"ON EAGLES’ WINGS MINISTRIES"
“The hearing of faith!” October 2015
“But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith which we preach. So then, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:8,17. The word faith in scripture has a number of different connotations, when applied to different truths in each individual context. Today, there are ministries called “Faith Healers,” “Ever Increasing Faith” as that of Dr. Frederick K. Price at the Crenshaw Center in Englewood, California. Some years ago, the faith ministry of Kenneth Hagan flourished and was adopted by many other ministers who wanted to emulate Dr. Hagan.
One point of interest that we must elaborate upon somewhat is the fact that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word: but so does doubt, fear, sickness and death. We are constantly being bombarded with spoken words; and even if we don’t seem to pay attention to what is being said, nevertheless it sinks deep into our subconscious and remains alive in its cocoon. We are being corralled and held victims as in a “hold-up” and forced to listen to a wide assortment of sicknesses for which the cure is just a phone call away. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word; but multitudes associate that term with the preaching of the gospel, or our midweek bible studies, thus missing the many aspects that contribute to faith and to doubts.
Jesus indicated this truth: “But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” Matthew 12: 36,37. The bottom line is that words are never meant to be idle; because words are a major creative force. If you want joy, peace, or victory, begin to speak the same until the words of faith that you utter take on shape and become a living reality in your life. Say it loudly and often without doubting, and over time, you will see your words taking shape before your very eyes.
Faith ministries flourished among preachers such as T. L. Osborn, A. A. Allen, Oral Roberts, Jack Coe and many others. But we want to look at other aspects of the word faith, so as to understand all of the dynamics that are woven into that single word. To begin at the beginning, we are told that: “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” Hebrews 11: 3. I call “the word of God” used in this verse, “The Creative Word” because he spoke and it was done: he commanded and it stood fast. Psalm 33: 6, 9. So then, this kind of faith is not the same in its application as us being saved by faith, or being healed by faith. For instance, watch what happened not very long after Pentecost and Paul came on the scene as the chief apostle to a number of churches that sprang up from one city to another. “And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom. And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.” Acts 14: 21, 22; 16:5. There were no religious organization at that point in time, so the gatherings around the newly formed groups were referred to simply as “the faith.”
Let us reflect upon the act of creation as it was wrought by the Almighty! It was faith that went into action, because: “Through faith (or by faith) we understand that the worlds were framed.” But this was not the end of the working of faith. In other words, God did not retire his creative word that brought the whole creation into being. Without faith it is impossible to please God, and from scripture we are shown that God is always about faith. He displays creative faith, saving faith, healing faith, and everlasting life faith. By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death, even though it was appointed unto man once to die.
So after the work of creation was complete, what did God do with his creative word that gave birth to the new creation that emerged out of total emptiness? Let us read some! “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the WORD of HIS POWER, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Hebrews 1:3. It is therefore evident that God did not speak once then close the book as if the story ended. He continues to uphold all things by the word of his power. It seems to be such a long time since God first spoke and said: “Let there be light—and come let is make man.” Thousands of years have elapsed since the birth of human history: but the Creator continues to speak, and his creative words continue to create. Colossians 1: 16, 17 bears this record: “For by him were all things created (God created all things by Jesus Christ) that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”
Ladies and gentlemen! This leaves no room for silly old wives’ tales, and vain speculations of the carnal man. God continues to speak, in so much, that we are exhorted: “Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.” Hebrews 3: 15.
When we combine this verse with the words of Christ in saying: “Give us this day, our daily bread” we quickly realize the importance of tapping into the main stream of Divine life that flows all around us, by the living word that remains in effect on a daily basis. Please lend me your ears, and redirect your attention to what I am sharing from my heart. If God speaks every day! If he offers us our daily bread, why is it so many of us seem to miss out and are left dry and unproductive like a branch that is broken off from the vine? Are you sitting in your living room right now? Are you sitting in the den reading a magazine? Lift up your head for a moment and look around you! There is nothing unfamiliar with your surroundings. The same pictures are hanging on the wall. The same television set is where it has always been since you bought it years ago.
But consider this very seriously! Do you know that in the airways running through your living room or right there in the den, there is rock and roll music, classical music, country music, rap music, filling the airways right there in your home? Your television might be turned off at the moment: but do you know that pictures of all varieties fill that space in your living room? All sort of smut and hideous pictures are filling the airspace in your living room. So the good, the bad, and the ugly are right there at the turn of a button. But why are you not troubled by these very present realities? Because your radio or television set have buttons that allow you to pick and choose what you see and what you listen to. But apart from a button, your television set and your radio are receptacles. They are made with the ability for you to select exactly what you want to see or hear. But look at what we are missing!
God’s creative word has never stopped working. He is speaking every day: but do we have the proper receptacle to pull from out of the invisible realm portions of the life giving realities that we so desperately need? Yes we do! Let us examine statements from the Lord that changed lives over a full lifetime. I like to feature real life stories in my bible studies and sermons; because in so doing, I put a human face in the picture; and I bring the story down to human level where we live and generate our own personal stories. Many of us will no doubt find it much easier to believe God’s word, if he spoke to us in a dream or a vision. By the same token, perhaps some of us will find it much more challenging to accept as coming from God, words spoken by a person of lowly stature. Israel, in their continued exodus from Egypt came to Kadesh-bar’ne-a, at which point Moses sent twelve spies to scout the land and bring back word. Among the twelve were Caleb and Joshua, and after forty days of spying, they returned with grapes, pomegranates, and figs. “And they told him (Moses) and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it. Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there.” Numbers 13: 23-28.
The evil report caused the entire camp of Israel to morn in disbelief. God in his anger denounced Israel and decreed that they would not enter the promise land. In fact, he would turn them back into the wilderness to wander for forty years: a year for each day they spent spying out the land. “Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it. But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.” Numbers 14: 23, 24. At this point in time, Caleb was forty years old, and Moses promised him that day, that he would not die along with all the others, but would live to enter the promise land, and his children and their children would inherit the land that he would receive for his faithfulness. Here is a bird’s eye view of how the events unfolded over ensuing years from the time God spoke. “I the Lord have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die. And the men, which Moses sent to search the land, who returned, and made all the congregation to murmur against him, by bringing up a slander upon the land. Even those men that did bring up the evil report upon the land, died by the plague before the Lord. But Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of the men that went to search the land, lived still.” Numbers 14:35-38.
Bear in mind the fact that Caleb was forty years old when the death sentence was past upon Israel. As they wandered and died in the wilderness, Caleb kept walking by maintaining faith in the words of the Lord, spoken to him by Moses the servant of the Lord. The difference in this and similar instances, was not so much the messenger: the onus was on the people to either receive or reject the word of the Lord spoken by Moses. This is basically what the hearing of faith is all about. The effectiveness of God’s word spoken through lips of clay depends entirely upon the hearers or to whom the message is for. Forty five years had elapsed, and all of the original Israelites that came up from Egypt had died in the wilderness, except Caleb and Joshua; and the time came for Caleb to lay claim to his inheritance that was promised some forty five years before. But let us consider under what circumstances did Caleb had to live during those years. He was not surrounded by people of faith; neither was there a support group from which he could obtain strength. It is safe to say that Caleb lived in a sheer climate of death. Paul wrote saying: “Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed , and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.” 1st Corinthians 10: 8.
It must have been a challenge for Caleb to sustain himself with a mind that was fortified with issues of life while walking up and down in a sea of death and misery. Let us listen to Caleb’s own story and glean from his personal perspective. “Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh-bar’nea to espy out the land; and I brought him word again as it was in mine heart. First of all, his report to Moses was not based upon what he saw—the fenced cities with great walls, and even the sons of Anak—his report was birthed out of the faith he had in the God of Israel. Nevertheless my brethren that went up with me made the heart of the people melt: but I wholly followed the Lord my God. And Moses sware on that day, saying, Surely the land whereon thy feet have trodden shall be thine inheritance, and thy children’s forever, because thou hast wholly followed the Lord my God. This is where it begins to get really pretty! And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, as he said, (by the lips of Moses) these forty and five years, even since the Lord spake this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: (and died) and now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in.” Joshua 14: 7-11.
What made the difference in this man’s life’s story? He wholly followed the Lord God! God’s word spoken by Moses fell upon fertile soil in a heart that was totally yielded to the voice and will of God. We can put this man in with Abraham and read the account. “And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God (here is the bottom line) And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.” Romans 4: 19-21. Whenever God speaks, he does so in faith because his word is always one of faith. But it stands to reason that his word of faith must fall upon fertile soil in order to germinate and bring forth fruit that is fit for the Master’s use. The beautiful thing about Caleb’s story is the fact that he had no midweek bible studies to attend. It is possible that there was no one walking by his side and encouraging him to keep believing in the words that Moses spoke. With so much rebellion going on, and sins galore being committed that resulted in the death of thousands, it could be that Caleb was mocked and jeered so that he decided that he had to keep his convictions to himself, locked away in the deep recesses of his heart.
But forty five years before, when he returned from spying out the land, the report he brought back to Moses was out of the contents of his heart. What is so marvelous about this man and his life story is that over forty five years he did not lose his faith. He did not allow outside events to dampen his spirit. He stayed focus upon the events at Kadesh in so much that that day remained current and alive in him. Eventually, it allowed him to remain steady in that event so that he did not grow old one day over the space of forty five years. God is saying, “If you dare me, I will do it!” Dare to believe! Dare to abide in that constant flow of Divine life! The seeds that fell on good soil that is conducive to healthy growth yielded much fruit: some thirty fold, some sixty fold, and some an hundred fold. God will work wonders but he must have a partner among us. Just about every miracle in the bible had some sort of human participation. Here is more on the exploits of Israel, and in this case, how they missed God’s best. Hebrews chapter 4 addresses the matter of the rest that God offered to Israel. “Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: Here is the crux of the matter! But the word preached did not profit them not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. Here is the rational as stated above. Preaching is fine! Inspirational preaching is fine! But the word will profit nothing if it is not mixed with faith in those who hear it.
Without faith in the hearers, faith can find no fertile soil in which to grow. Perhaps this aspect of “faith ministries” over the years was the missing link to lasting results. The general practice among God’s people is to exercise faith for healing. We exhort and teach how to have faith in deliverance; and faith to receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost. But little has been said about us hearing in faith. One encounter forty five years back, kept Caleb alive and that without growing old one day. That is because God's promises found fertile ground in which to grow. I was in my mid-teens back in December 1951, when in Kingston, Jamaica, my brother invited me to attend a church service with him. I had just returned to Kingston where I was born, from the country village 75 miles away where both of us were raised. When we came to the building (meeting in a home) the service was already in session, so I was not introduced to anyone.
As we all knelt in prayer, after a while a sister walked up behind me and placed her right hand on my left shoulder. She began by saying: “Thus saith the Lord unto you my son (and she called my name) behold I have called thee to be an apostle in my house; and thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee. There are many things that I must share with you: things that shall befall thee on the mission field, but you cannot bear them now. But I shall show them to you as you learn to walk with me when you are strong enough to bear them.” That moment in time is etched in my mind for as long as I shall live: and it serves as the reason for me to be alive.
It was about this time that the Latter Rain Ministry arrived on the island, and in services, we were gradually being taught and exposed to the nine gifts of the Spirit. Before long, it became much like a novelty and a connecting factor with God to be ministered to by direct utterances of the Holy Ghost. Being in my mid-teen, I paid little or no attention to my calling as an apostle in the body of Christ. It would take another fifteen years for me to develop interest in the Five Ministerial Gifts as espoused by Paul in his letter to the Ephesians.
His emphasis is simply that it is Jesus Christ, who, upon his ascension to heaven gave these gifts to men: more directly, to the church he left behind. It had to be the Lord who called us and who gave us our individual ministries; because, to begin with, I had no idea of what an apostle in our present time frame is supposed to be or to do. But this new movement of the Spirit that swept my city (Kingston) like a funnel cloud in Arkansas, hundreds were caught up in its gravitational pull. Paul wrote: “Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors, and teachers. For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4: 8, 11-13. Gradually, over ensuing years we began to learn and even practice the principles and order of the New Testament Apostolic Church.
So it is that through the darkest nights and through obstacles galore that prophetic utterance in 1951 burns as a light that keeps God’s promise alive in me. Speaking of these things to someone many years ago, the person remarked: “Royce, you are a dreamer, which was not meant to be a compliment. I replied—yes! But it is that dream that keeps me alive!” What kept Caleb alive for an added forty five years, while thousands of his fellow Israelites died, thousands in a single day? He stayed alive and healthy simply by having faith in the simple words that Moses spoke as coming from the Lord God. It did not take me long to understand that the order of the New Testament Church is set divinely by Christ himself, and its duration and purpose are highlighted in the scripture outlined above. There is no place in scripture that substantiate or lend credence to the practice of going from one office to another by training or by years of faithful service. The process is not by human selection and recommendation.
In other words, as it pertains to the church, one cannot be promoted from a deacon to an elder: then after years of service he/she moves up to be a district overseer; and by votes among the Ordination Committee, that person is ordained to be a bishop. In today’s clergy, a bishop has unlimited power, and he or she can adopt the title of apostle decorated with the title of Doctor. But as far as the early church is concerned; and as far as Jesus Christ is concerned, one is either called to be an apostle or an evangelist, or a pastor, or a teacher, or one is not. There is no series of promotions in place for one to serve and prove one’s self which enables one to “graduate” from one calling to another. One is not called to be a pastor, or a teacher (this ministry is not the same as a pastor teaching bible class: being a teacher is a ministerial gift all by itself) and over time he or she becomes eligible to be promoted to a higher office.
Whether we like to acknowledge it or not, this practice that now embodies Christendom is an offshoot from the Romish—Babylonish system that was accepted by the early Reformers, then finding its way into Pentecostalism and evangelical circles. The ministry will not seek to change it and to revert to the pattern of the early church. They enjoy too much adoration and have too much authority over God’s people to even think of making any changes. Over the years, I am constantly being reminded of the prophecies that went before on me, starting in Kingston, Jamaica, being repeated in Birmingham, England, through the mouths of strangers and foreigners to me. These prophetic utterances were repeated in London and in many places here in the United States. But what is my responsibility to God’s word over the years?
Paul writing to his son in the gospel said: “Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.” 2nd Timothy 1:6. Writing in his first letter, the apostle noted: “Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy (such as being told by prophecy that I am called to be an apostle in the body) with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.”1st Timothy 4:14, 15. The church in Kingston to which my brother introduced me, was set up on a divine principle rendered effective by prophecy. How did we establish a workable presbytery? Each person elected to serve in this capacity was named by the Holy Spirit through prophecy. They were then brought forward before the church and anointed by the laying on of hands to serve around the altar. There is no need for me to blow an “apostolic” trumpet or print thousands of business cards showcasing my apostleship. The important factor is not what title we adopt, but rather the work we do.
Let us examine a couple of real life scenarios in which the Holy Spirit played a major role in the function of the church. As we step back in time to about A.D. 33—36, we come upon a local Assembly in Antioch and here are the points of interest that we want to ponder, and should seek to emulate. “Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; (this was not the pastor or bishop filling both the role of prophet and teacher) as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. And as they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So, they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia, etc.” Acts 13: 1-4. These things do not happen in churches today, because I have known of instances in which the pastor forbids the operation of the gift of prophecy in his congregation. Barnabas and Saul were sent forth by the Holy Ghost, and not by the Deacon Board, or the committee for evangelism endorsed by the “Board of Bishops.” Let us put the Holy Spirit back where he rightly belongs!
The functions and operation of churches as we know them today, are not fashioned after the divine principles as put in place by Christ himself under the instrumentality of the Holy Ghost.
Paul on his journey came into Syria and landed at Tyre: “And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem. And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet named Agabus. And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.” Acts 21: 1-11. Remember that at the beginning, it was the Holy Ghost that called for Barnabas and Saul to be separated unto the work to which they were called. But having gone through many cities and countries, being persecuted and stoned, the Holy Ghost was still ministering to their needs and wellbeing. It is a little dismaying for people to enter the ministry because they feel it is the right thing to do. It is also un-Christ-like for people to be selected at random or by human evaluation and thrust into the ministry.
While serving as part of the ministry in our “West Indian Church” in a south west suburb of London, we ordained ministers. But we did not ordain apostles, or bishops, or pastors, or evangelists, or teachers. We simply ordained the person to be qualified to exercise the office of a fully ordained minister. But as for his or her place in the body of Christ, each minister had to determine that on a personal basis. I have gone through tumultuous years. I have been buffeted on all sides and ignored by ministers who sought fellowship in a more lucrative fellowship.
Throughout the lean years and through tunnels that seem to have no end, my foundation and staying power is based on this scripture: “Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy (this is the hearing of faith) with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly (completely) to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.” 1st Timothy 4: 14, 15. But along with these prophecies, and even in situations where prophecies do not function in your local Assembly, there are other words of faith spoken by God on which we can grow.
I like to reflect upon this passage of scripture. “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” Isaiah 55: 10, 11. Can we ask for a better guarantee from the Lord? Here is another powerful word of faith that never fails to inspire and strengthen me.
“And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee.” Genesis 28: 15. Every day of my adult life, I reflect upon the words spoken to me in December 1951. In all the countries I have travelled: and in all the cities I have lived in, these words of faith never fade from my spirit. I get strength and an inner source of hope from those words. Here is my suggestion! Take time to read these promises and read them aloud because faith comes by hearing. Read aloud so you can hear your own voice speaking these words of faith against which God has placed his own reputation. “For I will not leave thee” rings like music to my ears: and I am taken on high as if on angels’ wings. Turn off all that is negative from your television or radio, or even a negative neighbor. Accentuate the positive that generates life. Have you got a word in your heart that was delivered to you many years ago, that still rings true in your relationship with God? Did you gather that word of faith that you heard with your inner ear and put it away deep in your spirit? Meditate on these things!
Royce O. Kennedy
Please be reminded to make your gifts payable to Royce Kennedy and not to the ministry. Thank you!