Stand Behind The Man
STAND BEHIND THE MAN
Preaching at Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Lord’s Day, 27 December 1970
John 18 : 8-9
Jesus answered, I told you that I am [he]: if therefore ye seek me, let these go away;
that the word might be fulfilled which he spoke, [As to] those whom thou hast given me, I have not lost one of them.
Before, even before Adam, God’s thoughts were that there’d be a Man who would be supreme. So the more you look into the counsels and purposes of God, the more you can see that they really centred in a Man. But then as you proceed into the history of the world, one of the first things that appears is that – by inference, too, not directly, but by inference – one of the first things that appears is that the devil was challenging what God was doing. I think he’s never ceased to challenge what God’s doing, either. So it’s still the position today that the devil’s challenging what God’s doing. I think he understood this much: that God’s thought was man, because the earth was “waste” (Gen. 1 : 2); that’s what the devil made it. God didn’t make it like that; the devil made it like that. So the inference is there: that, right from the beginning, the devil was against God’s thoughts as to man. It doesn’t say, for instance, that he corrupted other worlds. We’re not told that anyway; what we’re told is that ‘the earth was without form and waste’; that’s this world. That’s, this world is God’s choice for men. I mean, God chose this world as the environment in which He placed men. The devil then, I think . . . it’s quite clear, I think, that the devil understood something before man was even there. Before any men were there, he corrupted the environment into which God was to place man; that shows how he was determined to defeat God’s thoughts; he was absolutely determined. So he couldn’t attack man, because man wasn’t there, but he attacked the environment into which God was going to introduce man. So that’s how the Scripture begins. This is something to think about, you know, ponder over: that he destroyed the environment that God had created before man was even in it. That’s how alert Satan is, and he’s still alert, too. He’s alert as to what he can do. And he can’t get at people directly; he gets at their environment.
The thing to get at in the preaching is that there’s a Man that’s more than a match for the devil in every way. That’s the thing to get at. God’s purposes and counsels are as safe as Christ is there! As long as Christ can’t be done away with, neither can His counsels and purposes be done away with – “in him is the yea, and . . . the amen,” 2 Cor. 1 : 20. So that we are enthusiastic about Christ, enthusiastic about Him, because He’s the Victor, and the devil’s vanquished!
Then you got to pursue the history further, because he very soon got into the race in Cain, and before that into Eve, and into Adam, too. That is sorrowful, that; that’s true, but it’s well to be reminded of what God had in mind. God didn’t want us to be too depressed, you know! God doesn’t want men to be depressed. He wants men to be converted, but He doesn’t want them to be depressed. So He quickly said, ‘The woman’s heel shall bruise his head’ (Gen. 3 : 15); that’s victory. ‘The Seed of the woman shall bruise his head’ – that’s victory! – ‘and he’ll bruise your heel,’ He says. Well, you got to run on in your thoughts; we can’t go through history in this meeting; but still, it’s there, and there for us to pursue the thoughts of God in regard to it. But you must come on quickly to ‘the fulness of time’ (Gal. 4 : 4). ‘The fulness of time had come’: that’s Christ came, Christ came then. And what I read, this scripture I read here shows that the Lord was, like we’ve sung – that is why I wanted it sung. He was standing between the devil and the brethren really, when He was here. His brethren – He stood between them. The reason why the Lord stood between the devil and His disciples is quite clear – it’s quite clear. The Lord – if I may say so, reverently – the Lord didn’t act apart from what men would call ‘common sense.’ I say that reverently; the Lord was practical in what He did. And He’d seen, the Lord had seen, the inroads that the devil had into Peter. He saw that Peter was not proof against the devil. He’d seen that, but He wasn’t letting Peter go, nor the others. And Peter was about the best of the twelve, you know, because He doesn’t make the first man an inferior man. Peter was morally, I think, greater than the others, because the Lord is justified, always, in His choice. He made him first; he was morally the greatest, I think, of the twelve, and I think the devil knew that, and he said, ‘I show you what I can do! I show you, because I’ll turn him aside!’ So he denied Christ, and that shows that he couldn’t overcome the devil in himself. And really it meant . . . and really what it meant is the devil proved that he had conquered the twelve – he proved that – but he forgot something, and that is that Christ would stand in between him and the twelve. So it’s a wonderful subject, you know, that there’s a Man that’s a match for the devil! So there’s only One; there wasn’t more than One; only Christ was a match! Those twelve were not a match for the devil at all! Christ was the match for the devil; and they were safe, because He stood between the devil and them. So He says, “Let these go,” and they had to let them go. They couldn’t catch them; the devil couldn’t catch them; he couldn’t have taken Christ, either; but He stood in between them. So, you see, how safe they were!
Oh, that’s 2000 years ago; that will never be forgotten, but then you must come up to 1970. I admit there’s lots in between, lots and much history in between, too. More history in between the Lord’s birth and now than there is . . . more history, spiritually I mean, much more history spiritually between then and now than there was for the previous dispensations from Adam to Christ – spiritually more. But the thing is to come right up to the present, and, you know, the devil has attacked the brethren again and again and again. And those that have been saved are those that have seen that there’s a man that has stood between them and the foe. And those are the people that have been saved. People that have rejected the man of God’s choice have found that the devil has attacked them directly. They have exposed themselves to the devil. Instead of going to the man, and standing behind the man, and loving the man, and understanding by that that he stands between them and the devil, they haven’t understood what’s been going on! The devil’s been fought by a man, and he’s proved the same thing again: that there’s a man that he cannot conquer! So you got to think of that scripture in the Acts (chapter 19 verse 15), he says, ‘Jesus I know, Paul I am acquainted with; but you, who – who – who are you?’ That’s what he said, ‘Who are you?’ – the same thing. The devil had learnt to know Christ by being defeated by Him. “Paul I am acquainted with”: what does he mean? He means every encounter he had with Paul – beaten! But he said to this fellow, ‘You, I beat you! Who are you?’ In other words, he’s saying to him, ‘Put your gloves on and we’ll have a fight, and see who wins!’ And he was so scared, you know, that he lost – that fellow! Do you understand that? That’s all part of the subject. How that our safety lies in still being behind the man, you see! There is a man between us and the devil. It’s the gospel, this, really – it is. It’s how you’re saved – a man between us and the devil! If you go and fight him yourself, you’ll find he’s soon too much for you! It’s a wonderful thing to know that there’s a man that’s between us and the devil! And do you think the Lord will do worse for His people? Do you think, think the Lord hasn’t provided till the rapture? He’s fully provided to the rapture! And He’s provided to the rapture on the basis of one man, not two, or three – one man till the end. And the way to stick to that line is to stick to our belovèd – not to speculate, just stick to our belovèd!
As it is, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit: that’s more or less how the dispensation’s going to end. That’s my impression, anyway. And be a display of that: what the Father, Son and Holy Spirit means. And the belovèd was the Father, and our belovèd was the Son, and the rest is the Holy Spirit, I think, in that sense; not that it wasn’t all Three, but I mean, God gives a demonstration of what the Trinity means. Well, you can think of these things, and you can think what you like, but there’s great mystery in it, and great glory in it, and great blessing in it.
You’ve got to come to this, you’ve got to come to this: that there is a man between you and the devil – a man, not a spirit, but a man; a man between you and the devil. And your salvation lies in being behind the man; that’s your salvation. Well, may we then be encouraged by these things, that there’ve been men throughout the recovery; that’s why the recovery’s gone so well, because there’s been someone, always, that God raised up that could beat the devil. And the brethren that were saved were the brethren that followed the lead! Got behind the man! As long as they were behind the man, they weren’t exposed to the devil!
So this is one of the most critical times in the recovery of the truth – these days. These days right now are among the most critical times in the recovery of the truth!
Originally published by The Bible and Ministry Depot, 101 Heugh Road, Walmer, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
This preaching was ministered in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, at a most critical time in the history of the recovery of the truth. Beloved James Taylor Jr had been taken to be with the Lord two months previously, and this preaching was on same weekend as G.R. Maynard’s blasphemous ‘three-day meetings’ in Barbados, just days before the almost universal departure from the truth.(Back to the top)
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