moral and responsible agent to walk with God and render service as directed by the Holy Spirit.

This certainly does include working and worshipping with a local group. But it also goes beyond the local church. Especially does this apply to those whose ministry is to the whole body of Christ. Too long have men been enslaved to systems of programs of men. Every individual is responsible to Christ alone who is head of the Church.

Now this is not teaching that each individual is to become a law unto himself and rebel against God’s true anointed authority. True authority must be recognized and respected even as we would respect the Lord Himself. Colossians 3:18, 20, 22. I Peter 2:13; Hebrews 13:17.

No one is ever justified in disobeying a teaching clearly set forth in the Word of God. And of course the Holy Spirit will never lead a child of God to do anything contrary to the teachings of the Bible. The one that walks with God will not only hear the voice of His Son through those in places of authority over him but they will also recognize the small still voice of the Holy Spirit and render obedience to His beck and call.

This will be a daily and a moment by moment experience and will not conflict with God’s program and plan for the local church. When our thoughts, works, and acts of obedience become mechanically geared to some religious program we cannot hear the voice of the Lord. Only He who is Spirit and sees and understands all things is capable of showing us the way.

The next thing we need to learn in this day of emphasis on big and great things is that God is not necessarily interested in big things or little ones. What He wants is obedience and that may involve big or little things. Jesus preached to great crowds on some occasions but He also made a special trip through Samaria to talk to one poor sinful woman. Philip literally turned a city upside down with great signs and wonders but his next job took him from the crowd to a desert to tell one man how to be saved. So far as we know, Ananias never held any great union revivals or deliverance campaigns but he was used of the Lord to lay hands on Saul of Tarsus that he might receive his sight and be filled with the Holy Ghost. He was just a simple believer who could hear the voice of the Son, Acts 9:10-17.

God’s plan for His Church is not just a few great personalities doing everything while the vast majority of the members of the one body stand by and simply look on. We are all members of the one body and have the life and power of Christ resident in us. We must each be subject to Him in the little and big things that He might call us to do.

For the most part, I believe that our call to duty would consist of the little insignificant things. However, what He wants is obedience and humble obedience will get the job done and it will glorify Christ rather than men and so-called programs.

To do this we have to die out to all selfish ambitions, abandon our own plans and programs and be content to stay in the background while Christ alone is exalted.

The plain truth is this Gospel of the kingdom will never be preached as a witness to all nations until a sufficient number of believers learn simple obedience.

Much Activity
Now the next thing we need to know if we would hear His voice is that He is not necessarily interested in much activity or being eternally engaged in religious work and duties. I fear many are working themselves to death and to an early grave because they are, as it were, beating the air trying to accomplish things that the Holy Spirit is not leading them to do. One word spoken, or act performed in the power, energy and wisdom of the Holy Ghost will accomplish more for the Kingdom of God than days, weeks or months of religious activity done in the energy of the flesh. Just being busy doesn’t mean a thing: it’s obedience to the voice of the Son that brings results. Then it is no longer you doing the work, but “Christ in you.” You are simply the vessel, or tool that He uses.

Mary and Martha in Luke 10:39-42 give us a beautiful illustration of the truth we are trying to convey. Even sacrificial work or duties, not directed by the Lord, are simply an abomination to God. I am afraid that the fire of God’s judgment will reveal on that day that most of the children of God have used “wood, hay and stubble” in their buildings. I Corinthians 3:10-15.

The Motive
May I say something about the motive and the means if we would hear Him? Galatians 5:6 is a tremendous text and contains the seed germs of the truth I have in mind. The motive for our obedience to Christ must ever be love. If our religious activity is for any other reason than love for Christ and secondly for mankind, it is a useless farce.

Only those whose burdens are motivated by love are capable of hearing His voice; all others are working in vain. When God burdens a heart and fills it with His love for a ministry to a certain people He will bless and direct the one He burdens. Performance of religious duties without a Holy Ghost burden behind them is as sounding brass and tinkling cymbal.

Just think of the millions today enslaved and entangled in all kinds of religious programs in which there is no real heart burden for what they are doing. All such activity is hypocritical, vain and useless. Paul is telling the Galatian believers (Galatians 5:6) that it is not a matter of circumcision (obedience to the law) or uncircumcision (obedience to some unorthodox or heathen religion) but faith which worketh by love. If love is not your motive then cease from what you are doing and be a hypocrite no longer. Wait upon the Lord in expectant faith until He lays a burden upon your heart.

This is what Paul meant when he said, “Woe is me if I preach not the Gospel.” I Corinthians 9:16. Behind that utterance was a genuine burden.

The Means
Let me say a few words about the means, which is faith, Faith is not some tangible, material thing that can be seen with the eye, felt with the hand or heard with the ear. Neither is it feeling, experiences or sensations. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Faith is based upon God’s covenant promise, His Word.

Man’s ways and religious systems are opposed to faith. They have substituted many means to do the work of God. They have built religious empires and systems that teach and cause men to look at them rather than God. They have built schools and hospitals, provided pensions, insurance and retirement benefits for their preachers. The graduates from their schools have waiting pulpits and congregations to support them. They do not need faith or know how to hear the voice of the Lord. Only those who are willing to hear the voice of the Lord and walk by faith can be blessed and led of Him.

Faith launches out into the deep without knowing, seeing or understanding how the purpose shall be accomplished. Faith does not wait to see its way through before it acts. Faith simply starts out with a burdened heart trusting in God to make the way. The faith which is provoked by love whose confidence is in God and His Word will bring deliverance and blessing to those in need. Only those that have “faith which worketh by love” can hear His voice. May God help every one of us to go back to the mount of transfiguration and hear the Father once more as He says, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, hear ye Him.”

Religious Effort
Peter’s desire to build three tabernacles to commemorate the great miracle of the transfiguration typifies the natural man’s efforts to be religious. This indeed was a phenomenal sight that would evoke a desire in the natural man to do something to perpetuate such an event. It was of such glorious magnitude that Peter felt something had to be done lest this glorious visitation be soon forgotten.

Most religious people would have agreed wholeheartedly with Peter’s suggestion. Peter didn’t realize the spirit of vanity and idolatry that motivated his desire to build these tabernacles. Peter wasn’t aware of the fact that this spirit of idolatry is the same spirit that motivates all false religions. Peter didn’t realize this was the same spirit that causes man to depart from the true revelation of God into the delusions of false doctrine and heresy. He didn’t realize this was a subtle trick of the enemy to lead astray through the religious subterfuge of doing something great and noble. This was the same spirit that built and garnished the tombs of the prophets but could not hear the voice of the Lord who spoke through them. Matthew 23:29.

Any side issue, regardless of how religious or noble it might be, if it keeps us from hearing him, is a trick of the enemy to lead astray. This is illustrated in Luke 11:27-28 where Jesus rebuked the woman who was praising the physical vessel (Mary that bore and nurtured him as a babe). Physical ties, regardless of how tender and dear, have neither lot nor place in spiritual matters. Only those who hear the word of God and keep it are blessed.

Satan is forever trying to sidetrack man into glorying in the sight, the deed, the experience, the miracle, the sign, the wonder or the vessel rather than God.

It is most significant that the Father completely ignored Peter’s suggestion to build three tabernacles by saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye Him.” Some would disagree with us, no doubt, concerning our contention that Peter was motivated by the wrong spirit; but let’s remember it was this same Peter that rebuked the Lord, who, in reply said, “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offense unto me; for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” Matthew 16:22-23. This was the same self-willed Peter of whom the Lord said that he girded himself and went wherever he would. John 21:18.

Haven’t we all been guilty of being controlled by this same self-willed idolatrous spirit? The urge to build tabernacles around the blessings and experiences of today will keep us from hearing Him tomorrow.

The only doctrine, deed or program that will work is the doctrine, deed or program of the Beloved Son. We must hear him, the head of the church, who is blessed forever. Any other emphasis other than the purpose, the will and the mind of Christ for this day and hour is wrong. Trying to live by and walk in the light of the visitation of yesterday will not work today. We must hear what the Son is saying to his church today.

In order to hear the voice of the Son we must be willing to depart from the rut, the rite and the ritual of traditional religious form. Literally, we must become willing to be led in a way we have not known. In Isaiah 42:16, the Lord says, “And I will bring the blind by a way that they know not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them and not forsake them.”

I personally believe this scripture is looking down to this day in which his people reach the end of themselves in realizing they have not attained and that they know nothing as they ought to know it. It is the time when they exhaust their last ounce of wisdom and energy in finally realizing that the Lord alone has the answer and remedy to their humanly hopeless condition. This is when man’s day comes to an end and the Lord’s Day (Sabbath) begins. This is when man ceases from his own labors and enters into his rest.

God’s Purpose Today
I am convinced the Lord is speaking and revealing his will and purpose in the earth today. It is up to us to be in the place where his voice can be heard.

I further believe he is in process of restoring his church. Though it may be scattered upon ten thousand hills of denominational segregation (including the come-outers and independents) it will be one when he is through. His prayer in John 17 that we might be made perfect in one will be answered. However, don’t be deceived by Satan’s counterfeit ecumenical movement that is being hailed and received by the church world as the answer to Christ’s prayer. The real thing is always counterfeited by the enemy.

The Son is speaking today and showing us that the church is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all things. He is restoring the unity of the church as we are made to see there is one body, one Spirit one Lord, one faith and one baptism. He is showing us that we are members one of another and that the whole must take precedence over the individual. He is teaching us that we can no longer be a law unto ourselves but speak, live and act in the light of what is best for the whole. In the matters of judgment and discipline, he is restoring the authority of the church. He is showing us that the corporate wisdom, strength, judgment and authority of the church is greater than ours. He is also teaching us to know, honor and respect them who are over us in the Lord. We are being made to see that it is his church and he is the head.

This, we believe, is what the Son is especially saying in the earth today. However, we are not trying to impose our will or way upon anyone. We only want those to embrace this to whom it is revealed by our Sovereign Christ. No matter how hard we try, we cannot make people see the truth. And it will only be revealed to those that God has prepared to receive it.

A Sovereign Move
We are not anxious, upset or striving to get the job done. We believe it is a sovereign move of the Spirit and will be done in spite of us or anyone else. With this revelation we have the greatest rest, peace, love and unity as a church that we have ever experienced. As for tomorrow, we make no boast — only by his grace will we be able to stand.

On numerous occasions ministers of the gospel, evangelists and missionaries have come up to me seeking help and advice as to what to do. Many who have had fruitful ministries in the past are being stripped and left almost desolate. They are finding the old order of ministry doesn’t work anymore. They try to preach the same type message but find something is missing. The vital freshness, the anointing, the power has been withdrawn and they can’t understand why. One Baptist brother whom God has mightily used in times past told me personally that every preacher that stands for anything, with whom he is acquainted, is in the same condition.

I personally believe they have missed the sovereign move of the Spirit and are still trying to operate in the old order that God blessed in times past. My brother, my sister, we either line up with God and hear His beloved Son or we are going to be left desolate.

My advice to those who are walking in darkness and have no light is to trust in the name of the Lord and stay upon their God. Above all, do not build your own fire and walk in the sparks thereof. Wait for revelation. Don’t move or do anything until you hear the voice of his beloved Son. Read Isaiah 50:10-11. Many will lie down in sorrow.

Return to Library of Articles