Andrew Abernethy – First Testimony – Canea, Western Australia – 1973

Luke 12:35, “Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning, and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their Lord, when He will return from the wedding, that when He cometh and knocketh, they may open unto Him immediately. Blessed are those servants, who the Lord when He cometh shall find watching. Verily I say unto you, He shall gird Himself, and make them sit down, and come forth to serve them.” It has been thirteen years since I was here with you people, and I never knew then, that I would ever see you again. It is not my doing to be here, but the Lord has arranged this so, and my purpose in coming here is to obtain some help from you, so that we could be mutually encouraged in faith, hope and the love of God. We are often a poor judge of our own efforts, we don’t feel very capable. For what did we know that was not given to us, what did we accomplish that God did not help us in. We have no right to be boastful, proud of what we are because we are what we are by the help of God.
The wondrous part of the Bible, we find that it is for ourselves individually, we don’t only have a high ideal, but we have a practise, a practise up to our ideal. We feel that we cannot reach our ideal but the Lord has made a provision for us. Salvation is living an overcoming life by the grace of God. We have been moved in times past and we promised that we were going to make a better effort, now we were sincere when we made that promise but then we failed. I’ll tell you what the matter was, we did not go about it in the proper manner, self-promises do not help, but a little more complete submission to the almighty God. This is the only possible way. This is salvation and we can sing the victor’s song, not a mournful song, as a result of failing again. We value and appreciate people who have fought an honest fight, and won the battle. Free from all bondage, the worst bondage comes from within, when we do not feel free people inside, because of failure. If we can be victors, what a great way to live, freedom because of liberty, being masters of what is about us, our surroundings. It is possible that our surroundings may turn us aside, but good if we can be victors. We cannot pretend today, we are not able to masquerade, because we are no more than what we are in the sight of God. So we have a practise of an ideal, a high ideal.
I love to preach the gospel, I love the gospel stories, because I have a feeling that those who are listening may be lame, without understanding, and faith can go into their heart, for we know what the gospel does for people. We all have a testimony of what the Lord is to us. In America, there were 12 men sleeping in a cabin at a convention, they were all elders of a church, and one night after the last meeting of the convention was ended, one man said, “Let us tonight all tell his own testimony, what he was before the gospel came, and how he came to know God.” So they all gave their testimony individually, and they were all different, but yet they were all the same. We would all have different backgrounds in our testimony but yet they would be all the same. Those men said that was the best meeting of the convention, and that was true, our testimony means more than anything, it’s a story that is going on. If all the stories that were able to be written, the world could not contain the books, and if we have a testimony of what the Lord has done for us, is doing for us, all the false doctrine in the world is not going to move us.
When we read this book the Bible, it is for us, there is a vastness that we will never learn. One man said that we live and learn, the other man said, we live anyway. We learn so little of what we should be learning, one day we will see everything face to face, we will see Him as He is. It does not mean that what we have learned will be changed, but it will be clearer, because what we are learning today, it is right. We don’t argue about these things, because they are right, and they will be right. An individual may say that the way of the Lord will change, but that is not right, the way of the Almighty remains the same because it is right. When we read, we take this to ourselves. There was an old man 101 years of age, he had a good mind till the finish, when he was 98, he gave this testimony. The reason why I read this book is to find out what I should do, and to do it, and I also learn the things I should not do, and not do it. A very simple testimony, this man did not get past third grade in school, when he writes a letter, he murders the King’s English, but he has a perfect understanding of the way of God. When we know the Lord, and we are speaking and praying we can see that we understand these things. One man gave his testimony, and said that this is part of my life, and the next man got up and said, this is my life. This is not part of our lives, we are not limping along, a drunk man limps along. This is our life, everything else in life is relegated to the background. This way I believe, this is the book, there is no way around this. We will have no vain regrets if we say that this is our life, here and now, we are here for keeps.
Jesus taught to let your loins be girded about, with what? Truth, these truth’s, Jesus was girded about with these truths. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness of the Devil, Jesus answered that man does not live by bread alone. That was a golden truth. The devil was only after that which pleases the human, but Jesus said to worship the Lord only. In Revelations it says that Jesus was girded with a golden girdle, golden truths of the bible. One time there was a widow and a man from another false way came to see her to try and destroy her faith in God, we were quite concerned, and when the opportunity came for us to see her, we asked her what had happened, and she said that was nothing, we thought that it was really something but she said it was nothing. She told that after the man had spoken, a verse had come to her mind that had put an end to his words, so after the man left she thought to herself, in the future there may be bigger temptations to face, so I had better read the bible so that these verses can come to mind. It is good if we can read the book, so that the Holy Spirit can bring back a verse to help us in time of need. There were three ways that the Devil tempted Jesus, through the flesh, through the world, and through the mind. The Devil wants us to have wrong thinking about God’s way. Jesus answered, thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God, God said that he will do it, I don’t have to try him out, because I believe that.
Now back to this verse, “Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning.” How do we have our lights burning, and be a light in the world? This light comes about because of our obedience, can there be any light if we are not obeying, when there is no effort, no doing the will of God, it is utter folly and hypocrisy. Obedience produces light. The Holy Spirit is given to those who obey, all the talking of the divine spirit will not bring light, but obedience to the will of God will bring light.
Luke 10:17, “And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through Thy Name. And He said unto them, ‘I beheld Satan as lightning fall down from heaven. Notwithstanding rejoice not that the spirits are subject unto you, rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.'” These seventy had gone out into the work, they were returning again, they were exalting over their success, how the Lord had helped them, that the devils were subject unto them, but Jesus said, “I beheld Satan fall from heaven, the devil in his pride was cast out of heaven because of pride.” We are all subject to this boastfulness, it is in our human make-up. We like to advertise what we have accomplished. Jesus wanted to smash this up, this feeling of pride. Jesus did not want them to rejoice over their achievements, but because their names were written in heaven, this will mean most to us at the end, to hear those simple words, well done. Whatever our calling in life, whether in the home, or as an elder of a church, or in the work, it does not matter, so long as our little job is done well. Maybe it is in obscurity, maybe no one appreciates it, if we are doing it well, the best we can, and we will hear those words “well done”.
There was an old man that came to the convention, he could not do much, and I was doing a menial task, I would not ask anyone else to do it, but this man came up and said he would like to do that job, and at the next convention he came again, and he said to me, “Can I have my job again, I am the low bidder to do the job.” This is the right spirit to hallow the Lord’s name and not our name. Three weeks ago I was at a convention, and there was a man who spoke to me who I know casually, and he said something that humbled my heart. He said, “Every day I pray for you.” I did not know that he was praying for me, this humbled me to the dust, and I feel that I don’t want to let those people down that are praying for me, not allow anything into my life that would grieve them.
Today I know that there are people 12 thousand miles away who are praying for these meetings here. Since the time that I was here 13 years ago, I have not ceased to pray for you people here. There is a work that we all can do, and we rejoice not because of what we are doing but what the Lord is doing for us, and that our names are written in heaven, one day we will hear those words, well done. What could be more valuable to us at the end, these are the things we are living for. The Lord did not choose the wise and the prudent, but He spoke to us because He saw in us a small degree of honesty and He knew that if we knew what was right, we would do it. The Lord condescended to show us His way, the Lord had an interest in us. There was an elderly lady of 89, she went to the first gospel meeting out of sympathy for the two young men that were holding the meetings. At the first night meeting, she said, “This is it.” So I asked her, “How did you know this was it?” She said she was struck by that verse, “God would hide these things from the wise and prudent and reveal them to babes.” She said the Lord showed this to me. Good for us to understand the plan of God given to us.
Blessed are your eyes, for my prophets and righteous men have desired to see the things that you see, and have not seen them. Can we see the greatness of our calling? Matthew 13:17, “For verily I say unto you that many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see and have not seen them, and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them. Blessed are your eyes for they see and your ears for they hear.” Luke 10:25, “And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him saying, ‘Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said unto him, ‘What is written in the law? How readest thou?’ And they answering said, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, strength, and with all thy mind, and thy neighbour as thyself.’ And He said unto him, ‘Thou hast answered right. This do, and thou shalt live.'” This was not a civil lawyer as we know a lawyer today, but this man was conversant with the laws of God. When Jesus asked him the question he answered very accurately. Jesus said, “You do this and you shall live.” That is life if you do it. Then the lawyer answered, “Who is my neighbour?” The doing of this was more than he was willing for.
This man went from Jerusalem to Jericho and thieves robbed him of his raiment and wounded him leaving him half dead, and two men came by and saw him — a certain priest, and a Levite, each of them destitute of the love of God to a man who was down. Then this poor, despised Samaritan, not counted for very much, ran to him, binding up his wounds, and then put him on his own beast, and took him to the inn. When he left in the morning he said, “All that you have spent on this man I will repay.” Now we would say that this man should not have gone away from Jerusalem, he was on the wrong track, but what would you have done if you were in the position of the priest and the Levite, if we were honest with ourselves. We should not go by this man, he had lost his testimony, was on the wrong road, he was out of order. We have sometimes been out of order and it is likely we will be out of order again. Maybe I didn’t deserve it, but I was on the wrong track and someone had the love of God in their heart. When someone is on the wrong track, out of order, are we tempted to say, you should not have done that. No, he did not need that, he was already in trouble, he was in the wrong place and he did not need more wounding, he needed help. The Samaritan did not scold him, but he put in the oil and wine. Would we put him on our beast and we do the walking? Now this man riding and us walking, how much of this love of God is in our heart, mind, and soul. This is the way of simplicity. The Samaritan paid the innkeeper and said, “I will look after this man in the future, too.” Would we do that, this love of God moving our hearts? We can search our hearts today. This Samaritan wanted to look after the man who had been out of order in the future too.
Then after this story we read that Jesus went into the home of Mary and Martha and we see a picture of Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus and Martha in a turmoil, worrying and fretting, fussing about the dinner. There were 13 men dropped into the home for dinner, they did not know that they were coming. You are getting the dinner and needing help, and your sister is sitting there at the feet of Jesus, maybe we would have sputtered, too. Martha was a loyal and good woman, but Mary understood that this may be the last chance of me doing this; what matter about the dinner, it will be gone in a hundred years from now. One man spoke in his testimony and he spoke very sincerely, he said that when the meeting stopped at 12 o’clock, he said, “What matter about the dinner? Let the dinner go, miss a meal to get a little more from the Book.” He had left the meeting to read his Bible. This was not a fable, this is for us. The Lord helping us and we learning to do it. Jesus spoke to Martha, “Martha, you are in anxiety, you are careful but one thing is needful, Mary hath chosen that good cart. She made the higher choice.” Martha was doing a good job, Mary had a higher ideal.
Luke 11:1, “And it came to pass that, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, one of His disciples said unto Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.'” One thing that we notice about John that I like is that he taught his disciples to pray. John knew the necessity of prayer, and it is good if it has been emphasised in these meetings the need to pray, it is so easy to be overtaken by affairs of life that we cheat and we say that we will do it later, but we don’t do it later. John taught his disciples to pray, to pray so effectively. Everything we could ever ask in this simple prayer that Jesus gave. He gave an outline of what we should ask for every day. Jesus went on to say, “Which of you shall have a friend and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.'” This man wanted three loaves, he had nothing to give to his friend. He might have said, “I’m not leaving until I get it either.” What are these three loaves? Faith, hope and love of God. The genuine thing of having a living hope in God, it is contagious. We will obtain it from God and take it to the meeting, and it will be contagious to others. We don’t get these three loaves by sitting and theorising or making up a talk. We get these three loaves from the Father, and good if we don’t leave till we get it, because we want to help a friend in the journey. We, as workers, know what it is to get these three loaves because we want to impart faith, hope and the love of God to men and women. Sometimes we are in desperation because we have nothing to set before the people.
Then in Luke 12:36, “And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their Lord, when He will return from the wedding, that when He cometh and knocketh they may open unto Him immediately.” This is a great verse to me. I don’t comprehend it fully as I should. You are going to be like men who are waiting, because we don’t know the hour. Jesus taught us to wait and watch. One time there was a friend who we were staying with, who is a painting contractor, and the trustees of the Baptist Church came to him to get a quote to paint the building. First he had some misgivings, but then he said, “I could paint a barn and what’s the difference?” So he was getting some figures together, and we walked in. He asked us what we would do, so I said, “Suppose you do paint the vestry and you have the scaffolding all around and the Lord comes back and finds you painting the Baptist Church.” He said “Say no more, I’m not putting a quote in.” You don’t want to be at the bowling alley, or at the football match, the Lord should not find you there, but we should be waiting for Him, for His coming back again.
There is a story told of the days of slavery: in our lands there were some bad masters, but there were also some good masters, and the servants loved them. This one master was a good master, and he went away on a long journey, and he did not know when he would return. He was the master of a large plantation, and before he left he gave all the servants their different duties, and above all they were to guard his wife and children, and look after them. Then a certain day when he thought he would be home, he could not get home, and it was a week later before he could get home. He came home at midnight, and as he drove up to the outer gates with the carriage and horses, two or three of his slaves rose up to meet him, they saw who it was and unlocked the gates, then he went up to the inner gate and two more slaves rose up with their lanterns, and saw that it was their master, so they opened the gate and let him in. Then to his grander surprise when he came up to the plantation house the lights were all burning, and round about him all the servants rose up to welcome him, all guarding his home, and wife and family at midnight. The next day in the large plantation home, there was a great feast made, all the slaves and their families came and sat down to dinner, the master, his wife and family served the slaves. He appreciated those slaves who were watching and waiting, they opened to him immediately. One day when the Lord returns, it says in that verse, we are going to sit down, and the Lord of the universe is going to serve us. I cannot comprehend it all, it is too great for me, all because we did our little job well, because we are what we are supposed to be doing. Blessed are those servants, I have appreciated those words, they carry a lot of baggage, every verse carrying a lot of weight.