The Power of Life and Death: Part One
January 20, 2019
Transcript of message from TV Broadcast 1372 -- taken from Closed Captioning Text
— Brother Phil Enlow:
I’ll start with a verse that’s been referred to over the years…it’s been a while since I remember it being read here and it’s in Proverbs chapter 18. There’s a little wisdom from Solomon that I believe bears on what I’ve been thinking about and it’s in verse 21, and it’s this: “The tongue has the power of life and death and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (NIV).
And, putting that in its context, you back up one verse. “From the fruit of his mouth a man’s stomach is filled; with the harvest from his lips he is satisfied.” Then it says, “The tongue has the power of life and death and those who love it will eat its fruit.” So it’s evident to me that Solomon saw a connection between what we say and even practical things in life, ‘cause he’s talking about, we eat the fruit of it. And I think it’s more than just feelings and something intangible. I believe it actually makes a difference in life.
You know, there’s a certain amount of this that has kind of filtered down into the natural realm. You go to hear some of these positive thinkers, how to be a millionaire and that sort of stuff and they’ll talk about how you’re supposed to talk yourself into it. You’re supposed to have these affirmations and…I am really rich, I’m great, I’m this, I’m wonderful, as though that can somehow translate that into reality.
There’s a measure of truth, but that’s obviously not the point of what I believe the Lord wants to share with us. It’s not about getting for self in this world, but it certainly is in participating in what God’s purpose is for us as a people and as individuals. And, I believe with all my heart God wants us to be more conscious, certainly me, of the role of the tongue in faith. You know we were created in God’s image, were we not? When God does something how does He do it?
( congregational response ).
He speaks, doesn’t He? And I believe that that indicates something of the way God does work in and through us…that it’s wonderful to believe something. It’s good, it’s great to have a real conviction and say, yes, I believe every word in this Book. But there’s a way that that gets implemented. There’s a way that that gets, as I say, translated into our lives that I feel like…certainly I can confess that many times I’m stuck in an area of uncertainty and unbelief when it comes to the practical side of it. We pray and we sort of beg God and hope for the best. Am I overstating that?
( congregational inaudible ).
Yeah. And I feel like God wants to bring us to a level of faith where we can pray in faith, we can believe for needs in our lives in faith, we can believe for needs in others. And I believe God can bring a people to the place where when it’s needful and appropriate, they can speak a word and see something miraculous happen.
That’s obviously not the point, ultimately. You know there are some people who have gone to seed on this kind of thing and it’s the ‘name it and claim it’ as though we’re little gods and God wants us to grow up and to be able to speak things into existence, and we can speak ourselves into prosperity in the world and success and all of that stuff.
And it kind of takes hold of a principle and ultimately brings it over into the realm of self, sometimes into the realm of fantasy…where people are gonna go into a…I remember reading in one of Jim Cymbala’s books and he’s talking about folks that convened a conference in a certain city, and man, they were gonna drive the Devil out of that city. And it’s like they had the power to come in there and just go through whatever they went through and man, the Devil was gone. I mean, that’s fantasy.
But you know, I don’t want to jump into the other ditch and say, boy that’s really wrong, therefore, we just sort of live in an area of muddling through in unbelief, and declaring that we believe all this, but not really ever seeing a whole lot. I want to see God at work. I want to Him at work in me. I want to experience the things that He talks about here to a degree that I haven’t.
And I want to be that kind of a people in an hour like this where we have a faith that actually works in the real world. It’s not just that we believe it, but that we actually see it. And, I thought of a number of Scriptures I’m gonna ask the Lord to kind of put them together. But I thought of one that really shows the principle that I believe is involved here and it’s in Romans chapter 10.
Paul is teaching his way through the Gospel and what it is in Romans 10, and he’s talking about the Israelites and how they thought that the relationship with God was established through Law. He gave them laws to obey, they obeyed them, and by that means they were accepted by God. And Paul says that’s not it. That was a schoolmaster at best to teach us, to bring us to the place where we would come through Christ and what He did, and upon that ground alone, we would a place of acceptance before God.
But in…let’s see…verse 6, “But the righteousness that is by faith says: Do not say in your heart, who will ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down) or who will descend into the deep? (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart…” Now see, it needs to be in the heart, doesn’t it? But it doesn’t stop there. There are two parts to that.
Now watch where it goes with this. “…That is, the word of faith we are proclaiming,” So something has been proclaimed. It has resulted in a word that has penetrated into the heart. It’s made a difference. It’s brought about an understanding. It’s brought about a conviction that something is true—that this message is true. Not only that, it’s true for me. I need this message. It’s a word from Heaven to help me.
“…That is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if…” What? “…If you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”
That’s pretty plain, isn’t it? There are two parts to faith, in other words. It’s wonderful to have a conviction in the heart, but there has to come a point where it is spoken. Just as God speaks and something happens, we are meant to speak if we are to actually bring the blessing into reality in our lives and ultimately we can affect other people by what we say and what we do.
But oh my, we are so good at…somehow, we assert these things, but when it comes to really believing it, this is where we fall down. I don’t feel good. Things don’t look good. We go by how we feel. We go by…we find all the fine print that the Devil can kind of manufacture in our minds about why this doesn’t apply to me now…this, that and the other.
Somehow, we don’t pray with any kind of real faith. We don’t stand with any kind of faith. We don’t really believe to the degree that God wants us to in the reality of what we say. Namely, that we have all things in Christ, He has provided a full and a complete salvation.
You know, we referred, I think it was last week, to Paul’s admonition to Timothy and it was to, “Fight the good fight of the faith….” And I think in the King James, which is what I tend to remember, it says, “Lay hold on eternal life….” There’s something that has to be laid hold of. In other words, it’s there…God says, I’m not gonna just dump it on you, you have the responsibility, you have the part to play to actually take hold of that.
And that’s…I don’t know, I just sense this. Why are we…why is there so much unbelief? Why is there so much unbelief? And I believe this is a huge key. It is a much bigger key than we have perhaps imagined. And it’s not that we can just in a sense of self-will, we can just decide, I want this to happen and by God, I’m gonna confess it into existence!
I believe part of our relationship with God, certainly what He describes here, is the establishment of a relationship with God. Namely, there is a conviction in the heart that is ultimately confessed! Jesus is my Lord! I believe in Him! I absolutely believe what the record is of who He is, what He did for me. I embrace that. But I don’t just embrace it, I confess it.
How many of you remember what was said of some of the Jews, in fact, I think it was some of the Pharisees, I don’t remember exactly, but it was in John 10. Where Jesus spoke some words and it said, many believed on Him, but…but they would not confess Him for fear of the Pharisees or of the Jews. So somehow it got this far but it never came out. It never really got sealed, didn’t seal the deal.
And I find myself in this place where…oh God, I need this, I want this, and somehow there’s something there that undermines the ability to absolutely say, Devil, I stand on what God has said. I am what He says I am. He gave me what He says He gave me and I am going to stake my claim on that.
I’m not coming to You, Lord, based upon my merit. I’m not coming to You because I have earned this place or this privilege. You have given it to me and You have declared it to be so. You have declared this is mine, I claim it. And I’m willing to say it. I’m willing to come out and take a stand with my mouth that’s positive. I don’t want to be one of these that…I believe it, but. And we do that, don’t we?
( congregational response ).
We have ways of undermining what we say we believe when it comes to us, now. I’ll tell you what, I just…I don’t know. I was thinking about…somehow my mind went to Angus Buchan. Some of you know who he is…”Faith Like Potatoes,” just a simple South African farmer. I went and listened to a little bit of an interview of him yesterday when he came to my mind. Just a simple man who came to the Lord and had the audacity to actually believe what this says. Scary, isn’t it?
And he would run into situations and instead of, oh well, it must be God’s will, he would actually rise up against what was going on and just cry out to God and sometimes he was almost willing himself to take hold of this Word.
Do you remember that scene about the fire? There was an out-of-control fire and he was running around fighting the fire, but he was crying out and proclaiming the promises of God in the face of that, and God sent a storm. And somehow the Lord has taken that simple farmer and given him a global ministry before, sometimes, hundreds of thousands of people, and he just has a simple faith to pray for people. He has simple faith to be able to see somebody instantly healed.
You know, that one example that wasn’t in the movie, but it was in the testimony later, where he was in a congregation…anyway there were a whole lot of people there, a meeting, and the majority of the people in that meeting were Muslims! And he’s laying it out there and talking about the power of God and how God is great.
And the Lord kind of talked to him about some man who was crippled on the front row and he went down to pray for him. And I think he had to pray for him a couple of times, but when it was done, the man was just jumping around, his legs were bending and everybody was going crazy! And, when he was trying to find out what was going on, he found out that man had a steel rod in his leg. There was no way it was gonna bend. I mean, God had completely undone and reversed everything about that and done it right in front of a whole crowd of people. You can imagine what that did for faith in the Gospel, which is the point. It’s not to say, wow, that was a miracle. It’s to authenticate the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
( congregational amens ).
And, I pray that God will bring us to a place, maybe ‘back’ to a place in a measure, where we see God at work in lives in a greater way than we do! It’s not just the instantaneous, miraculous, but God can do that, too, and I want more faith like that. And I just pray that God will help us to begin to take hold…you know, we often use the case of the Israelites and how they were taking the land, and how it was such a half-hearted way at times. There were parts that they just couldn’t seem to get.
And what happened was that they would go into an area, a certain tribe, and try to take it and the inhabitants would resist them to the point where they believed in the resistance more than they believed in the promise of God.
Now, we don’t say that when we come in here and sing and say all these wonderful things that we sing about, but isn’t that kind of true in our lives many times? We run up against something that just seems to be an intractable situation, it’s been that was as long as we can remember, and instead of rising up and saying, Devil, I don’t care what you say, I am declaring the Word of God. This may take time. I don’t know what God’s purpose is, but I’m gonna stand in faith upon what God says. I’m not just gonna ‘hope so’ and believe it.
And I don’t want to just say brave words, I want to really marry up two things. I want to marry up a conviction in here and I want to marry it up to my lips, in prayer and in confession. There’s something, there’s a principle that God operates. Now you can say all the right words and it’s not in here, so part of the equation isn’t there. But I believe that God can take us from where we are at, and I believe He can lead us, I believe He can impart to us a faith that will enable us to grow.
You know, you think about somebody like David, we’ve used him as an example often. And, David, of course, didn’t start his career against Goliath, but he had some situations that happened that caused him…God caused him to exercise his faith. A lion and a bear come out, what am I gonna do? Am I gonna just surrender the sheep to the lion or the bear, or am I gonna rise up and say, God gave me this job, I’m gonna step out in faith and I’m gonna do something? I’m gonna put legs on my faith. And so, he did that and God gave him the victory and he was brought to a point where he had what it took when the time came.
And, praise God, I was looking for the Scripture about Goliath. But notice when he went out to Goliath…he didn’t just have this conviction, I’m doing what I’m supposed to do, I know God’s gonna be with me. Man, he spoke it! He wasn’t quiet about his faith. He put it into action. There was the action, but man, there were the words. “David said to the Philistine…” (NIV). This is in 1st Samuel 17 if you want to look it up, verse 45. “…You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head.” Man, that’s some…
( congregation inaudible ).
…Yeah. That’s pretty plain, isn’t it?
( laughing ).
See, he’s not just…and I don’t believe he’s going in there just kind of blowing smoke. This isn’t trash talk. This is something that has a foundation. Folks, we have a foundation. We don’t have to invent happy talk just to get through life. We have something that God has done that is apart from you and apart from me. He’s done it. He’s laid that foundation for me and for you.
So, “This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”
Whoa! You know, I’d love to have that kind of faith, too, wouldn’t you? We face situations and, well, I don’t know. Don’t you think the Lord wants to lead us to the point where we could have a greater conviction and a greater faith in things?
You know, I was thinking about something Brother Thomas said many times, and I know those of you who were here will remember it. He talked about faith. What does faith do? It starts where it’s at. And it starts where it’s at, with what it has and with what it doesn’t have. It just starts!
And what I see in my own life is a need to begin to rise up and use this tongue in a positive way to build faith, to ask God to give me, not only the conviction about what He has said and where I need to go and what I need to do, but to back it up with what I say.
I mean, you think about just some of the areas where this affects us in prayer. How positively do we pray? Do we pray as, well, I hope something happens…I pray, Lord, I know they’re sick…I’ll just pray. God wants to bring us to a place where we can have a greater faith and a conviction. He told us to, “…Pray for one another, that ye may be healed.”
You know, one awesome thing that we need to doing when we’re praying, just for example, just to talk about that, is to pray the Word of God! I mean, then it’s not just me and my wishes about fixing stuff. Now, it’s God, You said. Lord, I’m coming to You, but I’m coming to You because of a promise that You gave in Your Word and I’m standing on that and I believe it. Lord, You said!
Now you think of Jacob, for example. He was going back from his exile in…anyway, modern Iraq was where it was. And he was coming back to Palestine and Esau was coming out to meet him. Well, things weren’t so great when he left Esau and he was afraid for his life, especially when he heard Esau was coming with 400 men. This was a very real situation. And so, he did what he knew to do. But boy, he came to God and he said, Lord, You said.
( laughing ).
You said that You were gonna bless me. You said, You were gonna bless my descendents. You said, I have a covenant with You. And Lord, look what’s happening! Oh, God! You see, he’s coming on the ground of the Word. He’s coming on the grounds of what God had said, so it’s not just, oh God, I’m in trouble. It’s, oh God, I’m looking to You.
Jehoshaphat kind of did that, didn’t he? Yeah, they were facing this massive army that was coming against the Israelites out of nowhere. They were just minding their own business and suddenly this army comes on their border. And Jehoshaphat goes to God, but he doesn’t just say, oh God, save us from our enemies. He says, God, You did this. God, You did that. God, You promised this, You promised that! We’re Your people! We’re looking to You!
Remember what Solomon prayed! Remember what You told Solomon when You established the temple here! Oh God, we’re coming to You on that ground of Your promises! Lord, we don’t know what to do, our eyes are upon You.
Man, that’s a great place to be. I’ll tell you, if we come to God in that kind of a spirit, God’s gonna be able to quicken His Word and we’re gonna be able to have a fellowship and a knowledge of Him that isn’t just second-hand, ‘yeah, I believe that stuff’ kind of thing. God wants us to have a real relationship with a living God, where we can grow in our faith, we can have the kind of faith that he’s talking about there.
And, some people who think about using the tongue in a positive way will imagine that we should never say anything that’s…well, let me backtrack. Some people will say, well, I need to be honest, ‘cause things aren’t going so good right now and I don’t feel good, so, Lord, You prize honesty. I want to be honest.
Well, a lot of times, what we do…what we’re calling honesty is really kind of unbelief, because we may be asserting situations, but honesty tends to stay there. You know what I’m talking about? And I’ll use David as an example. You will look at many of his Psalms and he will talk about, oh God, my enemies are all around me, my sins are before me…this, that and the other thing…I’m in a desperate situation. Oh God, help me, save me! And he’ll talk about the situation with an honesty.
But you’ll notice something, he doesn’t stay there. He’ll lay out the situation and he’ll say, but, You are my God! But, Your faithfulness will never fail. But, I trust in You, Lord, I’m looking to You! That’s the kind of…see there’s a place to be honest. It’s not that we fantasize. But there is a way to confess in the face of things that are very real, to confess God’s faithfulness, to confess God’s Word, and to say, God, this is where I’m standing!
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