Sermons of Jack T. Carroll - Continued
More sermons on Page 1
Five Things that are Fundamental - Bakersfield - October 1946
Fellowship in the Family of God - Bakersfield - December 6, 1920
Some people are asking, "What should my attitude to be towards any man or woman who has proven untrue or unfaithful to the Way and Testimony of Jesus, and who is now out of fellowship and seeking to hinder others?" What attitude should I assume towards such? How should I act?
Jesus is the Word (Christ/God) - Seattle, Washington Special Mtg April 13, 1952
Brief Summary of Doctrines "most surely believed" and taught by us
(Letter to Messrs. Loizeux Brothers, April 17, 1930)
Church in the Home - Arizona - October 25-28, 1951
I want to talk to you a little while in this meeting about the New Testament ministry. While this may be to you going over old ground, it may refresh your memory, and bring a little light to those who have never heard. The Bible will forever remain a sealed Book to us until we are clear in our minds with regard to what it teaches concerning the ministry--like preachers, like people. If the ministry is wrong--all is wrong for the ministry is the foundation. The church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets--Jesus being the chief corner stone. We are anxious that every child of God here may be rooted and grounded in what the New Testament teaches concerning the ministry.
We are living in dangerous days spiritually. We are living in days of great religious confusion--greater confusion with regard to the things of God than in any other period of history. Many voices are saying, "Lo here and lo there, this is the way, walk ye in it," and in the midst of this bewildering confusion, men and women are in the condition of mental and spiritual despair. They know not where to go; they know not to whom to turn.
What I have to say this afternoon will be addressed particularly to those who would know and understand what the New Testament teaches concerning the ministry. I am glad that we have nothing to conceal with regard to anything we believe. We believe nothing and teach nothing that we are not prepared to proclaim from the house tops. We are not ashamed of anything that Jesus lived or taught. We are not ashamed of the example that He left for those who would follow Him in the pathway of service.
We have often said that there are key chapters, and key words and key verses in the Bible. One verse that has been a very helpful key to me for a good many years is that one which I hope all of you have memorized. (II Tim. 2:15) A message to a young preacher from an old preacher; an older soldier to a young soldier. "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." That is a good message from an old preacher to a young preacher.
The last thing that should ever enter into a true preacher's mind is "How can I please men?" For the preacher that is a man pleaser ceases to be a servant of Christ. The first great responsibility of a preacher is to study to show himself approved unto God--not men. The temptation for preachers is to do the very opposite---to become men pleasers, rather than to win the smile and approval of God.
How can any man or woman know definitely and positively what it means to have the approval of God? Has God given to us any clear understanding of this? Any clear revelation of His will? Of course He has. "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son."
Can you remember that at the very beginning of His ministry that Heaven was opened and the Father Himself, spoke out: "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." That was at the beginning of His ministry. Towards the close of His ministry, Heaven opened again and the same voice says, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." When Peter, on the day of Pentecost, after the Lord had been crucified and been raised again from the dead and had ascended up to His Father, began his message to those assembled in Jerusalem, with these words, "Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God."
So when Paul wrote to Timothy and said, "Study to show thyself approved unto God," Timothy had no question with regard to what this meant. He knew that if he was to have the approval of God as a preacher, he would have to follow in the footsteps of God's Son. He would have to obey the commission He gave; he would have to live and walk as He lived and walked. There will be those that will be put to shame on that day. There will be preachers that will be forever excluded from the fellowship of God and His Son and His people throughout the Eternal ages.
Jesus refers to these in the closing verses of His sermon on the mount when He said, "Not every one that saith Lord, Lord shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name and in Thy name cast out devils? And in Thy name done many wonderful works, and then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me ye that work iniquity."
Why were these preachers condemned? Why were they consigned to Eternal doom and Eternal despair? The answer is given--Matt: 7:13. They took His name but they did not take His Way. There are numbers throughout the world today teaching and preaching from the Bible, claiming its promises, assuring those that accept their Message that all will be well, and yet give no evidence whatever that they are really willing to take the Way of Jesus, as well as the Name of Jesus. It is one thing to take His words, His sayings, to claim the blessings purchased by His precious blood, and to take His name, but it is an entirely different thing to take His Way also.
The taking of His Way is the test of our submission to the will of God; for Jesus to be Lord, Master and King. For if He has truly become Our Lord, Master and King, we will desire no other way. There are many ways which men have given various names; but the man or woman that has been brought into true subjection to the Lord will always have in their minds "Lord what is Thy Way?" "Speak, Lord thy servant heareth." When the Psalmist was giving his testimony, he says, " I have chosen the way of Truth."
"Study to show thyself approved unto God; a workman that needeth not to be ashamed. "The Workman not only takes the name of Jesus, but the Way of Jesus not be ashamed on that day. Many will say to me, Lord, Lord have we net a prophesied in Thy name, cast out devils, etc. He won't deny that. They made a wonderful success of their ministry and were honored by thousands. But He shall say, "Depart from me; I never knew you." Iniquity here means taking the Name of Jesus but unwilling to take the Way of Jesus. Both go together and "what God hath joined together let no man part asunder."
I wanted to emphasize the last clause of the verse, "rightly dividing the word of Truth." Until we learn how to rightly divide the word of God, the New Testament will be to all of us a sort of conundrum, that is, more or less of a "Chinese puzzle." When we learn the simple secret of rightly dividing the Word of Truth, then this Book becomes easy to understand and explain and interpret. The child of God becomes absolutely independent of all other kinds of literature. Men today are busy the world over printing books and magazines for the purpose of helping people to understand the Bible, and they become more confused after reading them than when they began.
It is a very wonderful thing to me that God's Way is so simple and so easy to understand that the youngest child, or the most elderly man, can in a short time get an understanding of God's mind and will, that the professors in the great theological schools have not. Jesus said, "I thank Thee, O Father, that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them unto babes." This is being fulfilled today, just as then. The child of God can have an insight into the ministry of the Kingdom of God that is hidden from the wise and prudent of this world.
There are three separate and distinct classes referred to in the N.T. In fact, the whole population of the world can be classified under these three heads. Sometimes we classify them as "sinners, saints and servants." Sometimes we classify them as "lost sheep, saved sheep and shepherds." And when we are speaking of the Kingdom of God, we say "aliens, citizens and ambassadors." If you want to know how to rightly divide the word of Truth, rightly apply it, rightly interpret it to others, you must remember that the whole teaching of the N.T. applies to these three classes and these three classes only.
First of all, "sinner, lost sheep and aliens"--teaching for those who are outside the Kingdom of God. The "saints, saved sheep and citizens"-- teaching for those who are inside the Kingdom of God. Then those who are "God's servants, His under-shepherds and ambassadors"--those-who have accepted His Way and are seeking to obey the commission, "Go ye into :all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature." So that in reading of the N.T. we should always ask the question, when we turn to any particular chapter or book, "To whom was this addressed, to whom do these words apply? Does it apply to those outside the Kingdom of God, or those who have entered the Kingdom of God and are now seeking to, live in their home life and business life to God's honor and glory; or does this teaching apply to the men and women who have forsaken their homes and business and have gone out into the world to obey the great commission.
In order to illustrate what I mean, we could take, for instance, the life of Peter and divide that life into three separate periods--the first in which he wasted all; the second period in which he used all for the sake of the Kingdom of God; and the third period when he sacrificed all and went forth into the world to obey the great commission. As a sinner he wasted all, but when Peter surrendered to the claims of Jesus he made an absolute unconditional surrender to Him.
Why is it that some people's religious experience is neither satisfying or satisfactory, and instead of enjoying the Way of Life, they are enduring it. Instead of doing the things that please God spontaneously, they have to continually whip themselves into doing them? It is because they never have made an absolute surrender to Christ. There has been reservations of one kind or another. There has been unwillingness about this and that, and while they profess outwardly, at least have had marks of going on, they have no real rest of mind or peace of heart, as the professed citizens of the Kingdom, of God. The root reason is because at the beginning, at the initial step, there has not been the sitting down and counting the cost; there has not been that deliberate and absolute and unconditional surrender to Christ.
When Peter came to Jesus and made that surrender, it wasn't easy. Habits of a lifetime were binding him, but there were no mental reservations whatever. There was no hanging on to this or that. When Peter entered the Kingdom of God, it was, "Christ for me forever." There is no absolutely true proof of your surrender unless the interests of the Kingdom of God are continually in your minds and hearts. Peter gives us a clear example of this. He used everything--his home, his boat, everything was placed at the disposal of Jesus.
It is a wonderful comfort to some of us, as the servants of God,when those who profess show clear evidence that now they have something to live for--something that is worth putting your very best into, and the interest in the Kingdom of God is now first in their heart and life, and first in their home and business. It doesn't matter how nice you may be able to give your testimony or pray, or how outwardly correct your manner of life may be, the only sure and positive proof that you are a citizen of His Kingdom, is seen in the interest you take in the extension of His Kingdom. You should be prepared to deny yourself and inconvenience and suffer reproach and shame in living for the interests of the Kingdom if need be. It may be true of you as Paul said with regard to the Galatians, "Brethren I stand in doubt of some of you," and he went through the same sorrow and suffering and travail for them as he did at the beginning.
I have talked to some young people in recent months and I had the utmost sympathy for them. They had professed when children. They wanted to have their father's and mother's God be their God, and they knew it would please their parents for them to take this step, and they took it. And while in some cases these young people have given the very clearest evidence that they had seriously considered this matter, and by their walk and conversation, and by the battles they have fought at school, etc., have proved. Christ had been revealed in them.
Others who had not given this matter the same serious consideration, but professed and went to meetings etc., yet they had no joy or satisfaction. They were enduring it rather than enjoying it. We do not blame them, or censor them if they are not going on, and it would be a mistake for the parents to try and compel them to go on if they have never been born again. The wisest thing would be to take those young people in hand one by one and show to them how difficult and how impossible it is to live the Christian life without Christ. There is nothing that will torture a man or woman more than to try and live like a Christian without being a Christian--to live like a child of God without being born again.
What is the remedy of this? Perhaps you are saying "Is there any hope for me?" Of course there is. In the parable of the sower, we read about the seed falling in stony ground, but when the sun rises it causes that which had sprouted up so quickly to wither away. Then of the seed falling into the thorny ground, and the cares of life choking the word, and they became unfruitful. Is there any hope for the man or woman that professed and didn't go on? v That stony ground can become good ground; that thorny ground can become good ground. The stones can be removed, one by one. There is no reason why you couldn't get right down to the root of the matter this afternoon. That seed can take fresh root and spring up and bear fruit, thirty, sixty and one hundred fold. The first step is the important one--an absolute and unconditional surrender to Christ; a willingness, no matter what it means or costs for him to set up His Kingdom in your heart and reign over your life. The person who faces the matter thus will have a satisfying and satisfactory experience as God's child and as a citizen of His Kingdom.
The Kingdom of God became first in Peter's heart and life. He says my home is yours; my boat is yours. Jesus got into that boat and spoke to the multitude by the shore. Peter as a sinner wasted all; Peter as a saint used all; Peter as a servant sacrificed all. The reason why some of you have been so badly mixed up in reading the Bible is because you have been applying that which was only for the ambassadors to those who are living in the home; or applying that which was intended for those that are inside the Kingdom to those outside the Kingdom.
Memorize II Timothy 2:15; so that you will be able to really apply the teaching of the New Testament. The Kingdom of God in the world is founded on sacrifice. That sacrifice began on the very courts of Heaven—the Father sacrificed His Son. That sacrifice continued in the life and ministry of His Son, to the sacrifice on Mount Calvary, where He died for the just and the unjust. That sacrifice continued on down through the N. T. days, the servants of God, and the people of God, sacrificing in order that they might have a part in extending the Kingdom of God in the world.
I sometimes try to picture what would happen if we as the servants and saints of God had more of that flaming enthusiasm that was so much in evidence in N.T. days. Are we half hearted about this thing, rather than whole.hearted? I would like to think that one result, at least, of this convention would be that there will be in our midst a little more enthusiasm for the Kingdom of God. One of the things that has often surprised me is that the children of God who do most to help God's people and help others into the Kingdom of God are not always the wisest, but they-are the most enthusiastic. Some of you are so wise you won't attempt anything for fear you will make a mistake. Others, who do not know when they make a mistake, God has been able to use as channels for bringing others into the Kingdom of God.
It is not your head knowledge of the truth that counts when you want to help others; it is the enthusiasm in your heart. People know whether this thing has gripped your heart or not--it surprises them and startles them, and they say, "I want to hear more about this." The greatest need this afternoon is enthusiastic saints and servants; citizens of the Kingdom of God filled with an enthusiasm for the extension of that Kingdom.
The Kingdom of God is founded on sacrifice and this sacrifice cannot be a one sided one. It is founded upon the mutual sacrifice of the people of God---servants and saints. If there is no sacrifice for the Kingdom's sake, and no willingness to put the interests of the Kingdom first, why look upon yourself as being a citizen of that Kingdom? When Paul was writing to the Philippians in his Epistle he made this fact clear. He says, "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you making request with joy, for your fellowship in the Gospel from the first day until now." It was a partnership and fellowship. They were having a part in it. Paul wanted the Philippians to know that every convert that Paul made, and every man or woman that entered the Kingdom of God through his ministry, that they had a part and share in it. And while these converts would be waiting on the other side to welcome him, they would also welcome those who indirectly helped them into the Kingdom.
Every little bit of sacrifice in the interest of the Kingdom is going to be remembered, and there is nothing more worth while in life than seeking first the Kingdom of God. If we could send you away with the thought, "What can I do now during the year to extend the Kingdom? How can I have a little part in this? How can I be a partner with those who are laying down their lives for Christ's sake?" this tent would not be big enough for next Convention.
I want to speak particularly now about the sacrifice of God's servants. Each of God's servants make the same sacrifice--no one servant sacrifices more than another--there is an equality. It would be a very dishonorable thing for any servant of God at any time to suggest that his sacrifice was greater than his brother's or sister's. Each one sacrifices all, whether that all is little or much. That is what Peter said, "Lo, we have left all." I want you to understand that there is nothing about the work of the servants of God that we are not prepared to tell you everything about. "Sell that ye have." Instead of promising a small salary to begin with and more later on, they must sell all.
You know very well that some who were with us in past years are not with as now--they are ministering in other countries. Sometimes there is a little misunderstanding in the minds of God's people as to how it came about that they are in these far off countries, and they might ask, "Who sent them to China, Japan, Germany, France; Italy, etc.?" All of these brethren who are now in these foreign countries have gone there voluntary,--we neither asked them to go or sent them. Not a single brother or sister in any foreign country today but is there by their own choice, not ours.
They are there because the Lord seemed to put it in their hearts that He wanted them there. They beheld the fields white unto harvest, then they approached some of the older workers and asked their advice. They counseled with them--considered their fitness, their health, their general makeup, and after giving the matter very serious thought and consideration, we thought that perhaps they would fill a useful place in the country they had begun to love, and the people to whom they desired to bring the Gospel.
The other side of the story is this, that while our brethren have gone to these different countries by their own choice, they did not go exactly on their own. They didn't just start off without taking into consideration their brethren, and willing to be guided by their brethren. They go there in fellowship with their brethren, so that when they labor there, they are one with us and we are one with them. They remember us and we remember them. It would be an awful calamity if it was a case of "out of sight, out of mind."
We have no organization--that is the mystery of this thing. The longer I live, the more I am astounded myself, that it is possible to carry on the work of God in the world without any organization. The world says, "You have to organize." That it is impossible for us to reproduce the fellowship that existed in New Testament days without there being any head or tail to it. Only those who serve are qualified to lead. Jesus said, "I am among you as one that serveth." I am trying to serve you this afternoon. Isn't it a very wonderful thing that, without a beginning or end, that we are here? "Birds of a feather flock together."
Our brothers have left us, they have gone to these different countries. How long do you think it would be reasonable for them to stay there? When they left, did we intend that they should stay away for good? You say it costs a lot to send them there and bring them back. It is easy for us to think in terms of dollars and cents and forget that it is just as necessary for the Kingdom of God for them to come back, as it was for them to go there; and if we have had a share in helping them to go, then we should be glad to have a share in helping them to come back.
Some people ask the question, "Why do workers travel so much?" We are not ashamed to tell the world where the money comes from; for every Child of God should be glad to have a part in this. There are four reasons why our brethren who have gone to foreign fields should return. The first is for the sake of their health—for many of the climates are. very 'hard' to endure for more than five years without a change. The second reason is they have fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters in Adam who love them; it is good for them to come back and see them again. The third after they have labored in the Gospel and have sons and daughters in the Gospel here, they should come back to see them. None of these reasons are the root reason why they should come back to as and we should consider it a privilege to make that possible. The fourth reason is because it is God's method of binding and uniting His people together and holding them together as one, in the coming and going of His bondservants and handmaidens.
We have no organization or regular system—we are a strange and peculiar people. Those who come to us from China bring China a little nearer: to us, and when they go there, they bring Canada and U.S. a little nearer there; those who go to Norway bring that country nearer to us and we to them; and it applies to all countries. When I read the book of Acts, it is the story of the continual journeys of God's servants, strings of them going here and there, and travelling all the time. There is no such thing in the Kingdom of God as a settled and established ministry. The commission is "Go." That is the reason that every servant of God must ever listen and be ready to obey that little word of two letters, "GO."
Most of you know that within the last ten years it has been my privilege to visit our brethren in many countries. Was that for my pleasure? Was it in order to have a good time and see grand sights? If some of you could have come along on that third class ticket on these journeys, you would say, "No." The travelling in the name of Jesus and in the interest of the Kingdom of God is a costly thing, but is it wasted money? There is nothing secret about it. The money that carries on the work of God in the world comes from the sacrifice and self-denial of God's people. It is part of our responsibility in seeking to extend the Kingdom of God in the world, and it is a privilege for everyone to have a part in it.
How are workers in the foreign fields supported? Is there any secretary or treasurer to whom they can write? No. Is there a central fund to which they can draw? No. The Servants of God in these far off lands live, and labor and their needs are supplied in exactly the same way as God's servants in the homeland--as a result of the fruit of their own labors, (by the ministry of those that God gave to them in the homeland) and through the self-denial and fellowship of their fellow servants.
given at Bakersfield, California Convention in 1934
Five Things that are Fundamental
Philippians 3:20-21. It is the first part of verse 20 that I want to take for my text. The word "conversation" used here is the old English word for "manner of life". Back in 1611 when this translation was made, the word conversation was used instead of manner of life. Another translation puts it this way, "Our citizenship is in Heaven". Ours is a heavenly citizenship. That seems to be just a little better.
Some time ago I read a different translation of this phrase, which I think is better still. It reads, "For we are a colony of Heaven". Paul says we are a colony of Heaven. The roman colony was just a part of the mother country in a foreign land. Paul turns this around and he says we are a part of the mother country living now in a foreign land. We are a colony of Heaven.
In Philippi the laws of Rome were obeyed. It was a miniature Rome. The customs of Rome were practised. Paul spiritualized this, and he tells us we are a colony of Heaven. The Mother City is above, but we are a part of that Mother City or Mother Country, living now in a foreign land. But we are expecting some day to reach the Mother City and make our home in this Mother Country.
What I want to bring to your attention is this: that God planned from the very beginning to have a heavenly people on earth. HE planned to have on this earth a people that would obey the law of Heaven, and in which the customs of Heaven would be practised. It seems this thought must have been in the mind of Jesus when He told His disciples to pray, "Our Father, which art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done in earth as it is in Heaven."
This last phrase is the part that makes this prayer difficult.. The Lord expected His people on earth would just as gladly do His will as those who were doing that will in the courts of Heaven. They do the will of God not because they have to, but because they love to. So it is with regard to this colony of Heaven. We do His will not because we have to do it, but because we love to do it.
We often say Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people. God is too kind and too merciful to take any one to Heaven that would not be happy there. The great anxiety in the heart of God for men and women is to bring into their lives here and now that which will enable them to love the very things God’s people will love for ever in the courts of Heaven. "Thy will be done in earth today as it is being done in the courts of Heaven." Happy today are the men and women who have been willing, with simple, childlike surrender to make the will of God the law of their lives.
True happiness can never be found in this world without that will being worked out in our lives. Men today are chasing after happiness everywhere and in all directions. But they are chasing after a will of the wisp, because God has made us so that it is absolutely impossible for any man to find true happiness, or true rest of heart, or peace of mind, outside the circle of His will. That is the reason why in every meeting of this convention we have tried to help you to whisper a fresh word of surrender to the will of God, whisper a new "yes" to His voice; so that you may leave this convention feeling as never before a deep, true purpose to make this will of God the rule and law of your life.
We are a Colony of Heaven. We are part of the Mother Country here on earth. We are often asked the question: What do you represent anyhow? You have no name. You have no organization. You have no headquarters, and no printed literature. You have no big men and women of world fame in your midst. Just what do you represent?
Well, we would like to be able to say that we represent on earth just a little part of that Heavenly Kingdom which the Lord came into the world first to manifest, and then to proclaim, and then to establish in the hearts of men.
That is why so often we read that little phrase in Matthew’s Gospel, "The Kingdome of Heaven". There was a great anxiety in the heart and mind of Matthew to convey to all who would read that story the fact that Jesus did not come into the world to establish an outward or earthly kingdom, but He came to establish a Heavenly Kingdom – God’s rule here and now in and over the hearts of men and women.
We know that in those days the Jewish people had misinterpreted the Old Testament prophecies, and they were looking for an outward Messiah that would break the Roman yoke and establish in Jerusalem his capital, and from there would reign over all the world. That was their dream, and it was the only kind of a kingdom they desired. So it was a terrible disappointment to them when they woke up to the fact that the true Messiah had no intention whatever of establishing such a Kingdom, but rather that He was going to establish an inward and spiritual Kingdom in and over the hearts of men and women, a Heavenly Kingdom, a Kingdom after the pattern of that Kingdom already established in the courts of Heaven.
When He taught them, in the middle of the second year of His ministry, that "Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven" they could not understand just exactly what He meant. They could not understand that this Heavenly Kingdom would be marked by those graces He mentioned in the sermon on the mount, and that in manifesting those graces toward their fellows they would be demonstrating what it really meant to be citizens of this Heavenly Kingdom here on earth.
We sometimes say we represent what it means to be in God’s Family here on earth. That is true. Sometimes we say we represent God’s Fold here on earth. That is also true. It is a real pleasure to me to speak in terms of this great Family of God, or in terms of the Fold of God. Jesus is the Good Shepherd, the Great and Chief Shepherd. It is a pleasure to talk about the under-shepherds and the sheep and lambs of His Flock. We could take up ten meetings discussing the Family and Fold of God; but I want to speak mainly today in terms of the Heavenly Kingdom that Jesus came into the world to establish among men.
I want to speak about five things in particular about this Kingdom that are absolutely fundamental to a real understanding of the teaching, the ministry, and the whole purpose of Christ coming into this world. It should be easy for you to remember these five things. Last year at this convention we quoted a proverb to you – "If you want to learn anything, teach it to somebody else." So if you want to remember anything that we say to you, the best way to help your memory is to pass on what you have heard to others.
The first thing I would like to say about this Heavenly Kingdom on earth is that it is open to all men. It is a fellowship that is open to all men and women regardless of race, or nationality, or color. There are no geographical or international boundary lines in connection with the Kingdom of God. One of the great facts of the Gospel is that the door is wide open and an invitation is given unto all, and a welcome is assured to all.
I love those words in connection with the announcement the angels made to the shepherds watching over their flocks by night – "Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to ALL people." Nobody was left out. That to me is very wonderful. John, in speaking of the ministry, said, " ALL flesh shall see the salvation of God." At the very beginning of the ministry of Jesus, speaking to Nicodemus, He said, "God so loved the world [all humanity] that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosever believeth on Him should not perish, but should have everlasting life."
Then a year later, preaching in the synagogue in Nazareth, He gives the marks of all who are eligible for citizenship in His Kingdom when He said, "The Spirit of God is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind; to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord."
After His death and resurrection, He said to His disciples, "Go and teach ALL nations...." Mark puts it, "Go into ALL the world..." As the bondservants of the Lord, who have consecrated our lives to the preaching of the Gospel, we are glad we can look into the faces of men and women of any race, or every race, and assure them that as far as this Heavenly Kingdom is concerned, there is a place for them. The door is open, the invitation is given, a holy and blessed welcome is assured to all who will cross the threshold and enter in.
Away back in New Testament days there was room in this Heavenly Kingdom for Matthew the publican. There was room for Peter the fisherman. There was room in the Heavenly Kingdom for Saul the Pharisee, and I dare to say this morning that if there was room for Peter, and Matthew, and Saul in that heavenly Kingdom in the days of long ago, there is still room in this Heavenly Kingdom for us.
There is only one barrier or difficulty. There is no difficulty on the Lord’s side, and there never was. If there is any difficulty in regard to your taking your place in this fellowship, this Heavenly Kingdom on earth, it is in that rebel will of yours. There is no barrier on God’s side. The work of reconciliation is accomplished. Now it is up to us as to what we are going to do about it.
The second thing I want to say about the Kingdom on earth is that it is a voluntary thing. There is no undue pressure put on any individual with regard to entering this Kingdom. God has given to every man a free choice. You can remain outside if you will. You can enter if you will. This convention is made up of people who belong to one of these two classes – those who are no within the Kingdom and those who are still without. God many have brought you up to the very threshold of the Kingdom; yet men and women will halt between two opinions, not realizing that they will only discover the real meaning of the purpose of life when they have entered in.
This morning before I got up I thought of two parables spoken by the Lord Jesus and recorded in Matthew 13. Speaking of the Kingdom, He said, "It is like treasure hid in a field, which, when a man hath found it, he hideth; and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field." Then he says it is like a merchant man seeking goodly pearls, "who when he hath found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it."
I wish we could get some of you to do what those two men did in the long, long ago. Those two parables were spoken to answer a question that often comes into the minds of people – what is the supreme good today? What is the most worthwhile thing in life? What is it in life that I can make my own, that will make my life worth living, enabling me to accomplish something worthwhile here and now in the present world, and enable me to lay up treasure in Heaven, "Where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal?"
Every man and woman needs something worthwhile to live for. Life would have no meaning if we had not something worthwhile to put our best into. Life can have no real meaning to any man who day in and day out, week in and week out, year in and year out, wastes time as if he were created and given a few years to waste seeking his own pleasure, sowing the wrong kind of seed. I believe these two possibilities make clear once and for ever that if we are to discover and have made real to us something worthwhile putting our very best into, we will have to discover that in this treasure.
This man was not looking for treasure when he went to look in that field. I was not looking for this treasure when I found it. I stumbled on it. I did not know there was such a thing in the world as what we represent this morning. I stumbled on it by accident, seemingly; but like the man in the parable, when I discovered in a certain measure the value of this treasure, I made up my mind that I was going to make this treasure my very own no matter what it would cost. In all the ups and downs, the joys and sorrows, during the years since then, this treasure has increased in value. It is of more value to me today than it was that night I said in my heart that I would be willing to serve the Lord no matter what it would mean or cost.
The merchant man represents a different class. Men change their religion over and over again, thinking at last they have discovered this pearl of great price, only to be disappointed. But now that the pearl of greatest price has been brought within their reach, they admire it, recognizing it is better than anything else. And in spite of what it costs they are prepared to make it their own, and their own for ever. This man sold all he had and brought back the pearl.
This is a voluntary fellowship. It is a fellowship of volunteers. There are no conscripts in this fellowship. Sometimes I have wished I could lay hands on men and compel them to enter the Kingdom. But there is that free will, that power of choice which God has given to every human being, and the way in which you exercise that freedom of choice will determine your destiny.
It will either mean remaining outside of this fellowship or entering in and enjoying what every citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven enjoys here and now in this present life. It is a fellowship open to all men, whosoever will my come. It is up to you to speak the word of surrender, to whisper the words of submission, to say in your heart, as others have said, "I will say ‘yes’ to Jesus, yes, Lord, for ever yes; I’ll welcome all Thy blessed will, and gladly answer ‘yes’".
The third thing I would like to mention is that this Family, this Kingdom on earth that the Lord Jesus came to manifest in His life, proclaim by His lips, and by His death – this Heavenly Kingdom on earth is a Kingdom of sacrifice. There could be no Kingdom without sacrifice. This sacrifice began in the very courts of Heaven, the sacrifice of the Father in giving His Son. That meant a great deal. God so loved the world that He sacrificed. "He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
The Son of God came to earth. He lived, and loved, and laboured, and ultimately He suffered on the cross. He poured out the last drop of His life’s blood on Calvary’s cross for you and for me. His whole life was a sacrifice. That sacrifice was perfected when on the cross His blood was poured out. You will remember that this fact in connection with Christ made such an imprecision on Paul that over and over again in his letters to his friends he emphasized the fact in speaking of Christ that "He gave Himself" for us. He didn’t give any less. He couldn’t give any more. He gave Himself literally and actually in sacrifice for you and for me.
I can understand just how Paul felt when in writing to his Galatian friends he said, "I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." He had already said in writing to others that He gave His all. Let me say, if the Lord could love Saul of Tarsus, He could love anyone. I have met men who said "How could Christ love a man like me?" If He could love Saul, the persecutor, the man who thought it was his business in life to stamp out this new religion, He could love, and He does love anyone and everyone.
There is in every human heart a hunger for love, and it is good when a soul awakens to the fact that Christ loves them, really loves them, that His love never weakens or wanes, bit it is always the same. John tells us that, "having loved His own, which were in the world, He loved them unto the end." It is good when we awaken to the fact that Christ loved us enough to live for us and to shed His blood for us.
He loved us well enough to send His Spirit to convince us of our need, and to bring us into touch with those who manifested Christ, and who spoke the word of Christ. If He loved us well enough to do that for us, surely the only thing we can do is to respond to that love and give Him the place in our hearts that rightly belongs to Him; and henceforth to know Him as "the fairest among ten thousand and the altogether lovely One."
This is a Kingdom of sacrifice. First there was the sacrifice of the Father in giving up His Son, and then the sacrifice of the Son in giving His life. Then there was the sacrifice of those whom He called into the Kingdom, and later into the ministry. This ministry is a ministry of sacrifice. There could be no New Testament ministry apart from sacrifice. That is the reason there is no such thing in the New Testament as a hireling preacher. There is no such thing as a preacher being hired out for a certain sum, or begging for money, or lifting collections in the name of Jesus. True preachers would rather die in their tracks than leave it open for any man to suggest they were mercenary in their motives of their ministry.
The first step into the ministry meant sacrifice. It meant the sacrifice of their home and all they possessed. Jesus did not tell all of His disciples to forsake everything. That would have made His message and ministry ridiculous. He did not ask the rank and file of those who believed in Him to enter the ministry. Many could not possibly do so, but from the rank and file of His disciples He called out those men He desired to fill a place in the ministry; and to them, and them only, did He say, "Sell that ye have." Them only did He ask to forsake all.
None could have any place in the New Testament ministry unless they were willing to fulfill these conditions and go forth to be as homeless as He was as the Example, the Pattern, and the Good Shepherd. On one occasion a candidate for the ministry said to Him, "Lord, I will follow Thee wheresoever Thou goest." Jesus, knowing what was in his heart, said, "Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head." We do not read of that man entering the ministry, because he was unwilling to have fellowship with Jesus in His homelessness.
The church in the home and the preacher without a home are two of the fundamentals of the faith of Jesus. One of the strangest things in the New Testament is that we never read of God’s people building church buildings. We don’t read about it until the third century, when there had been a turning away from that which Jesus lived and taught. In the first days there were not great church institutions, but God’s people met together in every land in homes consecrated to God. The church in the home was the rule, and the preacher without a home.
How could any preacher obey the great commission to go into all the world if he had a home, or business, or farm of his own? No man could accept or obey that commission unless he was willing to obey the conditions Jesus laid down, and literally and actually fulfill all of them. The first disciples going into the uttermost parts of the earth were not worried about home, or property, or business. They were free to proclaim God’s message, proving what He promised to be eternal truth in their own experience – "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." That is God’s Way.
This is a Kingdom of sacrifice, but it is a Kingdom where there is fellowship. There is a sacrifice of God’s people as well as of His servants. There must be sacrifice, self-denial, and willingness to put first things first, in order that the Kingdom of God may be extended among men. Paul refers to this in writing to the Philippians, when he says, "I thank God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all, making request with joy, for your fellowship in the Gospel from the first day until now."
I hope I have made it clear that Jesus never expected or demanded that the rank and file of His disciples should "forsake all" or "sell all". Those two phrases refer entirely to the ministry, and only to the ministry. One of the reasons why so many people are mixed up with regard to the teaching of Jesus is that they apply His teaching with regard to the ministry to the rank and file of His disciples, and it won’t fit in. So they say He never meant what He said, or times have changed and we have to work things out entirely different.
If I were to ask you what is the real difference between those whom we speak of as ministers and the rank and file of God’s people, what would you answer? I asked this question once - What is the difference between the servants of God and the saints of God? One man said, "The servants preach the Truth, and the saints live the Truth." I asked the same question in another meeting, and a man said, "The difference is this, the servants of God have many homes and the poor saints have only one." He was a little mixed, but he had the right end of it.
When the rich young ruler went away, Peter said, "Lord, we have done what that fellow is unwilling to do, what shall we have, therefore?" Then the Lord said "No man hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the Kingdom of God’s sake, who shall not receive manifold in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting."
That promise is not for the rank and file of God’s people. It is for those who have fulfilled the conditions and entered the ministry. We have many fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, homes, and much land. Mary, Martha and Lazarus had a home in Bethany where Jesus and the disciples were welcomed. It was of homes like this that Jesus speaks. He was just as welcome in that home as any member of the family.
Another friend of ours gave a different answer to this question, and I think he had the right answer. He said, "The difference is this, the servants of God sacrifice all, and the saints of God use all." His home and everything he possessed was at the disposal of the Lord Jesus. If you have a home, and business, and family, and you say truly in your heart, "My home, and business and family are at the Lord’s disposal," then you will have a deeper taste of that peace of God which passeth all understanding, and you will share in the joy unspeakable and full of glory.
As I look back across the years, I value the sacrifice of thee boys and girls who have started out and are now starting out in God’s service. I know what it has cost them, and the battles fought before their decision was made, but the time comes when the answer is given – I am willing to go. I think of the parents left without their boys and girls, and all their hopes for them blighted. I think of the lonely days, and weeks and months, especially when some of those boys and girls have lifted up their eyes to go to far lands arid are away for years.
I have been in such homes, and my heart has bled for the parents; but their sacrifice has brought into their lives that which has enriched them; and that is the only wealth worthwhile. I talked to a father and mother at the last convention, whose only daughter is fifteen hundred miles away from home for the Gospel’s sake, although she never had been away from home in her life before. After that girl had decided to give her life in the service of God, I was almost afraid to meet her father and mother, but I need not have been; for that sacrifice was gladly given, and their greatest joy today is to hear that she is being used in God’s great harvest field.
There could have been no Kingdom of God in this world without sacrifice. This Kingdom is founded on sacrifice, and it can be maintained only by sacrifice. If that sprit dies out we become no better than any of the daughters of Babylon. That is what Jesus meant when He said, "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone. But if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." Paul, remembering these words, wrote afterwards, "Death worketh in us, but life in you."
There are in this meeting a group of people who are willing for death to work in them. They are willing to die to the place they might have filled in the world in order that they might have the privilege of preaching the Gospel, and laying down their lives for His sake. The people I admire most are those men and women who have taken these steps, and who, as far as the world is concerned, are more unnoticed and unknown; but whose ministry God can bless in bringing light to men and women who are now dead in trespasses and sin.
In a home a few years ago I saw a motto that spoke very loudly to me. It said: "Its love and giving that makes life worth living. Its love and giving that makes life a song." It is the spirit of sacrifice, this willingness to sacrifice all for the sake of others that enriches our lives and makes the lives of God’s servants and His people all the more worthwhile.
I am dealing with the fundamentals of the faith, and the basic truths that have to do with the Kingdom of God here and now in this world, and if the world lasts, hundreds of years from now.
The fourth thing I would like to say about this heavenly Kingdom is this: This heavenly Kingdom on earth is a Kingdom where all serve and none rule. There is no room for any who want to lord it over others. There is plenty of room for those who are willing to serve.
Jesus Himself was the Leader. He had the greater responsibility, and He had the greater authority; but in the midst of His own disciples He said, "I m among you as One that serveth." There was the Master taking the place of the servant, the greatest taking the place of the least, the One who had the most authority willing to be the servant of all.
This heavenly Kingdom on earth is a Kingdom where all serve and none rule. There is no room for rulers in God’s heavenly Kingdom. There is no room for men or women to dominate the lives of others, or to lord it over God’s heritage. But there is plenty of room for men and women who are willing to serve; who are willing to take the place of a servant, those who are willing to do what they can and give what they can in order to meet whatever need arises in the service of God.
To emphasize this I would like to read to you a few verses. You will remember the time when the mother of Zebedee’s children came to the Lord and made a request of Him. She was ambitious for her sons, and she had two boys who were equally ambitious. They had not a true understanding of the heavenly Kingdom, and they thought it would be a nice thing to sit one on the right hand and one on the left hand of Jesus... When the rest of the disciples heard it they were mad. They were all more or less of the same frame of mind; only these two boys used their mother to put it over on them.
The ten were moved with indignation against their brethren, and Jesus called them unto Him and said, "Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink the cup that I drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto Him, ‘We are able.’" He said a little later, "My Kingdom is not of this world. If my Kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight?" This Kingdom is entirely different from any other Kingdom the world has ever known. Jesus said, "Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be first among you, let him be your servant."
Almost the same words are used in Luke 22. He is here speaking about the kingdom of the Gentiles, and He said, "The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you let him be as the younger: and he that is chief among you, as he that doth serve. For whether is greater he that serveth at meat, or he that sitteth at meat? Is not he that sitteth at meat? But I am among you as He that serveth." The Master had taken the place of the servant.
Philippians 2:5 reads, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men." We cannot be honest with ourselves without recognizing how far we have come short, but here is the ideal. Here is the spirit of sacrifice- I want to serve. We love to see that spirit amongst God’s people. I have been humbled again and again as I have seen it in others.
I know my usefulness and my influence I might have in God’s Family depends upon my willingness and ability to serve, not in ruling or reigning. It is service and service alone that counts. Every place on these grounds that I have gone the spirit of service is manifest. I have looked here and there and have seen preachers all over the place. What are they doing? They are serving. I find them running all over the place, all with the same thought in mind – how can I minister to and make it more pleasant for others? How can I make his convention more helpful, so that God’s people will be enriched and blessed?
There is not a hired man on these grounds, as far as the convention is concerned. We don’t hire the cooks, or the waiters, or the bed makers, or even the preachers. There is not a preacher here but would rather die any day than allow anyone to suggest they were open to hire.
The only collection we read of in the New Testament was not for the servants of God, but for the saints of God. There never was a collection for preachers, but for the rank and file of God’s people who were in need in Jerusalem and Judea. That is why we feel able to suggest that you today could do what the early Christians did to meet the need in lands where God’s children today have not even the necessities of life. This Kingdom is a fellowship open to all men. It is a voluntary fellowship. It is a Kingdom of sacrifice, founded by sacrifice, and maintained only by sacrifice. It is a Heavenly Kingdom on earth, a Kingdom where all serve and none rule. It is not a worldly kingdom where there is competition between citizens and officials for position to rule and dominate over others. If there is any competition in this Heavenly Kingdom it should be for the lowest place, the place where we can serve most. That is the Spirit of Jesus, "Let this mind be in you, which also was in Christ Jesus...."
The fifth thing about this Heavenly Kingdom on earth is that it is a reign of love not of law. All earthly kingdoms and institutions need rules and regulations and laws; but this Heavenly Kingdom on earth is a reign of love and not of law. On the last night of the life of Jesus, in John 13:34-35, you will remember what He said- "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another."
You might say everything Jesus lived and taught can be summed up in that one world love. It is said that when John reached the end of his life a group of his disciples gathered around him and were anxious that he would give them one last message. They were most anxious for him to give that message. It is said he told them what he had so often told them before, "Little children, love one another." They asked him to add something to that, and he answered, "No that suffices, love one another."
This fellowship of which we form a part is held together by love. That is the only thing that binds us together. WE have no official relationship with each other. It is a love relationship. This relationship is the strongest, and I believe the most lasting of any that could possibly be established. Why? Because that is what Jesus said. The Constitution is the basic law of the United States. The new commandment is the basic law of this Heavenly Kingdom. "Little children, love one another."
There was never intended to be a sentimental law, but the very opposite. We know how easy it is for something else to creep into our hearts rather than love. I was reading 1 John 2 some time ago, and some of the phrases there startled me. "He that saith he is in the light and yet hateth his brother is in darkness even until now." One of the most deadly things that could ever enter the mind or heart is dislike or hatred of any brother or sister, or of any man in the whole of God’s creation.
Further on in this letter it says [3:14[, "We know we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death." Away over in the Old Testament, on order to become a murderer you would have been obliged to take the life of another. That has become obsolete. In the new covenant hatred in the heart is the equivalent, so you can see how dangerous it is to let that dread spirit take control in any way.
1 John 4:20 The word "liar’ used here is a very strong word. The original word for the English word is a little different. It makes it stronger, in fact. It says, "He is a religious fraud and corrupter of God’s Truth."
Wherever John used the word liar or lie it has that meaning. Down through the ages the world has been cursed by religious fraud, men who corrupt God’s Truth. In the Heavenly City there is no room for them. You can see the great responsibility that rests upon every child of God if we are to be worthy of the place that is ours in this Heavenly Kingdom.
"Little children, love one another." You may ask, how can I understand the meaning of this new commandment? How can I understand what this love really is? One of God’s truest and best servants was used to write a whole chapter to define this new commandment. If you want to understand what it means to obey the new commandment, read over carefully 1 Corinthians 13.
If you are an honest man or woman, the reading of that chapter will search your heart, and you will discover that the word of God is sharp and quick, and like a two-edged sword. Happy will you be if there is a response in your heart, and you are willing to say, "If this is what it means to obey that commandment which the Lord gave to His own disciples, then it is up to me to obey it."
You will notice there are certain things love never will be guilty of, and certain graces love will always manifest. If you make up your mind to turn from negative things and fulfill these graces, then you will understand a little better what it means to obey this new law of love.
This is a Kingdom that is open to all men, a fellowship open to whosoever will come. It is a voluntary fellowship. It is a Kingdom founded and maintained by sacrifice, a Kingdom where all serve and none rule, a reign of love and not of law. May God help us to set in our hearts this ideal that was in the mind of God and the heart of Jesus, and about which we read so clearly in the Gospel; and enable us by His grace to manifest to all the world what it really means to be "a colony of Heaven", part of the Mother Country in a foreign land, for His Name's sake.
The letters in the N. T. have a definite message to the people of God today; they meet the needs of people in this our day as they did when they were written. The letter to the Colossians was written by Paul, not to his own converts, but to one of his fellow servants, a younger servant. The work there was founded by Epaphras. We know that in the family of God there is equality of relationship, but there is not equality of responsibility. Those who are babes in Christ have not the same responsibility as those who are older. This is the same with the servants of God; this lesson is taught very clearly in the letter to the Colossians. Here is a younger servant of God who had to deal with things that were beyond him. He made a visit to Rome to see Paul about certain matters and then this wonderful letter was written. This is the responsibility of every older servant of God the world over, to strengthen the hand of the younger fellow servants.
The key to this letter is in the 3rd chapter, verse 11. Christ is all. The theme of this letter is the all sufficiency of Christ. Christ is all the servant of God needs, Christ is all the child of God needs, Christ is all the man or woman that is not a child of God needs. Away up on the mountain slope of Galilee after His resurrection Jesus said to the disciples, All power is given unto me; Lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. I have proved the truth of those words, lo I am with you always. Christ is all that a servant of God needs, Christ is all that a child of God needs in his home life and business life. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is the answer to every problem, the solution to every question.
As you read over the four chapters of this letter, remember it was written to the same kind of men and women that lived in the same world and are up against the same problems we are. Read this letter as a message to your own heart. Why did Paul put such tremendous emphasis on these things? Men crept in amongst those people who were bringing in their own thoughts. Paul warned against men who would beguile them. These Christians in Colosse were in great danger of being led astray by men who were bringing in their own philosophy.
This letter was written to supply help to this younger servant of God. Read Colossians 1:15-18. J esus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: for by Him were all things created, etc. He is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence. The birth of Christ was not an ordinary birth; the life of Christ was not an ordinary life; the death of Christ on Calvary was not an ordinary death; it was an extra-ordinary death; the resurrection of Christ was not an ordinary resurrection, it was an historic fact.
The question often arises in our hearts, What is God like? All down through the ages men have speculated as to what God is like. Men have manufactured idols, etc. to express their understanding of what God is like. Remember when Paul was in the city of Athens, he made this statement, For as much then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the God-head is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device, Acts 17:29. Years ago when we were having a convention in the city of Athens, some of us went to Mars Hill. There was a museum there and hundreds of images of God, the attempts of men to convey to others what they thought God was. I would like to answer this question simply and I hope scripturally that God is like Christ. Jesus was the visible representation of the invisible God. We think too often of Him as man. I want to speak to you about Him as Christ. He clothed Himself with a human form and manifested to the world God. To me, Christ was the human form of God in this present evil world.
In order to help you understand this, I would like you to read John 1:1. The thoughts of God and the mind of God is expressed in this one verse. In the beginning was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Was with God and was God. Verse 14 The Word (Christ)) was made flesh and dwelt among us. Verse 18 No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him. John 14:8-9 Philip saith unto Him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father, and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? I believe He was hurt. Oh, how much those first disciples needed to have their faith increased.
Hebrews 1:1-3. God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. All that Christ was, God is. During those years on earth He manifested the character and nature and love of God. He gave to men and women a look into the Father's heart. This helps me to understand the awful cost of Calvary. He came unto His own. Did you ever try to determine the awful sin of those men? Christ was the Word (or God) made flesh.
In Caesarea Philippi (Mark 8:27-29) Jesus asked His disciples, Whom do men say that I am? He didn't say, What are the chief priests and Scribes and Pharisees saying? He knew too well they said He was Beelzebub, a Samaritan, had a devil, said He was a glutton and wine bibler. A glutton was one of the worst sins. They also said he was a friend of publicans and sinners. Who were the men who were saying these reports? They were the men that the people had been taught to look up to for religious guidance. Here was the Messiah, right in their midst, but these were the things they were saying about Him. He asked the question, Whom do the common, ordinary people say that I am? What was true then is true today.
Jesus said, I thank Thee Oh Father, that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them unto babes. His disciples said, Some say, Elias, and others, One of the prophets. He was like the prophets of old; they could see some little likeness to the men of old. Then He said to His disciples, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answered, Thou are the Christ. What place are you giving to Him in your heart-life, home-life and business-life? Is He just merely One that lived in the long ago. Some say He was a man of God. He was not a man of God, but He was the God-man. That in all things Christ might have the preeminence. Our destiny depends not on how much we know of Him, not in our knowledge of the truth that He taught, but the place we allow Him in our hearts. In all things, Christ.
NOTE: As background, World War I ended November 11, 1918. Wm. Irvine left Los Angeles, California, as well as the United States, for the last time in April 1919. Jack Carroll gave the following instructions on December 6, 1920 at the Bakersfield, California convention, about a year and a half after Wm. Irvine left the USA. After he left America, Irvine wrote volumes of letters to workers and friends in various countries, about what he now believed was a new revelation from God in an effort to persuade others to leave the Alpha Gospel (his term for the Friends & Workers Fellowship) and take up Irvine’s new Omega Gospel. (Click for Collection of over 400 of Wm. Irvine’s letter on TTT). There were some California friends and others who left meetings and followed Irvine’s new teachings. The Filmore, California convention held on the Ritzmans’ property was closed, as they left meetings to follow Wm. Irvine’s Omega Gospel.
To Paul, the people of God in New Testament days were "The Building of God."
To Peter, they were "The lambs and sheep of His Flock."
To John, the people of God were "The Family of God."
Paul considered his life work to be that of a builder of God's house, and he sought to excel as a builder.
Peter considered his life work to be that of a shepherd, and he sought to excel as a shepherd.
To John, Christianity was a family affair from start to finish, and his life work seems to have been devoted to promoting and encouraging the family spirit among the people of God. He always looked on the church of God as God's family, God the Father, His people, His sons and daughters, and Christ their Elder Brother.
I have enjoyed this thought, perhaps more than any other through out the year, that God's people are not a mere society, organization, sect, or denomination. God's people in the world are a family, His family. You can join a sect, you can join an organization, if you choose, but you can't join God's family. We have nothing to offer any man or woman to join. We ask no man or woman to join us. There is only one way by which men and women can become members of God's family, and that is by being born into it. It seems to me that the Gospel of John is largely devoted to emphasizing the one great foundation truth that Christianity, true Christianity, New Testament Christianity, isn't a matter of joining something, but is matter of being born into God's family.
That is the reason why it says in the first chapter of John's Gospel that Jesus came unto His own and his own received Him not, etc. (John 1:11-13). "Not of blood." Jesus often was speaking to men and women who believed that they were the children of God because they could trace back their genealogy to Abraham. Christianity isn't something that runs in the blood. While it is a great privilege to be born into a Christian home, no man or woman ever became God's child because of that. Then it is not of "the will of the flesh," it isn't what you can do or have done, it is because of what God has done and will do. If there was any man who thought he could make himself a child of God by working hard, it was Saul Tarsus. It is not of "the will of man". It is not what any other man or woman can do for you. They may sprinkle you as a child, they may baptize you as an adult, but this will never make you a child of God. There is only one way by which man or woman can become a child of God, and that is by letting God do for them what they cannot do for themselves.
When Jesus said to Peter, "Feed my sheep," Peter got a little light as to what his special ministry was to be. I believe that John got a little light with regard to the purpose of God for his life and ministry in the 20th chapter of John. You remember it speaks of Jesus meet ing Mary, and He gives to Mary the most important message that God ever gave to any man or woman.
Some people are asking "Where can you get Scripture for women preaching?" I think perhaps this chapter gives us the strongest proof, Mary was entrusted with the resur rection message. Jesus said, "Mary, touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father, but go to My brethren (My brothers and My sisters) gathered in that upper room, and say to them, I ascend to My Father and to your Father, to My God and to your God."
A good deal has been said here already about our Father, and of our being His children, but I have sometimes wondered if we as the children of God appreciate, value and rejoice in this relationship as we should. If you were to underline all the different places in John's Gospel where the word, "Father" occurs, and make a study of it, you would have burned into your heart this one eternal truth, that true Christianity is a family affair, and if we are truly God's children, we are His sons and daughters, and a relationship has been established which is the greatest that can possibly be enjoyed among the sons of men.
We think of Jesus the oldest in the family, the "Firstborn among many brethren." This is a family affair from start to finish. Every little meeting should be a family gathering; every union meeting, a family gathering; every special meeting, a family gathering; every convention, a family gathering. The more a convention is like a family gathering, the more it is what God wants it to be,
I like to think there are no hired servants in this convention. We don't hire the cooks, we don't hire the preachers, we don't hire the farm. We are at home. It has been my privilege to meet with a great many of God's people this year, and I have been encouraged by noticing the family resemblance, the family likeness one to the other. I have met a great many different nationalities, and have met with people living under very different conditions from what we are living under here in California, but wherever I went, whether north, south, east or west, I found that the people of God had the same speech, same love, the same outward and inward marks, and were controlled by the same Spirit and the same power.
I have looked over this convention and have been impressed with this thought, we have here not merely those who were born again in this State, but there are some from at least twenty different States meeting with us, and I have thought that surely the object and purpose of all true ministry is to promote unity in the family, to promote and cultivate the true family spirit, so that we may be all one in Christ Jesus.
I have been impressed by the growth of this family spirit amongst the servants of God and amongst the saints of Cod, and I believe there are greater possibilities in this direction we can seek in all we say and do to promote this family oneness and fellowship in the family and kingdom of God. A truly united family is a little picture of what the work of God throughout the world ought to be, all ministering one to another, all he helping one another, and all working together for the prosperity of the whole family.
Underline, if you will, in John's writings where the word, "Father" occurs, where it speaks of "Being born again," etc. I believe it would be well for every one of us to ask ourselves, "Have I got this new life and nature that encourages me to believe that I am God's child?"
I believe that some members of the family made desperate efforts to be here at this family reunion, and they rejoice that another year has come and gone and they are still walking in His way. I look forward to the final in-gathering of God's family when they will be coming in from the north and from the south, from the east and from the west, and will be gathering around the throne, and the saints will be rejoicing in the servants, and the servants in the saints. They will be watching for the different ones. Shall we know one another? I believe every true child of God will not only know our Elder Brother, but will know each other, It will be a great day then. That is one reason why these conventions are just a little foretaste of the final ingathering, when we will be together, never to be separated.
Now, John wrote three letters, and the main theme in these three letters is "Fellowship in the family of God." We are not only in the family, but there is a "family fellowship. These three letters are worth careful study, one addressed to the saints as a whole; one to a woman, a sister saint; and the other to a brother, an elder in the church. These three letters have all to do with this family fellowship. You remember in the third and fourth verses of that first chapter, John says, "That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us, and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son, Jesus Christ. These things write we unto you, that your joy may be full." Two things are joined together, "fellowship" and "fullness of joy." This fellowship that John writes a bout is something that he associates with the very fullness of joy.
This fellowship that John writes about is something he associates with the very fullness of joy. What is the greatest joy a child of God can experience? Is it not fellowship with the Father, with the Son and with the other members of the family? Do you value this fellowship of God's people? Do you covet above and beyond everything else to learn the secret of fellowship with God, with Jesus, with all the other members of the family? If you have learned to set the right value on this, you would sacrifice a great deal, suffer a great deal, before you would be guilty of saying any thing or doing anything that would cause you to be separated from the other members of God's family.
The first Epistle was written when some did not set the right value upon this fellowship. They wanted a little more liberty to do as they liked, say what they liked, and go where they pleased. They began saying in their hearts, "This is awful bondage to feel that we are so closely associated with others that we can't always say and do and go as we pleased." They thought they would have more liberty if they went out and started something of their own. 2nd chapter, 19th v. "They went out from us, but they were not of us."--went out that they might be made manifest "that they were not all of us."
In New Testament days there were many who associated themselves with God's Testimony and God's Family and didn't prove faithful. Some professed to be saints, some professed to be servants, many went back to the beggarly elements of the world and gave up all; others instead of going back into the world, became enemies of God's people and testimony and family, and sought to hinder and disrupt; and it was this last class that John had in mind when he wrote this letter. Those he speaks of were leaders, workers, preachers. Some had been put out, (1st Tim. 1:19- 20, 2nd Tim. 2:16-19), others had gone out (Acts 20:28-31; 1st John 2:19 and 26), and were going on in advance and seeking, of course, to get followers for themselves. They went out from the true fellowship and family, and some of those who were left behind were a little bit disturbed as to what their attitude should be towards them. And that is the reason why John wrote this 2nd Epistle.
Some people are asking, "What should my attitude to be towards any man or woman who has proven untrue or unfaithful to the Way and Testimony of Jesus, and who is now out of fellowship and seeking to hinder others?" What attitude should I assume towards such? How should I act?
If you want to know what course you should take, then the 2nd Epistle of John was written to make clear what your attitude should be. And it was John, the Apostle of love who wrote this letter. It was John who emphasized so much the need of having the love of God in hearts. It is John that gives us the simplest, clearest instruction as to how false brethren should be treated. One of the saddest things to me is to see a true child of God coming under the power and influence of any man who was once numbered amongst God's people and who now is not only out of fellowship but is seeking to hinder others, because when they come under such influ ence, they are in great danger of losing all that they had previously been building up which would have brought them eternal reward. "Look that you lose not, but that you obtain a full reward."
And he goes on to say that whoever comes to your house who has departed from the faith and brings not the true doctrine, receive him not into your house nor bid him God speed, for if you do that you are partaker with him in his evil deeds. Now here is the true Holy Ghost instruction as to what our attitude should be towards any man or woman, saint or servant that has departed from the true faith and is only seeking to disturb the confidence and fellowship of God's people and lead them astray.
The early Christians were tormented and harassed in the later years of the first century by unfaithful men who sought of destroy the faith of the of the saints in the way and truth of Jesus and in His servants,
(1st John 2:19, 26, 27; 2nd Tim. 2:16-21; Romans 1:17-19; Gal. 1: 6-9; Phil. 3:17-18; 1st Tim. 1:18-20; 2nd Peter 2:1-2). We should be very glad that we have been spared much of what they suffered. Looking back over the last twenty years, I have been much encouraged by the thought that out of the hundreds of workers that have gone forth, and are now scattered all over the world, very much less than half of one per cent have made shipwreck and proved untrue.
In the second Epistle, the sister saint was instructed as to whom she should not receive. Here in the 3rd Epistle, Gaius is instructed with regard to whom he should receive. "I rejoice greatly," --no greater joy servants of God can have in the world than to know that those that God has given them are walking in the truth and playing a worthy part in the family of God. "Beloved, thou doest faithfully what thou doest towards the brethren and to strangers, because that for His name's sake they went forth taking nothing from the Gentiles. "How should God's true saints treat God's true servants? The attitude of Gaius makes this clear. There was another man in this Church, Diotrephes. I don't know how he got there, he may have been an elder. We notice when the workers came around he didn't have much use for them and didn't receive them. And John, the Apostle of love, had to say, "I wrote unto the church, but Diotrephes who loveth to have the pre-eminence receiveth us not." Gaius was the kind of man who would always receive the true preachers, but Diotrephes was the kind of man who would be more likelyto receive the wrong kind of preachers.
"Wherefore if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words, and not content therewith, neither doeth he himself receive the brethren and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church." How many members of God's family have made up their minds once and for all, "I am going to be a true and loyal member of the family. I am going to have the truest and heartiest fellowship with the brothers and sisters, bond- servants and hand-maidens of the Lord, who have gone forth for His name's sake, taking nothing of the Gentiles; and have nothing, absolutely nothing whatever to do with any man or woman who would seek in any measure to poison my mind or influence me against my brothers and sisters in God's family.
When I read over these three letters, and noticed that the main theme is fellowship, I have wondered if it wouldn't be the best thing in life to purpose in our hearts that "As far as in me lies I want to be a true member of His family and have the truest fellowship and sympathy with the bond-servants and hand-maidens of the Lord, who have gone forth and are layi ng down their lives in order to get others added to the family. If the greatest thing in life is this sweet fellowship, if this is the thing t hat truly rejoiced God's heart, we know on the ot her hand, the arch-enemy of God and man, wherever he can get a man or woman that he can deceive and poison and cause to become his tools to harm and harass and hinder the members of God's family, he will do it every time. That is the reason we should at all costs seek to preserve this true family fellowship.
There are SEVEN THINGS mentioned in the first two chapters of this first Epistle that are necessary to the increase of this fellowship. The FIRST is mentioned in the first two verses, "Loyalty to that which was from the beginning." The word "beginning" occurs nine times in this first Epistle, and it seems to me that it is a key to the whole epistle and to all the letters that John wrote. It speaks of those who had departed from the faith and had gone out as disloyal to that which was from the beginning.
The SECOND is "Willingness to walk in the light as He is in the light." And here is where it seems to me there is another key. If we say that we have fellowship with God, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not the truth." What is the darkness and what is light? Turn to the 5th chapter of Ephesians and you can get a little glimpse of what darkness means, "Fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, neither filthiness nor foolish talking nor jesting, nor whoremonger nor unclean person, nor covetous man who is an idolater hath any inhe ritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God, for ye were sometimes in darkness, etc. "Let no man deceive you with vain words." (See Eph. 5:1-12).
There were those who were suggesting in the days of Paul and of John that it was possible to have fellowship with God and at the same time practice s uch things. It should be no surprise to us if men and women should arise in out day and encourage us to believe that we can do these things and yet have fellowship with God. We have seen letters telling us that man can smoke cigars and cigarettes, play cards, beer and indulge in all kinds of sin, and at the sane time have fellowship with God. This is a lie of the devil, and wherever men would suggest to your mind that it is possible to practice these things and at the same time have fellowship with God, they lie and do not the truth. This is what the Scriptures teach, "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness." "It is a shame to even speak of the things that are done of them in secret."
True fellowship depends first of all on these two things, loyal ty to that which was from the beginning," willingness to walk in the light." And if we walk in the light, not in the darkness, we have fellowship one with another.
The THIRD condition for fellowship is, "Don't get conceited about your victory." Don't begin to think because you have learned how to walk a little that you are better than others, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us." I don't know what it is to have no sin apart from what I see in Jesus. He was the sinless One. He never came short once, and if we are so foolish as to think no matter what progress we have made that we have not come short of all that He was, we are deceiving ourselves. When I think of the length and height and depth of His victory and perfection, I see I have come short miles yet, and I have to bow my knee every night and thank God for the blood of Jesus and the mercy of God. The blood of Jesus Christ makes up for you and me where we come short of all that He was.
FOURTH thing, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins." God our Father is willing to forgive. If He is not willing to forgive the sins of His own children, there will be none of His own children in Heaven. I have not yet met one who did not come and short of all that Jesus was. That is the reason as long as we live there never will come a time when we will not need the mercy of God the Father, and the precious blood of Jesus His son.
The FIFTH condition is "Doing His commandments." "His commandments are not grievous" to His children. They are grievous to the man who has never become His child, but to the man or woman who has been born of God, they are and they can say, "I delight to do thy will Oh my God." The greatest joy comes when we seek gladly to do His commandments.
SIXTH, "Loving our brethren." "We know we have passed from death into life because we love the brethren." We can prove that we are member s of God's family by our love one for another. "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one for another."
SEVENTH, "Love not the world." If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."
Now, what about all this? Are you willing in your own life to fulfill these SEVEN CONDITIONS? Are you willing to be true and loyal to that which was from the beginning, the old teachings, the old truths that delivered us out of darkness? Are you willing to have a sober estimate as to what you are and who you are? Are you willing to confess and forsake your sins? Willing to keep His commandments? to love your brethren? And to hate the world that crucified your Elder brother and put Him to an open shame?
What we have tried to make clear is:
(1) John's Gospel teaches that true Christianity is a family affair, and that true Christians are the sons and daughters of God.
(2) John's first Epistle teaches that fellowship in the family of God and the fullness of joy are one and the same thing. That some in John's day did not value this fellowship, "went out," and sought to seduce" others and lead them astray also.
(3) John's second Epistle teaches how saints should act towards those who had gone "out" and who were now seeking seduce and lead others astray.
(4) John's third Epistle teaches how true saints should treat God's true servants who had "gone" forth taking nothing of the Gentiles," and who were seeking faithfully to waste their lives in preaching the Gospel.
If the early Christians needed the advice and counsel John gave in these three Epistles, we surely can profit by it also, and thus be better able to manifest to the world the true narks of the children of God.
A convention is of little value, and of no account, unless it puts in us a willingness to sacrifice for Jesus' sake and the gospel's. We as preachers are following in the true steps of a preacher who began His ministry with forty days starvation. No one of us as a servant of God has ever been so tried and tested as the pattern Servant. No saint of God, no matter how hard he tried, could ever make a servant of God rich because every servant of God is a steward of everything he receives in the Lord's name and is responsible for being a just and faithful steward. And if there has been entrusted to him more than is necessary for his own personal use, he is responsible for ministering unto his brethren.
Ephaphroditus (a saint) nearly died in bringing the things (Philippians 4:18) from Phillipi to Rome. The saints had sent Ephaphroditus as a messenger to meet the physical needs of God's servants. And now God's servant was looking around to get a messenger to send a message to meet the spiritual needs of the saints at Philippi. As he looked around, he saw disappointment and had to say, "Everybody is selfish," "all seek their own." The greatest catastrophe that could ever happen in the work of God in the world would be that His bondservants and handmaidens would begin seeking their own, and not the things of Jesus Christ. If I were asked this morning, "What is the hope of God's Testimony in the future?" I would say that the whole future of God's Testimony in the world depends on saints like Ephaphroditus, and servants like Timothy. One of the things that comforts our hearts as we think of our beloved fellow servants in the world is that there has been a deepening and ever increasing desire not to seek their own but the things of the kingdom.
Let us think of another saint. Turn over to the letter to Philemon. In this letter Paul is just opening up his heart. The one outstanding characteristic was his life. This letter was written by a man who thought of Philemon as a true friend in whom he could have implicit confidence, a man who would go a little farther than others. A friend is one before whom you can think aloud. Someone has said – "A friend is more than that, a friend is one to whom you can open up your heart to tell him all that is there, and have the assurance that he would rather die than to betray your confidence".
Jesus said, "Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends." There have been days in which I have to admit, I wondered if I could count my friends on the fingers of my hand. I had many brethren. I had brothers and sisters in the flesh, and brothers and sisters in the truth— but my heart was hungering for those I could think of as friends. I believe, my brother, my sister, that what God is anxious to breathe into us as His people is the spirit of true friendship that is based not on selfishness, for that could only mean horrible disappointment; but a friendship that is based on sacrifice. Why is it that a friendship that exists among workers is the closest and the sweetest that can be known among men? Because it is based on sacrifice and willingness to lay down one’s life for others. The only friendship that really counts and is of any real value is one that is willing to sacrifice and live for others.
Do you know what I have thought? That I would feel highly honored with? If someone, at least my fellowservants, would think of me not so much even as an elder worker or as one of the servants or a brother, but would think of me just as a friend. I wonder, my brother my sister, have you ever been a friend to anyone? Do you desire to be a friend to your brethren? Do you desire to cultivate true friendships as you live your life in this present evil world? A man or woman to have friends must first show himself friendly and must inspire confidence— he must be a man or a woman who can truly be trusted. I can truly say today that the few friends I have in Christ, men and women whose friendship is more than life itself, these give to me more comfort, more joy in the dark hours that every worker has to go through, than any others.
If every earthly friend disappointed you, "there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother". He has never disappointed any man or woman yet, or caused a tear to be shed because of a violated friendship; and He is willing to breathe into our lives experiences that will enable us to cultivate marks that will stand the test of time and eternity. This is only an introduction to this letter but I would like you to read it with this thought, that this man was more than a brother that Paul could write to; He was a friend right through. It was a private letter that had to do with his home life and business affairs that Philemon was interested in. But I thank God that this letter has been preserved so that we can have a look into Paul's heart and understand better the friendship that existed between true friends, true servants and saints in bygone days.
May God inspire us to be real true friends, men and women that can be depended upon, who will never betray confidence, so that one may open up his soul to us and we would never betray.
Brief Summary of Doctrines "most surely believed" and taught by us:
3926 Burke Avenue.
Seattle, Wash. U.S.A.
17th. April. 1930.
Messrs Loizeaux Bros.
With regard to my letter of yesterday's date, will add a brief summary of doctrines "most surely believed " and taught by us;
We unhesitatingly affirm our belief in the Old and New Testament Scriptures as the very Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice; the Deity of Jesus Christ; His Virgin birth; His substitutionary atonement; His resurrection from the dead; His ascension to the right hand of God; and the glorious hope of His coming again.
We believe and teach that the New Birth is an absolute necessity and that this is brought about by the Word of God and the ministry of the Holy Spirit; that the call of Jesus to His ministers to follow Him in the way of self denying, self sacrificing service, is for to-day; in Baptism by immersion; in coming together on first day of week to break bread; that the New Testament Church as a Church owned no Church property, took no name but His; that the New Testament saints met together on first day of week for worship and Breaking of Bread in small groups in homes consecrated to God.
As ministers (preachers) we absolutely and literally "forsake all", own no property of any kind, have no salary, do not lift collections, make no appeals for money to any outside or inside our fellowship - believing as we faithfully "seek first the Kingdom of God" He will in His own way take, care of our every need. We have no headquarters, secretary, treasurer, or central fund.
If teaching and practicing as outlined above brings us the condemnation of those who teach and practice otherwise, we must just bear with and pray for them. We have no objection whatever to the whole world knowing we stand for and believe these things, but when those who profess to be followers of Christ, misrepresent and slander us, as in the pamphlet complained of, we do object, but leave our case in the Lords hands.
Yours very truly,
John T. Carroll
I am going to say over to you folks here in Arizona a few things that were said in San Diego and Bakersfield and further north about the fellowship meetings on the "first day of the week." It has been said that the real test of a good convention is not exactly what takes place in the convention meetings, but to a very large extent what takes place in your fellowship meetings on the "first day of the week" during the year.
I hope all of you at the close of the convention will take your concordance and look up this word "fellowship." I don't know where it originated, but it seems to me that it is right and scriptural to think of our meetings on the "first day of the week" as "fellowship meetings." The Roman Catholic Church speaks a great deal about the Mass. Other church systems speak a great deal about their communion services. The Church of England speaks about the Eucharist, and so on. When we think of the "first day of the week," we remember the custom that existed in the New Testament days when the disciples of Jesus came together on the "first day of the week" to break bread. The breaking of bread is simply a symbolic way in which we renew our fellowship with our Master and Lord and with each other.
There are two fundamentals of the faith of Jesus that are vital to a true understanding and interpretation as recorded in the New Testament. First of all, "the church in the home, and the home only"; secondly, "the preacher without a home." These two are foundational. We cannot-- we dare not--depart from either of them. If we do, we become a part of that great Babylonish system that is blinding the minds of men and women the world over to the "simplicity that is in Christ."
No preacher can be in our fellowship who is not prepared to be as homeless in this world as was his or her Master. One of the very first conditions that God's ministers have to face is willingness to have fellowship with Jesus and His homelessness. "Foxes have holes, birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head." No man or woman can have any part in this ministry unless willing to have fellowship with Jesus, the Son of Man and Son of God, in His homelessness. There is another condition perhaps we might mention--fellowship with Jesus in His poverty. No man or woman can share in this ministry unless willing to "forsake all." There is an equality in this. It matters nothing whether you have little or much, but it matters everything that actually and literally you "forsake all." Otherwise, you can have no part in this ministry.
While I'm speaking about the ministry, there is a third condition that those who go forth in the Name and Way of Jesus must face. He said, "freely ye have received, freely give." No man or woman can enter this ministry that isn't prepared to give as freely as He did. If we ever heard of any man or woman in the ministry raising a collection or making an appeal for money, we would immediately exclude them from this fellowship. God sent His servants into the world to be givers, not getters. Therefore, God's bondservants and handmaidens are characterized by this loving and giving, the sacrificing and proving the promise He gave in the beginning "seek ye first the Kingdom of God and all else will be added unto you." If every friend we had in the world turned their backs on us today, we could still go on, for the promise of God remains the same as at the beginning. Our responsibility is to "seek first the Kingdom of God." The promise He has made to His bondservants and handmaidens is eternally sure. Maybe there are some in this meeting today thinking seriously of entering this ministry. Now these two fundamentals we have mentioned are worth making a note of: the church in the home and the preacher without a home. The men and women who have ministered to you from the platform these days have made themselves homeless and poor for the Gospel's sake, and are deliberately laying down their lives from day to day, denying themselves all they might have been and could have enjoyed, in order that they might bring the message of God to you. I hope you value and appreciate this ministry. There could be no New Testament fellowship apart from this New Testament ministry.
"The Church in the home." Some years ago, some of us were in the city of Rome, Italy. We were on our way to Naples to have some meetings there. One morning while in the city of Rome we planned a visit to one of the oldest churches in the city--the Church of St. Pudenzia. When we reached this building, we found it was 16 feet below the level of the present street. The debris of hundreds of years was built up until this building was 16 feet below the level of the street. The Franciscan priest took us through this building.
Afterwards, he took us down to examine the foundation of another church on which the present had been built. It was very interesting to us to examine the walls of that ancient building. The priest then said, "I'll take you down still further, for this original church was built on the foundation of a private home." So we went down, and there in that particular room where the floor had a beautiful mosaic pattern, he said to us, "The early church met for worship in this home, and in this room." We were pleased to hear this. He added, "This home is supposed to be the home of Pudens that you read about in II Tim. 4:21." That was even more interesting to us, and we enjoyed the thought that we were actually standing in the room where the first Christians in the city of Rome met "to break bread."
From that home, we went to St. Peter's, the largest Roman Catholic Church in the world. We wandered around in that immense building; inside and outside; went up to the dome, looked down into the crypt where Peter is supposed to be buried. From there we went into the cupola and looked over the city of Rome--the city of hundreds of church buildings. One of our company remarked that every step taken from that church in the home 50 feet below the level of the present street, to give to the world St. Peter's, was in the wrong direction and only tended to blind the minds of men and women to the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ.
We make no secret of the fact we are deliberately and purposefully teaching men and women how to do without these great structures, these public buildings for the worship of God. We're teaching men and women how to do without the priest, parson, and hired preacher, and how to meet together every "first day of the week," in homes consecrated to God, and there, like those first disciples, remember our Lord and Master in the breaking of bread.
No home is too lowly or too lovely for God's people to meet in. All meet on the same level and same way, and with the same purpose in their hearts. We do not choose homes for God's people to meet in because of their beauty. We choose homes because of their convenience, and the worthiness of those who live in these homes.
I'm not sure if I told the friends here in Arizona of an incident that took place some years ago in Vancouver. It may help you to understand why God's people come together on the "first day of the week," in homes consecrated to God, and not in public buildings. In the city of Vancouver, there was an exhibition held by the Church of England. It was really an exhibition of curios from Palestine and the East--many from Palestine. It was organized for the purpose of raising funds for the Church of England's missionaries laboring in Palestine. There was a full sized model of the tabernacle and its fittings. They also had a model of the home of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. That was also interesting to me. They maintained that this particular home was more than likely the kind of home that Jesus was entertained in.
Lectures were delivered on different subjects. One of them was on the Passover Feast. The lecturer was a prominent preacher of the Church of England. He was a very clever and able man, and his lecture most interesting and instructive. He told us the story of the Passover feast. He emphasized its purpose and made one point that was of special interest to me. In his lecture, he made the statement over and over again that the Passover Feast was established in the home of the children of Israel, and throughout all their history was never celebrated anywhere else but in their homes. Never taken to the temple, never taken to the synagogue.
After it was over, the lecturer invited any to come forward and ask any questions they wished. With some of the others, I went forward and asked him, first of all, the question, "Did I understand you to say that the Passover feast was established in the homes of the children of Israel, and never celebrated anywhere else?" He answered, "Yes, that is true, and I'll say more. To this very day wherever the Jewish people keep the Passover Feast, it is celebrated, not in their synagogues, nor in their temples, but in their homes." I asked, "What is the relationship between the Passover feast and the New Testament "breaking of the bread," or as he would term it, "the communion service?" He answered very simple and to the point, "The New Testament breaking of the bread is the perpetuation of the Old Testament Passover feast." Then I asked, "Where was the New Testament communion service established"? He said, "In a private home in Jerusalem."
"Where is it continued?" He said, "They broke bread from house to house." I then asked him, "When did the people of God cease to "break bread from house to house?" He answered, "I don't know, neither can I justify the Church in taking the communion service out of the homes of the people of God and placing it in the hands of a priest in a public building." I then asked, "Don't you think it would be a good thing to take it back to where the Lord Jesus established it?" He threw up his hands and said, "It would be revolutionary. It would turn the world upside down," and hurried away.
I'm not sure that all of you value as you should the privilege that is yours on the "first day of the week," of meeting together in a private home that has been consecrated to God. Let me remind you that in this you are actually and literally fulfilling the scriptures. When you leave your home and go to the home of another on the "first day of the week" to break bread, the scriptures are being fulfilled. That ought to be a great comfort to you.
In the Gospel of Matthew, there is that little phrase, "that the scriptures might be fulfilled." He, Himself deliberately sought to fulfill the scriptures in His own life and ministry. We can have a part with Him every "first day of the week," whether it's in our own homes or in the homes of others. We can have this assurance in our hearts that we are fulfilling the scripture.
The second thing that can bring us comfort every "first day of the week" is this: we are registering a protest against that world system, "Christendom," "Churchianity," call it what you will; that is blinding the minds of men to the "simplicity that is in Christ." We demonstrate week in and week out throughout the year that we can "worship God in Spirit and in Truth" according to the teaching of God's Word and without the machinery that men consider so vital and necessary today in the worship and services of God.
I have visited some of the greatest religious buildings in the world. I don't say this boastingly. I have been to St. Peter's in Rome, St. Paul's in London, others in Paris, Copenhagen, Brussels, and the British Isles. I have wandered inside and outside these buildings with a question in my mind and heart: What was it that induced men to establish in the world these systems of religion that only blind the minds of men to the "simplicity that is in Christ?"
Every "first day of the week," the Lord's people have the privilege of coming together at the appointed place and hour to keep what we sometimes speak of as a double appointment--with each other and with our Master and Lord. That is the reason why every child of God should plan to be in his or her place on the "first day of the week" in the home where he or she is expected to be.
Some might say, "There are four or five, or twenty churches, in the city where I live and would it not be all right for me to go to a different place every Sunday? I am a little bit discontented, and I am a little bit dissatisfied. Couldn't I move around a little? No, my brother. No my sister! If you form that habit and practice that thing, you are walking disorderly. You are not showing appreciation for the privilege of fellowship at the appointed time and place on the "first day of the week," and you might soon find yourself outside of this fellowship altogether.
It should be understood clearly by all that no leader or elder is self-appointed or elected by the church. All elders, or those who lead meetings, are appointed by the servants of God and are responsible to them.
I think it would be a good study to look up the references to the "church in the home" in the New Testament--in the Acts and the epistles. Those of you who have the privilege of having the church in your home can get great pleasure out of the thought that you are having fellowship with those first Christians who used their homes as you are using your home. We are very grateful to God's people throughout the whole world, like Mr. And Mrs. Carter, who place their homes and property at our disposal at a time like this, where we can come together to hear God's Word and spend our days in brotherly fellowship with each other.
Every meeting on the "first day of the week" consists of four parts. Each of them is important: singing, prayer, testimony, and the breaking of the bread. This is true all over the world. I have been in homes in different parts of the world and this is the order. I don't know how it came about; this simple natural arrangement to sing, pray, testify, and break bread, then sing a closing hymn and go home. How different it is from the gorgeous ritual of Roman Catholicism and all related systems. How wonderful and beautiful the "simplicity that is in Christ."
Singing is important. We hope that all of you recognize the value of this part of the meeting. These hymns were written in order to help us express our thanks to God, our praise, our prayers, and our purposes. It is a wonderful thing when we sing these hymns as a language of our hearts. I appreciated what Eldon told us about the hymn book the other day and came on a hymn I had given out in the meeting. I had others sing it, but never saw its real beauty until that day. Every word of that hymn, the words of the chorus, seemed to find a response in my heart, and this could be true of all in the first part of every meeting. You can sing one or two hymns. I don't think hymns should be selected at random. I think the person who is leading the meeting should recognize this is a serious responsibility, and should realize that the song should be an expression of the prayers and praises of God's people that meet together. When we select hymns here on the platform, we don't do this at random, but select those that will best express the desires, praises and purposes of God's people.
The second part of the meeting is prayer. We like for God's people to kneel in prayer. There are some who can't do that. If you can, and the home is large enough, I think it is an appropriate and scriptural attitude--an attitude of helplessness and always appropriate in the presence of God.
I have appreciated the prayers in California the last few weeks and, also here in Arizona. The prayers have been very brief and very much to the point. They have been edifying. I have been in meetings where the same prayer was offered week in and week out, each week of the year. It is a matter of repetition, repetition. How much better it would be if you would pray as you have been praying here--brief. The place for long prayers is in the secret place. Short prayers are more appropriate in the meeting place. I have known some young converts who go to meetings with older people and say, "I can't pray like that. I can't pray at all." If from your hearts, there come one or two petitions, then the youngest babe in the family would feel encouraged to take part in prayer.
Now the next part of the meeting is testimony. We've heard (this doesn't apply in Arizona) of some who actually preach for 20 minutes in the Sunday morning meeting. Think of it--20 minutes! Now, if everybody else preached for 20 minutes, how long would your meeting last? Suppose there were 15 in your meeting and each one preached for 20 minutes. How long would it last? Five hours! That would be just a little bit too long. Out of consideration for all, and for the children, we arrange for the Sunday fellowship meeting to begin at 10:30 and be over about 12:00 noon. This is an hour and half. I had a report after a talk of this kind, "We had a nice meeting this morning, and it was over at 11:45."
We will find that there is ample time for the meeting for each child of God to speak to edification without prolonging the meeting unnecessarily. We have heard of some who select a long chapter and read that chapter, commenting on every verse. That gets tiresome. The better way is to select from any chapter; maybe, in the Old Testament or New Testament; maybe in the Psalms, two or three verses that have spoken to your heart and have given you more light and a better understanding of God's mind and will, and you tell how these verses have been a help to you during the week. This is the best way to be really helpful.
I hope there are none here in the habit of preaching at, or to each other. The last place for any to preach at or to one another is the fellowship meeting on the "first day of the week." A brother was asked, 'Why didn't you take part today?" "Oh," he said, "The man I had my testimony for wasn't there." I hope none of you are like that brother.
Perhaps, I should tell you another story about an Irishman in that part of Ireland where I came from. He wasn't behaving very well. His conduct was such that the others were getting alarmed and worried. It was a relief to them when he quit attending the meetings. They hoped he would never come back. But six months later, lo, and behold, he arrived one Sunday morning with his Bible and hymn book in hand and sat down. They looked at him and began saying inside, "What will we say to this fellow today?" They sang a couple of hymns and prayed, and then the meeting was opened for testimonies. This man was the first on his feet and said, "He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone!"
Wouldn't it be a very grievous thing if on the "first day of the week," God's children came together to break bread, and then be guilty of saying things that would hurt their brethren and "grieve the Holy Spirit of God, wherewith we have been sealed unto the day of redemption?" On the "first day of the week" when God's people come together, they should be careful that not a single word they speak will hurt anyone. If strangers come, you don't have to hurt their feelings by speaking against other religious systems. Just forget those things altogether and speak as the Lord had arranged for you to speak, from some Word of God.
If you are in the Spirit, speak as God moves you to speak. Give expression to the thoughts God has given you. They will leave feeling that surely God is in this place. We have known of some dropping in on the "first day of the week" and when they heard simple men and women speak from verses that had spoken to their hearts, said, "How wonderful this is, and how different this is from hearing one person do all the preaching."
I have sat in meeting and heard God's people speak, and as I listened, my heart was warmed and was amazed when I summed up all the testimonies; at how much had been placed that day on the Lord's table to edify and build up the Lord's people. We are sorry to hear that some older and younger brethren don't take part as they should on the "first day of the week." Even if you only read a verse or two and give a short testimony, this would be good for you, as the more we speak before brethren, the stronger we grow in Christ Jesus.
There are three ways God speaks to His children: first, by His Spirit in their hearts; second, by His Word as they read it; and third, the Lord loves to speak to His people through His people. It is a wonderful privilege and great responsibility to go to the meeting regularly on the "first day of the week" and feel that God may have some word from my lips today that will help my brother or sister that will encourage them to "fight the good fight of faith." We would like all, old and young, to form the habit of taking part so that you may be a channel of blessing to others, and in so doing, receive help yourself. In this, you are fulfilling the scriptures "so that you may all prophesy," speak out God's mind and word. We do not believe in any one-man ministry. When God's people come together, each one is responsible for taking part and ministering to the other.
Now, the fourth part of the fellowship meeting is the breaking of bread. I wish I could help all to understand the real value, the true significance of the simple rite of partaking on the "first day of the week" of these emblems. The breaking of the bread and drinking of the wine, that speaks to us of the broken body and the shed blood of our Lord. This was never intended to be a meaningless form. I believe when we have a right understanding and true appreciation of the breaking of bread, it can be of our greatest joys to come together on the "first day of the week" and like those first disciples, remember our Lord and Master in partaking of these emblems.
The Passover feast was to be a memorial, something to be perpetuated. Jesus said on the last night of His life, "This do in remembrance of me." It occurred to me the other day that perhaps one of the reasons He put such emphasis in remembering Him is because it is so human to forget, forget, forget. Week in and week out throughout the year, God's people, when they come together, are reminded of this great privilege. This partaking of the emblems of the broken body and shed blood of our Lord should bring to them the comfort and assurance that they can begin each week with a clean sheet ready to "fight the good fight of faith" and to "follow Him whithersoever He leadeth."
A man came to me up north and said, "It's not the sins I committed before I professed that troubles me. It's the sins I have committed since I professed." Therein is one of the real values of our coming together on the "first day of the week," for we are reminded that sins confessed and put away can be forgiven. The blood speaks to us of the "remission of sins." John said, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. These things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." Some think that it makes no difference if we sin, but John said, "Sin not." When any of you have no sins to confess, no sins to be forgiven, then you can set aside the cup which reminds us of His "blood which was shed for the remission of sins."
When we partake of these emblems, we think of His love for us, and our love for Him. When we pass these emblems, one to the other, we express our love for each other. There are some things in connection with this breaking of bread that I might mention. Every home where the church meets should have the seats arranged in a way that makes it easy for these emblems to be passed one to the other. It isn't right or proper for the elder to take these emblems to each one individually. That is not God's order. Every individual present is responsible for partaking or not, so that the one who leads the meeting should, after some brother or sister gives thanks briefly, pass the emblems to the one nearest to him or her. When we give thanks, first of all, for the body given and broken for us, it doesn't necessarily mean a long prayer. The same is true with the cup, which reminds us that sins confessed and put away have been covered by "the blood that was shed for the remission of sins."
The simple way which seems to be the best and most in order is to take the bread and pass it to the one nearest, and let that one pass it to the next and so on. First, the bread, and then the cup, until it comes back again to the leader of the meeting. But you say, "Supposing strangers come in? Wouldn't it be best to pass them by?" Some strangers come because they are friendly. When you pass the bread and wine, they may pass it on. Others might possibly partake. Supposing they do, that is nothing to make a fuss about. Far better this than hurting their feelings by passing them by. We have seen some who have come to Sunday morning meetings and didn't understand what we believe and in ignorance of that, partook of the bread and wine, and later came and attended Gospel meetings, and decided for Christ and had a true understanding of the breaking of bread and the drinking of the wine. Don't give offense to any. Act courteously to all, and especially to strangers.
We hope that this fellowship meeting on the "first day of the week" will be a source of comfort and encouragement to every child of God. Your week evening meetings can be most helpful--don't forget them. I have been surprised this year to hear so many speak of receiving help from the mid-week evening meeting, as portions of scriptures studied became to them a very real source of help and blessing.