Walking in the Truth

 •  43 min. read  •  grade level: 6
Jer. 9:2323Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: (Jeremiah 9:23): "Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that 1 am the LORD which
exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things 1 delight, saith the LORD."
Jer. 10:2323O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. (Jeremiah 10:23): "O LORD, 1 know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. O LORD correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing."
1 Tim. 3:1515But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:15): "But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground (or base) of the truth. And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory." Phil. 1:2020According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. (Philippians 1:20): "According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Phil. 2:55Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: (Philippians 2:5): "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:"
Phil. 3:1313Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, (Philippians 3:13): "Brethren, 1 count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and of reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Phil. 4:1313I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Philippians 4:13): "1 can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
It's a privilege, dear young people, to be here and to look into your faces this afternoon. If the Lord leaves us here, some of the most important decisions are made in youth. Often those things that mold our whole life are decided by the age of 25. So how important it is that we should have right direction for our pathway. As the world increases its confusion, we hear about guidance teachers, we hear about people going and consulting about all kinds of questions, in business, in marriage, and all sorts of things. But isn't it a blessed thing that God has given us the light and wisdom of His precious Word. He has also given us the Person, whose very name is Wisdom, for it tells us in 1 Cor. 1:3030But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: (1 Corinthians 1:30) that "Ye are in him, who of God is made unto us Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, and Redemption." So it was on my heart this afternoon to speak of the importance of walking in the truth and with a right purpose and object in our walk. You know, there are many dear young Christians and I'm sure that many of you have met them at school. You've met them in the place where you work and it's lovely to see their energy and desire for the Lord. They really have the Lord before them. But, as you talk to them, you find that there are so many things about God's word that they haven't been made clear about. They have a Person before them but they haven't yet been guided by the light and wisdom of His word. Then, perhaps you talk to some of the young people in the meeting and you find out they know a great deal more of the Truth but, still, they don't seem to have the person of Christ before them. Isn't it often so that we in this way become one sided. It was mentioned last night, how that in government circles they talk about rightist and leftist. So it is in spiritual things. God speaks about the kings in the Old Testament and He says about those who went on to please Him, "They turned not aside to the right hand or to the left."(1 Sam. 6:1212And the kine took the straight way to the way of Beth-shemesh, and went along the highway, lowing as they went, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left; and the lords of the Philistines went after them unto the border of Beth-shemesh. (1 Samuel 6:12)) It's quite possible to be so taken up with having the Lord before you, that you don't stop to listen to the directions that He gives in His word. So you're seeking to please the Lord perhaps, but you haven't listened to the instructions in His Word about how you can please Him. Perhaps, on the other hand, you've sat in the meetings, you've heard the Truth ministered, you've read some very good and helpful ministry, and so it could be said that you're quite well instructed in the fundamental things of Christianity. But somehow there seems to be lacking in the enjoyment of the Person, that blessed One who wants to fill, each one, our hearts to overflowing. The heaven and the heaven of heavens can't contain Him. Surely He can fill our little hearts and fill them to overflowing. But perhaps that lack is in your life, as I often feel it is in mine. That's why I had on my heart this afternoon, with the Lord's help, to try and bring these two things together. That is, the importance of truth and the importance of a right purpose and object in our lives. To give up one or the other would make us extremists in one direction or the other. So, I want to say as I begin, that it's a very blessed thing to be brought up under the sound of God's word, to be brought up under the sound of the truth of God, to have within your reach the precious ministry of many who have gone before, who have instructed us in the things of God. But because sometimes we don't see the spiritual energy that we'd like to see, either in ourselves or in others, then we get distracted. Perhaps, we seek a wider path. But I believe that God has marked a path through this world for us. There is no reason why you and I can not go on in the Truth and also walk with the Person before us. You don't have to leave the path of the Truth to have Christ before you because that would be to turn your back on His revealed mind and the instruction that He has given us in His word.
So, here in Jeremiah chapter 9, the Lord is speaking through Jeremiah and He says, "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom." There are some young people amongst us and they have singular ability. They're very clever. But you know, there's a danger of us using this ability in order to get along in this world. We find it's the habit of the world and of the enemy of our souls to always try and pick the best for themselves. The king of Syria came to the king of Israel and said, "Your children, even the goodliest, are mine."(1 Kings 20:33Thy silver and thy gold is mine; thy wives also and thy children, even the goodliest, are mine. (1 Kings 20:3)) He claimed the very best of the people of God to be in his court and to add to his importance. We find too, when the children were carried down into captivity, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that king Nebuchadnezzar chose them because they were the best. They were the most clever, the ones who had poise and ability to stand before the king. So he chose them, to give them a good education, to promote them high in the province of Babylon. But, in the second case, we find that there was a purpose of heart that this ability that God had given to them would not be used just to increase the importance of Babylon, but that it would be used to witness for the Lord in Babylon. How much better that was. So, if God has given to anyone a little more ability than another, it says, "What hast thou that thou didst not receive?"(1 Cor. 4:77For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it? (1 Corinthians 4:7)) We're not our own. We're bought with a price: We belong to the Lord. He has paid a tremendous price, more than we could ever measure, to make us His very own. Then it says, "Let not the mighty man glory in his might." Maybe there are some young people here who are really strong physically. Oh, they can do all kinds of feats at school. They can run, they can play, and they really have exceptional physical ability. Well how nice it is to see those who have a body that is fitted of God for endurance, use that for the Lord, not to get along in this world but to use what He has given us for Him.
Then it says, "Let not the rich man glory in his riches." Perhaps God has blessed you with a little more of the material means of this world than another. Well, it's not your own. The scripture speaks of material things as being another man's. They don't really belong to us. What really belongs to us is the unsearchable riches of Christ. But whatever material things we have we are only stewards of them. They don't really belong to us, so why should we glory if we should happen to have a little more ability, a little more physical strength, a little more of the material things of this world. It's nothing to glory in. It but increases our responsibility because we have received it from the Lord. But now it says, "Let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me." Oh, that is the most wonderful thing in this whole wide world. Not that you have been able to master things in this material world or made progress in this material world. That may make you great in the eyes of your fellow man but, oh, what a wonderful thing, "He understandeth and knoweth me." Oh dear young people, God has revealed Himself! He has made Himself known and He has made Himself known so that we might be able to know what is in His heart. Then He has given us eternal life that we might be able to share His thoughts. For eternal life is not merely the endurance or length of time that we will exist, because even the unsaved will exist eternally. But when it speaks of eternal life, it is explained to us in John 17:33And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (John 17:3). It says, "This is life eternal that they might know thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." It is by new birth God has given us a life by which we can enter into and enjoy His thoughts. We can enjoy communion with the very One in whom we move and live and have our being. I don't know of anything more wonderful than this. I have mentioned this little incident before but it rather struck me. There were a couple of men and they were crossing the ocean on a ship. The two of them were standing on the deck of the ship looking at a beautiful sunset. One was a believer and the other was an unbeliever. The unbeliever turned to the Christian and he said, "Do you know of anything more wonderful that this, a sunset at sea? It is so beautiful." "Yes," said the Christian, "I know of something more wonderful. I know the God who made all these things. I know God as my father. I know the Lord Jesus as my Savior." Ah, that's far more wonderful. If you could be a clever scientist and master many of the things that men are now finding out in connection with this world which God has created, it wouldn't be half as wonderful as knowing the person himself. If you had a personal acquaintance, we'll say, with Einstein in his lifetime, wouldn't you be pleased to tell your friends, "I've not only heard about the wonderful inventions and discovery of that man but he's a personal friend of mine." Oh how wonderful. It says, Abraham "was called the friend of God."(James 2:2323And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. (James 2:23)) Oh dear young people, you have a tremendous heritage if you know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior. You know the Creator of the universe and you can speak to Him as One who loves you, One who is interested in the smallest detail of your life, "for in Him we live and move and have our being". (Acts 17:2828For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. (Acts 17:28)) You haven't a friend on earth who ever counted all your hairs but the One we're talking about has counted all your hairs. He knows the very number of the hairs of our heads. Not even a sparrow falls to the ground without His notice, and He says, "Let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me." Yes, people have various ideas of God. They have ideas of their own minds and they will tell you, "I think God is this. I think God is a god of love. I don't think He would cast anybody into hell." And they will tell you all kinds of things that they think about God, but they really don't know Him. They think they do, but they don't, because the only way we can really know Him is through the revelation that God has given of Himself. God hasn't left us to find Him by our own searching. It says in Job 11:77Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? (Job 11:7), "Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the almighty to perfection?" Do you think you can by any kind of searching find out God? We just have to look on the confusion of this world and find out whether it's possible. Just think of all the different religions. Think of all the wise men in this world. Have they found out God? No, the only way you can know God is through His word. God has been pleased to reveal Himself through His word. He has been pleased to make Himself known as a God of light, as a God of love, as a God who as the scripture says, "humbles Himself to behold the things that are in heaven and in the earth"(Psa. 113:66Who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth! (Psalm 113:6)), who talks to us of the most intimate things in our whole life. It tells us in the 139th Psalm that "Before I was even born that God saw my substance yet being imperfect and in His book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there were none of them."(Psa. 139:1616Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:16)) Isn't that marvelous? Before I was ever born, God was taking notice of the very members of my body and then He gave me breath and, in my lifetime, He tells me that there isn't a single thing associated with my family life, my life among my brethren, or my life in the world that He's not concerned about. He's concerned about every single thing and if there's a person who says something that's a little unkind, He knows all about that and He is the one who enters into and sympathizes with us in our whole pathway. In order to have our company and be a faithful and merciful high priest He's gone up there and He's a man in the glory and He'll remain a man forever. Oh surely dear young people, we have something worthwhile, something that we ought to hold as the most marvelous heritage possible that God has made Himself known. Not as one who is so far away that we really can't know too much about Him, but He is come down in the person of Christ and walked in this world. As it says, "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself."(2 Cor. 5:1919To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:19)) To be reconciled means to be before a person having nothing between. Perhaps, if I could put that verse very simply, it's like this. God knew that men had wrong thoughts about Him so He sent His Son down into this world and He said, "Now they'll see in a man what is really in my heart toward them." So here we find the Lord Jesus walked through this world. Do you want to know His sympathies? He wept at the grave of Lazarus. Do you want to know how He felt toward a blind man? He stood still in a big crowd of people when a blind man cried out, "Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me."(Mark 10:4747And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me. (Mark 10:47)) He went to a home and there was one sister that was worried because she was having a little too much to do and He talked to her and explained to her that she was too much occupied with things that were not as important as others. Oh, this is God revealed in Christ. That is what God really was and yet at the end of that blessed pathway what did the world say? It's a solemn thing to think of it, but I believe that is what is brought before us in the end of the 15th of John. It's just as if the world says at the end of His life, "If that's what God is like, we don't want Him. We don't want Him." For in the end of the 15th of John it says, "Now have they both seen and hated both Me and My Father."(John 15:2424If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. (John 15:24)) Oh what a picture of the heart of man. Yet God didn't give up, if one can speak reverently. The blessed Savior went into death and what for? He went so that we might be reconciled. We refused to be reconciled by His perfect life of love and grace and kindness. So He went into death and He bore our sins in His own body on the tree and now He's beseeching men to have right thoughts about Him, to be reconciled to God. So, I say again, what a privilege is yours, dear young people, if you know the Lord as your Savior, you have the most wonderful heritage that any person could have upon the face of the earth. "He understandeth and knoweth me that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight, saith the Lord." Yes, I've often made this comment, 'The Christian is the only person who has an intelligent outlook on what's going on in the world.' What do you think the wise men of this world would do? Well, read the editorial columns in the newspaper and you'll find that the wisest men have suggestions but they have no solutions. They just don't know what to do. As the Lord Jesus said, "Men’s' hearts failing them for fear."(Luke 21:2626Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. (Luke 21:26)) "Distress of nations with perplexity."(Luke 21:2525And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; (Luke 21:25)) How can the
Christian face it all so calmly? Is it because he just closes his eyes to what's going on? Oh no. God has called us His friends. The Lord Jesus said, "I call you not servants...I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard of my Father, I have made known unto you."(John 15:1515Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. (John 15:15)) And so, because we're His friends, He, as it were, brushes aside the curtain and says; "Now I'm going to tell you what's going on in the world. You don't need to be confused like the rest of the people. I'll tell you what's going on in the world and I'll tell you where things are heading and you just watch the events take place. You watch the leaders move into their place, you watch things happen and you'll see that I knew it all before hand." "Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world (eternity N.T.)."(1 Cor. 15:1818Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. (1 Corinthians 15:18)) And so the Christian, as the little hymn says, "Through scenes of strife and desert life, we tread in peace our way."(Little Flock Hymn 12) Oh what a privilege then is ours! How we should value this precious revelation of God. It's the most up to date book in the world. It's far ahead of the newspapers and magazines that are coming off the press in this very day because God only knows the future and knows it with unerring accuracy and so how blessed we are I'd just like to make a little mention here about sin. You know there's a confused idea that many people have about sin, and especially in this day when the devil is seeking to blind people as to what sin is before God. Sin is the basic cause of all the trouble in this world and nothing could be a more clever plan of Satan that to hide from man what sin really is. So probably many of you young people have heard the expression, "Well, sin is just relative. It's only what you've been taught and if you've been taught one way, then you look on a thing as a sin, if you've been taught another way then you don't look upon it as a sin." Well, God gives us a clear definition of what sin is, Sin is lawlessness. It's the exercise of my own will in independence of God. It's doing what I like without any reference to my Creator. As it says, "The plowing of the wicked is sin."(Prov. 21:44An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin. (Proverbs 21:4)) Pardon a little illustration that will help you, perhaps, to understand that verse. A man might easily say, "Well I don't see anything wrong in plowing. Why does it say that's a sin?" Well suppose you were a farmer and you waken one morning and you look out and there's a man plowing in your field. "Oh," you say to your wife, "I wonder what that man's doing out there in my field." So you go out and speak to him and he's running the plow out in the field, and you say to him, "Sir, what are you doing?" And he says, "Oh, I didn't know there was anything wrong with plowing. Tell me, what's wrong with plowing?" "Well," you say, "It's my field. You didn't speak to me. You didn't recognize my rights over that field at all. That's what's wrong." "Well," he says, "I could get another instrument besides a plow. Perhaps, I could get a rake. Would that make any difference?" "No," you say, "That's not the point. You didn't recognize any responsibility to me." Now dear young people when you live your life with no reference to God, no sense of responsibility to God, that is sin. That is sin. Sin is lawlessness. "Whatsoever is not faith is sin."(Rom. 14:2323And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin. (Romans 14:23)) Young people sometimes say, "Is that a sin?" If you have no reference to God in your life, if you haven't consulted Him about where you should go tonight, about how you should act tonight, I'm not going to ask you what you're going to do but I say that you sinned in that you didn't recognize your responsibility to Him. You have a responsibility to God.
Now there's some things in His word that He has made very clear and I'd like to just give a couple of little instances from the Word about this. First of all, when God placed Adam and Eve in the garden, He gave them a command. He told them that there was one tree they were not to eat of and they ate of that tree. That was sin. That was an act of positive disobedience to God. But I want you to notice that after they had taken of that tree; the strange thing is that what caused them to hide from God was something else. Did you ever notice that? When the Lord came down and walked in the garden and called Adam, what did Adam say? Adam said, "I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself."(Gen. 3:1010And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. (Genesis 3:10)) God hadn't said anything about that. God never told him that was wrong. He told him that it was wrong to take of that tree, but why did they feel ashamed that they were naked? That's the first instance of conscience in the Bible. There they knew that they had done something wrong and they had a conscience. God has seen to it that every man has a conscience even if he has never heard God's commands. Every person in this world has a conscience. Conscience will never tell you how great a sinner you are. It might be illustrated like this. Supposing that you had perfect vision and you're in a dark room. Nothing is wrong with your eyes but you don't see very much because the room is dark. You may be able to see a few things that are in the room but you're not sure what they are because the light is so dim. Well, that's like conscience without the Word of God. Man knows he's a sinner but all of a sudden somebody switches on the light. Everything shows up and God's word illuminates conscience. God's word makes a man feel uncomfortable. So why do people say, "I don't believe the Bible."? Well, it's just like turning on the light and it makes them feel pretty uncomfortable. So you see there are instances where they're going against the Word of God. That's disobedience. It's transgression.
Then there's sin against conscience. Now, just another little word for those who are Christians. Daniel, as we mentioned a few moments ago, was in Babylon. He was going to school in Babylon and the king prescribed that they should have certain meat, and drink wine at the meal table, cafeteria if you like to call it. They evidently had their meals together. So they were all provided with the meat that the king save and the wine he drank. Now you see the Word of God had condemned certain meats to an Israelite and so Daniel could say, "No, I can't take of those meats. They are forbidden of God." But, what about the wine which he drank? There was no expressed command to an Israelite that he was not to drink wine. Now I believe this brings in something else. Here were Daniel and his three friends in the school in Babylon and whom did they want to please? They discerned in communion with the Lord, without a direct command that drinking wine was something that would not be pleasing to their Lord, something that would be a hindrance to their testimony as those who wanted to please the Lord. Now dear young people, I say this to you. Perhaps you say, "Show me a verse that says that's wrong." Well, there are some things about which you can show a verse but there are also other things where if you really want to please the Lord, He'll show you. He'll show you. He showed Daniel and his three friends. Nobody said, "You've got to do this or got to do that," but inside their heart was a desire to please the Lord. This situation arose and they acted faithfully, they acted firmly, and they recognized that that thing, under those circumstances, in that position was wrong. The Lord will guide you if you want to please Him. There may be things in life where you have to be near enough to the Lord to discern His mind. That's why I say with young people, we like to leave room for growth. We like to see them go on in the things of God and maybe there's something you don't see anything wrong with today but if you seek to go on and walk with the Lord, in time He's going to show you that that thing is a hindrance to your living to please Him. It's a hindrance to your testimony and the Lord will give you grace then to give up that thing.
Now we read also in 1 Tim. 3:1515But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:15), "But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." Here we find the responsibility of the Christian in the house of God. Now I might say, the house of God here doesn't refer to a physical building. It's not how you behave in a certain building which men term a "church", or which men might term "the house of God". The house of God is that place on earth that is in the place of the profession of Christianity and so it's important that we should know amid all the confusion that we see in that which bears the name of Christ. Is there a conduct that God has given to us in His word that is becoming? Yes, I believe there is. Here, it is that we might know how to behave ourselves in the house of God. If we read God's precious word, if we acquaint ourselves with the revelation that God has given us in His Word then we will know how we ought to behave ourselves as those who bear the name of Christ, who are in the place, in the ranks of the Christian profession. Then it goes on to say, "Which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." I'd just like to speak a little of this last part of the verse, "the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." Now the church doesn't teach. The Word of God is what teaches. "He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."(Rev. 2:77He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7)) But the Church is responsible to be the support of the Truth, to be that which maintains and stands for the truth of God. That is, if we profess to be gathered according to the mind of God then we are responsible to maintain the whole truth of God. You may know of many places where you could go in the city of Toledo and you know that there are some very sincere Christians, but perhaps when you go there, you know that the speaker who is there may perhaps teach that you could be saved and lost again. He might deny the sinless humanity of the Lord Jesus. He might say that Christ could sin but did not sin. Well, could you recognize that as being the support of the Truth where those things that are so vital to the person and work of Christ are not maintained? Oh brethren, surely this is very humbling to us, because you say, "Oh, they are nice Christians and they have the Lord before them" and thank God for that. Would to God that some of us who know the Truth were more occupied with the Lord Jesus, but this is no reason whatsoever to give up the Truth of God. This is no reason to go and identify ourselves with a very vivacious and happy company of Christians who are not standing for the whole Truth of God. God's assembly is responsible to be the base and support of the Truth of God and if in any meeting there is anything that is said that is not according to the Truth of God, I hope that it will be corrected. The important thing is that we have no right to handle the word of God deceitfully. We have no right to set aside any part of it. We have no right to say, "Well, we'll agree to disagree." We must stand for the Truth of God. Now, of course, there may be little things that affect our personal walk that, as we mentioned before, are a question of personal growth in our souls. But, when we speak of that which is the foundation, that which has to do with the person and work of Christ, Brethren, it's so important that we stand for the whole truth of God. In these days of testing, in these days when the enemy is so busy, may God grant that you dear young people who are being brought up in the meeting may value the Christian heritage that God has given to you that you should be able to sit under the sound of the Word where the Truth of God is given out, where the person and work of Christ are maintained. Oh, brethren, may God in His grace keep us walking in the truth of God. May He give us to value and walk in that which God has made known to us. So the assembly, God's assembly, is the pillar and ground of the Truth. It is that which is responsible to support the Truth. "Oh," you say, "There's so much weakness though. The meetings are so small. There's bickering. There's little things." The enemy is at work. I must tell you a little incident if you'll pardon a personal reference about my dear father. He was asked to go up to Quebec City in Canada some years ago to visit a little company of Christians who had come out from the systems and who were meeting simply in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. So he made the trip up there and when he met this little company, one of the brothers said to him, "Well we've just come out from the churches but we don't want to hear anything to do with those known as `Brethren' because they have so many divisions, so many troubles, we don't want to be identified with them." Well, I thought the Lord gave my father wisdom about how to answer him. He said, "I'd just like to ask you one question. Why did you leave the churches where you were?" "Well we didn't think we could go along with some of the things that were contrary to the Word of God and that's why we left." My father said, "Now you've just gathered together as a group of Christians, a little company, and you're meeting in the name of Christ alone. Do you think the devil is going to look on this little company here in Quebec City and say, `Now those Christians are so happy and so desirous to please the Lord, I'll just leave them alone. I won't bother them at all. I'll just let them go on happily together.' Well the other man hung his head. He said, "No, I suppose he won't." My father said, "When trouble comes in among you, what are you going to do?" The man said, "Well, I suppose we'll have to stand for the Truth." Brethren, so it is with us. The enemy will never leave this little company alone.
He'll do his best to bring in personal bickering. He'll do his best to bring in anything and everything to rob us of the precious truth of God and to rob us of that precious harmony one with another.
So isn't this next verse lovely. As the 15th verse brings before us the responsibility of the assembly as being the pillar and base of the Truth, the 16th verse is lovely because it brings before us a Person. "And without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory." What is the secret of Godliness? It's the Lord Jesus Himself in His blessed pathway here through this world. It's a Person. You know I'm sure we all recall the instance in the 6th chapter of John when the Lord spoke faithfully. He said, "It is the Spirit that quickeneth. The flesh profiteth nothing. And many of His disciples went back and walked no more with Him." Then the Lord turned to the twelve and He said; "Will ye also go away?" And Peter, who had a Person before him, made this remark, "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life." "And we believe and are sure that Thou art the Christ." The Lord's answer must have surprised you. It surprised me. I meditated on it for some time. The Lord said to Peter in response, "Have not I chosen you twelve and one of you is a devil."(John 6:65-7065And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. 66From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. 67Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? 68Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. 69And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. 70Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? (John 6:65‑70)) Why did the Lord answer that way? Why didn't He say, "Peter, that's lovely. I see you're here because I'm here." I think of it in this way. It's just as if the Lord said, "Well Peter, if you're here because I'm here then don't look at the crowd because there's another disappointment ahead." And brethren, it's important for us. Let's not have our eyes upon the crowd. There's only one Person who is the secret (mystery means secret here) of Godliness and His blessed pathway, as we have been having in our readings, gives us the secret of Godliness. God was manifest in the flesh. As we remarked, there was One in this world who perfectly revealed God. He was God manifest in the flesh. He was justified in the Spirit. The Spirit of God came down at His baptism and marked Him out. You say, "I've been misunderstood. I've been falsely accused. Things have been said about me that are not true." The Spirit of God never falsely accused you. He knows everything. The Lord Jesus was falsely accused but He was justified in the Spirit. The Spirit of God came down and said, "This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased."(Matt. 17:55While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. (Matthew 17:5)) Isn't this lovely? The secret of Godliness is: here is One manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels. The angels looked down and saw their creator as a man here in this world and the angels are looking down to see the wonders of God's ways in the Church. They look down to notice whether a sister has a covering upon her head. They notice things in our lives too. As Paul said, "We are made a spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men."(1 Cor. 4:99For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. (1 Corinthians 4:9))
"Preached unto the Gentiles," I think this is lovely too because when the Lord Jesus was rejected by the nation what did He do? Grace reached out beyond the nation to the Gentiles. Did somebody hurt you? Did somebody do something unkind and mean and you said, "I'll never try to do anything again, that's all the thanks I got." What happened when the Lord Jesus was rejected by the nation? Well, he just went on and, if those people wouldn't have Him, the branches grew over the wall. Blessing reached out to the Gentile and in His blessed pathway, we find the blessing of the Syrophoenician woman. We find His grace reaching beyond the limits of Israel. Oh dear young people, if somebody's hurt you and said something, don't give up. That's just exactly what the Devil wants you to do. Perhaps it was an older brother or sister. It always hurts a little more when we older ones say something unkind. You know when this happens, it's very easy to say, "I'm not going to come to the meeting anymore. Nobody cares." Oh, the Lord cares. Don't give up. The Lord allows that testing but He loves you. He wants you to be His friend, His companion.
Then it says, "Believed on in the world." That is, there were results. In spite of the fact that He was rejected, there were results and we'll meet these in glory. Yes, there were results from the blessed work of that rejected One down here and God will see to it that if you go on for Him, there will be results. They'll be manifested. When? Maybe not here. "He was received up into glory." They'll be manifested at the judgment seat of Christ.
Oh, dear young people, don't give up. Don't be discouraged. Don't think because somebody said something and hurt you that this is a good reason to give up. That's just what the enemy wants. Go on. The assembly, then, we see is the pillar and base of the Truth but the secret of Godliness in the assembly is a Person and having that Person before you. If you don't keep Him before you you'll never be sustained in the path. God is testing you in your youth. When I go to an assembly and I see that the young people are gone and there are just a few older ones, I must say, it almost breaks my heart. The enemy wants to see all the young people discouraged and gone. But, oh what a word of encouragement here. God has made Himself known. He has a testimony here upon earth and He has a Person to set before our souls.
Now I just want to look briefly at these verses that we read in Philippians. It wasn't my purpose to say a lot about these verses, but just to bring in a few thoughts. Phil. 1:2020According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. (Philippians 1:20): "According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Well, my father used to have a little saying. Some of the older ones will have heard him say it, "If we did everything right, nothing would be right unless the motive was right." That's why I read Philippians, because I could spend time here trying to correct a lot of outward things. I could spend time here talking to you about things, important in their place, that have to do with outward things, but I want to talk to you now about the motive springs of your life. That is, your purpose and mine in life. Here was Paul's. He said, "My earnest expectation and my hope that in nothing shall I be ashamed." That is, he wanted to live in such a way that His blessed Savior would approve of the way he was living his life, that the motive springs that controlled his life would not be self, would not be what other people said and thought and did, but that Christ would be the One whom He could speak of as "his life". He is our life in the absolute sense, but in a practical way that He might be "our life". As the little hymn says, "Not that we may live while here below, but that Christ our life shall be." (L.F.# 278) Is that your earnest expectation and your hope? Is this what you and I are living for, that our lives might be for Him, that He might be the One who is the motive spring of all our actions. You could get people to do things in an outward way and there would be nothing for God in it at all. When the Lord Jesus was here the people kept the Passover most scrupulously, they kept the feast of Tabernacles most scrupulously. But it was the Jews' feast of the Passover and it was the Jews' feast of Tabernacles. It was an outward remembrance. But, now I want to talk about the inward. The outward is important and I'm not belittling it, but I'm speaking about the inward. Is Christ really the purpose of our lives? Are we really seeking to live in such a way that He would be magnified in our bodies? As another has said, "We are a testimony and nothing else." That's all we are here in this world. As it was read to us, "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ."(2 Cor. 5:2020Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:20)) That is the most important thing that we should live in this world as those who have Christ Himself as our life and this manifesting itself in our pathway.
Now in the second chapter we have Him brought before us as our example. I haven't time to go into all the details of this chapter but many that are acquainted with the epistle to the Philippians remember that there was something that burdened the heart of the apostle in Philippi. That is, there was envy and strife and vainglory. There's nothing so chilling, as when there is that sort of thing at work among the people of God. What was the apostle's reply in the midst this situation? Well, I don't believe there is any epistle that ministers Christ in such a lovely way as is brought before us in the epistle to the Philippians. Christ is our life. In this chapter Christ is our example and it brings before us how the Lord, who is God Himself, came into this world and took the lowest place. This is the example God has given to us. You say, "I follow Brother So and So. I think he is a godly man. I follow Sister So and So. I think she's a godly person." But you have the wrong example. "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." Whoever you set your mind upon that person may fail. If you do, and if that person fails, you're very likely to go down with them. But, if you and I make Christ our example, what a perfect pattern. Could we have any more perfect pattern? Oh, don't make any other Christian your example. Imitate their faith but only have one example, that is the Lord Jesus. "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus."
Now, in the 3rd chapter and the 13th verse, "Brethren I count not myself to have apprehended but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Well here, when it talks about forgetting those things that are behind, it's not primarily speaking of forgetting past failures. In a sense we should not forget past failures. Paul had to say in Eph. 2:1111Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; (Ephesians 2:11), "Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh." Paul never forgot that he once persecuted the church of God and wasted it. But there's something we can afford to forget. We can afford to forget anything that we've done for the Lord in the past. If you lived yesterday for the Lord you can forget about that because God has a record of it. You can afford to forget about it because He won't. He won't forget about it. "God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love,"(Heb. 6:1010For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which ye have showed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. (Hebrews 6:10)) and the trouble with us is when we remember some of the good things we have done it's liable to make us proud and think we're getting somewhere. So Paul said, "I don't want to look back and make a kind of report on my life and see how I'm getting along. I might get puffed up if I thought I had lived for the Lord. I might think I was somebody." Dear young people, I'm not going to encourage you to look back on your life. If you've failed own it to the Lord, but don't look back to pat yourself on the back. You'll only spoil having the object before your soul. A man was trying to break a path across a field of snow and he realized he was making a very crooked path. So he set his eye on a tree on the other side and he started on. Then he thought, "Well I'll look back and see how I'm getting along." There he saw this crooked path and then when he had put his eye on the tree, he had done very well. So he started encouraging himself about how well he was getting along and then he realized he wasn't looking at the tree. He was really looking down at how he was getting along so, quickly he put his eye back on the tree and kept going. When he got to the other side of the field he realized he had spoiled that nice path when he looked back to compliment himself on how well he was getting along. Oh, don't look back. Keep your eye on the Lord. If He's kept you to this day, thank Him, but if you get your eye off Him, you might make a little break in your path. Any of us could. It doesn't matter who we are. Oh may we keep our eye on Him. We have a right object for our hearts. We have His truth, but we need to have a Person. As I said, there needs to be a right object, a right purpose in our lives.
Then in the last chapter and the 13th verse, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." You might say, "Oh, but it's so difficult. You don't know what it's like in the place where I live, in the office where I work. There are problems in the assembly. The saints are not as happy as they used to be. There are no young people." Yes, the Lord knows all about it. He knows everything. He's a merciful and faithful high priest and He knows all about just exactly what you're trying to face. When God wanted a man to write this verse, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me," He didn't choose a man who was enjoying good health and sitting in a nice parlor or a nice study writing letters. I sit in a very comfortable study sometimes when I write letters, but He didn't choose a man in that kind of a circumstance to write this verse. No, he was in a Roman prison. He'd been forgotten by some of his brethren. Just one assembly thought about him, all the rest forgot about him.
He was abased. There were those who were breaking his heart and there was much that could cast him down. God said, "You're the person. You're the person to write this verse. You've proved it experimentally." Oh dear young people, the Lord can strengthen you. I know He can do it. "Oh Lord I know that the way of man is not in himself. It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." If God were to deal with any of us according to what we deserve, He'd just do what it says in Jer. 10. He'd have to bring us to nothing. But oh, "The way of man is not in himself." It's in Christ. He's The Way, The Truth, and The Life. May God by His grace cause us to do two things. May He make us to value the precious heritage of the Truth that God has given to us and may He also give us grace to go on in the path with a right purpose, with a right object, with Himself before us. May we be content to wait the day when all will be manifested in His presence. That is what really counts in life.
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