Calling Things That Are Not
by Charles Capps
God Says Before He Does
As you study the Bible, you will notice God never does anything until He says it. That’s the way He works. God has done nothing in the earth without first speaking it. Even now, it seems that God will do nothing in the earth unless it is spoken, prophesied or called for by the prayer of faith.
Romans 4:17 tells us that God “quickeneth the dead and calleth those things which be not as though they were.” In other words, God speaks the end result.
Let’s look at the story of Lazarus of Bethany in John 11:3-4. “Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.”
Jesus said, “This sickness is not unto death.” What are you going to do with that statement? For as you read further, you find that Lazarus died.
Jesus Called the Dead Living
Jesus said that this sickness was not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. Some say, “Jesus said that Lazarus was sick and died so God would be glorified.”
It wasn’t God’s will for Lazarus to be sick. Neither was it God’s will for Lazarus to die.
Let me show you why you cannot interpret this scripture to mean the sickness or death was for God’s glory. One of the rules of interpretation is to always take a scripture literally if you can. But you cannot take verse four literally. If you do, you make Jesus a liar. But there is a difference between a lie and a confession, or calling things that are not. If you interpret this verse literally, then you would have to say Jesus lied. But a lie is sin, and the Bible says there was no sin in Him. So we have to look at it from a different angle.
He Called End Results
Jesus is calling the end results of the matter. He said that the end result would not be death; but that the end results of this whole matter would bring glory to God. The glory that God received came when Lazarus was raised from the dead, not when he was sick, nor when he died. Neither the sickness nor the death glorified God. The resurrection glorified God. God raised him from the dead. If it was God’s will for Lazarus to die, then Jesus destroyed the work of His Father when He raised him from the dead. But Jesus came ...that he might destroy the works of the devil. (l John 3:8) So Jesus destroyed the works of the devil when He raised Lazarus from the dead.
If you follow Jesus you will learn something as He starts toward Bethany.
Jesus Was Misunderstood Because of His Confession
“These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. How be it Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.” (John 11:11-13)
Jesus realized they had misunderstood Him when the disciples said, “If Lazarus is asleep, he is doing well.” Jesus was calling the thing that was not. Lazarus wasn’t asleep, he was dead, and Jesus knew he was dead. It took the runner about a day to get down there with the bad news. Then Jesus stayed there two more days, and then walked to Bethany, which took about one day. On the way to Bethany, Jesus said, “Lazarus sleepeth.”
What was He doing? He was guarding His conversation so He wouldn’t undo what He had already declared in the beginning (“The end results will not be death.’’) But His disciples misunderstood Him.
Jesus Explained What Was, But Called What Was Not
Jesus stopped and gave His followers an explanation, Lazarus is dead. (v.14) That’s the way the King James Version states it. But if you read the Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, the word translated dead in the King James Version is translated died. One is present tense; the other is past tense. Jesus said, “Lazarus died.” There is a difference between someone who died and someone who is dead. If you don’t understand that, look at Jesus. He died, but He is not dead.
Jesus called the thing that was not manifest. Lazarus was not asleep. He was dead. But Jesus called him “asleep.” Jesus would not admit death. That didn’t mean that He denied it. He just would not establish anything but what He declared when He heard the bad news.
Again, in this principle, Jesus is not teaching you to go raise all the dead. He is teaching you how the principle of calling things that are not works.
When Jesus came to Bethany, He said, “...Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.” (John 11:39)
This fact that he had been dead for four days proves that he was either dead when the messenger got to Jesus, or died immediately after. For when Jesus arrived, they said that Lazarus had been dead four days. Jesus knew Lazarus was dead.
Jesus finally talked them into rolling away the stone. “Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.” (John 11:41)
Notice at this point, Jesus hasn’t said anything yet, but He is thanking God that He has heard Him. Jesus is referring to what He said four days ago. In effect, He was saying, “Father, I thank You that You heard what I decreed by faith four days ago; that the end results will not end in death but bring glory to You.”
Obeying the Principle
We must learn to obey this principle.
If someone calls and says, “Aunt Susie is in the hospital, and she’s going to die for sure,” use your faith to the limit. Dare to say some things in faith. Say, “In the name of Jesus, I believe she will live and not die. I decree it in Jesus’ name.”
“But what if she dies?”
Well, you used your faith to the limit. You did what you could.
There are some things you can’t control by your faith. Aunt Susie might have wanted to go on to heaven, and you couldn’t stop her. If she wants to go, you shouldn’t stop her.
These are some things we need to understand. Don’t get under condemnation for using your faith. Someone might say, “But I prayed for somebody, and they died.”
What does that have to do with it? You are required to use your faith, but you can’t control every situation or every circumstance.
I’d sure hate to be a partner to anyone dying before their time. But if an individual wants to go, you shouldn’t always try to stop them. They should have the right to go home.
Jesus Established End Results
At the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus said to the Father, “...I thank thee that thou hast heard me.” He has established something.
“And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.” (John 11:42)
He said, “I knew You would hear Me. That’s the reason I said it. I wanted to establish this on earth.”
Psalm 119:89 says, “For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven.”
God’s Word is already established in heaven; but on earth is where it needs to be established now. Look at what Jesus said to Peter:
“And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:19)
Jesus said the power of binding and loosing is on earth. You have authority to bind on earth those things which have been bound out of heaven. You can loose some things and they will be loosed - not only by you, but God in heaven will loose some things, if you will loose them. But you must do something first on earth. Jesus loosed Lazarus from death.
“And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.” (John 11:43)
I can just imagine what Peter was thinking when Jesus started talking to the dead. I imagine Peter was embarrassed.
Jesus Spoke to Things and They Obeyed
You will notice that in Jesus’ ministry, He talked to trees. He talked to the wind. He talked to the sea. He talked to dead people. And they all obeyed Him. In every instance, He was calling for things that were not manifest!
When Lazarus came forth, I can see John nudging Peter and saying, “Hey, look, Peter! There is Lazarus standing in the door of the tomb!”
Then all embarrassment was gone. You may be embarrassed sometimes about some of the things you are saying, because it is taking so long for them to happen. But when you call the promise of God into manifestation in your life, all the embarrassment will leave.
 George Ricker Berry (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House. 1897). p278.
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- Annette Capps