Our Advocate to the Father

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Claiming the power that is in Christ’s name is not some complicated, hidden theological truth. There are books in my library that are written solely on the subject of Jesus’ name. The authors wrote them to help believers understand the deep implications hidden in Christ’s name, but most of these books are so “deep” that they go right over readers’ heads.

I believe the truth we’re meant to know about Jesus’ name is simple enough that a child could understand it. When we make our requests in Jesus’ name, we’re to be fully persuaded that it’s the same as if Jesus himself were asking the Father.

How could this be true? Let me explain.

We know that God loved his Son. He spoke with Jesus and taught him during his time on earth. God not only heard but answered every request his Son made. Jesus testified to this, saying, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. And I know that you always hear me” (John 11:41-42, NKJV). In short, the Father never denied his Son any request.

Today, all who believe in Jesus are clothed in his sonship. The heavenly Father receives us as intimately as he receives his own Son. Why? It’s because of our spiritual union with Christ. Through his crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus has made us one with the Father. “That they all may be one, as you, Father, are in me, and I in you; that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that you sent me” (John 17:21).

Simply put, we are now family, one with the Father and one with the Son. We’ve been adopted with the full rights of inheritance possessed by any child. This means all the power and resources of heaven are made available to us through Christ.

Praying “in the name of Jesus” is not a formula. It is not the phrase that has power in simply speaking it. The power is in believing that Jesus takes up our cause and brings it to the Father on his own merits. He is our advocate; he is doing the asking for us. The power is in fully trusting that God never denies his own Son and that we are the beneficiary of the Father’s utter faithfulness to his Son.

Maturity in Our Faith

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Paul warned the Ephesians, “We should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14, NKJV). You may think, “This verse doesn’t apply to me. My foundation is biblically solid. I’m not taken in by all the new gospel fads and frivolous gimmicks that are distracting people from Christ. I’m rooted and grounded in God’s Word.”

However, listen to the rest of Paul’s verse: “…carried about… by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting” (Ephesians 4:14). Perhaps you can’t be fazed by false doctrine. Paul says you could still be carried away by a whole other matter. He’s asking, “Are you tossed about by the evil plans of those who oppose you?”

Paul’s message calls us to examine ourselves yet again. How do we react to people who call themselves our brothers and sisters in Christ yet spread falsehoods about us?

When Paul commands, “Be no more children,” he’s telling us, “Those enemies of yours — the ones who use gossip and slander, fraud and manipulation, cunning and craftiness, deception and underhandedness — I tell you, they’re all rebellious children. They’re devious and spoiled. They haven’t allowed God’s grace to do a work in them. Don’t fall for their wicked, childish games. They want you to react to their meanness as a child would, but you are not to answer them with childishness.”

In the next verse, Paul urges us to move on to maturity. “Speaking the truth in love, [you] may grow up in all things into him who is the head — Christ — from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:15-16).

You can’t help the slights you receive, the hurts done to you, the gossip spoken against you, the fraud and deception aimed at you. However, you can use these things to grow in grace. View them as opportunities to become more Christlike. Respond softly with a meek spirit. Forgive those who spitefully use you.

The Prayer God Seeks

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

When the book of Daniel was written, Israel was in captivity to Babylon. By chapter six, after a long life in ministry, Daniel was eighty years old.

King Darius promoted Daniel to the highest office in the land. He became one of three co-equal presidents, ruling over princes and governors of 120 provinces. Darius favored Daniel over the other two presidents, putting Daniel in charge of forming government policy and teaching all the court appointees and intellectuals (see Daniel 6:3).

Obviously, Daniel was one busy prophet. I can only imagine the kinds of pressures placed on this minister with his busy schedule and time-consuming meetings. Nothing, however, could take Daniel away from his times of prayer; he was never too busy to pray. Prayer remained his central occupation, taking precedence over all other demands. Three times a day, he stole away from all his obligations, burdens and demands as a leader to spend time with the Lord. He simply withdrew from all activities and prayed, and God answered him. Daniel received all his wisdom, direction, messages and prophecies while on his knees (see Daniel 6:10).

Daniel had always been a praying man. In his old age, he had no thoughts of slowing down. Scripture makes no mention of Daniel being burned out or discouraged. On the contrary, Daniel was just beginning. Scripture shows that even as this man turned eighty, his prayers shook hell, enraging the devil.

What is a prayer that shakes hell?

It comes from the faithful, diligent servant who sees his nation and church falling deeper into sin. This person falls on his knees, crying, “Lord, I don’t want to be a part of what’s going on. Let me be an example of your keeping power in the midst of this wicked age. It doesn’t matter if no one else prays. I’m going to pray.”

Too busy to pray? Do you say, “I just take it by faith”? You may think to yourself, “God knows my heart; he knows how busy I am. I give him thought prayers throughout the day.”

I believe the Lord wants quality, unhurried time alone with us. Prayer then becomes an act of love and devotion, not just petition time.

One Who Finally Stands Up

Gary Wilkerson

How do you change the broken and dysfunctional destiny of your family? Has there been a history of various addictions in your family? How do you resist a family ‘legacy’ that has been one of abuse, difficulty, separation, segregation or strife? How is that family turned around?

On the other side, you may be saying, “Well, let me tune out now because I got a good family.” I want to ask you, “How does a really good family turn into a really great family that is a testimony to the things that God would have us live out together?”

My father grew up in a Christian home. His father was a pastor and denominational leader in Pennsylvania. The household he grew up in, as he expressed it to me, was extremely legalistic. His sisters had to wear long skirts. They weren’t allowed to have a washer and a dryer in their house because they believed that would cause sloth.

When my dad was a young pastor shepherding his flock, he realized that he was putting people under a legalistic weight. He decided that not only was he going to become free from that himself, but he was also going to preach to help people break free from that mentality.

He decided he was going to try to understand what the grace of God was really all about; and when he saw it in scripture, he began to rejoice. His heart began to grow wide open to the things of God, and he was like a new man just by learning that you don’t work to earn your salvation. You don’t fear. You don’t drive people to Christ out of fear.

I am so glad that my father broke free of that joyless, legalistic faith so that I could be raised in a household that understands the love of Jesus and the love and grace of God. My children and their children and their children’s children are going to thank God that they had a patriarch who was willing to break this chain. In generations to come, they’ll look back and say, “There was finally a man of God who stood up and said, ‘No more of this. Things are going to change with me in this family.’”

Maybe you will be the one who does this and breaks generations of pain or legalism or addiction for your family. God can accomplish this in your heart and your life.

Diamonds Against Black Velvet

Jim Cymbala

Charles Spurgeon, the great British preacher, once talked about how, when a jeweler is going to show diamonds, he puts the diamonds on black velvet. The contrast of the diamonds with the black velvet brings out the luster of the jewels. Whenever God is going to do something, he picks the most impossible, improbable situations because then, when he’s done, everyone says, “Oh, how great is our God!”

As Spurgeon wrote in his sermon A Wafer of Honey, “Our infirmities become the black velvet on which the diamond of God’s love glitters all the more brightly.”

For us to be effective, especially in our times of trial, God has to use us. We need the Holy Spirit; we’re helpless without him. Jesus said, “Without me, you can do nothing” (see John 15:5). That’s a hard verse to believe; but without God, we can do nothing. This means that you can be sincere, you can study a lot, you can be zealous, you can have a high IQ and you can still be ineffective for the kingdom of God.

Paul says in his letter to the Corinthian church, “He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:6, NIV). What does that assume, though? That we can be incompetent. When Paul says, “Be strong in the Lord,” (see Ephesians 6:10) what does that assume? You could be weak, otherwise he wouldn’t have given the command in the first place.

You can’t use mental positivism and yell Christian slogans at things and think that it’s all going to work out.

Obviously, we want to be competent ministers of the new covenant. Right now, biblically defined, 7.2 - 9 percent of the population is Christian. If everyone were a competent minister of the good news, we wouldn’t be in this condition. Now we can talk spiritual smack, what our opinions are, about what books we’ve read or what other people are doing wrong.

In the end, Jesus said, "By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:8, ESV). Without any fruit, stop the talk. At least have the humility to recognize, “I’ve got to go back to the school of Christ and learn how to be fruitful.”

We must call on the Spirit in order to bear fruit and shine against the darkness.

Jim Cymbala began the Brooklyn Tabernacle with less than twenty members in a small, rundown building in a difficult part of the city. A native of Brooklyn, he is a longtime friend of both David and Gary Wilkerson.