The words of a hymn have been on my mind through the week (Number 233).
“The path is full of danger, so let us watch and pray” and the chorus, “Let us be true like Jesus, and never turn aside with a faithful heart true, let us in Him abide.”
When I returned to the Homeland after some years, I found that some we had loved and laboured for had now turned aside and were no longer walking with God’s children. It was a sad experience. I asked myself the question, “What was the cause of failure?” l opened the Bible and read the two letters addressed to that young preacher Timothy. I read there some of the causes of failure and felt they were the same today as 1900 years ago.
Human nature is the same. I appreciated very much what our brother said about keeping our eyes upon the faithful of the land. I appreciated what I heard yesterday about keeping our eyes on the right things. That thought was very real to me during the last month. The letter Paul wrote to Timothy came as a great warning to me.
“A number of men and women have fallen by the way. They have became monuments of failure victims to unbelief, pride, envy, lust etc. They are a warning.” The apostle wrote with a definite purpose. There are danger signs to warn me. ln USA, we have many automobiles. Thousands lose their lives on the roads every year. Mostly through ignoring the danger signs “Slow down.” “Curve,” “Stop,” etc. No motorist in his right mind ignores the danger signs.
I am going to speak this morning on some of the danger signs. I know it is not a subject that is nice to speak of or listen to. You have heard about that man Solomon spoke of who was slothful and void of understanding. [Prov 24 V 30] His vineyard was all grown over with thorns and nettles, and the wall thereof was broken down. He said, “I saw and considered it well. I looked upon it and received instruction. So shall thy poverty come and thy want, as an armed man.” Solomon didn’t get dismayed when he saw the failure, but he took a spiritual lesson from it. I hope we do not get discouraged as we look at the failure of what man has done.
In 1 Timonthy 1:5, Paul writes, “Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience. Of faith unfeigned from which some having swerved have turned aside to vain jangling.” “Empty talk,” as some readings have it. When one hears a lot of talk and complaining, resenting this and resenting that – a lot of empty talk.
I like the Korean translation, “The purpose of all the commandments is that love might be in the heart.” Is that love in your heart and mine the same as in the beginning, for the Lord, for the children of God and for the Word of God? It was said to the church at Ephesus that they “had left their first love.”
The words of Jesus concerning the last days were, “Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold – But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” (Matthew 24:12-13) I believe we are in the last days. Today, is our love for one another for the things of God and the word of God? What it ought to be? It is the outstanding mark of the children of God, the thing that makes you a child of God, is not just going to meetings, not the fact that, when together, we talk about the things of God. We read of some in the Bible that did all this but were lacking in the love of God.
All forms of Christianity, all forms service to God in the church could be in order. Yet Christ on the outside pushed out, because love had ceased. This morning I believe I can tell how much of the Love of God possesses us. Just as much as we love our brother and no more. I don’t mean just loving those who are kind to you, but the one who has despitefully used you. Does not this cause a soul searching?
The Love of God in all. It’s perfection is seen in Jesus, If you love one another, this is the way you are perfected in Christ. John says, “We know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren.” [1 John 3:14] Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love, one for another.” [John 13:35]
Nothing brings so much sorrow as to see God’s people quarreling and fighting one another. I hope the coming year will see a deepening of our love for one another and for God. God grant that we might, every one of us, have a little more of the Love of Jesus. If that love is deepened for our brethren, even for the one who has despitefully used you, this convention will not have been in vain.
“The end of the commandment is love out of a pure heart.” It speaks of a good conscience and faith unfeigned. When trouble begins in your heart and my heart, it begins where it always began. Where did the work of God begin in your life? It began in the heart. I would say that is where the work of the devil begins, too. When there is trouble, I can’t put the blame on a brother.
My Father died of heart trouble. He went to a doctor who listened and said, “You have heart trouble.” We lived with Father but we didn’t know he had that trouble, and he didn’t know, either. We could go to the meetings and have fellowship with each other and still have “heart trouble.” If not dealt with by the Great Physician, it will often take me and take you out of the way, I hope today there might be a thorough examination of the heart.
The Lord will do all He can for us if we are willing. “A good conscience and of faith unfeigned.” Some had made shipwreck, “Of Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have delivered unto Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.” These men had once tasted of the same fellowship as you and I. Now they had turned aside and had turned their backs upon the things that had once meant so much to them.
We sang that hymn, “Hold fast thy confidence, lay not thine armour down.” How important it is to hold on to our faith, to cling to it. There is an awful lot to try the faith of God’s people. When I think of those in the colleges and universities and what is taught there, it is a marvel some can go through those institutes and places of higher learning and yet cling onto faith.
We will not be gone from convention one day before we will be tested. I hope we will leave this convention more determined then ever to hold on to faith. Faith comes by hearing and continues to come the same way, by having an open ear every day to the voice of God.
My Mother made her choice when she was twenty years of age. It was long years after before my Father did. My Father was charged with the responsibility of having fifteen or twenty men under him. Mother had to cook for them all and had, in addition, four little ones to care for. She was miles away from any meeting place and used to gather us around her and read the Bible. I can still remember her praying and singing a little, about the time when the rest of God’s people would be gathering together. We yoked up the horse and drove twenty-five miles to the home where the meetings were held .We did it many times. I remember well those long dusty trips. My mother was sorely tried to keep the faith. Dad thought her very foolish to take that long drive. My Mother died twelve years ago. As I stood by the grave, I breathed a silent prayer of gratitude because she kept the Faith, and was faithful to the end.
I say to you who are mothers and fathers: If you are faithful before your children, they will rise up and call you blessed and will thank God that you kept faithful. I have been forty years in the Family of God and in the work of God. I hope you realize your privileges and responsibility as parents. So much depends upon your holding fast the Faith.
It also says, “A good conscience.” I ask myself, “What is it?” The Lord speaks to us today and right through the Bible concerning lip service and heart service. People can pray in so many different ways, even in the Sunday AM meetings and in the week-night meeting, but there are times also when we must stand out alone and we don’t have fellowship, don’t even have the Bible with us. We can be sorely tempted. God, by a good conscience, can restrain us. What has often held you back from the wrong thing? A good conscience.
The Indians of North America knew there was a conscience. They said it was a little square box with sharp corners. The box turned when you did the wrong things and the corners hurt you. If you persisted in doing it, the corners wore away and there was no pain. I have nasal trouble I went to a doctor. He said, “I could stop it by using a hot iron.” I said, “Doctor, would you have it done like that to your nose?” He said, “No.” I said, “I won’t, either.” lf I had consented, he told me, I would not know when anything affected it. These men made shipwreck because of putting away a good conscience. Even though out in the world and we don’t have a Bible, and we cannot find a quiet place to get alone with God – Paul was able to say, “I have a good conscience before God,” void of offence. These men put away a good conscience. God grant that all might preserve a good conscience and void of offence.
Let us turn to 1 Timonthy 6:10, “For the love of money is the root of all evil.” We see here another monument of failure. What causes trouble among the nations? The love of money. It does not say that money is the root of all evil, but it does say that the LOVE of money is. The love of anything that takes the place God should have can be an idol to you.
I was talking to some workers going to Korea and trying to help them and spoke of what was said here about the LOVE of money. They looked amazed and wondered why I talked this. I said, “These words were written to a servant of God, not to the people of God.” I would say this, to me, we are just in as much danger. We have known some to go to destruction on account of this. I believe it is within the will of God for people to lay aside something for a rainy day. Alright, to have a good home and a motor car.
I see no gods of stone in your country. If you could go to countries where I have been, you would see little “gods” all along the roads. When I was in Japan, I saw a god made of bronze 700 years ago. I saw many people bowed down there praying to a god that cannot hear or save. As Paul walked around Athens, he saw that the city was wholly given to idols. Could there be any idols in the land I love?
I said, “There could be just as much idolatry.” I saw, in America, that people bowed down before the gods of materialism were just as bad as those poor souls who bowed down to the gods in Japan. One little girl had a replica of the god in a part of India. She said, “This is what we worship in India.” One put a coin on the piano and said, “This is what we worship in USA: the silver dollar.” Anything that takes first place- it might be a child, a home, the bank account, that shining automobile, anything that takes the place that God should have.
“Some coveted after” (l Timonthy 6:10) I was reading about covetousness in the OLD TESTAMENT. When the children of Israel crossed the Jordan, they had a great victory when the walls of Jericho fell. Then suddenly they came to a standstill. There was serious trouble (Joshua 7:6). They were defeated at Ai. Joshua rent his clothes and fell on his face before the Ark. He prayed, “O my Lord God, wherefore hast thou brought this people over Jordan?” The Lord said, “Get thee up wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? Israel hath sinned.” It was all because of one man, Achan. He saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment worth two hundred shekels of silver and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight. He coveted them and took them and said, “Behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent. I saw, I coveted, I took.” That is the pattern. It is hidden now in the tent of that man and affected the whole camp of Israel. That man perished not alone in His iniquity, he took others with him. It had a destructive influence upon his family. We see the trouble a little covetousness can cause. Let us examine our hearts and see if there is any covetousness there.
In 2 Timothy Chapter 3, we have this verse, “This know that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, unholy. Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. ” Here, I see something else. I read that awful word, SELF. Nothing could be more dangerous to God’s children than confidence in self and selfishness. It would be good if we went out from this convention a little less selfish and with more confidence in God.
There are three forms of selfishness: Self-love, Self Pride, and Self-will. That would make it impossible to lay one’s life on the altar of God’s service. If we love ourselves, how could we be consumed every day by the Love of God? Self-pride, the thing that makes men and women proud of their human qualities.
John Carroll used to tell us of the danger of pride of grace, pride of place, and pride of race. Some were even proud of their humility. What makes people love to gaze at themselves in a looking glass – pride of face. Pride of race is worse. Those two awful world wars were carried on by men who were proud of their race and who thought themselves to be supermen. I stood by at the occupation of Tokyo, ashamed to be called an American. I saw them treat the Japanese like dogs. I was almost ashamed to be called an American. Pride of Race. I don’t say that we be proud to be an American, but the spirit that causes men to say, “I am better than you” is not right and it engenders hatred.
Self-will – it is a terrible thing to see. Worse still in God’s people. Worst of all in God’s servants, wanting our own way. My Father didn’t profess for many years, but he demanded obedience in his children. My little sister threw a spoon on the floor. Father said, “Pick it up.” She said, “No!” and stamped her feet. Father took a limb off a willow tree. She still said, “No!” I was a little boy of six at the time Father tried to make her pick it up. Perspiration was on his face and he was white. She would reach down and almost pick it up. Mother wept. She knew that little girl’s self-will had to be broken, After about twenty minutes, she picked up the spoon. Ten years later, that little girl obeyed the call of God. She said, “If Father had not broken down my self-will then, I would never have been willing to obey the call of God.” I can still see that tense look and that “I will not” expression. I have seen that same look in people’s faces when preaching the Gospel. I hope we will be careful about this. May we be willing to be more submissive.
(4:10) “Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world.” These are to me the saddest words from one of God’s best servants. Demas was a man who had enjoyed true fellowship with one of God’s best servants. He had a part in ministering to God’s people. Because of the love of the world, he goes out and leaves it all behind. I have seen it in our day. It is possible right here in Victoria. The world and the things of the world are a temptation, not only to the young, but to all God’s people, young or old. Not only the pleasures of the world but the friendship of the world. Its pleasures appeal to the young people. Temptation often comes to those who are a bit older. Then there are the cares of the world. This is a temptation that comes when there is a little family, you have to send then to school, buy a home perhaps. The world may tempt you in this way.
One young man who married came to me with tears on his faced asked, “What was the matter?” He said, “I have the best little wife and two little children. I have to work so hard, I have not much time with family. I am afraid I am losing the love of my wife, losing out in the Truth of God.” Yes, we know these things happen. A few years ago, it was the pleasures of the world that allured. Now that meant no more to him. Now it was the cares of the world.
I am at an awkward age. A young man asked me my age. It is not long since I was tempted by the world. It looked very glittering to me. It made me feel I was missing something. You are not missing anything except a lot of suffering. It is like a drug. You take a little then more. The pleasures of the world never satisfy one. One is always reaching out for something else. It amounts to this: the world is not what it is cracked up to be. May God help us all to be true and faithful to the end and have desire to not let the world control us.