On the evening of his election as general overseer, Tim Hill preached to the 75th International General Assembly. After outlining the church’s FINISH Commitment, he delivered the message excerpted and adapted here.
E SHOULD BE able to stand up and proclaim that when you see the church, you see the body of Christ in this world today. Christ reaches through our hands, He walks through our feet, He embraces with our arms, He looks through our eyes, and He loves through our heart.
Tonight, I have the spirit, or at least the attitude, of Joseph of Arimathea upon me. When no other disciple could be found, this distant disciple moved himself close to the dead body of Christ hanging on a cross. Joseph said, “I will use my influence; I will use my finances; I will use everything within my power to give that precious body on that cross a decent burial.”
Joseph went to Pontius Pilate and begged for the body of Jesus. One translation says he interceded for the body; another says he prayed for the body; another says he intervened for the precious body of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I have come tonight to beg for the body of Christ. If indeed the church is His represented body in this world today, it’s time somebody interceded for the church. I’ve come to beg for the body of Christ and cry out to the Lord, “Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?” (Ps. 85:6).
1. Joseph understood the urgency of the hour. The Sabbath was approaching. It was also the Passover. Joseph understood if he was going to have time to get the Lord’s dead body off the cross, get the body in the tomb, roll the stone over the door, then participate in Sabbath and Passover, he would have to move quickly in order to fulfill the laws and regulations that surrounded Passover and Sabbath. He had a small window of opportunity in which to work; he understood the night was coming.
Do we as the Church of God understand “the night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4 NKJV)? In Matthew 24:13-14, Jesus also said, “He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”
We are living right in the middle of Matthew 24. The distress of nations, the calamities taking place around this world, the chaos—do we really understand how urgent these hours really are? That’s why every prayer, every sermon, and every song has to mean something.
We don’t have time to waste time. We don’t have time to get lost in meaningless competition with one another. We don’t have time to give ourselves to trivial things that have no bearing on eternity. It’s time to lay down our selfish agendas and get on His agenda.
2. Joseph wrapped the body in a clean linen cloth. Joseph had seen the Lord’s body decimated and desecrated. He had heard the mockery, slander, and ridicule, and now he is ready to minister to this body in a humble and unique way. He attaches a ladder to the cross. As he climbs the ladder, he has a clean linen cloth draped over his shoulder, as if to say, “Lord, I have come to try to bring healing and purity to what has been a very filthy, dirty scene.” He works to bring purity to the body.
Tonight, I have come to do my best to wrap the Church of God in a clean linen cloth. The body of Christ has had too much slander, ridicule, criticism, infighting, and backbiting. We must wrap the church in holiness. Without holiness, “no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14 NKJV). Holiness is still God’s standard of living for His people.
We also need to wrap this body in the purity of reconciliation. We must have reconciliation among races and generations.
Reconciliation includes our fallen brothers and sisters. We have people absent from this General Assembly who were with us two years ago in Orlando. Since then, they have fallen, damaging themselves, their reputation, and their credibility with others in ministry. It is not our job to cast them out and shun them. Instead, it is our job to “restore such a one . . . considering yourself lest you also be tempted” (Gal. 6:1 NKJV).
I’ve come to wrap the body in a clean linen cloth of doctrinal purity and Pentecost. I’m not ashamed of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, and I’m not ashamed of the baptism in the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in other tongues as the Spirit gives the utterance.
I want to encourage somebody to preach the Word. I don’t care what your style is; but when you stand up in a pulpit, you better proclaim the truth of God’s holy Word, rightly divided, in the power of Pentecost.
3. When Joseph came to minister to the body of Jesus, he realigned it. The Lord Jesus had been suspended between heaven and earth, nailed to that torture rack we call the cross. He had to be. He said, “This is why I came to the earth. I was born to die” (see Mark 10:45). But once death had been accomplished, it was time to re-posture the body to receive resurrection. Joseph retrieved the body off the cross and repositioned it in his own tomb.
My heart says, Help this body get positioned for revival. I’m tired of singing dead songs, praying dead prayers, preaching dead sermons, and giving worship to a God that we act like is dead. I preach tonight in anticipation of the third day—the day of resurrection.
The Bible tells us a day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years are as one day (see 2 Peter 3:8). We’ve already had two millenniums, or two days. Around 16 years ago, we stepped into our third day. And with it there’s a third-day anointing, third-day message, and third-day outpouring of the Spirit.
4. Joseph came as an anointer to the body of Jesus. He and Nicodemus brought ointments and spices to anoint the body that still had a future as Prophet, Priest, and King.
There are two kinds of people in the church—anointers and embalmers. Embalmers are people who embalm you with their critical words and spirit. They are also those preachers on major media outlets who embalm you with their false interpretation of Scripture to supplement their cause and purpose.
I didn’t come to embalm you; I came to anoint you. I came to anoint a generation that has been crying out to be used in service of God. I came to anoint the women of the church tonight who have been crying out to have more of a role of influence in active ministry in the church
I came to anoint my brothers and sisters from the five regions around this world that World Missions has been involved in.
I came to celebrate you, to thank you for being sacrificial. Thank you for being willing to serve. I came to anoint my brothers and sisters in North America who have largely sponsored and supported World Missions around this world to the tune of $118 million in the last four years. I came to anoint you. I have no criticism for you.
Several years ago, I was at one of my lowest moments. I had been sent to Oklahoma as state overseer, and I had entered into a zone of anxiety and even oppression, because I was dealing with so many difficult issues. A man I had never seen walked into my office with his Bible, and I invited him to sit down.
He said, “I don’t know you, but early this morning, about 4 a.m., I was awakened out of a dead sleep by the Holy Spirit. He said, ‘Go to Oklahoma City and find the bishop of the Church of God in that state and tell him something.’”
I asked, “What do you have to tell me, Sir?”
He said, “I just want to read Scripture to you. Let me start in Jeremiah.”
He read, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations” (1:5 NKJV).
The man then said, “While I’m in Jeremiah, let me read this one: ‘I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope’” (29:11 NKJV).
He kept on reading scriptures. When he finished, he asked, “Now can I pray for you?”
He took out a little vial of anointing oil from his pocket. He reached over and touched my brow with that oil, and began to pray. The Holy Spirit broke the oppressing spirit that had come upon me because of all the criticism, slander, and ridicule that had been poured into me by negative sources. I was anointed that day.
As the body of Christ, we are called to anoint one another.