Our brother Ed Dayton asked me to speak on the subject “Fear Not as You Face the Future.” But I say to myself, who am I to get up here and talk about fear not? I remember meeting a brother from Nepal who was thrown in jail three times because he’s a Christian. He should be here and tell us how to fear not when you’re in jail. The closest I’ve come to suffering for Christ was a bunch of letters telling me I was going to die like a dog in Peru. Though I’m not sure how dogs die, I didn’t like the idea. But I’m still alive. Now my brother in Nepal hasn’t died like a dog, but he’s been penned up like one sometimes, and he should talk. Nevertheless, because the Lord placed me in a position to speak to you on this subject, I will gladly do it.
I’d like to read two passages from the Bible, the first one in the Old Testament, 2 Kings 6:15-17:
“When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. ‘Oh, my lord, what shall we do?’ the servant asked. ‘Don’t be afraid,’ the prophet answered. ‘Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ And Elisha prayed, ‘O Lord, open his eyes so he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”
What a beautiful passage that is, isn’t it?
But now I want to read another passage. John 1:4 is a favorite. These are beautiful words, and I feel the Lord would have us combine the Old with the New Testament. In John 14:12-14, the Savior is speaking and he says,
“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father, And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
And verse 15, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”
Three of the points I always make in this passage have been hit in this Congress, two of them very much. The first one is obvious: the Lord says to us today, “Fear not, dream great dreams and plan great plans, because I am going to the Father.” I hardly need to touch on that because we’ve been overwhelmed by the Word of the Lord from everybody here.
The second word that the Lord seems to say here is, “Fear not. Pray great prayers because I will answer the prayers of my people.”
And then the third point is in verse 15, “Fear not, as long as you obey my commands,” and I feel this morning the Lord would have me emphasize the third one.
When Mary the mother of Jesus went to the marriage in Cana and you remember they ran out of wine, she preached her one and only recorded sermon in the Bible. It’s a one-liner, but it’s got a lot of power. She said to the servants there, “Do whatever he tells you.” And so this morning for this last session, the word that the Lord has laid on my heart is: “Fear not, as long as you do it.”
We have dreamed great dreams, plans galore, wonderful ideas, and when the year 2000 comes, pray the Lord we’ll all be here to see it all happen as was envisioned last night. What a joy it will be on December 31 of the year 2000 to look back and say, “Master, by your grace I was able to do it. The track you put me on I was able to stay on. And by your power we did it. Hallelujah to your name.”
Talking about cooperation, the other day I was flying from Budapest to London. Alan Johnson, one of my British team members, and I were chatting about the rally in Budapest where Cliff Richard, a British singer, had sung and I had preached to thousands of Hungarian young people (about twelve hundred came to the Lord). A British lady in front of us was talking to a Hungarian woman, and you could tell she was evangelizing the Hungarian, who turned out to be a young businesswoman going to London to sell plastic cups to the British.
Overhearing us, the English woman turned to me and said, “Excuse me, are you talking about the rally yesterday with Cliff Richard and Luis Palau?” “Yes,” I said. “Oh, you know I wasn’t able to get in, but I came all the way from western England to pray. I went to Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, not as a tourist, just to pray. And then I came to Budapest and for three days I was praying, but I didn’t even hear the results. What happened at the rally?”
She didn’t know I was Luis Palau, and we told her the blessings and the testimony of Cliff and the power of God, and the tears of the Hungarian brethren. And she said that’s wonderful. Then she said, “Do you know where Brother Palau is?”
“Well, that’s me,” I said.
“Brother, I was praying for you these three days, and I thought you might be on this plane,” she said. “I’ve been talking to this Hungarian lady, and I think she’s ready to be converted. Would you talk to her?”
“Why don’t you do it?” I said. “I’ve been listening to what you’ve been saying. You’ve done a terrific job.”
But she said, “I don’t know how to close the deal.”
So I agreed, but I thought to myself, she’s got to get this sheep herself. I stuck my head between the two seats and said to the Hungarian woman, “Did you understand what this lady said to you?”
“Yes,” she said.
“Well, look, the final part is this, Revelation 3:20: ‘I stand at your door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I’ll come in to you. ‘ Are you ready to open the door to Jesus?” “Oh, yes, I understand,” she said.
“Are you willing to open the door?”
“Yes, I’m willing to open the door.”
I said to my British sister, “Then lead her in prayer.”
She said, “No, no, no. I’ve never done it.”
“Then do it now,” I said, and I sat back. I wanted to do it, actually. It would have been a great thing to lead a Hungarian businesswoman to Christ. But the English lady turned to this Hungarian, grabbed her hand, put her arm around her, and led her to Jesus Christ. That is cooperation in evangelism.
We’ve had a glorious Congress, but I feel on this closing hour I wish I could cheer you up a little bit. I think we’ve repented a lot. And I think we need to repent. But the Latin Americans said to me, “You better talk about giving glory to God. We’ve repented enough now; tell about some of the things that have been happening in South America.”
The verse that keeps coming to me is this: “Many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.” Since World War II, the Word of the Lord has exploded around the world, and we need to rejoice once in a while. When we glory in the Savior and his power, what a joy that is, when you think that here in Southeast Asia there are now millions upon millions who claim the name of Jesus Christ. We’ve seen the theologians from Africa and Asia and Latin America, besides those from Europe and America. Most of us didn’t have theologians thirty-five to forty years ago. And now we have national leaders. In other words, the Lord has honored the work of the missionaries.
I thank God that the missionaries who came to Latin America had a great vision. I don’t think they studied cross-cultural stuff because some of the old British missionaries wore heavy suits in weather like this, and as a little boy I would watch them sweating up a storm, as they preached. And I used to think, why doesn’t he take his coat off? They made terrible mistakes. Their Spanish was horrid. But they lived among us and our poverty, and we didn’t think in terms of whether they adapted or didn’t adapt. All we thought was these brothers and their wives and children loved us enough to bring us eternal life, and we just loved them. And I thought the missionaries were saints. It was only when I got older and came to America that I realized they were doing it all wrong. They brought the Word of Life. And they identified with the people, the poor.
We forget that when the gospel came to the Third World, it started with the poor. And most of the gospel even today still goes to the poor. I know that you men and women who are from Europe and America continue to beat your breasts and beat the rich, but in most of the world the gospel is still going to the poor, through the poor, for the poor.
There’s a danger that we go from here beating our heads. People might think that since Lausanne we’ve done nothing but fail, we’re nothing but miserable nobodies, the church hasn’t grown. Let’s first give glory to God.
Some time ago, Os Guinness said, “Our generation is in a shopping mood for answers.” Even in Europe, where it may not appear like they are. In America they are searching in Eastern religions. All over the world, they are searching. Summer is here, and so is the harvest, A verse in Proverbs says, “He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.”
Four thousand of us have sat for ten days pontificating about evangelism—you have to do it once in a while, but for ten days we probably didn’t reach out too much. Now we’re going to leave this place and we must go and do it. Mary said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” And each one of us, brothers and sisters, has got to find the time now, sifting all that God has said so that we know what the Savior is saying to us. So that we know what we must do, and by the power of the Lord we go with a commitment to do it.
You know, we could continue to multiply congresses and think that we’re evangelizing. We could continue to put out volumes and think that we’re evangelizing. You and I could be so taken up preparing sermons for conventions that we don’t have time to evangelize. But we never outgrow the responsibility. When you get to be middle-aged, there’s a great temptation, even for evangelists, to think, “Evangelism is okay for the YWAMers and the OMers and the Youth for Christers and the new generation of Campus Crusaders. But I’ve got a little dignity now. I’ve got two free doctorates. I’m president of this university or this organization.” And it’s a little humiliating to actually go and do it. There’s a great temptation to sit back and say to the young people, “Now you boys and girls go do it. I’ll write the books and set up the conventions.” But the Lord says to each one of us, “You do it,” and stimulate others to do it, too.
If you’ve read Bready’s England: Before and After Wesley, you know that England was in as bad a shape as any Third World nation today. Yet Wesley arose, and he and the young people said, “We want to revive the nation, especially the church, and to spread Scriptural holiness across the land.” Within fifty years, England began to change, and Wesley, who was kicked out of the churches in his youth, was treated like an honored servant of God.
And though I haven’t asked for John Stott’s permission to say so, after World War II the Anglican church needed renewal, again. And a group of young clergymen, among them our brother, began to dream for another revival. They asked God to raise up a new generation of reborn, Spirit-filled, Bible-centered Anglicans in England, so that England would be awakened again. God has answered the dreams and prayers of our brother John Stott and a group of young evangelicals who now call themselves the senior evangelicals, because forty-five years have gone by. But there’s a group of young evangelicals coming up from behind, and when you know the Anglican bishops in the United Kingdom and the key positions that they hold and how alive they are to God, you say, “Lord, how exciting that John Stott, among others, even chose not to get married so that the vision could be fulfilled.” What a blessing that has been for the United Kingdom in our day.
And now a new wave has come to the United Kingdom parallel to what’s happening among the Anglicans. In the middle seventies some of the young fellows got all worked up about the independent churches and the non-Anglican denominations and they began to dream that God would visit the British Isles again with fire and with blessing. And I tell you, compared to the rest of the continent of Europe, the United Kingdom today is paradise. It’s got a ways to go—a few streams to be cleaned and a few trees to be planted, but what fire, what joy, what power, what blessing in the United Kingdom. Politicians are listening to the gospel, and many are being converted to Jesus Christ.
Brothers and sisters, I am committed 100 percent that we must continue to minister among the poor. Most of us were born there, lived there, and ministered there, but praise the Lord for reaffirming it. But there are also one billion rich people whose souls are as valuable to God as the souls of the poor, who need to be converted as much as the poor, although often they are harder to bring to Christ. And yet efforts must be made to reach politicians, to reach wealthy businessmen, to reach university students whom we haven’t mentioned enough. Let’s not get imbalanced. Yes, compassion. We want the whole world to know that we believers love the poor. I hesitated to make this statement lest it be misunderstood, but let’s not lead people to think we’re giving up on Europe, that we’re giving up on the affluent West. And furthermore, let’s not forget that the reason for its wealth isn’t just that those nations raped the Third World, but that Reformation principles embedded in those countries brought so much blessing. And I want Europeans and Americans to know that many people in the Third World dream about winning millions to Christ and, secondly, that this spiritual awakening would reform the nations and in turn bring a better lifestyle. Latin Americans want their children to go to high school, to be able to go to university. They want justice under the law. But we feel this will come by reformation from within by the power of the gospel and the living out of the biblical ethic. And that’s what is beginning to happen.
Perhaps in our day, Guatemala will be the first reformed nation in Latin America. Out of seven million people, some three million in Guatemala now claim to have been born again. Already you see the penetration of society. Now you may read in the newspapers about revolution and violence. Of course, there’s some of that; there was in Europe during Luther’s day and Calvin’s day and in England many a time. But as the Christians penetrate economic institutions, the military, education, politics, as they live out the biblical ethic, you can even begin to feel the changes coming along, and we should pray that this would happen. Rather than by violent revolution, by hatred, by bloodshed, why can’t we dream that reformation could occur peacefully? Those of us from Latin America want to believe—and we may be naive—but we would love to believe that if enough people who are converted really live out the biblical ethic, the nations could change, bringing blessing to the land. And that’s the dream of nation after nation in the Third World.
In honor to everybody here, I want to say that evangelism is the best form of social action. Let’s not forget that, because evangelism deals with the root of the problem, not with the symptoms. The root is man’s alienation and sinfulness. And although we participate in social action parallel with evangelism—and that’s why we love The Lausanne Covenant—nevertheless let’s never forget that social action itself is not evangelism. Evangelism is preaching Christ crucified, resurrected with power to change people’s lives. Evangelism is John 3:16 and 1 Corinthians 15:1-3 and Romans 1:16. Evangelism is that a person repent and be converted and be born again and begin to live by the power of the Holy Spirit. Evangelism is the presentation of Christ in the power of the Spirit so that lives are changed.
By the year 2000 some of us perhaps will be killed for the gospel. Somehow you sense it. And we will all fear. I don’t think any normal person says, “I want to be killed; I’m waiting for the day when some nut comes up and shoots me.” But George Whitefield said, “I am immortal till my day is done.” None of us will be killed one hour before the Lord says, “Okay boy, you’ve done your duty. Come on home.”
Hugh Latimer was sentenced to burn at the stake in 1555, and another bishop, Nicholas Ridley, was tied back to back with him. During those last few moments, Latimer said to his young friend, “Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man. We shall this day light such a candle by God’s grace in England as I trust shall never be put out.”
What a way to die. May the Lord give us grace, if some of us should die for the kingdom before we meet in the уear 2000, that we would die with that kind of confidence. The Lord says, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6). And as we get ready to go for it, let’s not forget that though we talk big plans, we have massive ideas, bunches of videos, enormous files, documents galore, the Lord is looking at each of us. “Do whatever he tells you.” The Lord bless you.