Andrew Abernethy – What is God’s Way? – Bird City, Kansas Convention – 1953

What is God’s Way? What is our thought about it? Our conception and view concerning it? If we don’t know what it is, it would be impossible to walk intelligently, acceptably, in this Way of God. Sometimes we might be asked concerning the Way of God. We might describe clearly the servants of God, going forth without a home, and the Lord’s people meeting in a home. It means so much more than that…the outward form and doctrine of the Lord’s Way is meaningless unless it’s in the heart.


The working of God in your heart and mine — that is God’s Way. It is important that the way and truth of God would be in us, and that we would be doing unconsciously that which is the will of God, because of what is in our hearts. If the Spirit of the Lord was in us like it was in Jesus, we would not need a Bible, because the Spirit of God would lead us to everything in the Bible, through the Spirit operating in us, and holding sway.


Jesus said, “I do always those things that please the Father.” (John 8:29) It was because of the Spirit that was in him. He could not have walked or preached in any other way. Any other way would have been foreign and beneath him because of the very Spirit of the Father. It would be foreign to any of the servants of God to do it in any other way. It would never enter into their minds to preach for pay, or have a parsonage. You will read in the letter to the Romans, Paul writes that the Gentiles that did not know or have the law, were doing by nature the things contained in the law. It was because of the very Spirit of God, given them and leading them to do what was in the Law.


This spring it was necessary for some of us to go to the convention grounds and erect a new cook house. We were about to lay down a concrete floor. One of the Saints came that lived about 70 miles away. It started to rain…this man was 65 years of age. There was no other work going on, but he wanted to help. I said, “This is a very hard, dirty, wet job for you.” But he said, “I can do it.  It doesn’t make any difference. That is what I came for.” He was asked to give thanks at the dinner table  – he uttered this expression, “Lord, we thank thee for such a privilege as this.” In my heart, I said, “It must be God’s Way.” To thank the Lord for such a privilege of fellowship.


We could explain about the preachers going out two by two without a home…and the meeting in the home, but, this atmosphere of the house of God, we can not explain…this fellowship controlled by the love of God. We could have meetings in God’s appointed Way, and be very lacking in the Spirit. The mere accomplishment of this outward form and doctrine of the truth of God unless accompanied by the inner feelings – uprightness and justice in the heart – would be meaningless.


I know two men working together, professing to be children of God. One was a German, a very stubborn man. There arose some misunderstanding, and this fellow spilled over, and said some things he should not have said; nothing vile or low…but not right or good. They finished their work, and each went to their homes.


Night was over. In the morning that stubborn German was at the other man’s place and said, “I want to tell you how sorry I am about the shabby way I spoke to you yesterday morning – I couldn’t pray till I came and asked forgiveness.” That is God’s way. The thought in that man’s heart, “Until I am right in my heart with my brother, there is no use to ask God for anything.” If we are in God’s Way, there will be the thought of conscience that we must be right with God. All the time we spend on our knees is meaningless, unless we are right with our fellowmen.


God’s Way is in the heart…God’s Way is in the sanctuary. When I read this, it comes to my mind what was done in the sanctuary. Offering up of sacrifices, etc., morning and evening. When they offered sacrifices, they were to wash their hands and feet – the sin made right…the waywardness purged. Have our hands been soiled? “I will that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting.” Nothing unclean, base, or low. If we offer up in that unclean condition, it means death. If we are dishonest in our offering up, like Ananias and Sapphira. They may have offered a generous offering, but because of their dishonesty, it meant death. Hands clean and walk clean. If your walk is in the sinful pleasures of this world, until that is made right, there is no use to pray. Until we’re willing to turn away from etc., no use to ask God for help or blessing. God’s way is in the conscience…clean hands and feet.


I had been reading with this thought in mind, when I read in Matthew recently. Going back over this Gospel with this candle of what was in the heart and mind of Matthew as he wrote it. Not alone the thought of preachers going out two and two meeting in the home, etc., but in these 28 chapters, for instance, he records these things…the truths of God that burned in his heart that together made up this Living Way. Some of these chapters you could spend a lot of time meditating on, but stand back, and get a picture of God’s True and Eternal way. First I thought of the right kind of beginning in this Way, in order to have, this Truth in….in order that it would bring them into fellowship with God and with his hopes. You will remember the 13th chapter, about the treasure hid in the field…the laying hold of the treasure. He sold all that he had, and bought the field.


The cost to you and to me is the same, today. No cheapen way of obtaining the treasure. It still means to sell all that we have…to let go our will, our way. Oh, so many individuals, and probably among us, who think they can get by. No, friend! Nobody gets by in this house of God. If you are holding on to things of this world, you’re not getting by. It means trueness and surrender…the will, the way…to walk in his will…willing for all the mind of God. What do you think about this way? Do you feel, “Oh, it’s too costly, or too strait, or too narrow?”  Or do you think as this man was thinking about it? Making a true surrender. This is God’s glorious Way. There never could be any other way. It cannot be changed…it never will be changed. What is your thought about God’s Way? This man saw the treasure.  Could you have known unless the Lord showed it to you? The working of God in you and me at the right time, and hiding it in the heart? We were willing for the conditions that went with it.


In connection with this 13th chapter, you will read the 16th chapter, the part about the revelation God gave to Peter and the other disciples. It wasn’t a flesh and blood revelation or human intelligence…note the wording being so proper. Each word in its proper phrasing, etc. The cleverness of the thinking can be the greatest destructors. Anyone with common intelligence and average mind is able to tell what they have seen and heard of the grace of God. That is why it wasn’t necessary for God to send men and women to college to learn how to preach. It was God doing something in the heart. Only God in heaven can give the revelation. Men and women laboring under thin delusion that someone is right in some other way would only show the lack of clarity. The God-given revelation is the only kind that will stand. That is the right kind of beginning. It will never be wider or broader, and will never appeal to any but the honest hearted.


A Methodist preacher once said, “In looking back over 1900 years, we see the mistakes of Jesus. He should have attracted better people.” Such ignorance! This revelation was given to the poor, willing for the conditions. The poor had the gospel preached to them.” We would be foolish if we would think this gospel was given to any other kind…that would not let everything go to have this treasure. “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself.”  Do you feel, “Is there not a way that this could all be nice and pleasant, so we could get rid of this reproach?” Human nature always asking for some easier way.


Heard about Catholic parents and their young son, who were talking about this period of fasting. The son should give up candy, etc. The boy wasn’t easily sold on the proposition. He asked, “What are you giving up, anything?”  They said, “We are giving up liquor.” The boy said, “I saw you at dinner time, drinking wine.” They said, “Well, hard liquor.” The boy replied, “All right, I will give up hard candy.”


Do you know that God made his way as wide as he could possibly make it, in order that his work could be done to make you fit for heaven? I used to wish that this had a name, like Catholic or Presbyterian, in order to avoid embarrassment. Looking back, I can see how everything God has done was in kindness for you and me. That which we may think is difficult is designed to do something in us. Do not try to evade or avoid it. We are only robbing ourselves if we do. Let there be that denial day after day. Say no to the world…no compromise; welcome reproach for Jesus’ sake.  Oh, this separation is something people don’t like.  If there was some way to get away from it, and there would no longer be the reproach. Oh, if there is ever thoughts like this in our hearts, there is a lack of the leading of the Spirit of God. As long as we are led and taught by the Spirit of God, it is going to keep us just as far from the world as it ever did. Don’t think in the heart of worldlings, that they like God’s Way. They do not like the truth of God, unless they have that honesty of heart.


There was an old man in our part that endeavored to walk in God’s Way for a number of years.  He is 97 years of age. “I am going to make it 100 or die. The reason I read the Bible is to learn what I ought to do, and do it. When I am reading the Bible, I find out what to do, and when I find that out, I find out what not to do.”  This man has a son who professed one and a half years ago. This son was reading in Hebrews about the priesthood. He said to his father, “I have just been reading about Melchizedek…What is it all about, anyway?” This was his answer: “Never mind about Melchizedek. The way is clear ain’t it? Walk in it.” Walk in the way of sincerity, purity, and truth.


You will remember those chapters so often mentioned, Matthew 5, 6, and 7 – the attitude of heart — our thoughts — those inner thoughts about ourselves, and those inner feelings toward God. You will also read what God’s Way is not. He was telling them of another pharisaical Spirit. He was afraid of the Spirit of Phariseeism getting in them…pretending to have a love that is not there, etc. If the heart attitude is not there, we are out of the Way. We may go out two a two, without collection or salary, but we could miss the very Spirit of the work. If the humility and Spirit of self denial is gone, we are out of the Way. “Strait is the gate and narrow is the way,” but this narrow way is in the heart. Jesus wasn’t ignorant of the wiles of the adversary. To be seen, heard and getting honor from men, whether we preach the gospel, or are Christians in the home, we are in the broad way, and not in the narrow way. We are not the people in whom God has pleasure.


I can tell you of a family who was in distress in more ways than one.  There was a Child of God in that vicinity who learned about that distress, and without anyone knowing, he very unassumingly met that need. To this day, this family does not know who it was. I learned about it by accident. They thought I maneuvered the deed, but I didn’t. It’s doing what no one knows about that pleases God.


This is God’s way. When we want to be praised by others, it’s nothing more than the broad way…only advertising themselves and their service…getting the reward in this present world…nothing for the future. One of the greatest things is when, out of an overflowing heart, you are ministering in whatever capacity you can not looking for any reward…this is what makes it possible for God to reward. You are serving and ministering, because there is nothing else you can do. You serve because there is something in your heart that compels you to do so.


In the second chapter of Matthew, you will remember about the period of the birth of Jesus.  There was vengeance in the heart of King Herod when he saw that he was mocked by the Wise Men, and was exceedingly wroth, and sent forth and slew all the children in Bethlehem, and in all the coast thereof from two year-olds under, etc.  God in heaven was interested in protecting Joseph and Mary with the babe. There are those who will always seek to destroy this young child’s life, but the Angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph and said, “Arise, take the young child and his mother and flee into Egypt. When the Lord says, ‘This is not a good place for you to be,’ you obey the leading of God’s Spirit – that is God’s Way. The Lord may also say to you, ‘You are in the wrong place and wrong work. You better get out of here.'”  Influences that would destroy the Christ life in you – what is your reaction? If Joseph and Mary had remained in Bethlehem, it would have resulted in the death of the Christ child.


I fail to understand how some of the children of God can enjoy the company of the world. I cannot know what they talk about – what the pleasure is. Just about all I can converse with my natural brother is to talk about the weather, the family, the work, etc., and we both run out, because he is living for an entirely different world. I am not referring to the necessary contact with the world, but the choosing of such company in preference to the Spiritual life. Some time ago, a man we knew had quite an influential position. He told me about some of his associates in business, that they would invite him to the ball game, and he would go, though he told them he attended meeting Sunday mornings. He was older than I; I didn’t say anything of rebuke. After I began to walk in God’s Way, I saw it was necessary to renounce this world and its pleasures.  I was interested in this experiment, however…I was watching. It continued until no longer is the man among the people of God. He was not overcoming, and little by little he got out of the Way. This kind of company will do you no good. One man told me some time ago that he fed him stories about God without foundation.  He said, “Every time I meet that man, he gives me a dose of carbolic acid.” That is what  it means to walk in God’s Way…the right kind of fellowship. You might, in meetings, try to say the right expressions, but you can’t do it – they could not say, “Shibboleth.” (Judges 12:6) They could not frame it right – did not have it in their heart.


Another very nice thing in this chapter of Matthew is where the Angel appeared to Joseph and said, “Arise and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel, for they are dead which sought the young child’s life.” Is it not a comforting thought to you that nothing can happen to us, individually or collectively, unless God permits it? There can be no power against God’s child unless he grants it.


There was a man back where I worked, in a day of trouble…in a dark day. I was very glad for the words that man spoke. He said, “The boat is rocking, but I have seen this boat rock before. I have seen other storms that have rocked this boat and I am not afraid.”  You will recall the story about those disciples in the boat when the waves and winds were tempestuous, and, when Jesus spoke peace to the troubled waters, they said, “Truly this is the Son of God.” They realized they were never beyond the help of God. Truly this is God’s Way. All the evidences that we are yet serving a living God.

If you know that your brother has ought against you, do not offer any gift; first be reconciled with your brother. This is what it means to be in God’s Way. When His Spirit controls, we will do that automatically. Perhaps the worst sin of all is to feel we have no sin. Is the Lord able to see sin in us? No one ever got away with unforgiveness. It is God’s Way that we’re right in the heart. When Peter denied Jesus, the Lord was not looking so much on the denial as the reaction, the brokenness of  heart and Spirit. If we don’t know of the true, genuine sorrow, we know God’s Way. I have only mentioned a very few things. Read about the breaking of bread, baptism, what it means to do it in sincerity… thoughts right, God’s approval; thoughts wrong, his disapproval. I hope we will make that true Heart surrender all along the way…and know God’s approval given along the way.