Intro to The Truth That Edifies
by Fred Pruitt
(This is a reprise of this article, “The Truth that Edifies,” changing the name to “Intro to The Truth That Edifies.” I did that because the title was misleading, probably causing most to think that the article itself was the transcript of the recording I was posting, which was recorded April 29, 2012, at the home of Gary and DeeDee Winter in Arlington TX. It was not. I maybe haven’t looked at this since 2012 when it went out, so I didn’t remember myself. As soon as I started listening to it, I realized I wanted this one out there in “print,” too! So I thought I would transcribe the actual text of the talk, finally, and send it out after resending the intro from 2012.)
It is apparent, for those who may notice, that we do not have large meetings. When I first started to do this current “phase” of going around sharing the things of Christ in 2005, a friend asked me if we were going to be holding “crusades,” as in, “large mass meetings.” I replied, laughingly, “No, we’re not talking stadiums, but living rooms.”
And that is mostly how it has been. Not large meetings, normally, not large crowds – mostly people sitting around in homes or in small “conferences” in mostly intimate settings. That seems to be the way this particular aspect of the Good News is shared.
I have written recently on the subject of why more people do not see this “message” we share. Another reason I did not mention before, is simply that we do not do this with large crowds. My sharing (teaching) is not what is usually the norm, that is, “line upon line, precept upon precept.” Not that I haven’t had my time of doing that. For many years I taught in exactly that manner. I was presenting the “concepts” of the truth, using charts, overheads, line upon line “teaching,” each concept built upon the previous. Now, don’t think I am criticizing this method. In appropriate times and circumstances, the Spirit moves us in this way.
But for what we do, it almost requires the intimacy of a small group. We give our bit, sometimes taking quite a while in speaking or sharing, but it is to the end that we might involve those with us to take part. We encourage folks to interact with what we have said, to give their stories, to share their difficulties. Sometimes it is very “cerebral” you might say, in that folks are asking “what about this?” and “what about that?” questions, that are more informational, than they are transformational.
But often it goes beyond that, in that we hit “nerves” in folks, the exact “nerve” (pitfalls, negative situations, frustrations, failures, etc.), that are not conceptual or informational at all, but more along the lines of the nitty-gritty honest truths of our lives. We don’t try to “hit” those nerves – how could we, since we do not know what they are? But the Spirit knows, and it seems that in the intimacy that we are able to have in smaller groups, people are more easily drawn into the “application” of what we say, because it gets down to a much more personal level than normally happens to us in big meetings.
I’ve been to some of the large big rally meetings over the years. The first was seeing one of the most famous “healing” ministers of the 1960s and 70s, Kathryn Kuhlman. I saw her twice in the “Cow Palace” in Oakland, California in the early 70s. The second time I attended, our church was part of the “team,” in that we were ushers in and among the crowd on the floor, directly in front of the platform where Ms. Kulhman ministered. We were right by the area where they put all the sick and infirm that came to the meeting, all hoping for a healing. It sort of reminded you of the Pentecostal version of Lourdes in France, which sees thousands come every year looking for healing. It was like that in that people brought the sick and injured into the meeting on crutches, in wheelchairs, and even on gurneys for people who were too sick to stand or even sit. There were literally HUNDREDS of these folks before the platform. And it was easy to see, many of them were obviously at their last hope. Medical science had not been able to cure them. For so many, and I do mean many, Kathryn Kulhman’s ministry, that particular night, was their last hope.
And of course we started the service, singing songs, uplifting hands, praising God and “believing” for miracles, giving it all we had, looking for the Spirit to “come down” and heal all those sick people. The music was fantastic – the best there was in Christian circles in those days. One of the most famous gospel piano players was there, adding to the atmosphere, which seemed sort of a hybrid of vegas-style show business and fervent pentecostalism. I enjoyed every bit of that part, since that was what I was into in those days. It seemed the air was electric.
Ms. Kulhman herself, dressed in flowing robes and speaking with great drama and flair, only added to the mystique as she came to the platform and began her “ministering.” There was a great expectancy.
But what I hoped would happen, what I expected at least a little bit to happen, did not happen. I left there that night more sad and questioning than I was “edified.” The reason for that, is that probably 99.9% of the sick and infirm in the front, the ones in wheelchairs, blind, deaf, on crutches, and especially those on the gurneys who looked like they had no hope, left the meeting exactly as they had come into it. There were a few who came on stage as Ms. Kuhlman called out healings. I don’t particularly remember any specific “healings” that have stuck with me over the years. There were a couple of people who came on stage and dropped crutches and seemed to walk; there were other things and “healings” that seemed to happen, but honestly, nothing was so “spectacular” that I remember it to this day, 40+ years later.
But I do remember, 40+ years later, all the people they pushed, carried, and wheeled out at the end, who were not healed, and whose hopes were not fulfilled. I was very sad about that, because I knew they were all very sad. I remember how hopeful they were when they came in, and how even more miserable and probably self-condemned they seemed as they left, because though I do not know this firsthand, I am sure many left that day blaming themselves for not “getting a healing,” thinking they hadn’t enough faith, or God didn’t choose them, or whatever. I cannot say I left that meeting “edified.”
Fast forward two and a half decades, to 2001 in Louisville KY. Billy Graham came to town. I had never seen him before. We knew he was nearing the end of his ministry, and there would probably not be another opportunity for us, so we went with our friends, (including the Buntings), to see and hear Billy Graham. It was pretty much like any other Billy Graham Crusade one would see on TV, and over the years I had seen quite a few. Cliff Barrows led the singing as usual. There were testimonies, special solo songs (George Beverly Shea among them), and then Billy got up to preach.
Billy always preached one very simple message — “You find eternal life in Jesus Christ”. He stuck to that his whole life, never deviating an iota. By the time I saw him, he was quite aged and beset with Parkinson’s. He was obviously physically weak; he was not quite steady standing (but he did stand, steadying himself with the podium), and his voice was somewhat trembly and weak. His evangelistic message was pretty much like every other one I’d ever heard, nothing particularly spectacular about it, and given in great weakness and without the great powerful voice for which he had been so famous.
And then he gave “the invitation.” How many times had I heard that invitation on TV? And there it was, pretty much the same as it always had been. The choir began to sing, “Just As I Am,” just as I had heard so many times before.
And then … something happened. Unexplainable. There was just simply a palpable “movement” in the air. It was an overwhelming (for me) sense of Presence and Power. Don’t get me wrong. It was not flashy. In a sense, the “palpable movement” was a sudden expectancy that came out of nowhere.
Then the folks began to get up out of their seats in droves. As I looked around the football stadium we were in, which was filled to the brim, on every row, in every section, from the bottom to the top, one-by-one people began moving, making their way down to the field to come down to the front of the platform, where Mr. Graham said there would be people to meet them and participate with them in their decision and prayer to receive Jesus Christ as their Savior. They just came. And they kept coming and coming and coming, until finally the whole field in front of the platform was filled with people of all kinds, from all states of life, ages, nationalities or races, all with one single purpose, that they might know in their hearts peace with God. It was the single most powerful large “event” I have ever attended.
The difference between that simple meeting where there were no visible “miracles, signs or wonders” (according to the perceptions of man as to what is a miracle, sign or wonder), and the big rally in the Cow Palace I had attended all those years before, was that no one left disappointed. Every person in that stadium that day, who wanted to know the Lord and live in His kingdom, had the opportunity that day to express that desire, and not one was refused by God, and not one failed to receive the ultimate healing, a healing of eternal weight, far and above exceeding any temporary physical healing that they might have gotten. What those folks received would never grow old and die, because it was eternal. Certainly we pray for the sick and expect healing as the Lord does it. But that is just a patch-up job. This body will drop away, and return to the dust from which it was made. But the “healing” the Lord gives, which comes through Christ dwelling in our hearts, works for us a far greater glory than patching up our temporal physical bodies, as desirous and necessary as that is from time to time.
It might seem I have strayed from what I was originally wanting to say, but in truth I have not. Obviously, as I stated above, we do not have mass meetings. We do not give invitations, or “altar calls.” But what I am meaning to convey through these examples, is that we seek to give the everlasting, the eternal, that which “edifies.”
As far as “miracles, signs and wonders,” I would be quite foolish if I said I did not believe in those things. Certainly I do. I have experienced “signs, wonders and miracles” in my own life on a daily basis. I live by a miracle. My “living” comes by miracles, sustenance out of the invisible substance of God. I am acquainted with the miraculous provision of God every day.
As far as miraculous healing, I am a testimony of miraculous healing myself. I say this because I live in the weakness of human flesh. My body has seen 67 summers now, and the effect of those years is clearly seen and very much “felt” in me. Physical infirmity, weakness, parts showing wear and tear like an old used car, touch me every day. But in the midst of that, I live healed. I live quickened in the body. I cannot tell you how many times, because they are more than I can count, I have been “quickened” beyond the current strength or “health” of my body, in order to continue the testimony of Christ in me. I can’t tell you how often I have no strength, have aches and pains and things not working right, how often colds and flus have come upon me, how often even fevers and other very noticeable and felt (in me) physical limitations I have experienced, only to have the Lord lift me up in my weakness and manifest Himself in the world through and as my perishing flesh/outer man. I cannot tell you how many times I have thought I had this or that disease, experiencing even the symptoms of those things, which would cause me to run to webmd or call a doctor to fix what is wrong with me, only to have the Lord quicken my body, overriding all and every one of those infirmities, in what I can only describe in a miraculous way, causing me to forget all that and continue “spend and be spent” in the life of Christ in me. I cannot tell you the number of signs I’ve seen, things falling into place and working out in what can only be a miracle, and yet it seems completely natural and mundane to the eye of man. But we do not see with only the eye of man. And when viewed from the divine perspective, the mundane, the coincidental, the accidental, the seemingly normal, all become irradiated with the glory that truly lies behind everything and everyone, and it is ALL miracle, ALL wondrous, and all “signs” in the visible and temporal, of the invisible and eternal.
I have nothing against Kathryn Kulhman and her ministry. She was obviously God’s woman. I do not discount the miracles and wonders of God, wherever and however they show up. I pray for people to be healed physically myself, as moved by the Spirit to do so.
But what God has given us to transmit is of this eternal quality we have been mentioning. The reason I brought up the Billy Graham Crusades, even though they were also mass meetings even as those healing rallies I described before, is that what happened in those Crusades on a large scale, bringing people into their initial contact and peace with the Living God, our Creator, is exactly what we do on this “small” scale, (though nothing God does is “small” since it has NOTHING to do with human “numbers”). It is to bring those same folks who were beginners, brought into the fold by the Spirit through ministries and meetings like Grahams and even Kuhlman’s, into their ultimate potential in Christ, which is “Christ formed in us,” not in an informational “conceptual” way, but in an intimate transformational “divine knowing” way.
We are looking to impart the one necessary thing that completes the Christian “life” we have begun. That “one necessary thing” is really the simplicity of the gospel – Christ in us – and we as living witnesses of this truth, to give life to the world, and for the healing of the nations.
Audio link: “The Truth that Edifies” — http://www.spreaker.com/user/fred_pruitt/the_truth_that_edifies
Coming soon – “Transcript of The Truth that Edifies”