(Chapter 2 of 3)
I want to bring to you a new spelling of the word ask. The old spelling is A-S-K — ask, but there is a new spelling of that word that is given to us by our Lord Jesus Christ. If you will notice in the long talk the Master had with His disciples, on the night in which He was betrayed, He used that word ask five times; and during those five times that single word becomes the pivot of the talk in John 13 - 17.
In John 14: 13, He says: "Whatsoever ye shall ask in My Name, that I will do"; 14: 14, "If ye shall ask anything"; 15: 7, "If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask"; 15: 16, "Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and appointed you that ye should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should abide; that whatsoever ye shall ask"; and again in 16: 23 and 26, the word is "Ask."
I want to couple that with the other "ask," regarding the Son, in Psalm 2: 8, which perfectly fits in with these "asks" of John's Gospel: "Ask of Me and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession." If we can get the better spelling of that word ask, I think we may quicken the results in all the foreign fields — in South Africa, in North Africa, and all the rest of the world, including Britain and London.
The new spelling is T-A-K-E — take! The Master's spelling and our spelling of the word "ask" is T-A-K-E; that is also the spelling of Calvary and of the Third Morning. Shall I tell you how to reach that spelling? Three or four or five simple things will make it, I think, quite clear.
When God made man in His image, He gave him mastery of the earth. Man was the under-master of the earth and all its forces; Genesis 1 and Psalm 8 will make that quite clear. Man is a master, made in the image of God, to be master over all this earth; that is the Father's plan in His marvelous love. But the title to the territory given by God can be held only through obedience; that is the one law of title-holding in God's Kingdom. Disobedience demits the title; obedience holds the title.
The second thing to note is that man lost his mastery through disobedience. The tempter's whole thought was this: get man to disobey. He knows about the title standing in obedience; and so the temptation was simply this: to disobey the Father's will. Man disobeyed and he not only lost the dominion but he also became a slave on a practical basis.
Third thing: He lost the dominion to the one whom he obeyed, who is called by our Lord Jesus Christ, "the prince of this world. " He is not the rightful master, he is not the rightful prince of the world, because he has been a traitor to God. He is a traitor-prince, he has stolen the mastery, he is a thief, he is prince of this world, usurping the power that belongs to us.
Fact number four: The Lord Jesus Christ came, or as I love to put it, God came down Himself in the person of His Son; because that Man who walked around on the old Palestine soil was without a doubt God Himself treading in man's shoes. He was given the mastery of the earth, all afresh by the Father. God gave all things into His hands. "All things have been delivered unto Me of My Father," the Master plainly says, and that same fact is repeated four times over in John's Gospel. All things were given into the Lord Jesus Christ's hands. He was the new Master. Yet He could only hold His mastery by obedience. Thus the one touchstone of His life was this: He obeyed; even unto death, aye, the death of the Cross. And I think the great thing the pretender-prince, the cunning traitor-prince, was aiming to do those thirty-three and a half years, was to make obedience by our Lord Jesus just as hard as he could. But Jesus remained true. He held His title by obedience; first in His life, then in His death; and onward through His resurrection. And when He went back home — if you run through Ephesians and Colossians and the other epistles — the title to the earth was confirmed to Him when He returned to His Father's presence. It was given to Him by the Father; it was held by Him through His obedience; and now He gives us the right to take what rightly belongs to us, on the basis of His victory.
We love to talk of our Lord Jesus Christ as our Substitute. We rightly say that He was acting in our place when He climbed the hill of the Cross and poured out His life even unto death. He was our Saviour and bore the brunt of our sins, He acted as our Substitute when He was standing in our place, and through Him and His precious blood we are free. But we do not use that word Substitute as much as we should.
He was a three-fold Substitute. First, in His life, by His perfect obedience — in Nazareth, in His narrow white-washed cottage, in the daily round in the carpenter's shop, making chairs and yokes and tables, pushing a plane, driving nails, for customers hard to suit, always obedient to His Father's will in the common humdrum Nazareth life — our Substitute there. We failed in obedience; He obeyed perfectly in our place as our Substitute.
Then on the Cross He was our Substitute, obeying perfectly, and perfectly satisfying God's righteousness in view of the awfulness of our sin.
And then on the resurrection morning He rose up because He was obedient; He held the title by His obedience in the place of the man who had failed, and in His obedience to death, aye, the shameful, the painful, death of the Cross; not shrinking, even at that, though it meant far more to Him than any human heart could ever take in. When He had gained the victory, He held the title to this earth.
I used to wonder, in my ignorance, why the Master, when He achieved the victory over sin, over Satan, over death, why He didn't clean the whole thing up, why the old devil should be free these two thousand years? If Christ were Victor, why not make the victory instantaneous everywhere? Well, there is a very simple reason. I said He was our Substitute. We were given the mastery of the earth, but lost our mastery; He came down to win back what we had lost. We had lost our life; He gave it back through His own life. We lost our mastery of ourselves; it comes back through Him and His marvelous Holy Spirit; in the fruit of the Spirit — you remember, the ninth item is self-mastery — He came down to win back for us our mastery of the earth, the place where we were made under-masters for God. He is our Substitute. He has won the dominion of the earth back. "All authority has been given unto Me in Heaven and over the earth." "Now," He says, "take what I have won for you."
When our missionary friends go back into a village in South Africa where a man sits possessed by a demon, remember this — and it serves as an illustration for every other place of the sort in varying degrees — remember this: that bit of ground belongs to man on behalf of God, to be held for Him. It was lost through disobedience; it was stolen away by the traitor-prince. But the Lord Jesus Christ is Victor, and anyone going in Christ's Name has the right to step over on that ground and say, "I take, in the Name of Jesus Christ, my Substitute, my Saviour and my Master, I take this bit of the earth, by the authority given unto me over all the earth; I take this bit of the earth, that my Master has won, back, in His Name; and I take the lives of these precious men and women and children, whom my Master has given His own life's blood for."
But the taking must be as deep as your life; it must be as intense as the opposition. Satan is a stiff fighter; he doesn't give except what he must; the taking must be definite. Prayer must always be definite. Satan does not give until he must. He is a mighty stiff fighter. Prayer must be persistent. The taking must be as insistent as the enemy is persistent, and just a bit more; and that's where the fight comes. The man whom you are tying to win for God — maybe in London, maybe your loved one, maybe in North Africa, in South Africa, wherever he is — that man whom you would have come to Jesus Christ belongs to Him through His victory. You take him in Jesus Christ the Victor's Name, and insist on taking, and the rest will always come. The new spelling, the Calvary spelling, of ask, is T-A-K-E, in Jesus Christ the Victor's Name.
There is a marvelous bit of verse in Luke 10 that we ought to mark in our Bibles in gold or any other way that will make it stand out. Luke 10: 19 runs like this, and it is tremendous, "I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy." In my Master's Name I want to speak to every reader personally, and ask you to think of the field where you are serving, and ask you to think of the loved ones you would win for Jesus Christ. And, in His Name, I repeat His words to you: "I, Jesus, have given you authority over all the power of the enemy."
Now use your authority. Have you been doing it? Step in where He leads you. "Every place where the sole of you foot shall tread upon that have I given you."
Let us take what the Master has won. Ask means taking; it doesn't mean pleading with God. He is far more eager than we are. It means that in the Name of Jesus Christ, the bloodstained, the sin-scarred, the Calvary-torn Jesus Christ, in His Name taking what He has won back. He gave us the right to use His Name, and we ought to appropriate and take in His Name, house after house, and square foot of ground after square foot of ground, and man after man, to take these from the enemy in Christ's great Name.
Do you remember, that in the Lord's prayer, the Master taught us to say "deliver us from evil" — this is the old King James Version. The better reading makes that personal — not "from evil," but, as in the revisions, "from the evil one." And that word "deliver" — the word underneath our English word "deliver," is a picture word. The word "rescue" would be a perfectly accurate translation. "Rescue us from the evil one." That is what we are to do in Christ Is Name.
And, if you will take notice of it, the marvel of that long talk, that Thursday night talk, recorded in John 13, 14, 15, 16, is that the Master gave us the right to use His Name, that is, stepping out as He. To use His Name is to be as Himself, going where He goes! But there are two things that run through that long talk in John. Everybody cannot use the Master's Name. We find in chapter 19 of Acts, that some of the Ephesian men tried to use that Name. They reckoned without their host. The evil spirits knew who had a right to use that Name; and the evil spirits jumped upon them and tore them and left them bleeding. They didn't have the right to use that Name. The demon world knows full well who may use that Name.
If you run through that long talk again, you will find these words — "Abide," "Obey," "If ye love ye will obey," "if ye obey ye are abiding," "The Father in Me, and I in the Father, you in Me, and I in you." These words indicate obedience is the one touchstone of using His Name. He held His mastery through obedience; He won our salvation on the Cross by His perfect obedience. Now He says, "Follow Me." Obey, simply, quietly, sanely, as a child obeys. Abide, — obey means abide; abide means obey. Hold the whole life quietly, simply, fully, subject to His touch; and then you can ask what you will, you may take what you choose, and the evil one must go.
And mark you this, — obedience is always paired with the word "faith." But I think it helps us to remember that faith is this: it is knowing that Jesus is the Victor. Have you any doubt about that? It is not about what He will do, so much as what He has done. Now I have no doubt in my mind that the Lord Jesus Christ is Victor in His life, in His death, on the Third Morning, over all the powers of evil. Faith means that. It is not working my feelings up and saying, "I must believe."
It is just thinking of Jesus. There He is, on the throne — the scars on His face tell the perfectness of His obedience. That scarred Jesus, that crowned Jesus, I have feelings no doubt about Him.
As I step quietly on where He leads, I may take what I will, in His Name, life after life, purse after purse, gold after gold for the need, mules for the wagon for that missionary in South Africa, anything, and everything, I take in Jesus the Victor's Name. And, because He is Victor, every hindrance must go before the man that presses forward in His Name.
Recently I was in Sweden. Sitting across the table from me was a missionary from Tunis. One day she told us this story. She had a friend, a sister missionary in Algiers. And this sister missionary told her of an Arab woman whom she had been used to win to Christ. The Arab woman was a Mohammedan, with all the fanaticism, ignorance and superstition that marks that strange Mohammedan belief or superstition. This woman was won for Christ, and her family members did their best to sway her from her new faith. They coaxed, pleaded, argued, and threatened — made her life miserable, but she showed the quality of her faith by quietly standing firm for what she knew was right.
Then they did what is characteristic of that people. They concocted a poison, very simple, very deadly, and put it into her food — of course, secretly. When she had eaten the meal into which the poison had been introduced, she quickly realized what had taken place for she felt the poison. She knew full well about the poison, was aware of the habit of her people to use the poison, and realized how deadly it was. As she felt the thing in her blood she knew instantly what had happened. And she knew this: through the poison she was doomed to die. She knew it. You can easily imagine her feelings as she felt the poison working. It would, first make the person very irritable and mean in spirit, then very dull, then it would affect the mind still more, and then the body, until death would come. That was the course it usually ran.
And she was greatly startled, and greatly distressed, and didn't know what to do. As she sat at the table, I think without planning it, she commenced to repeat the Name, that great Name. She could not repeat it aloud, for that would mean persecution by those around her in the house and in the family. And so to herself, with all the intensity of one who felt the sentence of death in her body, she commenced to repeat that marvelous Name, above every name, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus."
And for two days or three — my friend was not sure which — the struggle with the poison continued. But it gradually receded from her body and blood, the family watching her with strange and apprehensive eyes. This was something new. The poison had never failed before, but it was failing this time. As she herself told the story to the missionary, she said, "I felt as though each time I said that Name, there was something like a wave of life that swept through me, but in between a wave like death." And the conflict continued between life and death for those days, but the death becoming less and the life more, until at the end of the second day, or the third, she was free, to her family's utter astonishment and to her own great joy.
That was a victory in the body, a possible thing as the Holy Spirit guides, but only a small bit of the larger possibility. We have the right, as we are simply obedient, to use that Name. As we use it under the marvelous Holy Spirit's guidance, going step by step as He leads, we may take out of the hand of the evil one, men, and women, and property, and gold, and all that we need, because the Lord Jesus has said, "All authority hath been given unto Me over all the earth." Shall we take, in Jesus' Name, what belongs to us by the right of His death and resurrection?