During a time of prayer early this morning (17th March 2007) the Lord spoke to me, saying, “Write a testimony to the power of my spoken word.” As I considered this, the Holy Spirit then brought to mind a number of Scriptures, which I shall quote as I write this article. I was reminded of our Lord’s words that part of the ministry of the Holy Spirit to the Church was to “lead into all truth”, and “to bring to mind” words the Lord had spoken.
Testimonies are not the same as Exposition. Exposition is a valuable tool to help others understand the Word of God. But Testimony is a very personal thing, and has great power in overcoming Satan, as the Apostle John pointed out in Revelation 12:11. Doctrines, Theologies, Expositions, are all open to discussion, and frequently arouse quite heated argument. But a word of testimony cannot be gainsaid, and Satan has no power to refute it. See how powerful the Lord’s words are in Genesis chapter one. How frequently we read “God said,” and at His word, the world was created. The earth was dark, but God said “Let there be light”, and immediately there was light. The Hebrew has great economy of words. It reads “Light be! and light was.” It is my testimony that when God speaks to me, there is light and life.
I have known the Lord Jesus as my Saviour from 1948, just before my 17th birthday, but in those early days no one ever told me that God spoke to His children today. In fact the evangelical world in which I was planted had some contrary words to say about such things. They referred to the errors and excesses of “Pentecostalism”, and advised me to steer clear of it. So I did.
But some 19 years later, in 1967, I was brought to a halt in my Christian life as a result of certain things that were contrary to a true walk of holiness. Looking back I now know that the Holy Spirit was speaking heavily into my conscience, and from today’s viewpoint I recognise that this was yet another part of the ministry of the Spirit, to “convict of sin, righteousness, and judgment.” As a result I knelt at my bedside and spread all my doings before the Lord, asking for His mercy. Although I didn’t fully appreciate what was happening, I now know that the Lord had put a verse into my mind. Acting on it, I took my Bible, and opened it at Isaiah 57:15. As I began reading this passage, my eyes focused on verse 17, which read, “Because of the iniquity of his covetousness I was angry. I smote him. I hid my face and was angry; but he went on backsliding in the way of his own heart.” These words completely demolished me, because I felt that Isaiah had been told to write them personally for me. In every respect they spoke the truth, and I felt the weight of God’s wrath upon me. I broke down into uncontrollable sobbing, a cry that emanated from the pit of my stomach. After some minutes I became quiet, and it was then that I distinctly heard a Voice saying,“Now read on.” Lifting my head, I saw verse 18, “I have seen his ways, but I will heal him. I will also restore comforts to him.” Even now I can recall the emotions of that amazing August afternoon. My head swam. I was suddenly swept away, out of despair, into a wonderful new emotion of absolute peace. I read on, “Peace, peace, to the far and the near, and I will heal him.” Yes, that was it! Peace! Peace with God! No more condemnation. I remember crying once again, but this time it was tears of profound joy. I stayed there at the bedside for some time swimming in this new sensation, and re-living the experience I had just been through. I almost felt that I could reach out and touch the Lord, so near was His presence. And then it slowly dawned on me – God had spoken to me! I shall always remember His first words – “Now read on.” My life had been in spiritual darkness only minutes before, but the call to “read on” was like God saying “Light be! And light was.” I was out of darkness into His marvelous light! A whole new era of my Christian life was about to begin.
During the remaining months of 1967 Rosalind and I received what was currently called “the baptism of the Spirit.” This was usually connected with the ability to speak in tongues, which only came to us in November. But because of the current teaching, we hadn’t realised that part of the “filling of the spirit” was the prophetic word, which I had already experienced in August. But the Lord had His way, and in no time we were experiencing God’s power to cast out demons, and hear Him direct us in our daily walk. We witnessed the power of God’s spoken word as we commanded demons to leave. It was God’s word, as long as we said, “In the name of Jesus.” This was a wholly new experience.
Before long I was reminded again of the earliest chapters of Genesis. This time it was God’s word to Adam about not eating of the tree of knowledge. Then Satan came and said, “Could it be that God had said – – -?” I saw that the whole Bible was really an account of what God had said, and the consequences. A battle has been raging between the Word of God and the Serpent’s subtlety in undermining His Word. The force of the Hebrew, with its half-statement, half-question, “Could it be?” showed how Satan hated God’s word, and wanted (and still wants) to erase the force of it in the minds of those who hear. This is because he knows that when man testifies to hearing God’s word, and obeys it, there is power present that undermines his own authority.
Returning to 1967, I was teaching at the time in a large boys’ school in Reading. We had arranged for a visiting speaker to come from London to give his testimony to the Christian Union. Two weeks intervened, which enabled us to pray earnestly for this meeting. Those who came to our flat of an evening entered into intercession on behalf of the school. But the day prior to the day of the meeting, while I was praying in the early morning, the Lord spoke to me ,saying, “I have heard your prayers and have answered them.” That evening we had a time of praise and thanksgiving instead of intercession. Our spirits were high in expectancy, and no one would have taken any notice of the serpent’s voice, saying, “Are you sure you heard the Lord? Wouldn’t it be better to continue praying as a safeguard?” The following day 14 senior boys came to know the Lord at the meeting, and within eight weeks there were 92 new converts in the school.
Towards the end of the year we were introduced to the writings of Watchman Nee, and read with great interest his chapter on God’s spoken word. He showed us that Greek has two words for “word.” One is LOGOS, and the other is RHEMA. Logos comes from Lego, meaning to speak. Rhema comes from Rheo, meaning to flow. Logos, in its N.T. usage, was usually applied to the “static word”, that is, the written word, and in particular the Scriptures. The Apostle John also used it of the Lord Himself in John 1:1. But Rhema was used whenever God was speaking, hence the words would be “flowing” from His mouth. Nee gave great emphasis on the necessity for God’s children to hear God speak, to know the Rhema, and to act on it.
As we contemplated this, I was reminded of the August event. The Logos of Isaiah 57:17 was picked up by the Holy Spirit and made to “flow” to me, as though Isaiah had been writing directly to me. Afterwards the Rhema slipped back into the body of God’s word once again, His Logos, ready to be applied to someone else if occasion demanded. Watchman Nee said that sadly many had died under the exposition of sound doctrine, simply because the Holy Spirit had not been present to make the word flow. But when the word flows it becomes like a “two edged sword” to our consciences, and achieves God’s purpose. Certainly that had been my experience.
I was reminded of Isaiah 55:11. “The word that goes forth from my mouth shall not return to me empty, but shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” Furthermore, Watchman Nee drew our attention to our Lord’s words in Matthew 4:4 (quoting from Deut.8:3) “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that flows from the mouth of God.” Paul emphasised this by saying that “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word (rhema) of God.” (Romans 10:17)
From these verses we were brought to the conclusion that the “normal Christian life” consisted of walking by faith, and that faith was developed by hearing God speak, and by this means we live. Watchman Nee was very bold when he concluded his remarks on this topic by saying, “Only the word which God speaks to us is of any use. The “rhema” reveals something to us personally and directly; it shows us what we need to deal with and what we need to be cleansed from. We must specifically seek after this very matter, for it is this “rhema” upon which our Christian life is based. What word has God really spoken to me, and how has He spoken to me? We must remember that today’s Christianity is still the Christianity of personal revelation. If the Lord does not speak within man, it is not Christianity, nor is it the New Testament.” (The Glorious Church, Page 57, para 2)
Back to the revival at the Reading school – of course, I lost my job. The Chairman of the Governors insisted that I never mention the name of Christ in the school again. And so I was brought to the place where I had to resign. Being without work for the remaining 8 months of 1968 was a great strain, even though we were to experience much treasure at the Lord’s hands. However, after many applications and refusals, my eye caught the page of the Times Educational Supplement where overseas jobs were advertised. Nothing was further from my mind than to apply for such, but there it was – “Physics teachers required for Kenya”. All of a sudden came the Voice I had learned to know and to trust. “Apply for that job and I will go before you.” I told Rosalind and our minds were put in a spin.
The following day we sought to obey the Lord’s word and travelled up to London to the Ministry of Overseas Development. It was a fine morning in mid-November. Walking up to the reception desk I said, after a few formalities, “I want to apply for the physics post in Kenya for January.” Mrs Smailes, the Receptionist was a very helpful person, but she shook her head. “I’m terribly sorry, Mr Eedle, but it normally takes three to four months to process applications for Kenya. If you were accepted I cannot see you going out there before the beginning of the second term in May.”
Our hearts sank. I needed work badly. We were financially drained, and the thought of waiting that long demolished us. But Mrs Smailes suggested we should fill out the application forms, and go for some lunch, and come back at 2.15 p.m. Unknown to us, the Lord was beginning to fulfil His word to us. On returning, the smiling Receptionist said, “Ah,Mr Eedle, we have just received a call from a Kenya applicant to say he has had to drop out. Would you care to take his place at tomorrow’s interview?” The sun came out again!
The interview on the following day was pleasant and enjoyable, and “it just so happened” that the Kenyan Deputy Minister of Education was in London, and asked to sit in on the interview. Two weeks went by before we learned that the Minister had by-passed all the usual red-tape and ratified my appointment for January. Truly the Lord had “gone before” us. Whilst attending Farnham Castle for overseas briefing, we were told that they had never before known applications to go through in under six weeks. Often it was six months! We were in Kenya on January 8th 1969.
Within months of teaching in Machakos residential boys’ school, one of the students approached me. His aunt had a serious intestinal problem. Could I pray for her? When she came, I went into the bedroom and asked the Lord what I was to do. He said, “She must eat …… for three weeks, and then be cured.” I cannot remember the exact combination of foods, but it was not a typical Kenyan diet of maize and beans. Some time later I asked the lad about his aunt. “She was healed after ten days, but continued the diet for three weeks as the Lord said.”
Cases of demon expulsion were sometimes dramatic. One thing we found was that the local witch doctor was no friend of ours! The curse he tried to put on us caused problems at first, but once we learned the source of the problem from a lad in the Christian Union, it was a simple matter to divest ourselves of it. I was reminded of our Lord’s words to the seventy when they returned from their mission, having rejoiced in their power to expel demons. “I saw Satan fall as lightning from heaven,” reads the A.V. But this was not one-upmanship, as if to say, “anything you can do I can do better.” The Greek for “saw” is in the imperfect tense, and it should be translated, “I was watching Satan falling from heaven.” Our Lord was actually watching the effect of their ministry whilst they were away. Watchman Nee gave a very good illustration of this in the book I quoted earlier. He said think of a pair of scales with Satan sitting on one side, but initially nothing to balance him out on the other side. Each time the Lord’s word is heard and obeyed, each time a demon is expelled, a small weight is added to the other side. Initially none of these actions make any difference to Satan, but there will come a time when the combined action of all the small weights becomes enough to lift Satan from his pompous throne. That depicts the work of the Overcomers of the Church.
Not everyone is called to be an Overcomer. Look at it this way. During World War II British troops went into action on D Day, invading France and Germany to overcome the Nazi evil. They did so on behalf of all those who stayed at home, who were either too young, too old, or too ill, to be included in the armed forces. The Overcomers are called by God to act as His soldiers, and they do so, not for self-aggrandisement but on behalf of the whole Church.
I have now completed my personal testimony. I have selected a few items to show the way. To include any more would be to overload this writing. And so to conclude – once again I must emphasise the importance of the Rhema. The Bible is full of examples of where God spoke to individuals, and their obedience brought about “the end of the Lord.” Some examples are of a relatively minor nature, whilst others had far-reaching effects. Let me quote a few from the N.T., very briefly.
Young Mary stood before the Angel. She said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to your word (rhema).”
Simeon said, “Now let Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word (rhema).” His eyes had rested on the infant Jesus, the Lord’s Christ. God’s word had been fulfilled.
“The word (rhema) of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.” He was being prepared for his ministry.
Peter had toiled all night and caught no fish. But he said, “At your word (rhema) I will let down the nets.” His obedience was rewarded in a totally unexpected manner.
Peter sat before the fire during the judgment scene. He denied the Lord. His mind was on some other purpose. But suddenly he recalled the Lord’s word. The Rhema was brought back to him. He went out and wept.
At the house of Cornelius Peter said, “I remembered the word (rhema) of the Lord, how He said, John indeedbaptised you with water, but you shall be baptised with holy spirit.” That day Cornelius and his household received the promised baptism, and the door was opened to the Gentiles.
The Antioch church prayed and fasted. Suddenly the word of God was received through the Holy Spirit. “Separate unto me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.”
These seven examples show the individual nature of the rhema. In 1 Cor.14, Paul gives instructions on how a gathering of believers should behave as they wait upon God for corporate instruction.
But someone might say, “What if you hear incorrectly? Suppose it’s only your mind? Or even the Devil’s voice? How can you know? Isn’t it dangerous?” My answer would be Yes, it is dangerous. All warfare is dangerous. If we cannot contemplate being a soldier for the King, then we mustn’t enter into the danger zone. However, the Lord is more mighty than Satan, and our own minds. If we make a mistake, then as Isaiah said, “Your ears will hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or turn to the left.” (Isa.30:20-21) Peter was impetuous, wanting to walk on the water. At first he succeeded, but then began to sink. The Lord didn’t let him drown. Neither will He allow His soldiers to go off the beaten track for long, either to the left or to the right, before bringing them back on course. Soldiers of the King stand firm knowing Whom they serve. “No soldier on active service gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to satisfy the One who enlisted him.” (2 Tim.2:4) Yes, often the Overcomer will find his path a lonely one. But he knows that his work is on behalf of the whole Church, and Satan must be overcome.
Jesus said, “The words (rhema) that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” (John 6:63) “And they overcame him by the word of their testimony.” (Rev.12:11) I pray that this, my testimony, may accomplish what the Lord had in mind when He asked me to write.