Words of Life







We will discuss the life and ministry of Oral Roberts in three parts: 1) The

Making of the Evangelist (1918 to 1947), 2) The Ministry of the Evangelist (1947

to the present), and 3) The Message of the Evangelist. When Dr. David Harrell,

Jr., author of the definitive biography of Oral Roberts, interviewed administrators,

faculty, staff, and others, he often asked the question, "What is the genius of Oral

Roberts?" Since my training is in English literature, I said, "Oral Roberts is what

literary people would call a poet." A poet. The romantic writer Shelley called the

poets "the legislators of the world." As legislators of the world, they are the

shapers of mankind. I think that Oral Roberts could be called a poet, a shaper of

mankind, a legislator of the world. The poet senses the well-springs of human

need: the thoughts, the emotions, and the feelings that well up from the people.

He shapes these into a form and gives them expression. In other words, the poet

senses a need--a feeling, a thought, an emotion--rising from among the people. He

takes that concept, that little slice of life, and he puts it in a literary form and tries

to give an expression of that idea to the world. Oral Roberts is such a person.

Oral Roberts has always been at the forefront of the move of the Holy Spirit

because he is sensitive, through the Holy Spirit, to the heartbeat, the needs, and

the cries of the people. He has given expression to those needs through teachings

and institutions. In turn, the form that gives expression to those needs serves to

help meet the needs and to answer the heartcries of the individuals. Oral Roberts,

as a poet, has created many writings, concepts, and institutions that have

changed the Christian Church.


Oral Roberts was born January 24, 1918. Three months before his birth his

mother was called to pray for a neighbor's child who was seriously ill. As she was

crossing the field, she stooped to climb through a fence. Sensing the presence of

God in the stirring of the wind, she made a vow to God. She vowed that if God

would heal the child and give her a baby boy, she would dedicate her son to Al-

mighty God for the ministry. God healed the neighbor's child that night, and

Mama Roberts made her vow good. When Oral Roberts was born, his mother

dedicated him to God and prayed that God would call him into the ministry.

It is difficult for many of us to understand the plight of a Pentecostal

preacher in Oklahoma in the 1930's, in the depression days. The depression was

a difficult time for many people: a time of poverty with little work, no way of

making any money, and bread lines everywhere. The Pentecostal message was

not popular in those days. The Pentecostal people were ridiculed, their homes

were stoned, their places of worship were bombed. Oral Roberts bore the brunt of

much of this persecution and ridicule. Not only was he a Pentecostal preacher's

son, but he was a stutterer and his name was "Oral." You can imagine what

happened when he started to school. The teachers would ask his name or ask him

to recite his lessons, and he would panic. He would run from the classroom with

the laughter of the teacher and children ringing in his ears.

At the age of 15, after several years of struggling, he ran away from home.

Probably all of the different pressures in which he grew up came together and he

felt that if he were to fulfill his dream of being a lawyer and governor of Oklahoma,

he would have to change his environment. As he prepared to leave home and told

his mother and father goodbye, his father said that he would send the authorities

after him. But Oral Roberts promised that he would only run away again. He

hoped that somewhere, somehow he would be able to fulfill his dream.

In 1935, at the age of 17, Oral Roberts came home. He was carried into the

house, his lungs hemorrhaging, by his basketball coach. He had contracted

tuberculosis, a disease which had plagued the Indians in Oklahoma for many years.

His grandfather and other relatives had died of tuberculosis. This was before the

day of the wonder drugs, so there was not much hope of anyone getting well from

tuberculosis. All that Roberts had to look forward to was being sent to the state

sanitarium at Talahina, Oklahoma, to die. That was the future that awaited Oral

Roberts as they brought him home from a basketball tournament, having collapsed

on the floor of the gymnasium. He was put to bed, where he laid for many

months, wasting away.


Then one day his sister Jewell came into his room and spoke seven life-

changing words to him. She said, "Oral, God is going to heal you." He answered,

"Is He Jewell?" He had never been converted; he knew very little about the

healing power of God. Some time later his brother Elmer came into his room and

told him that he was going to take him to a revival where a man was praying for

the sick. On the way to the service in Ada, Oklahoma, as he lay on a mattress

pad in the back seat of the car, Roberts heard God speaking in his heart, "Son, I

am going to heal you, and you are to take the message of My healing power to

your generation." A 17-year-old boy, dying of tuberculosis, heard the voice of

God speaking in his heart that God was going to heal him and that he was going to

take God's healing power to his generation. That night he was the last one to be

prayed for. As the minister prayed for him, God healed Oral Roberts. He could

breathe freely again. God, also, loosed his tongue and, for many minutes, he

stood and exhorted the individuals about what Jesus of Nazareth had done for



Although it was almost a year before he regained his strength, from the time

of his healing, he began to preach. That was in 1935. In 1936, while attending a

camp meeting in Sulphur, Oklahoma, he took his place in the orchestra, looked

over at the young lady on his right, and said, "Is my hair combed? Do I look all

right?" She answered, "Oh, yes, you look very nice." Later that night Miss

Evelyn wrote in her diary, "I sat by my future husband tonight." That is how their

courtship began. He kept thinking that the Lord should provide him with a wife,

and he kept hearing the name of Miss Evelyn. He began to write to her. One day

he wrote to her and said something about her being a preacher's wife. She

replied, "If you think that, you are fooled. I don't intend spending my life in a

parsonage, raising a bunch of preacher's children." He wrote to her, "Who said

anything about you and me getting married. Goodbye." However, after letters of

apology, they continued their correspondence.

One day he took the money he had saved and bought a new, blue Chevrolet

coupe. He put his mother in the front seat and drove to Texas. When they arrived

at the school where Miss Evelyn was teaching, all of the children, of course, were

excited because Miss Evelyn's "boy friend" had come to visit her. On the last day

of his visit, he took her fishing, and, in his biography The Call he says, "The only

thing we caught was each other." "On the way back from fishing," he writes, "I

stopped my car on a sandbar to talk." He said, "Evelyn, my huge, happy, hilarious

heart is throbbing tumultuously, tremendously, triumphantly, in a lasting, long-lived

love for you. As I gaze into your beauteous, bounteous, beaming eyes, I am

literally lost in a daring, delightful dream in which your fair, felicitous, fancy-filled

face is ever present like a colossal, comprehensive constellation. Will you be my

sweet, smiling, soulful, satisfied spouse?" To that Miss Evelyn replied, "Listen

here, boy! If you're trying to propose to me, talk in the English language." So, he

said, "I did it over again, and I was accepted. And we sealed it with a kiss" (p.

150). Evelyn continued to teach school, and he continued to hold evangelistic

meetings. On Christmas Day, 1938, Oral and Evelyn were married.


The twelve years from 1935 to 1947 are the silent years. Oral Roberts

seldom speaks of this part of his ministry, but they were part of the making of the

evangelist. As he pastored churches, evangelized, taught in Bible school, and

wrote books and articles, he was trying to fulfill the call of God upon his life.

In 1947, while pastoring in Enid, Oklahoma, and attending Phillips Univer-

sity, he became more and more miserable because he didn't seem to be having the

miracles and the signs and the wonders that he felt God would have him to

receive. One day in a sociology class, the Lord spoke in his heart and said, "Don't

be like other men; be like Jesus." He arose from his seat, walked out of the class,

and began to earnestly seek God concerning his ministry. God spoke to him again

and told him to read through the Gospels and the Book of Acts three times on his

knees. Night after night he would kneel by the little heater reading the New

Testament. As he read the Gospels and the Book of Acts, he began to see Jesus

Christ rise from the pages of the New Testament: a Christ who was a healing

Christ. Also, he kept having the same dream night after night, a dream in which

he heard the cries of suffering humanity crying for someone to come and to bring

deliverance to them.


Finally, he felt that it was time to settle the question about a healing

ministry. He rented an auditorium in Enid in which to hold a healing service.

Then, he put a fleece before the Lord, asking God for three things: 1) he wanted

over a thousand people to attend the service (he was preaching to around two

hundred every Sunday, and so that number seemed to be an impossibility), 2) he

wanted God to help him pay the rent on the building ($160 for a Sunday after-

noon), and 3) he wanted God to give him a miracle--God would heal someone to

validate the healing ministry. He announced the healing service, then got a job at

a men's clothing store in case the fleece didn't prove true. If God did not confirm

his call, he was going to leave the ministry and start selling clothes.

The day of the healing service, everyone stood around after the church

service, waiting till time to go to the healing meeting. When he walked into the

building, the custodian said, "Preacher, I hear you want at least one thousand

people? Well, there are 1,200 seated in the auditorium." When they took up the

offering for the rent for the building, they received $163.03. (Three dollars and

three cents more than the expense of the building.) Two conditions were met.

But what about the miracle? While Oral Roberts was preaching, he jumped off the

platform, and, at that moment, a German lady who had a crippled hand was

healed. God had opened her hand. As a result of that miracle, seven men

accepted the Lord Jesus Christ. That was the beginning of Oral Roberts' healing


This is the making of the Evangelist. In The Call he writes, "From poverty,

to a runaway, to deathbed, and healing--it all combined to make me a preacher.

Within two months of my healing I delivered my first sermon. It was a little

sermon, but it was a start" (p. 35).


Later that year he came to Tulsa. Reverend Steve Pringle had a large tent

on the north side of the city, and he invited Roberts to preach in the tent meeting.

One night, as Roberts was ministering, a man standing across the street fired a

bullet within a few inches of his head. As a result, he became a nationally known

evangelist. The meeting continued several weeks, and God performed many

healings. Oral Roberts decided he would move to Tulsa. In November 1947, he

started publishing the Healing Waters magazine, and in 1948, he incorporated the

Healing Waters organization. The first year, they mailed 25,000 letters, 30,000

prayer cloths, 15,000 books, and 90,000 copies of the Healing Waters.


In 1948, Roberts began his first crusade in Durham, North Carolina, in a tent

seating 3000 people. When that tent was destroyed in 1950, by a storm in

Amarillo, Texas, he purchased a new tent seating 7,500 people. In 1953, he pur-

chased his last tent, seating 12,500 people. His last tent crusade was held in


Over the twenty years of tent crusades, thousands of people were saved, blessed,

and healed. As we consider the ministry of Roberts across those years, we find

that, from 1961 to 1970, he visited over 54 different countries.


He began his television ministry in 1954. In order to televise the services in

the big tent, he introduced the "Blessing Pact Covenant." This was the forerunner

of the Seed-Faith concept. He asked four hundred twenty people to enter a

covenant of $100 a year to raise the finances for televising the tent crusades, in

order to take his healing ministry into the living rooms of the homes in America.

He offered people a money back guarantee. If God did not prosper and bless

them, he would return their money. I understand that two people wrote for their

money back. One of them only wanted to see if his money would really be

returned. In 1955, the first tent crusade was televised, and, from 1955 to May of

1967, the ministry was on television. In 1967, Roberts took his ministry off

television. Then, in 1969, he began to televise the prime time specials with

Mahalia Jackson as his first guest star. Oral Roberts ushered in a new age of

Christian television ministry.


In 1961, the land for the University was purchased--a miracle story within

itself. In 1962, Roberts broke ground for the school, and in 1963, he held the first

International Ministerial Seminar in the chapel in the north end of Timko-Barton

building. In 1965, the school opened with three hundred students, and in 1967,

the University was dedicated by Billy Graham.

In 1971, ORU received accreditation from North Central Association. Only

one other school had received accreditation from North Central for its programs in

such a short time.

In 1975, Oral Roberts announced the plans for the graduate and profes-

sional schools, and in 1978, all of the graduate and professional schools were

open. In 1982, students were graduated from all of the schools of the University:

undergraduate, graduate, and professional.

This is a brief overview of the ministry of Oral Roberts, and a sketch of Oral

Roberts University from the day the land was purchased until the present when the

University is accredited by the North Central Association, the Association of

Theological Schools, and National Association of Schools of Music and has gradu-

ated over ten thousand students. ORU is a miracle. You live in the midst of a



In The Call, Roberts summed up the making of the evangelist when he said,

"From poverty to a runaway to deathbed to healing, it all combined to make me a

preacher. Within two months of my healing, I delivered my first sermon. It was a

little sermon, but it was a start" (p. 35). From poverty to a runaway to deathbed

to healing, this is the making of the evangelist.

The year 1947 was the beginning of the great healing revival that swept

across the nation and circled the world. Oral Roberts and William Branham were

the two apostles of healing that God used to bring forth that great healing revival.

As a result of their proclamation of the healing of power of God, many evangelists

were encouraged to bring the message of divine healing to the world during those

years, from 1947 through the early 60's. Roberts was a pioneer, bringing a new

emphasis of the doctrine of healing to the Christian Church. From 1948, when he

raised his tent in Durham, North Carolina, until 1968, when he took it down in

Anaheim, California, there were almost 20 years of unbroken ministry, of preach-

ing divine healing and that God is a good God.

In discussing the message of Oral Roberts, I have divided it into two parts,

the contributions he has made to the church and the concepts that are the

foundation of his ministry.


Oral Roberts major contribution to the Christian Church was the joining

together of prayer and medicine. God called him to take His healing power to his

generation. However, as I have reviewed his ministry over the years, I believe he

has been instrumental in making prayer a vital force in various areas of our

society: the business and professional world, the educational world, the church

world, the entertainment world, as well as the medical world. When I speak of

prayer, I am speaking about the Charismatic dimension of the Spirit: the fulness of

the Holy Spirit with all of the gifts of the Spirit, the charismata.


In 1951, Demos Shakarian shared with Roberts a vision he had of a group of

business and professional people who would serve the Lord Jesus Christ. As they

talked about this vision, Roberts felt that the vision was of the Lord and encour-

aged Shakarian to pursue his dream. As a result, Roberts and Shakarian met with

twenty-one businessmen in Clifton's Cafeteria in Los Angeles, California, with

Roberts as the speaker. Out of that meeting was born the greatest institution of

this generation for spreading the charismatic revival--The Full Gospel Business-

men's International Fellowship. Probably more people from the business and

professional worlds have met the Lord Jesus Christ and have been filled with the

Spirit through this institution than through any other organization. As of 1987,

Demos Shakarian told me that they had over 700,000 members in approximately

40,000 chapters world-wide, and, by the end of the century, their hope was to

have over one million members. This association is the greatest lay witness

ministry in the Charismatic Movement. Oral Roberts was instrumental in joining

together the charismatic dimension of Christianity with the business and profes-

sional world.


Roberts also has been the leader in the joining together of prayer and educa-

tion--creating an institution where students may excel academically as well as

spiritually. In my view, one of the greatest events that has happened, outside of

the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in this generation, is the founding of Oral Roberts

University. I believe that we have a tremendous opportunity to change the course

of human events through what the students will contribute to the kingdom of God,

if we fulfill the vision of ORU. This is a unique place where persons of all different

churches can come together in the Holy Spirit and seek after the truth as it is

revealed in Christ Jesus.

In the early 60's, when Roberts shared his vision of a university with me, I

became excited and determined to be a part of it. I was pastoring a church here in

the city of Tulsa at the time he began to share his dream. To have an institution

where all Christians, regardless of their church affiliation, could come together in

the Spirit and search after the truth as it is in Jesus Christ, was, I thought, a

tremendous undertaking.

As a young man in junior college, I met the Lord Jesus Christ and was filled

with the Holy Spirit. I dropped out of junior college to go preach, because I

believed that Jesus was going to be here that very year. He did not come that

year, but I still look for him. However, after I was married and had a family, I

accepted a church in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, and enrolled in John Brown

University. My desire was to see if a person could believe in the supernatural

power of the Holy Spirit and achieve academic excellence. In my studies, leading

to a doctorate, I found that a person can live in the fulness of the Spirit and also

receive the accolades of the academic world. A Christian can excel academically

and spiritually.

At ORU, one of the great institutions in the world, a student can be as

spiritual as he wants to be, following the Holy Spirit, and, at the same time, he can

cultivate the intellect, excelling academically. The academic and the spiritual

complement each other here without any disparity, without any conflict.


In 1968, Oral Roberts returned to the Methodist Church, causing quite a

controversy among the Pentecostals. This event was important in that one of the

great Protestant churches, the Methodist Church, opened its doors to accept a

Charismatic, healing evangelist. They accepted him in the fulness of his ministry,

which encouraged other churches to accept the Charismatic dimension of the

gospel, until, today, almost every church has a renewal movement within the

church--a group of Charismatic members who believe in the fulness of the Spirit.


In 1969, Oral Roberts told the ORU faculty that he was going to go back on

television with prime time television specials, joining the best of a Christian

Charismatic ministry with the superstars of the entertainment world. Mahalia

Jackson was the first superstar to be invited on the program. As a result of these

Oral Roberts' specials, many of the great entertainers were touched by the Spirit

of the Lord. It was not unusual, in those days, to have the top entertainers of the

nation visit the University.

Through this joining together of prayer and entertainment, I believe Roberts

opened the door for some of the top entertainers to be willing to make a public

confession of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. As he went to California to

make his specials, many persons from the worlds of film, theater, and entertain-

ment were converted as they came into contact with Oral Roberts and his ministry

on the television set.

Through his television ministry, he laid the foundation and created the

format for the electronic church that has within it the potential to "preach the

gospel to every creature."


In dedicating the City of Faith, in 1981, Roberts joined prayer and medicine.

He probably has made as profound an impact upon health care in the United States

as any non-medical person in history by bringing whole person medicine into

prominence. Not "holistic medicine," but whole person medicine--where

people are treated not just as physical beings, but also as spiritual and mental

beings. Many hospitals have become interested in the spiritual well-being of the

patients they serve.

These are a few of the major contributions which Oral Roberts has made to

society and to the church. I am sure that only God knows the full impact of

Roberts' ministry in this nation and around the world. Many of the successful

Charismatic ministers are indebted to him in some way: his ministry brought them

salvation; his books deepened their ministry; his teachings challenged their faith;

his faith gave them confidence; his creativity inspired their vision; his vision gave

them courage to dream.


In a Holy Spirit conference sponsored by the School of Theology and

Missions, Roberts spoke of seven concepts that changed his life. To understand

him and his ministry, you need to have an understanding of these seven concepts.


Roberts believes God has set him in the church as an evangelist. Even

though he has functioned in each of the major offices set in the church by Jesus

Christ, as listed by Paul in Ephesians (Eph. 4:11), Roberts feels that God has called

him to be an evangelist--to take God's healing power to this generation. In our

discussion of the office of the evangelist, I pointed out that the message of the

evangelist is "the good news," and that we must allow the evangelist to bring the

good tidings. Some feel that when the evangelist preaches the goodness of God,

or the blessings of God, or the prosperity of God, he is overemphasizing a part of

the gospel. But remember, the office of the evangelist is to bring the good news

of the salvation of Jesus Christ. Therefore, the emphasis of Roberts' evangelistic

ministry is that "God is a good God." Roberts teaches that God is at the point of

your need; God is the source of all blessings; a Christian should plant a seed out of

his need and expect a miracle harvest; Jesus is a healing Jesus; and Jesus came

to give life and that more abundantly. These are all concepts of blessing and



In 1961, Oral Roberts published The Abundant Life Edition of the Bible

(referred to as A.L.E.), a Lamsa translation of the Eastern Orthodox scriptures. It

is a fascinating book because it includes a series of essays concerning the Abun-

dant Life. In these essays, Roberts writes about healing, prosperity, the concept

that God is a good God, the abundant life, the point of contact, the resurrection,

and the first key of seed faith--God is your source.

It is interesting to compare what Oral Roberts preaches today with what he

wrote in 1961, over 32 years ago. When Roberts talks today about joining prayer

and medicine, about the gifts of healings, about the abundant life, it is interesting

to go back and see what the evangelist preached years ago.

In his essay on, "The Bible Way to Health and Healing" (A.L.E., p. 17), he

discusses four ways that God heals: 1) God heals through the forces of nature--

sunshine, fresh air, climate, good food, nutrition; 2) God heals through love and

understanding--to receive love and understanding from persons around you who

care for you and support you; 3) God heals through the skill of physicians, of body

and mind--by the skillful use of forces placed on earth by God, dedicated men and

women are able to correct many disharmonies in the human system; and 4) God

heals miraculously by his own supernatural power. These are the four ways that

God heals: nature, love, physicians, and supernaturally.

Elaborating on the supernatural means of healing, he says that God has

seven aids to health: 1) The laying on of hands--They shall lay hands on the sick,

and they shall recover, Mark 16:18; 2) Anointing with oil--Let them anoint him

with oil, and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up,

James 5:14; 3) Confess your faults one to another--Confess your faults one to

another that you may be healed, James 5:15; 4) Pray one for another that you

might be healed--As you pray for another person, expect the healing to come back

to you, James 5:15; 5) The Word of God--God sent His Word and healed them,

Psalms 107:20; 6) The joy of the Lord--A merry heart doeth good like a medicine,

Prov. 17:22; and 7) Holy Communion, I Cor. 11:23-30. These are supernatural

aids to health. These are the ways that God has set in the body of Christ in order

to bring health to the body of Christ. These are the ways God has for ministering

abundant life in the physical realm. These are God's means of healing.


The concept that "God is a good God" was controversial when Roberts

started preaching it years ago. While it seems like a cliche to us today, when he

began preaching that "God is a good God, and the devil is a bad devil," it was a

challenging statement.

One day as he ran out the door to catch the bus going to Phillips University,

he remembered that he had forgotten to read his Bible. He ran back in the house,

grabbed his Bible, and it opened to III John 2:

Beloved, I wish above all things thou mayest prosper

and be in health, even as thy soul prospers (III John


He called for Evelyn, read the verse to her, and asked her if she knew that it

was in the Bible. She said that she didn't know that the scripture was in the Bible.

He did not go to school that day but stayed home and discussed the scripture with

her. That verse of scripture changed his concept of God and changed his life.

After reading III John 2, He began to preach: "God is a good God." He also began

to preach the abundant life:

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and

to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and

that they might have it more

abundantly (John 10:10).

He emphasized that God desired to bless His people and to meet their needs.

Oral Roberts' theology begins with the concept that God is at the point of

your need. You meet God at the point of your need, and, because God is a good

God, He wants to meet your need. In "The Formula for Prosperity" (A.L.E., p. 25),

Roberts provides a biblical formula for prosperity. The Christian's answer to any

question concerning the true measure of prosperity is found in two scriptures: 1)

The words of Agur (Proverbs 30:7-9) and 2) The words of Paul (I Cor. 9:8).

Agur desired two things of God:

Two things have I required of thee; deny me them

not before I die: Remove far from me vanity and lies:

give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with

food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny

thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and

steal, and take the name of my God in vain (Prov.


In Paul's second letter to the Corinthians, he writes what Oral Roberts calls

the "clearest definition of prosperity ever written":

And God is able to make all grace abound toward

you; that ye always having all sufficiency in all

things, may abound to every good work.... Now he

that ministereth seed to the sower [God gives you

seed to plant] both minister bread for your food [God

meets your needs], and multiply your seed sown

[God multiplies what you sow], and increase the

fruits of your righteousness [God gives you an in-

crease]; Being enriched in every thing to all bounti-

fulness [God prospers you], which causeth through

us thanksgiving to God (II Cor. 9:8-11).

I have added the basic concepts of SEED FAITH in italics to the above

scripture. When Roberts wrote about prosperity in 1961, he had defined only the

first concept of the "Three Keys to Seed Faith"--"God is your source."

The theme that ties these two scriptures together is "sufficiency in all

things." Agur prayed neither for riches nor for poverty, but for sufficiency.

Likewise, Paul promised neither wealth nor lack, but sufficiency in all things. Oral

Roberts comments on Paul's writing:

It [prosperity] is the possession of everything that you

need for yourself and your loved ones and enough left

over to give to those who need help. It stands to reason

that if you have only the bare necessities of life, you are

not prosperous. And if you have all the sufficiencies of

life, but no more, that is not prosperity, for you are still

barely getting by. Your cup is not yet running over. You

may still be subject to the temptations King Agur prayed

to avoid. But if you have everything you need with

something left over for the poor, that is prosperity. If,

after you have paid the tithe of your normal income, you

still have something with which you can send missionar-

ies into the foreign field to preach the Word of God and

to make it possible for Jesus of Nazareth to be taken,

through his Word, to those who know him not, that is

prosperity (A.L.E., p. 25).

This is the clearest statement that I have ever read of what Oral Roberts

believes is prosperity. When you have enough for you and your family, and

enough left over to give to the poor, and enough to support the work of God, you

have Bible prosperity. That is the God that Oral Roberts preaches, a God who

wants to meet your needs; a God who wants to give you all sufficiency in all

things in order that you might have seed to sow (your needs are met), your seed

will be multiplied (you will receive an increase), and you will be bountifully blessed

(you will receive a harvest). God, who is a good God, makes all grace abound

toward you.


It is almost impossible to understand Oral Roberts' ministry without under-

standing a point of contact. A point of contact is something you do, and, when

you do it, you release your faith. To Roberts, faith is an action. Faith is some-

thing you do. It is not passive. A point of contact is something you do, so that

when you do it, you release your faith. Probably the best Biblical example is the

woman with the issue of blood who said, "If I may but touch his garment, I shall

be whole" (Matt. 9:21). She had a point of contact. If I can touch, I will be

healed. When she touched, she was made well. This is a point of contact. All

through the scriptures, we find examples of people using a point of contact:

washing in the pool of Siloam, showing themselves to the high priest, dipping in

Jordan seven times, speaking the word, anointing with oil, laying hands on the

sick, speaking to a rock, stretching out a rod, breaking their pitchers--all something

they did. Over and over again, they used a point of contact to release their faith.

In almost every letter Roberts sends to his partners, he includes a point of

contact: a piece of rope, a packet of water, a prayer cloth, an outline of his hand,

a vial of oil, a ribbon. Many people believe that these are gimmicks. However, by

using a point of contact Oral Roberts is in good company. One of the greatest

prophets in the Old Testament used a similar point of contact to help the people

remember God." God told Moses to have the people sew a piece of blue ribbon on

the hem of their garments and expect a miracle:

Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that

they make them fringes in the borders of their gar-

ments throughout their generations, and that they

put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue:

And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look

upon it, and remember the commandments of the

Lord, and do them (Num. 15:38-39).

What would the critics say if Oral Roberts told his partners to sew blue

fringe on their blue jeans and expect a miracle? Yet, that is what God told Moses

to tell the people. The fact that Moses gave the people a point of contact is

accepted by the church as scriptural and proper; however, if a modern day

prophet tells people to do something similar, they criticize him.

Be that as it may, in spite of the criticism, Roberts still uses a point of

contact. In the big tent, he always asked the audience to touch the seat in front

when someone was being prayed for. In his radio ministry, Roberts asked the

listeners to lay hands on the radio when he prayed. And later, on television, he

asked them to lay hands on the television set. Always he asked the people to do

something as a point of contact for the releasing of their faith. They had to act

their faith.

In order to understand Oral Roberts and to understand his ministry to his

partners, one must understand what he means by a point of contact. It is some-

thing he tells his partners to do, that when they do it, they turn their faith in the

Lord Jesus Christ loose and receive the answer to their prayers.


The insight into the value of praying with the Spirit and praying with the

understanding came out of building the University. As Roberts walked over these

grounds praying, trying to understand how to build a university, he began to pray

in the Spirit and he began to pray in English. There seemed to be a correlation

between the two. As he continued, he was given a word of knowledge. He

began to see how to bring ORU into existence. As a result of those experiences,

he began to teach the therapeutic value of praying in tongues, of praying in the

Spirit. Out of that came the concept of what we call the prayer language. The

first time I ever heard anyone discuss the value of speaking in tongues--praying

with the Spirit and praying with the understanding--was in 1963 at the First

International Ministers Seminar held in Timko-Barton Hall of ORU.

Oral Roberts addressed two problem areas: the value of speaking in tongues

and the emotionalism associated with speaking in tongues. He began to teach

that speaking in tongues illuminated the intellect as one prayed with the Spirit and

prayed with the understanding. The Spirit of God would heighten the understand-

ing through the interpretation of the tongues in which one spoke.

One of the major criticisms of the Pentecostal movement had always been

its emotionalism. Many of the commentaries on the Bible spoke of speaking in

tongues as an ecstatic experience, the result of one's being in a trance-like state.

However, Oral Roberts began to teach that speaking in tongues was under the

control of the will of the individual--the spirit of the prophet was subject to the

prophet--and speaking in tongues was controlled by the will of the speaker. This

teaching had a profound influence upon the spread of the Charismatic Movement

among professors, doctors, lawyers, teachers, and businessmen The reason that

many of the intellectuals and professionals had not accepted speaking with

tongues was the exaggerated emphasis on the emotional quality of the experience.

Oral Roberts took speaking with tongues out of the emotions and put it under the

will, and they accepted it.


The forerunner of the concept of Seed Faith was the "Blessing Pact" that

Roberts developed in 1954. In the essay "The Bible Formula for Prosperity"

(A.L.E., p. 26), we find the outlines of Seed Faith with the first Key defined, "God

is the Source," and the scripture reference for the second Key:

Give, and it shall be given to you; good measure,

pressed down, and shaken together, and running

over, shall men give into your bosom

(Luke 6:38).

By 1961, the seeds of Seed Faith were germinating: the way to prosperity

was to recognize God is the Source, follow the Word, and honor God with your


Later, as he was being persecuted in a crusade in Florida, God told him to

expect a miracle and to tell his partners to expect a miracle. That was how the

last key of seed faith--EXPECT A MIRACLE--came into being.

These are the three Keys of Seed Faith: 1) God is your source, 2) Give as a

seed out of your need that it might be given to you, and 3) expect a miracle. As

with many of Roberts' teachings, Seed Faith is controversial, even though the

principle of sowing and reaping, seed time and harvest, is built into the universe.

One objection to Seed Faith is that we are trying to manipulate God by giving in

order to receive. My answer is that it is impossible to manipulate God, even

though we may try. If I understand the Bible, God has given to us "all things that

pertain to life and godliness" in Jesus Christ. If this is true, then how can I

manipulate God into doing something for me that He has already done? He has

already given to me all that He has in Christ Jesus, so how can I manipulate Him?

He is more willing to give, than I am to receive. May I say that again? God is

more willing to give, than I am to receive. In fact, I believe God has many bless-

ings that He would like to give me, if I would earnestly desire them.

Jesus said,

The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the

violent take it by force (Matt. 12:12).

In our halfhearted efforts in prayer, we may try to manipulate God, but God

is more than ready to answer "the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man"

(James 5:16).

Many critics do not understand the foundation of Seed Faith. Roberts

teaches that you must first give yourself as a seed to God in love. Out of the

planting of the self in love will come the planting of your seeds in the lives of

others in love. This complete consecration of your will to God will destroy any

ulterior motive in your service to God.

Another question that is raised is "How can Oral Roberts teach that we give

to get, if love asks for nothing except the privilege of loving?" To answer this

question the Spirit directed my mind to the Key verse in Luke 6:38 and told me to

read the context:

But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies,

do good to them which hate you, Bless them that

curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use

you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one

cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away

thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to

every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh

away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye

would that men should do to you, do ye also to them

likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what

thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love

them. And if ye do good to them which do good to

you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even

the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope

to receive what thank have ye? for sinners also lend

to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye

your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for

nothing again; and your reward shall be great and ye

shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind

unto the unthankful and to the evil....Give, and it

shall be

given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and

shaken together, and running over, shall men give

into your bosom (Luke 6:27-38).

As you read this, you may wonder if the same person was speaking. The

first part of the teaching informs us that we are to give to our enemies, we are to

lend without expecting any return, we are to offer our coat to those who take our

cloak, especially to our enemies and those who hate us, and from those who take

our goods, we do not ask them back again. That is giving in love without expecta-

tion. Then, the same Jesus told us to give and it would be given back unto us by

men, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. Many of

us were taught the first part; a few of us were taught the second part. However,

the same Christ taught it all in the same lesson. We see here the two sides of

giving: the commandment and the promise. Jesus commands us to give in love

even to our enemies without expecting anything from the ones to whom we give;

however, if we give in love as Jesus commanded us, He has promised that He will

cause men to give to us, and we will receive an abundant harvest. Some ministers

emphasize the commandment; Oral Roberts emphasizes the promise.

The greatest example of Seed Faith is found in God's giving His Son Jesus

Christ. All of the principles of Seed Faith are exhibited in this act of God: God is

the source; He planted His Son in the earth as a seed; He focused his giving on the

nation of Israel (Jesus came to the Jews), He gave out of a need to redeem His

creation, He gave to receive a harvest of believers (called the firstfruits); He has

not fully received from those to whom the gift of His Son was given (the Jews);

but He will reap in due season (all Israel will be saved); and He expects this miracle

to happen according to His Word.

One of the most provocative statements that I have heard on seed faith is

"Your seed is someone's harvest." We ought to meditate on that. The seed that

you plant is someone's harvest. If we all were in the rhythm of Seed Faith giving,

our sowing and our reaping would complete a cycle. When you had a need, I

would plant my seed to meet your need, and you would have your harvest. In

turn, you would give, and your giving would meet someone else's need, and they

would have their harvest. The planting of their seed would result in another

person's needs being met. The result would be that each member of the body of

Christ would minister to each member of the body and the body would have no

lack. Paul had this in mind when he wrote:

[We] may grow up into him in all things, which is the

head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly

joined together and compacted by that which every

joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in

the measure of every part, maketh increase of the

body unto the edifying of itself in love (Eph. 4:15-1-


If every member of the body of Christ, properly placed and firmly knitted

together in love, worked effectually at giving the measure of supply that God had

provided for it to every other member of the body, the church of Jesus Christ

would have no lack. This would make an increase in every area of the life of the

members of the church, and the body would edify itself in love. Notice that God

did not say He would increase and edify; He said each member of the body by

being joined to another member and giving its measure would cause the increase

and edify the body. Two members of the body must come together and make a

joint; it is the joint that supplies the increase. The rhythmic cycle of Seed Faith

would supply the fulness and take away the lack in the body of Christ.

Oral Roberts teaches Seed Faith as an act and Seed Faith as a process:

Seed Faith giving and Seed Faith living. Seed Faith giving is an act, an act of

planting of a seed for a desired result. In Seed Faith living, however, one must

first give himself to God in love. When one gives himself to God, then all that he

does becomes a seed. Everything he does is an act of love towards the Father,

and everything he gives is a seed that he plants to honor and glorify Him. Seed

Faith becomes a life style, a way of living in sowing and reaping.


You probably have not heard Oral Roberts preach much about the resurrec-

tion, but in the Holy Bible with Personal Commentary (referred to as H.B.C.), he

reveals the central place that the teaching of the resurrection has in his ministry.

In commenting on Jesus' statement, "Because I live, ye shall live also" (John

14:19), Roberts writes, "Our whole expectation for miracles is based upon the

resurrection of Jesus Christ."

And again, he writes,

Through the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, God

gave Jesus a name above everything that is named in

this world and in the world to come, putting ALL things

under His feet. When I began to see this in 1947, and

now see it greater and greater, I know we as Christians

must take time to FOCUS our faith on Jesus' NAME and

see it as being ABOVE any name (H.B.C.: Commentary

on Eph. 1:17-22).

At the resurrection, God gave Jesus Christ a name which is above every

name, and, by the power of Jesus' resurrection, we are made alive unto God. In

1947, when Roberts began to realize this, he recognized that God has given the

believer power and authority over all the powers of the devil. He writes,

Paul reminds every Christian that we have been raised

UP from the death "of sins and trespasses"...and MADE

to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. This is

our divine right in the new covenant (H.B.C., comment

on Eph. 2:1-6).

As Christians we not only believe in immortality, but we believe in the

resurrection of the body. This is the "earnest expectation of every creature." Paul


For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth

for the manifestation of the sons of God...Be-cause

the creature itself also shall be delivered from the

bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the

children of God...For we know the whole creation

groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now...e-

ven we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for,

to wit, the redemption of our body (Rom. 8:16-23).

Every created thing is waiting with expectancy the coming of the Lord Jesus

Christ and the resurrection of the saints. Paul calls this the "manifestation of the

sons of God" (verse. 16). John calls this the hope of the Christian:

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not

yet appear what we shall be: but we know that,

when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we

shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this

hope in him purifieth himself even as he is pure (I

John 3:2-3).

Our hope is not only that Jesus will come and deliver us from bondage, but

that when we see Him as He is, we shall be changed into His likeness. If we have

such a hope "in him," we purify ourselves as He is pure. This is the "manifesta-

tion of the sons of God." And Paul reminds the Ephesians that it is "by the

church" that God will make all principalities and powers know what His eternal

purpose was in Christ Jesus:

To the intent that now unto the principalities and

powers in heavenly places might be known by the

church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the

eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus

our Lord (Eph. 3:10-11).

That purpose was to "bring many sons and daughters unto glory" (Heb.

2:10), each one transformed into the image of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29). The

resurrection will complete the work of the Holy Spirit in transforming the child of

God into the likeness of Jesus Christ.

These are the seven concepts that have changed Oral Roberts' life: the

ministry of the evangelist, the gifts of healings, God is a good God, a point of

contact, praying with the Spirit and praying with the understanding, Seed Faith,

and the resurrection.

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