Pinecrest Bible Training Center

John 12:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone.

Beginning in 2008 the vision and bible school that God so graciously gave Wade Taylor beginning in 1968 came to an abrupt end, falling into the ground and dying.

We now wait for God to raise up and bring forth His seed of promise in another, that the vision fail not.

Winter 1998
The Divine Substitute
By John Wright Follette

"It is not for you to know the times or the seasons
which the Father has put in His own power. But you
shall receive power after that the Holy Spirit has
come upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto
Me." Acts 1:7-8a.

Within this Scripture is a principle which the Lord often uses concerning our spiritual development.

This is the divine substitute, "It is not for you to know ... but you shall receive power."

When it is not the Lord's will to answer prayer in the time and way we think He should, His enabling grace (power) becomes present as the substitute, to accomplish a higher purpose.

There are three basic questions that we generally ask at some point in our Christian experience. We may wonder "when" the Lord will respond to a particular problem; we may struggle with "how" the Lord will resolve this problem; or we may be concerned with "why" the Lord is not answering as we feel He should.

Many of us, in some form, are involved in the following situation. The Lord had revealed to us something He wished to accomplish. Then before its full outworking, several adverse circumstances hindered the answer. As a result, we are unable to relate our present circumstances to the "word" we were given. The illumination of our spirit, which came when the Lord spoke, has fallen into total eclipse.

At this point we begin to ask, "When Lord, will You do that which You promised?" This question was also asked by the disciples who followed Jesus in His earthly ministry.

Jesus came teaching the Kingdom. He told His disciples from whence this Kingdom came, its laws and principles, and how it was to be entered. But each day, they expected Him to establish a literal Kingdom of power and glory. Even after His resurrection, these disciples still held to the idea of a material Kingdom. Therefore, as Jesus was about to ascend into Heaven, they again asked, "Lord, will You at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel?"

The disciples heard Jesus say many things about this Kingdom. Therefore, their question as to "when" was reasonable. All was true that He said concerning a Kingdom, but the time for its manifestation had not yet come. There was first to be a spiritual conception and development of it in the heart, a "millennium" established in the life of the individual.

Because the disciples were limited to their present, material interpretation, Jesus could not unfold to them the fact that there would be two thousand years of Church history before there would be any outward manifestation of this Kingdom. If they were to be told this, it would have thrown them into confusion and doubt.

However, Jesus did not utterly disappoint them. He diverted their attention from that which they could not enter, to what they were to do. He gave them "the divine substitute."

This substitute for what they expected would be His power manifesting within them. By yielding to this, they became the dynamic factors in the establishing of His Church. It was not for them to know "when," but they could enter into a fruitful ministry under the power and grace of God.

This divine substitute of His power and grace is for us today. There may be things which must first be accomplished within us, before the Lord will bring about the full manifestation of His will.

When the seeming delay becomes so painful, the silence so deep, the waiting hours so crowded with shadows; we are to trust Him more fully and say, "Lord, Your time is best."

The second question, which has to do with the divine process, is how? Often, we are willing to let the time element rest in the Lord's hands, but the "how" bothers us. Again, let us turn to the Scriptures and find one who asked this question.

When Gabriel told Mary that she would give birth to the Messiah, she asked, "How shall this be?" as she was not married. This was a question born of surprise and did not savor of doubt or unbelief.

Mary did not receive a satisfying answer. Instead, Gabriel interested her in God's side of the question. "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you ... for with God nothing shall be impossible."

How wonderfully she responded. Without any further questioning, she yielded herself in simple faith to the working of the Lord. No longer is it, "how?" but "Behold, the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to Thy word."

We are often tempted to ask "How?" This is because our expectations are from a human source. "I know the Lord can do this, but "how" could He do it in these circumstances?"
The Lord cannot always tell us how. If He were to reveal His plans, we would no longer need to trust Him and would become careless, or overwhelmed at the thought of the trials we would face.

This limitation is not on His part, but like the disciples of old; we are too limited in our spiritual development to grasp the larger picture. Jesus had to say to His disciples, "I have many things to say unto you, but you cannot bear them now."

Often, we are not mature enough to hear the truth and rightly incorporate it into our pattern of life. We are like the child who was learning the months of the year and the days of the week, but became confused and asked, "which comes first, Tuesday or June?" It would be quite impossible to give a simple answer.

We must not become impatient either with the Lord, or with ourselves. There are many things we cannot receive in our spiritual development merely by a word of explanation. These can only be learned through experience, and this is a slow, difficult process.

Therefore, when the Lord is unable to tell us "how," His grace will be present to bring us through.

The third question has to do with "why?" There are times when we struggle with a situation that we do not understand. It is not a matter of faith, as we are trusting, but we wonder "why" as to the reason for the test.

Let us consider Paul and his "thorn" in the flesh.

The Lord had so mightily blessed Paul with heavenly visitations and experiences that there was a danger of pride. Therefore, the Lord moved to protect him from the loss of his reward by placing a thorn (the Greek word is stake) in his flesh, to hold him down.

"And lest I should be exalted above measure
through the abundance of the revelations,
there was given me a thorn in the flesh,
the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest
I should be exalted above measure." II Cor 12:7.

This "stake" kept Paul where he belonged. It was a messenger of Satan, a demon, who had access to Paul and troubled him. Some think the thorn was ophthalmia, a eye disease; but the argument for that is very weak.

In Greek, there are two words for flesh. One is "seres," which is restricted to the flesh of the body. The other word is "sarx" which means the whole nature of man mental, spiritual, and physical. Paul tells us that this "stake" was in his sarx. It had power in every department of his nature.
We know this also from the summary that Paul made, after he understood the purpose for this affliction,

"Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in
reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions,
in distresses for Christ's sake; for when I
am weak, then am I strong." II Cor 12:7.

When Paul recognized that he had this thorn, he sought the Lord for its removal. Although he diligently prayed three times, he did not receive his deliverance in the way he expected. The Lord had a better and more glorious way of answering his prayer.

For the Lord to free Paul from the power of this demon would only endanger him to pride and failure. Therefore, He did not answer the prayer in the way that Paul desired, but in a much better way.

He gave Paul a divine substitute - grace and power - so Paul could rise above this thorn. The Lord's method would build character in Paul, and bring greater glory to His name.

We should never limit the Lord to doing as we think He should. The Lord is wise in all His dealings. In His plan, there are many things to be accomplished other than merely the answering of a prayer, so as to make us more comfortable. If we listen, we will hear Him say, "My grace is sufficient for thee."

The Lord has made me to know that I am not to pray about certain things. We can press the Lord for answers, but how much better to trust Him and rest, knowing that He will answer in His time and way.

There are those who are determined to press through for the answer. But these will find that they have suffered an eternal loss. The Lord knows what He is doing, and we displease Him when we do not trust and rest in Him, knowing that he will abide faithful.

The divine substitute is ever present. His grace is free and abundant. Let us lay these troublesome questions, "when" "how" "why” at His feet, and there, in simple faith and trust, worship Him.