Billy Graham Center
World Congress on Evangelism, 1966
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THE REGENERATING WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Corrie ten Boom
A woman who had accepted the Lord telephoned her lawyer and said,
“I take back my request for a divorce. I have seen that my sins have caused
the trouble in my marriage.” The Holy Spirit had begun His regenerating
work in her. “The fruit of the Spirit is love” (Gal. 5:22). Perhaps
one of the greatest miracles that the Holy Spirit performs, is to implant love
for one’s enemies.
We evangelists, too, need the renewing work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. When
we give place to bitterness and unwillingness to forgive, we cannot preach forgiveness.
“But all of us who are Christians are transfigured by the Spirit of the
Lord in ever—increasing splendour into His own image” (II Cor. 3:18,
Phillips). During the war I experienced that the Holy Spirit gives one love for
his enemies. He used me to bring the betrayer who had caused the death of four
members of m family to the Lord.
Perhaps we need a greater miracle to forgive fellow—Christians who hinder
our work. Can you forgive people who have thrown you out of your own church,
because of a difference in vision of a certain truth in the Bible? Can you forgive
the man who has stolen the love of your wife? The people who through their gossip
and slander try to steal your good name? Are you not willing to forgive? Jesus
says: “If you will not forgive other people, neither will your Heavenly
Father forgive you your failures” (Matt. 6:14, Phillips). Don’t
try to ‘theologize’ this away. Jesus said it. It has helped me remember
how many sins the Lord has forgiven me in the 74 years of my life. You never
so touch the ocean of God’s love, as when you forgive and love your enemies.
We Christians are in training for higher service. An athlete does not complain
when the training is hard, but thinks of the sports—day ahead. Revelation
2 and 3 tell us about overcomers. God is building up overcomers for these last
days ‘before Jesus’ return. The enemy sometimes uses fellow—Christians
to make our lives difficult. When “self” is enthroned in our heart,
we are quickly offended. But when Jesus is on the throne, He makes us more than
The Holy Spirit opens our eyes to our own disability and, grants dependence
upon His ability. Sometimes my head hurts from the halo that Americans insist
on giving me when they introduce me. The story of the woodpecker has helped
me. While he was pecking at the trunk of a tree lightning struck and destroyed
the tree. Flying away, the woodpecker said: “I did not know I had such
power in my beak!” When there is blessing in a meeting, it is not the
power of our “beaks” but the work of the Holy Spirit that is responsible.
An evangelist must learn to depend totally on Him and not on his own ability.
I learned this in Tasmania, during the six days I had to give noon—day
radio messages. Unexpectedly on the seventh day, the minister came and although
I was not prepared insisted that I take the broadcast. We were late and I hate
being late for I am a Dutch woman and a watchmaker. And to be late at a radio
station is a double blunder. I had only my Bible with me and no notebooks. I
tried to remember what I had said before, but my head was a blank. To repeat
a text is not wrong, but to repeat a story or an illustration is foolish especially
in a radio message. I prayed: “Lord, You know I can’t do it. I can’t
give that radio message.” I received the same answer I always get when
I say: “I can’t do it.” The Lord said: “I’ve known
that for a long time, but I am glad that you know it, for that is why now you
can let Me do it.” And He did.
I thought that my message was a bit incoherent. I even thought: “If I
had prepared the message myself, I should have done a better job.” That
evening I asked a student: “Did you ever make a decision for Jesus Christ?”
“Yes, I did it this afternoon,” he said. “For three years
I refused the Lord. This noon I turned the knob of my radio, and heard such
queer English that I decided to find out from which country the lady speaker
came. So I heard your talk. It was the very message I needed. I knelt before
the radio and surrendered my life to the Lord.”
After the meeting I left for Brisbane. The woman who sat next to me in the plane
said: “I heard you speak in many meetings this week. God blessed me there,
but it was that last talk over the radio that did the job.” So the Holy
Spirit had not done a bad job after all. “God, Who first ordered light
to shine in darkness, has flooded our hearts with His light. We now can enlighten
men, only because we can give them knowledge of the glory of God, as we see
it in the face of Jesus Christ. This priceless treasure we hold, so to speak,
in a common earthenware jar - to show that the splendid power of it belongs
to God and not to us” (II Cor. 4:6, 7).
God has called me to work in Eastern Europe. Beginning
in Russia I knew that here was a work that was far beyond my ability to do.
It is the “foolishness” of God to send Conny van Hoogstraten, my
fellow—worker, and me to perform such a task. Nowhere else have I experienced
the victory of Jesus Christ in such a way. God’s power is demonstrated
in our weakness. “God’s foolishness” is wiser than men, and
His “weakness” is stronger than men (I Cor. 1:25).
The world is ma chaotic state as never before. The Holy Spirit shows us God’s
plan for this world. “Where there is no vision, the people perish”
(Prov. 29:18). In Communist countries, but not only there, people see things
from an atheistic point of view. In the U.S.A. a journalist asked me: “Do
you think that we are living in a post-Christian world?” I answered him:
“No we live in a pro—Christian world. This earth will one day be
covered with the knowledge of the glory of God, as the waters cover the bottom
of the sea!” (Hab. 2:14). Every knee will bow before Jesus. Every tongue
will confess Him, either as Saviour, or as Judge” (Phil. 2:10, 11). I
believe that in Eastern Europe, but elsewhere too, Christians need the encouragement
that the Holy Spirit gives in showing them things from God’s point of
view, as it were, by granting spiritual insight and understanding (Col. 1:9,
Phillips) Major Ian Thomas has said: “God has plans for this world, not
problems. There is never a panic in heaven.” The best is yet to be. Jesus
will come soon, He Who promised: “I will make all things new” (Rev.
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