Willie Jamieson – True and False Teachers

John 10:1-16, this chapter, to my mind, is a chapter that speaks specially to those who are preachers. The longer I preach, the more I feel how easy it is to be a false preacher, even after knowing a great lot about what it means to be a true preacher. In former years, I used to apply this tenth chapter of John to the men in the world whom we call the false prophets, but I have ceased from doing that in the same sense I did before, because all false preachers in the world will never hinder us very much as long as they are all outside of the family and Kingdom of God.
You might be surprised when I suggest the possibility of my becoming a false prophet, and maybe more false than any false prophet out in any organization today, but that is what this chapter tells me could happen. I thought it would be good to remind myself and my fellow labourers of some of the things Jesus spoke to His disciples two thousand years ago. There was a time in our lives when we used to believe the main thing about a true preacher was that he sold everything he had, left his father and mother, and went out preaching without a salary, and everything of that kind. A man could not be a true preacher without doing these things, but he could do that and still not be a true preacher. A man could be persuaded that in order to be a true preacher he must sell everything, but that would not make him a true preacher.
You ask me how that could be so. How could a man do all that, and then not be a true preacher? If I did all of that from a wrong standpoint or because of being moved by another spirit than the Spirit that led Jesus to do that, I am only right on the outside. I do not have the spirit in my heart that made Jesus do that, and which made Him right on the inside as well as the outside.
If I were to try to picture a sheepfold made out of lumber, what would you tell me was the most important part of that sheepfold? I believe you would say it would be the door, because, without that door, the sheep could not get into the fold. The most important part of this fold into which we have been brought is the door, and Jesus Himself said He was the door. If the door is typical of Jesus, the walls round about the door might typify us, the workers. It is true that the people of God are inside, in one sense, of the fellowship of the servants of God.
In order to make the door of the sheepfold, you must first of all have someone to go to the forest and cut down the tree. You see it growing in its majesty in the forest, and then someone goes out and cuts it off at the root, and there is a mighty crash. That tree is separated from its parent root, sent to the sawmill, and manufactured into lumber. Then the lumber is sent to the carpenter shop and nails and saws are taken and the lumber is manufactured into the door.
Wouldn’t you say that speaks in the first place of sacrifice? I don’t think I have ever eaten a meal where there wasn’t a tremendous voice speaking to me about sacrifice. That beef steak I eat was once running about on four feet, enjoying the high grass of the pasture. The vegetables we eat have all died before they are put on the table for us. We are the happiest people in California today. We are also the people in California today that have been brought into this Convention as the result of the greatest sacrifice that is known in the state of California today.
The first kind of sacrifice I want to speak about is the sacrifice of that door. Two thousand years ago, in order to show us how to be true preachers, Jesus said good-bye to His Father in Heaven and came down to this earth. Some of you parents know what it means to say good-bye to your boys and girls when they leave you to go to preach the Gospel. The kind of a Convention I like to preach in is one where I can see parents who have sacrificed their children for the Gospel’s sake. I have felt maybe the greatest sacrifice of all at this Convention, of a human kind, is not the sacrifice being made by the workers but the sacrifice made by the fathers and mothers of the boys and girls who have left home to become workers. That is the kind of a sacrifice which took place two thousand years ago. Try to picture the Father saying good-bye to His Son in heaven and sending Him down to earth for us. I believe the sheepfold, with all its dimensions and all its different little characteristics, was planned not by Jesus when He came to earth, but by God, and Jesus, and the Holy Ghost before ever this earth was created. And when Jesus left His home in Heaven, it was only in fulfillment of the plan of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost that had been made in eternity before the world was made. In the light of that great truth, you must believe you have been brought into a wonderful fellowship.
When I think of Jesus coming down to this earth, the verse that flashes into my mind is, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” But though He was made in the form of God, He made Himself of no reputation, and took the form of the man who was to be the example man for every preacher in the world. He took on Him the form of a servant. This verse connects up with another verse in Isaiah 42. At the beginning of this chapter God says, “Behold my servant.” That is what we are to look at, especially those of us who are preachers–at that sample servant God sent down into the world two thousand years ago. God says, “Behold my servant, whom I uphold.”
There is one power above every other that keeps a true servant of the Lord going on, and that power is the upholding power of God the Father. I would rather have the consciousness in my mind that when I stand before any audience of people that God is upholding me in what I am saying, than anything else in the world. If you could, because you are pleased with what I say, bring a million dollars and lay it at my feet and say that is what your sermon was worth to me, then I would say it isn’t worth very much to you if that is all it is worth. Here is the kind of a servant God wants us to look at today, the one He Himself upholds as that man who goes from one place to another, “Mine elect, in whom My soul delighteth: I have put My Spirit upon Him.”
If you are a parent and you have given your boy and girl to God and He has taken that one from amongst the millions of men and women in the world, and has chosen him to be His representative in the world, that ought to make you proud. “Mine elect, in whom My soul delighteth.” God looks down on His saints today and He delights in you as He thinks about you.
But there is one class of people He delights in just a little more than in you and that is the ones He has chosen to represent Him as His servants in the world. How do you think the Son of God felt when He was baptized at the banks of the river Jordan? He came to John and said, “I want you to baptize Me.” But John said, “I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me?” And Jesus answered him, “Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.” Jesus came up out of the water praying, and the Heavens were opened and a voice came from the Heavens that said, “Thou art My Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” God did not say that about His Son as a saint, but as a man who was leaving the ranks of the saints to go into the harvest field to bring other people into the fold. “I have put My Spirit upon Him.”
I would like to ask you, “Do I, as a servant of God, need anything more than that? Is there such a thing as getting anything better than that?” Sometimes people ask me where I got my education, but I haven’t got it yet. If I believed there was any college in the world that was more able to give me what I need to have as a preacher of the Gospel than what the Spirit of God could do, I would turn the Spirit down and go to that college. When God’s Spirit is upon a man, he has gotten everything he needs to have. That Spirit is the Spirit that created this universe. It is the Spirit that kept the stars and the planets on their course for thousands of years without any of them getting out of their places. And if that Spirit is upon the servants of God today, they will not make any mistakes. “He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause His voice to be heard in the streets.”
I sometimes feel that we as workers, young or old, might get into the habit of lifting ourselves up and keeping in the place we ought to be putting our Master. What would you think about me if I was to spend my time advertising myself? I like to see workers who, as they stand on the platform to preach, put Jesus first and do not lift self up. What is the mark of the true preacher? It is that you never hear the voice of the man that is preaching. Jesus preached more on the streets than any other man. Every place He found an audience was His pulpit. This verse means that the mark of all true preachers is that they bring you God’s voice and never give their own voice to you at all. What did John the Baptist say of himself? Some thought he was Elias or some other Old Testament prophet, but he said, “I am not any of them. I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness; Make straight the way of the Lord.” “You shall not hear his voice in the streets,” means that when you meet a true preacher, it causes you to hear the voice of God.
That is one reason why I am afraid of any young worker who finds it easy to preach from any platform, because it is an evidence that he may be manufacturing something instead of allowing his lips to be the mouthpiece of God. “The bruised reed shall He not break.” If I asked those who came to this Convention feeling like a broken reed to hold up their hands, there would be a great many hands raised. If you have ever seen tall grass growing, you will have noticed that if it is bruised its head falls down. One of the reasons I said what I did in the first meeting was that if this Convention is like every other one I have been to, there would be bruised reeds here, and if I did not lift the heads to make them stand erect, filled with hope and the convention of God forgiving, I would be taking that reed and breaking it. Isaiah says, “The bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench.”
If you have a coal oil lamp with a wick in it and the oil is all burned up, if you leave it alone for a short time, there will be nothing but smoke on the chimney. What would you do with a lamp like that? As long as I wanted a light, I would go to the place where I could get a little oil, and I would pour it into the vessel, and then I would put a match to the wick. Then it wouldn’t be long until that wick would burn up and give light again. The mark of the false preaching is that you come to a Convention or to a meeting and you are like that smoking flax, the oil almost gone out, and instead of getting fresh oil, you only get more smoke. When you have a lamp of that kind, it will flicker, then a little light will show, then finally it gives a last flicker and is out and gone.
What is the mark of a true servant, upon whose life is the Spirit of God? That man will bring you more of the oil of the Holy Ghost and will pour it into your vessel. Then he will take a cloth and polish all the smoke off your chimney and you will begin to give light as before. “He shall not fail, nor be discouraged, till He have set judgement in the earth: and the isles shall wait for His law.”
One of the great temptations of us preachers is just to believe we are absolutely nobody at all. I never met a preacher that was any good but felt that he was no good, and the tendency comes to us all to say, “What is the use? I might as well give it up.” It says here of God’s servant, “He shall not fail nor be discouraged.” Many a servant of God gets disappointed, but we should never get discouraged in preaching the Gospel. The first converts we had in China we preached to almost every day for seven years. I would say to every fellow labourer, it would do us a lot of good to cultivate this spirit of not failing or being discouraged until we have set judgement in the earth.
How long did the shepherd in Luke 15 seek for the lost sheep? It says he sought until he found it. I rejoice in the fact that when a man is put to the test he finds something within him that says, “Yes, I will be willing to go on to the end.” John 10. In the servants of God, we have a type of the walls of the sheepfold.
Do you believe I want to be a preacher like Jesus was? That means that the same kind of death as took place in that tree, when it was cut down and sent to the lumber mill, ought to be working in us. We do not believe in any preacher in the world, or in our midst, who is not willing to take the first step in dying. Jesus says in the first verse, “He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.” He uses the present progressive tense here, and that means it is something that is continuing. Jesus did not say, “He that entered,” but it is He that keeps on entering. It suggests to my mind that the time might come in my life when I would climb up some other way instead of entering by the door. Here is the sheepfold, and we will liken the workers to the walls and Jesus to the door, and all the saints are the sheep. Suppose I am not willing tomorrow to enter the door, it means I will have to climb over the wall. It would suggest that I, as a preacher, would begin to ride over the heads of the other workers. I want to climb over them in spite of the fact that every one of them is dying as Jesus died, carrying in their bodies the death of the Lord Jesus every day. Jesus left His home in Heaven and He climbed down to make Himself the Son of Man. He was here on earth as a man amongst men. It tells us that being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
What day in the life of Jesus manifested more death than any other? It was the day He died on Calvary’s cross. If I am a true preacher, I must needs taste more of death every day all along the line. It wasn’t so hard for me to say good-bye when I went into the work, because my parents didn’t want me in their home, but I have found that it is harder to keep on being a true preacher than it is to start being one. There is just as much need in my life as a preacher to die today as there was at the beginning. If I begin to climb up and am not willing to die, I will lose out.
The only thing that makes me willing to die is that I love the Saviour Who loved me enough to die for me. I know of no other quality I can offer to my fellow labourers other than the love of Jesus that made Him leave His home in Heaven and come down to this earth for our sakes. It would be a terrible thing if you ever heard that I was climbing up some other way, and had stopped allowing the love of Christ to so grip my heart that my great delight would be to die for my fellow men.
Verse 2, every man who is moved by the love of God to do the things that Jesus did in order to become a true preacher, that man is a shepherd of the sheep. If I come into the sheepfold as a man climbing up, I will actually steal your souls from the Saviour of your souls. I value your love and friendship, but I don’t want either your love or your friendship unless you are willing to give it first of all to the Saviour Who loved and died for you, because I would be only stealing your soul. The Bible tells me that the more you love my Master, the more you will love me for introducing you to that Master. He that allows his heart continually to be filled with the love of God is the Shepherd of the sheep, and to him the Porter openeth, and the sheep hear his voice.
Do you wonder sometimes why workers have something to give you? One thing that gladdens my heart at Convention is to see the mark of love, and death, and sacrifice in the lives of the young workers. I would say to them, never allow your vision of the value of being in God’s harvest field to grow dim. Never get to the place where you can’t see a vision of God and His harvest field, and the wonderful vision of laying your life continually upon God’s altar for His use. The reason that we have a message for you, and that you get something that feeds your soul and gives you new light on this spiritual life is because we are fulfilling conditions that enable the Porter to open the door to us. It means that every time we have an opportunity to speak to men, the Holy Ghost gives us a message.
What a wonderful promise it is that the Porter will keep opening doors wherever we go and wherever there are hungry souls. “The sheep hear His voice, and He calleth His own sheep by name and leadeth them out.” If you have been led out from everything that held you, you ought to be very thankful. You have been led into a large place, a place where your possibilities and privileges are greater than the world could ever lay at your feet. “When He putteth forth His own sheep, He goes before them: and the sheep follow Him: but a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him; because they know not the voice of a stranger.”
What kind of preacher do you follow? Suppose you were conscious that I had become a false preacher, would you still follow me? When a man fails to continually die in the way he first did as a preacher, he is no longer a safe guide for you to follow. The sheep follow because they know the voice of the shepherd, but a stranger to those conditions laid down by God they will not follow, because they know the value of strangers. Jesus said, “Verily, I am the door of the sheep; all that ever came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep will not hear them.” What does it mean to ‘come before’ Him? If I lift myself up and advertise myself, making myself appear as some great one, and I take the place in front of you that I ought to have given to my Master, then I am setting myself up in front of Him. I am become a thief and a robber, but the sheep will not hear my voice. “He shall go in and out, and shall find pasture.”
One mark of a true shepherd is that he will find pasture for the sheep. Just as long as a preacher is as Jesus was, that man will know what it means to go into the presence of God and find pasture. There is just one place I would rather be than here. I would like to be going out seeking for the lost sheep. “I shall go in and out.” There are some lives we thought so much of in years gone by that are now on the shelf where God can’t use them, because they talked about going in, but they stopped going out. As surely as a man stops going out every year and trying to get others saved and brought into God’s fold, that man’s usefulness will stop right there.
If I spend the whole of my time preaching at Conventions and special meetings, there wouldn’t be much of that going out spirit, and I would soon come to the place where I would not find pasture. One of the reasons why I am glad God sent me to China is because I had to face difficulties there that I never would have needed to face in California. Difficulties are given to us by God to make stepping stones out of. If I want to get higher and see a stone, if I get up on it, I am just so much higher. That is just what difficulties have been given to the servants of God for. “I am the door: by Me, if any man enter, he shall be saved.” You can keep going out and keep entering in by the door every day, filling the conditions of the true pattern. But those conditions will never be fulfilled in us if we don’t drink freely every day from the fountain of love.