Copyright © 2009 1
The “Double Portion” Passage:
2 Kings 2:1-15,19-22
- And it came to pass, when the Lord was about to take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.
- Then Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here, please, for the Lord has sent me on to Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you!” So they went down to Bethel.
- Now the sons of the prophets who were at Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that the Lord will take away your master from over you today?” And he said, “Yes, I know; keep silent!”
- Then Elijah said to him, “Elisha, stay here, please, for the Lord has sent me on to Jericho.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you!” So they came to Jericho.
- Now the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho came to Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that the Lord will take away your master from over you today?” So he answered, “Yes, I know; keep silent!”
- Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here, please, for the Lord has sent me on to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you!” So the two of them went on.
- And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went and stood facing them at a distance, while the two of them stood by the Jordan.
- Now Elijah took his mantle, rolled it up, and struck the water; and it was divided this way and that, so that the two of them crossed over on dry ground.
- And so it was, when they had crossed over, that Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask! What may I do for you, before I am taken away from you?” Elisha said, “Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.”
- So he said, “You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so.”
- Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
- And Elisha saw it, and he cried out, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!” So he saw him no more. And he took hold of his own clothes and tore them into two pieces.
- He also took up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood by the bank of the Jordan.
- Then he took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, and said, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” And when he also had struck the water, it was divided this way and that; and Elisha crossed over.
- Now when the sons of the prophets who were from Jericho saw him, they said, “The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.” And they came to meet him, and bowed to the ground before him.…
- …Then the men of the city said to Elisha, “Please notice, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord sees; but the water is bad, and the ground barren.”
- And he said, “Bring me a new bowl, and put salt in it.” So they brought it to him.
- Then he went out to the source of the water, and cast in the salt there, and said, “Thus says the Lord: ‘I have healed this water; from it there shall be no more death or barrenness.’ ”
- So the water remains healed to this day, according to the word of Elisha which he spoke.3
We have just read in context one of the best-known — and perhaps one of the most misunderstood — passages in the Old Testament. I would like to expound to you the meaning of verses 9 and 10 in particular:
9And so it was, when they had crossed over, that Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask! What may I do for you, before I am taken away from you?”
Elisha said, “Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.”
10So he said, “You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so.”
Most preaching and teaching on this passage seems to focus on the request Elisha made of his master, a theme which we will explore more deeply in this book. But usually overlooked in such preaching are both the condition Elijah stipulated in order for Elisha to receive his request and the reason for that condition. Elijah makes a very remarkable statement, saying, essentially, “Elisha, if you are present when I am taken away, so that you see the manner of my going, then you will have the request you are asking for.” Why must Elisha be present at Elijah’s departure? As we shall see, it is so Elisha will be a witness and bear a testimony; this will prove to be the reason for the condition Elijah required.
Well, then, what of Elisha’s request? What was it that Elisha was really asking for? He was asking to inherit Elijah’s gift. He was asking to be the prophet in Elijah’s place. He was asking to be confirmed as the man of God, the seer, the prophet. That much is plain enough.
But here is the challenge: What was the significance of Elisha asking for a “double portion” of Elijah’s spirit? I was always taught that what Elisha was asking for was twice as much as what Elijah had, asking that he would be twice the prophet that Elijah was. That never made any sense to me, because of simple math. We say in England, “You can’t get a quart out of a pint pot.” That is, Elijah can’t impart twice as much as what he himself possesses. Others taught that Elisha did twice as many miracles as Elijah — a doubling of a different sort. But the various lists of miracles offered as proof (so many for Elijah, so many for Elisha) usually don’t agree with each other, and the lists are often stretched and cleverly manipulated to fit the list-maker’s purposes.
The trouble with both the ““twice the prophet” and “double the miracles” interpretations is that they seem to ignore the scriptural, cultural, and historical meaning of the phrase “double portion.” You see, Elisha really was asking to become Elijah’s heir. Consider the inheritance law in Deuteronomy 21:17 in which the term double portion first appears in Scripture:
But he shall acknowledge the son… as the firstborn by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his.4
In the ancient Middle East, when a father died and left his property, it was divided among his sons. But the firstborn, the eldest son, always received two portions, while the other sons received only one. So if a father had four sons, he would divide his property up in his will into five portions, not four. The eldest son received two portions, and the rest received one each. That is why Esau was so upset about losing his birthright, because it meant that Jacob would get a double portion, and he would only get a single portion (Genesis 25:31-34; 27:36).5
Quite plainly, Elisha was asking to inherit Elijah’s prophetic office. And if he inherited Elijah’s office, he needed two things. One was the mantle that Elijah wore, which signified his authority. The other was Elijah’s spirit. One was external — his mantle; and the other was internal — the spirit of Elijah. So Elisha was to be a witness of Elijah’s triumph, of his rapture, of his being taken up; which meant if anyone asked, “How did Elijah die?”, Elisha would say, “Well, he never died at all; he never passed through death.” In other words, Elisha would be giving a testimony to Elijah’s rapture in the fact that he never died. That is a very wonderful thing. And if he were present to witness that testimony about Elijah, then he was going to inherit what he wanted — to be Elijah’s heir. The key was for him to be able to testify that Elijah wasn’t dead at all. He was still alive somewhere. He was gone somewhere; he was not on the earth, but he was somewhere. He never died like other people die. So that was to be Elisha’s witness.
Do you see that was exactly the testimony of the apostles after Jesus’ death and resurrection? They gave the witness that the Lord Jesus wasn’t dead. He was alive and is still alive. “With great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 4:33). Their fundamental witness was that Jesus was alive. “He isn’t dead anymore. He ever lives. He’s not on the earth, but He is alive!”
In the same way, because Elisha saw Elijah’s translation, he was able to give a similar testimony. The Bible says in 2 Kings 2:12, “And Elisha saw it”; so he was able to give that testimony, and therefore he inherited Elijah’s blessing. He became Elijah’s heir. He saw Elijah’s translation, and so he inherited Elijah’s mantle and Elijah’s spirit. The Bible says in verse 13, “He also took up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him.” And verse 15 says that when the sons of the prophets saw Elisha, they said, “The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.” So he became the heir of those two things. Elisha had the external mantle signifying his office, so that everyone could see in him the spirit of Elijah, the very nature of God, that made Elijah a man of God.
The Apostles’ Testimony
What was the pith and marrow of the Apostolic testimony? I have referred to it already: The Apostles bore witness to Jesus’ resurrection. That was their purpose, their work, because that is why they were called Apostles of the Lamb (Revelation 21:14). The Twelve Apostles of the Lamb had to be those who accompanied Jesus around and knew Him, who talked to Him as He talked with them. They witnessed His death and resurrection.6 There is a difference between apostleship and being an Apostle of the Lamb. There were only twelve Apostles of the Lamb, but there were other apostles. Paul was not an Apostle of the Lamb. But he was an apostle, as also were Barnabas and Silas and others mentioned in the Scriptures.
So there are more than twelve apostles, but there were only twelve Apostles of the Lamb; and these were they to whom Jesus said that in the resurrection, when God comes again in the person of the Lord Jesus and reigns on the earth, they were to sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:27,28). That is why another apostle had to be appointed to take the place of Judas, so that the office might be filled and there might not be one throne vacant in the millennium. But after that, God raised up the other apostles. So we see that the apostolic testimony of the original twelve (later taken up by others like Paul) was that Jesus is alive; and even Paul could add his testimony by saying, “I met Him on the Damascus Road, and He spoke to me; so I know that Jesus is alive.”
“And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 4:33). Now because they had this testimony, therefore they were qualified to have two things, even as Elisha was qualified to have two things. Just as Elisha inherited his master’s mantle and his master’s spirit, so the apostles inherited their Master’s mantle and His Spirit. And so also did everyone in the early church who also gave the testimony that Jesus Christ is alive. In fact, there were many who were martyred because they still went on testifying that Jesus Christ is alive.
Quite a number of Christians don’t really understand that Jesus is alive. They think that Christ is alive in Spirit and that His influence is still alive. They think that Jesus Christ is alive in the record of the Bible. They think that Jesus Christ is alive because the church is still in existence and that is Jesus Christ being alive; but they don’t realize that the Lord Jesus is actually, personally alive. A young man whom I know very well, Dr. Ray Rempt,7 when he did his magnificent thesis for his doctorate in physics, dedicated it to the Lord Jesus Christ. When he did this dedication, the authorities of the university told him very kindly that he’d have to alter the dedication, because you can’t dedicate it to a dead person. So Ray said, “But He is alive!” Isn’t it astonishing how people don’t realize that the Lord Jesus is still alive? Here was Brother Ray dedicating his thesis to a living Person, and the university authorities would have it that He is a dead one.
You may have heard of the woman who heard that there were such goings on in the church nowadays, how they have departed from the liturgy in some ways, and there were actually members of the congregation who were speaking in tongues! So she said, “Isn’t it dreadful what is happening to the church? If the Lord Jesus knew what was happening to His Church, He would turn in His grave!” But you see, our real testimony is that Jesus Christ is alive. He’s not merely alive in a fashion; He is the source and origin of life. The early apostles gave great testimony everywhere, that Jesus is alive. Do you remember how Portius Festus described Paul’s legal case to King Agrippa and Bernice? He explained that a large part of the matter was concerning “Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive” (Acts 25:19). This blasé, cultivated Roman couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. Here were the Jews saying that Jesus of Nazareth was dead, and here was Paul saying He’s not really dead; He’s alive. That, of course, was the emphatic and most wonderful testimony.
The Lord Jesus made it so clear that He would come back again from the dead. He constantly emphasized this to His disciples; and He rebuked the disciples for “their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen” from the dead (Mark 16:14). This is vitally important. Therefore the early apostles and Christians who gave testimony to Jesus being alive inherited two things. They inherited Christ’s mantle, and they inherited Christ’s Spirit.
Christ's Seamless Garment — Holiness
Do you remember that John tells us in John 19:23-24 how the Roman soldiers cast lots over Jesus’ mantle?
23Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece. 24They said therefore among themselves, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be,” that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says: “They divided My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.”8 Therefore the soldiers did these things.
Have you ever grasped what that vesture meant, that seamless garment that was put on from the top? It’s a wonderful picture of the Lord Jesus’ very nature!
Theologians have argued and struggled over the two natures of the Lord Jesus in one Person. When we repeat the Nicene Creed, we confess Him to be “very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by Whom all things were made; Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary and was made man.” He took real flesh, so He was two natures. He was very God of very God, and also an exact and real and complete human being. As a man, He was a tripartite being with body, soul, and spirit. The two natures of God and man were blended. But the problem for the theologians is how they were blended. The theologians try to give a logical account of how there came a blending of divinity and humanity, but no one can explain it. Luther had a special idea, which could be right or wrong. His idea was that one part of Jesus’ nature took from the other part at need. But, don’t you see, Jesus’ garment was seamless — there was no seam. So, theologian, we can’t say where Jesus’ natures join. It is a sheer impossibility. That’s why it’s an insoluble problem.
Jesus could be utterly weary as a human being and lean on Jacob’s well. Yet at the same time He could divinely reveal to the woman her tremendous need and all she had done. He could tell her that He was prepared to baptize her with the Holy Spirit so that she would never thirst again, and would have eternal life in her (John 4:1-26). You just can’t say where the “seam” between the two natures is, because there isn’t one. The Lord Jesus never acquired divinity; it was put on from the top. That meant He came down from heaven. It was Divinity taking flesh; not, as some people teach, a human being acquiring divinity. He never acquired divinity; quite the opposite! He was, and is, God incarnate.
So that’s what His seamless garment represents — His utterly complete, perfect, and spotless nature. It represents His holiness. He was without sin. “Who committed no sin, Nor was any deceit found in His mouth” (1 Peter 2:22). He is the perfect example of God’s perfect man, the utterly obedient one to His Father, the One Who “was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). That’s the significance of the seamless garment. And those who have a real testimony that the Lord Jesus is truly alive, that He’s not dead at all, but “He always lives to make intercession” for us (Hebrews 7:25); He ever lives to make salvation real to us; He is “able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives…” (Hebrews 7:25) — these have a right to His seamless garment.
That’s the lesson God wants you to learn. That’s the “mantle.” And those who did inherit the seamless garment had a remarkable testimony. Paul says, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Paul says again, “The things which you… saw in me, these do” (Philippians 4:9). That’s a remarkable thing to say! When I was a boy listening to sermons, the idea of the sermon was, “I’m telling you what to do, and mind you do it; but don’t copy me.” In other words, “Do what I say, but don’t do what I do.” I’d be ashamed to come to people and say, “Do what I say, but don’t copy me and do as I do.” If I were like that, I ought never to preach again! We ought to have a testimony like St. Paul, who said, “The things which you… heard and saw in me, these do” (Philippians 4:9).
Well, isn’t that how it ought to be, everyone like you? I remember a little poem:
Suppose everyone were like you in the church.
What kind of church would it be?
Would that be wonderful? Would that be sad?
Would it be good? Would you be glad?
Well, inasmuch as I follow the Lord Jesus, and my desire is to please Him with all my heart, I’d want you to be a follower of me; but I don’t want you to be just like Percy Gutteridge, because there’s so much room for improvement in him!
So you see that the Lord really did share His mantle with His apostles. They had righteousness which could be seen. There weren’t the apologies for sin in those days. You’ll never find the apostle Paul or any of the apostles or writers of the New Testament apologizing for sin. They lived in victory over it, which the Lord Jesus was able and willing to give. “He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him” (Hebrews 7:25). That’s the message of the New Testament. So the apostles not only had that very blessed mantle, which represents Christ’s perfect righteousness, given to them as a gift; but also, within and manifested in deeds, they had Christ Who “is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). He “is made unto us.” Not “He is all that on our behalf,” so we needn’t have it. The glorious thing about genuine Holy Spirit Christianity is that God begins to make you like Jesus, and is going to go on doing it until you are a perfect man in Christ.9 Oh, it’s a blessed, glorious, successful thing, is the true Christian life!
Christ’s Spirit — Power
So the apostles had Christ’s mantle, which was righteousness before God, and Christ’s holiness in their hearts. That’s why Paul could say, “The things which you… saw in me, these do” (Philippians 4:9). “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). They also had His Spirit, with the power of the Holy Spirit. They received it all in one operation, and they began to deliver people, and there were signs and wonders following. It wasn’t a dry, organized church ministering only in words.
I wonder how each church would be tested today by the words of Paul, if he came. I am utterly certain that Paul would be rejected as a church member in very many churches in the United States. He wouldn’t fit in. Just imagine having a church board meeting and passing cigars around, and Paul saying, “No, thanks, I don’t smoke.” Nothing wrong in that, and he wouldn’t say there was. Paul wouldn’t say it was a sin; he would just say, “I don’t smoke.” He’d say, as I say,
Tobacco is an evil weed;
From the devil it doth proceed.
It ruins your health
And spoils your clothes
And makes a chimney pot
Of your nose!
That’s not in the Bible, but it’s quite true. Don’t you see, we wouldn’t accept Paul, because he just wouldn’t fit in! Paul said,
19But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power. 20For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power.
1 Corinthians 4:19-20
There are denominations and churches whose Christianity lies in words and doctrines and ideas, but it doesn‘t lie in power. When God gives a message in power, He always confirms the word with signs following. Something happens every time one of God‘s representatives gives a word. No, the people won‘t all come flooding up to the front. I have learned that often the deepest work is done when people go home from a church service with the word of God in their hearts and, like Mary, they ponder these things in their hearts, and then the fruit is shown afterwards.
It often takes time for fruit to show; it is not always immediate. Mushrooms can spring up in a night, but not the blessed fruit of God. So I‘m patient about it. I don‘t always expect you to manifest immediately what God is doing in you. God would rather do a deeper work, and sometimes the Lord makes the words so clear and plain that you can‘t make a sudden decision, because you realize what it‘s going to cost you if you respond to Him. But every time the word of God is faithfully preached, the Lord confirms it with signs following; the Lord believes in signs following. It‘s only to those who are seeking signs that God won‘t grant them. But to those who are not seeking signs, but are seeking the Lord and His truth, He‘ll give many signs in confirmation.
The apostles had the power of the Lord Jesus in many ways. One way was that, just as Elisha was like his master, the apostles were like their Lord in having holiness; that holiness was the mantle, the external insignia. If holiness can‘t be seen, it isn‘t holiness at all. If your Christianity can‘t be seen, it isn‘t Christianity. “Husbands love your wives; wives reverence your husbands; children obey your parents in the Lord; parents don‘t make your children angry by your unjust treatment of them,” says Paul (Ephesians 5:22–6:4). It is evident that if our holiness is not seen, it isn‘t holiness at all.
An Example of the Double Portion
So the apostles had the external mantle, which was holiness; and they also had the dunamis, the power of the Spirit, upon them. In the story of the healing of the lame beggar at the Gate Beautiful (Acts 3:1-12), the Holy Spirit shows us how these two inheritances, the holiness and the power, work together. I believe that Peter and John went down together to the Temple arm in arm. Previously, it seems, Peter was jealous of John; and John may have been smug that he, and not Peter, had leaned on Jesus’ bosom at the last supper. Yet after Pentecost, when the two had received pure hearts, we see Peter and John close together, and there’s no more of Peter saying, “But Lord, what about this man?” (John 21:20-22). They’re together, and together they work a miracle, and that man at the Gate Beautiful of the temple is healed.
The beggar asked Peter for alms, you remember. I recall the clever wordplay of a preacher who said that Peter didn’t give the beggar “alms,” he gave him legs. And the man preferred the legs he got to the alms he thought he was going to get! “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you,” said Peter in the power of the Spirit. “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6). And the lame man rose up and walked. Now when the people wanted to know what had happened and they came running together, Peter checked them, and said, “Please don’t imagine it’s in our own power or holiness that this man whom you see can walk” (Acts 3:12). See how he puts power and holiness together! The power comes from the Spirit of God within him; and holiness is the mantle upon him. Oh, for God’s balance, and for His “double portion” today — power and holiness!
“So Great a Salvation”
What is our testimony today? Have you accepted the truth that Jesus lives? Then there’s further good news for you! Do you “believe in your heart that God has raised Jesus from the dead” (Romans 10:9); that is, do you believe in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus? Do you really believe that verse, or is it just a mechanical phrase to you? Is it one of those texts of Scripture that you’ve learned to rattle off by heart? There is so much “Scripture learning” today, but little spiritual reality. I’m not one with the trend. I don’t want to just mechanically learn yards of Scripture. I’d rather know a few texts, but know what they mean.
In my early days I belonged for a time to a denomination that gloried in memorizing Scripture by heart. Remembering those times, I can see in my mind’s eye the way those men rolled the Scripture off their tongues. But I’ve been in their Bible studies, which weren’t always the picture of heaven. They would argue and quarrel with each other; and it was all done in texts of Scripture. One brother would say, “What about 2 Corinthians 3:4?” And another would respond, “That’s blessedly true, brother, but what about Galatians 3:5?” — knocking the other on the head with it. Now I couldn’t tell you today what those Scriptures are, because at that time I made a covenant with the Lord, and prayed, saying, “Lord, never, ever let me have a mere mechanical knowledge of the Scripture like these brethren have. Would You please permit me to know what the Bible means, rather than just be able to recite it off by heart?” And the Lord in some measure has answered that prayer. To the present day, if you start talking about Galatians 3:5, I’d have to say, “Excuse me, would you mind if I look it up?” You might say, “I thought he was a man of the Word.” Well, I can’t recite yards of Scripture. I carry my concordance in a book and not in my head. I’m not brilliant. I encounter people trying to catch me out, asking me questions like, “What is the middle verse of the Bible?” I don’t care what the middle verse is! What has that to do with me?
I don’t have a mechanical knowledge of the Scriptures. But I’ve learned that in some measure God has answered my other prayer, and given me to understand what the Bible means. I’ve been present when people quote yards of the Scripture to prove a point, yet I came up with one verse that shows they are misinterpreting the Scriptures.
Oh, the importance of knowing the reality of what Scripture means! I want you to realize that “if you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). Do you believe that? Do you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead? That means you believe that Jesus is alive!
What does that mean to me? It means that my Lord Jesus stands by my side while I am preaching. “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20). In the power of His Spirit, He is present. That means I preach in the presence of the Most High God. We preach before angels. Sometimes God even permits angels to come and hear the Scripture expounded. For angels desire to look into these things (1 Peter 1:12); and He has not given unto angels to expound God’s truth. The old hymn says,
When I sing redemption’s story,
They will fold their wings,
For angels never knew the joy
That our salvation brings.10
It’s a tremendous thing to really believe that God has raised Jesus from the dead, and that He’s alive and ever lives. “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead” in the resurrection, God has promised you salvation — “you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
Do you fully understand what that means? Most people don’t. Salvation from God’s point of view means so much more than escaping hell and going to heaven when you die. So very much more! Shall I tell you what it means? Once an angel was sent to Cornelius, who was a Gentile, as most of us are, and God introduced the Gentiles to His “so great a salvation” (Hebrews 2:3). The angel came with a simple word only and said to Cornelius, “Send… for Simon who is called Peter. He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved” (Acts 11:13-14). And that good man, Cornelius, when Peter came to him, discovered what salvation was. Have you found it out? Hebrews 2:3 asks, “How shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation?” Is your salvation just going to heaven, and not going to hell, when you die? Well I’m glad you are going to heaven when you die, and you’re not going to hell; but that’s not God’s “so great a salvation.” “So great salvation” means:
- In Acts 10:43, which is the account of Cornelius and how he did get that salvation, Peter is speaking and says, “All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” So you receive forgiveness of sins. That’s number one in salvation.
- They also received “repentance that leads to life” (Acts 11:18). When Peter was announcing to the church of Jerusalem what wonderful things had happened to the Gentiles, that they also had been truly saved, the Scripture says, “When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, ‘So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.’” And what is “repentance that leads to life”? “Repentance that leads to life” is justification. Justification is not only being forgiven for your sins, but it is also being brought to the state where it is as if you never had committed a sin. It’s not just a penalty removed as in forgiveness; it is God bringing you in His mercy and love through to the place whereby, because Jesus died for you and shed His blood for you, you are as if you had never sinned. Hallelujah! Isn’t that wonderful! But why does the Scripture say “that leads to life”? Because it means that He gives us a new quality of life. In other words, you areno longer the person who did the sinning. You are dead. “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). I can say goodbye to those sins, because I am not the person who did them. I am a new creature. Praise God! Are you?
Now, what is repentance? Do you know? What does repentance mean and what does it include? 1) It’s conviction of sin. I know I’m a sinner. Do you know you’re a sinner, or are you juggling with sin? Are you trying to persuade me and other people you’re not so bad as we say you are? Are you making excuses for your sin? If so, you know nothing about conviction, and you’ve never come to repentance; and without repentance it’s impossible to please God. 2) Repentance is also confession of sin, sorrow for the sin I’m convicted of, and restitution if possible. It is also a change of attitude, which God alone can give me, toward sin. It is so important that I understand what repentance is: conviction of sin, so that I know I’m a sinner; sorrow for my sin; confession of my sin, whatever it is; and restitution — if I owe money, or have stolen money, or need to apologize, I put that all right. You’ll never have peace in your heart, or the witness of the Spirit that you’re forgiven, unless you put things right to the best of your ability. That’s included in real repentance. And then God gives you a change of attitude towards sin; now you hate the sin that you once fooled around with and loved.
Do you see what Cornelius received? The angel told him that he would hear “words by which you and all your household will be saved” (Acts 11:14). And he began to find what his salvation was. Some of us believe in what we call “full salvation.” We don’t believe in a half-and-half business. God has revealed in us and to us His “so great a salvation.” We have what Cornelius got. He received forgiveness, “repentance that leads to life,” and also the gift of the Holy Spirit, all at the same time. What happened while Cornelius was listening and in his heart accepting that Jesus was the Christ, the Sent One, the Son of God? God confirmed the Good News by giving him the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit came and entered the hearts of those gathered at Cornelius’s house. Acts 10:45 uses these very words about Cornelius and those with him: “And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.” Not gifts, in the plural, of the Holy Spirit, but gift. God gave the Holy Spirit as a Person to them to dwell in their hearts and not go away again.
But that’s not all Cornelius got with his salvation. Acts 15:7-9, also describing the same account of Cornelius, says this:
7And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, 9and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.”
That is “so great salvation”! Now, do you have God’s full salvation? If you have so great salvation, you have forgiveness of sins, repentance unto life, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and a pure heart. That’s what God means by being saved! Do you have it? Amen! Isn’t it wonderful? Hallelujah! Are you giving a testimony to full salvation? To receiving the Holy Spirit? To receiving a pure heart? Then you are a witness that Jesus ascended. You’re a witness that Jesus is alive. You’re a witness that Jesus is seated at the right hand of God. And more importantly, you’re a witness that Jesus is still here by the power of the Spirit in human beings to do everything that once He did upon the earth. If necessary, He’ll raise the dead. If necessary. But I would be cautious about raising the dead, because I’m not quite certain they’d want to come back again!
All right, you’ve inherited two things: Jesus’ seamless garment, and His Spirit. As His heir, you have the double portion. You are “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17). That’s Christianity, indeed. Do you see, dear brother and sister, how much more you have than those who walked with Jesus on earth? There was a poor woman who had an issue of blood many years and couldn’t be cured by all the physicians, although they no doubt did their best. Far from being cured, her condition grew worse (Luke 8:43-48). Then she encountered Jesus.
She only touched the hem of His garment,
As to His side she stole
Amid the crowd that gathered around Him,
And straightway she was whole.
She came in fear and trembling before Him;
She knew her Lord had come.
She knew that from Him virtue had healed her;
The mighty deed was done.
He turned with “Daughter, be of good comfort,
Thy faith hath made thee whole!”
And peace that passeth all understanding
With gladness filled her soul.11
Yes, that woman touched the hem of His seamless garment — but you can wear it! It is your privilege to wear it. As Elisha wore the robe of his master, you can wear and manifest Jesus’ seamless garment.
Holiness and Power
Now, you have the privilege of wearing His garment, but you must come the way Elisha came — over Jordan and past Bethel. Bethel means “house of God.” You mustn’t tarry even there. You must go on with God. You mustn’t tarry in the house of the denomination to which you belong, and only believe their doctrine. No, you must walk with God. Do you realize that many, many Pentecostals today don’t know by experience the Baptism of the Holy Spirit? I’ve preached in their churches, so I know. It is a sore trial to me to preach in an old Pentecostal church that once had an experience but now has lost it. The only thing they have left is speaking in tongues, and that has become more of a psychic12 gift, rather than a spiritual gift, among them. I tell you, friends, one of the hardest things I have to do as a minister is to preach in an old worn-out, dead, dry-bones Pentecostal church that has all the doctrine, and no experience. Rather, give me the opportunity of preaching to a group of Spirit-filled Roman Catholics with all their wrong doctrine, but who are alive in Jesus, full of love and full of joy and full of humility. It’s a privilege to talk to them, and they will simply draw the Word out of you. I’m not talking against Pentecostal churches. I’m only trying to say to you that it’s not the words we want, it’s the power.13 That’s what I want you to have.
And finally, it’s not an “either / or” situation. It’s not either holiness or the power — it’s both! God doesn’t separate one from the other. He wants you to have both. Of what use is Elijah’s mantle without Elijah’s spirit? Of what use is Elijah’s spirit of power without Elijah’s mantle of holiness? You are to have both, or else there’s something badly lacking. So outwardly, it’s the manifestation of Jesus, which is holiness, and inwardly it’s the abiding of His Spirit, which is power.
Do you remember reading in the Old Testament about the Urim and Thummim? Do you remember the blessing that Moses gave to Levi? “And of Levi he said: ‘Let Your Thummim and Your Urim be with Your holy one…’” (Deuteronomy 33:8). No one knows what Urim and Thummim were. They were two mysterious stones, and their very worth is lost to us now, for all we do know is that by them God revealed His will. Urim means “lights,” and Thummim means “perfections.”
- What was the significance of Urim, “lights”? What did that light do? That light revealed hidden things. That light manifested God and His power. It also discerned things. That light would reveal evil spirits. That light would give a word of knowledge. That light would reveal that God was willing to work a miracle. That light was such that it meant that God could reveal secrets, could bring back a God-given dream to someone who lost it, and then give the interpretation. That’s what the light was in the Urim.
- What was the Thummim? “Perfections” — God’s holiness. The priests were to have both: the ability to reveal God’s secrets by His power, and the ability to manifest God’s nature, His holiness, in their acts.
Do you really think that the Old Covenant had things that we don’t have today? Do you really think that under the Old Covenant God gave gifts that He hasn’t given under the New Covenant? Urim and Thummim — what are God’s New Covenant equivalents? Urim, lights — gifts of the Holy Spirit. Thummim, perfections — fruits of the Holy Spirit. And God wants you to have both. Are you not all “kings and priests” to God (Revelation 1:6), “a royal priesthood ”(1 Peter 2:9)? Isn’t that God’s will for you? Now that you have been brought into God’s kingdom, you are kings and priests, and God has given to every one of you the Urim and the Thummim, just as He gave to the Old Testament priesthood. God gives you greater gifts than He did under the Old Covenant, not lesser.
By these most precious gifts of the Spirit that correspond to the Urim, we discern God’s mind and will. In my old church in England on Friday nights we always had an elders and deacons prayer meeting. When anyone of the congregation came to me with some hard, knotty problem to solve in his life, and it needed God’s revelation, I would never pray for that person on my own. I would say, “If you will come on Friday evening to the church, the elders, deacons, and I will pray for you, and will put your case before God. God may or may not answer, as He chooses, because we can’t order God around, but we’ll plead with Him to give you revelation on this problem which none of us can solve.” And I don’t know a single time when God didn’t give a revelation through one of the gifts of the Spirit. The usual thing would be that one of the elders or deacons would get a revelation from God that needed interpreting, and usually God gave me the interpretation. That person who had come with a need would go away stepping on air. The seeker had come troubled and unhappy, with the weight of a burden on him; and God would lift that burden, and the very divine revelation would lift him and send him away rejoicing.
Of course there’s Urim and Thummim! But unfortunately, we separate the Thummim from the Urim; yet the priest wore both on the breastplate before God. You have to have both. It’s not power or holiness; it’s power and holiness. God gives gifts: Urim, lights, which is revelation; and God gives fruit: Thummim, perfections, which is holiness.
After Elisha saw Elijah taken up by a whirlwind into heaven, Elisha “took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, and said, ‘Where is the Lord God of Elijah?’” (2 Kings 2:14) The truths we have learned about Elijah’s mantle and Elijah’s spirit are brought out in the first two miracles that Elisha did. In this precious book God gives us the first two miracles that Elisha ever did, and they’re perfect because they completely reveal two great things.
In the first miracle, as we said, Elisha “took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, and said, ‘Where is the Lord God of Elijah?’” God is now going to prove Himself. So first of all, He does a visible deed of power. He reveals His power and the waters part. “Where is the Lord God of Elijah,” the God of fire, the God of judgment, the God of miracles, the God of mercy, the God of revivals? Where is the God of Elijah? And the waters “divided to the right and to the left” (2 Kings 2:14) as they had done for Elijah (v. 8) — a visible deed of power. Similarly, we are promised, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you” (Acts 1:8).
If parting the water, a visible deed of power, was Elisha’s first miracle, what was his second? Elisha’s second miracle was an invisible deed of cleansing. “Then the men of the city said to Elisha, ‘Please notice, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord sees; but the water is bad, and the ground barren’” (2 Kings 2:19). For the word barren we might read “causes the ewes to cast their young”; that’s the meaning of the Hebrew text.14 It’s clear from the context that the water was causing unfruitfulness. There was something in the water that “casts our fruit.” The ewes cast their “fruit” of young lambs, and the trees whose roots drank in that water didn’t bear fruit. The water was causing barrenness and unfruitfulness.
Now if you aren’t bringing forth the fruit of the Spirit, do you see why? How can they be produced when there’s something in you known as the carnal mind, which causes barrenness? It must be cast out. “And [Elisha] said, ‘Bring me a new bowl, and put salt in it.’ So they brought it to him” (v. 20). And taking the bowl, “he went out to the source of the water,” to the spring, where the water came out of the ground, right where it began, “and cast in the salt there” (v. 21). He didn’t cast it some way downstream, but went to the spring and threw the salt into the very source, saying, “Thus says the Lord, ‘I have healed this water; from it there shall be no more death or barrenness’” (v. 22).
What is Elisha doing? What does this act depict? This is God’s great picture of the cleansing of the heart — holiness. He took a new cruse with salt in it. Salt is a great picture of the Holy Spirit as cleansing. Salt is God’s great purifying agent on the earth. The sea is full of it. Oh, how foul the earth would be if it wasn’t for God’s salt breezes that come from the salt sea! Salt is a picture of the Holy Spirit. Elisha took that salt in the new cruse and cast it where the water came out.
Where does your barrenness proceed from? Where does that which ruins those fruits of the Spirit come from? Jesus will tell you: “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man” (Matthew 15:19,20). What did God say in Jeremiah 17:9? “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” So Jesus says that out of our hearts proceed evil thoughts.
Elisha took that salt and cast it into the spring of the waters. That’s what God did at Pentecost when the tongues of flame came down and cleansed the hearts of the Apostles and of the hundred and twenty gathered in the upper room, by coming on every one of their heads individually. It had to be a personal experience. That was God’s promise through John the Baptist: “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.… He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor” (Matthew 3:11,12). And that’s what happened to Cornelius while Peter preached — “purifying their hearts by faith,” as the Apostle later testified (Acts 15:8,9). Essentially Peter was saying, “They received what we received at the beginning.” It doesn’t merely mean that they only spoke in tongues and prophesied; it means they also received pure hearts.
That’s in the genuine baptism of the Holy Spirit. If you haven’t seen it up until now, then claim your inheritance. If you’ve only been trying to wear the mantle, now come and put it on. If you’ve only been operating in power, why not operate also in purity? God gives both purity and power. Elisha went to the spring of the water. That’s why the Lord Jesus said, “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts.” And that’s why the witness of God about the Gentiles was that God had purified their hearts. God goes to the spring of the waters!
You may have a pure heart if you want it. Don’t let unbelief come in. Don’t say, “Oh, the devil will foul my heart up again.” Believe God that “He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (2 Timothy 1:12). Believe God and accept from Him purity of heart. What a transformation He will bring about in your nature! It’s by faith; and if it’s by faith, then why not now? Brothers and sisters, there’s no special day when faith operates better than another day! Faith is always now, or else it’s only hope. If it’s in the future, then it’s hope; and hope never did a miracle or worked a work. It’s faith that works the work, and faith is always now. Believe God; accept His purity.
Some of you may never have received what God includes in real salvation, which is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit so that God Himself, in His Spirit, in His holiness and power, comes into your heart. Accept it even as you’re reading these words. “You would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water” (John 4:10). “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink” (John 7:37). You don’t have to wait. The Holy Spirit has come. Jesus is waiting to baptize you; He is willing to give you the Spirit. And if you long for a pure heart, He’s willing to give you a pure heart today.
I tell you, friends, what a difference it makes when that old carnal mind is purified out of the heart! Oh, how the fruit can begin to grow! How the love can be shown and manifested! Oh, the difference when that weight has gone from the heart, that carnal mind that hates God, which is a rebel in your heart, which is “enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be” (Romans 8:7). It says, “No!” when you want to say, ”Yes!” But once the carnal mind is gone, you will truthfully say, “Yes!” to God. The power of the Holy Spirit coming upon you will strengthen you against sin. The power of the Holy Spirit coming upon you will give you a clean heart. “I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26). “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10 kjv). Let the Lord cleanse your heart! He’s willing to do it.
Perhaps you are one who has prayed for the “double portion” of Elisha. Perhaps you have prayed, “Where is the God of Elijah?” Now do you understand the real meaning of what you were praying? Are you a witness of the resurrection? Do you believe in your heart that Jesus is raised from the dead? Then you have available a “double portion,” an inheritance that is your right, from which neither man nor devil can deprive you. Your inheritance is the seamless garment of Jesus — His holiness, in a pure heart. And your inheritance is also the power of the Holy Spirit coming upon you, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit operating in His will through you. That’s the inheritance which belongs to you. It’s made over to you by Jesus. He is only asking you to accept it. He wants to give you the double portion of Elisha!
- Copyright held by Finest of the Wheat Teaching Fellowship, Inc. Edited and annotated by Jim Kerwin. Co-edited by Denise Kerwin. Thanks to volunteer Esther Wilson for the original transcription. ↩
- Image used under license from GoodSalt.com ↩
- Most Scripture quotations in this article, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ↩
- Although we first encounter this mention of the double portion here in Deuteronomy 27:17, this law dated back to ancient history. Historians and anthropologists call this the right of primogeniture, that is, the accepted custom that a father’s firstborn male son inherited twice as much as any of his other sons. This loss of the right of the firstborn is at the heart of Jacob’s last words over and rebuke of Reuben, his firstborn son, in Genesis 49:3-4, but Reuben’s sin (v. 4; cf. 35:22; 1 Chronicles 5:1) caused him to forfeit his double-portion blessing, a blessing which seems to have been transferred to Joseph through Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh (Genesis 48).
In Scripture, we find this phrase “double portion” only in this Deuteronomy passage and in our main text, 2 Kings 2:9. (Note: Although there seems to be a third mention of “double portion” in 1 Samuel 1:5, depending on the English translation used, the original-language Hebrew phrase used is different, indicating merely “twice as much” or “a worthy portion.”) ↩
- How did the inheritance law work in the case of an “only” son? To understand that, let’s look at the underlying math and how it was applied in two typical situations. If the math of the inheritance law had been expressed as a formula, the equation would have been set up in this way: Let “X” equal the number of sons. On the father’s death, his entire estate (“Y”) would be divided into equal, single portions (“P”) like this:
Y ÷ (X + 1) = P
Giving full names for our variables “X,” “Y,” and “P,” we can “flesh out” our formula like this:
Value of estate ÷ (Number of sons +1) = Single portion
This way, there would always be one more portion than there were sons. Let’s say, for the sake of simplifying the math, that a father’s estate (Y) = $1,000,000, and do the calculations for varying numbers of heirs (X) to determine each son’s portion (P), remembering that the firstborn’s portion is a “double portion” — 2P or 2 x P:
- For a man with 2 heirs (e.g., Isaac, with Jacob and Esau, to cite Pastor Gutteridge’s example in the text): $1,000,000 ÷ (2+1) = $1,000,000 ÷ 3, yielding 3 portions of $333,333.33. Esau (who sold his birthright) should have gotten the “double portion” of $666,666.67, leaving Jacob with only $333,333.33. But Esau sold his birthright to Jacob, so their inheritance situations were reversed. No wonder Esau was so upset, once he realized the true cost of his meal at “Jacob’s restaurant”! (Clearly, he ate the most expensive stew in history!)This two-son scenario also casts some light on the “prodigal son” parable in Luke 15. Jesus’ listeners understood that the “prodigal” son only received a third of his father’s inheritance. The two-thirds of the estate which remained (as well as all of that portion’s future years of increase) represented the “double portion” which the older brother would receive at his father’s death.
- How about a man with only one heir? The “math is simple,” but, by law and deep-rooted ancient custom, the ceremonial “inheritance math” still must be performed: $1,000,000 ÷ (1+1) = $1,000,000 ÷ 2 = 2 equal portions of $500,000. Since the firstborn/only-begotten son gets the “double portion,” he receives 2 equal $500,000 portions, or, in this case, the full $1,000,000, because there is no other son. Thus an only son is still considered to have received a “double portion.”
Now that we understand the math (even as it regards an only son), we can make better sense of Elisha’s request. In “double portion” inheritance-law terminology, what Elisha is asking of Elijah is this: “You have no kin or offspring. Please adopt me as your sole-surviving heir, your only son, and let me inherit everything.” Since Elisha’s powerful prophetic mentor seems to have owned nothing of value on this earth, except a dusty, worn mantle (prosperity proponents, please take note), the “everything” of the inheritance consisted of Elijah’s prophetic office. ↩
- These were the requirements laid down for the replacement of Judas Iscariot in Acts 1:21-22. ↩
- That “young man,” Dr. Raymond Rempt, has a fruitful teaching ministry and has retired from a notable career as a physicist, engineer, and Boeing Fellow. For more on Ray’s ministry, visit his web site, RayRempt.com. ↩
- John was showing the fulfillment of Psalm 22:18. ↩
- Pastor Gutteridge alludes to a theme shared by Paul and Peter regarding perfection. God’s goal, says Paul, is that each one might come to the state of being “a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). He desires to “present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (Colossians 1:28). Paul says that his Colossian co-worker Epaphras prayed for his fellow believers in Colossae that they would “stand perfect and complete in all the will of God” (Colossians 4:12). And Peter shared his desire that “the God of all grace” would make his readers “perfect” (1 Peter 5:10). ↩
- From the chorus of There Is Singing Up in Heaven by Johnson Oatman, Jr. ↩
- From George F. Root’s hymn She Only Touched the Hem of His Garment ↩
- Psychic might seem like a charged word here, since many readers perceive the word in a spiritist connotation. But the primary definition is of or relating to the human soul or mind, mental, that is to say, something which proceeds from the soul (ψυχή in Greek — psuché). ↩
- The allusion is to 1 Corinthians 4:19. ↩
- In his commentary on this verse, Andrew Barnes says this about the phrase “and the ground barren” — “Translate ‘and the land apt to miscarry.’ The stream was thought to be the cause of untimely births, abortions, and the like, among the cattle, perhaps also among the people, that drank of it.” ↩