"If an angel walks besides me it is because ahead of me is a work that only an angel can do!"

Archive for April, 2012

Finally Brethren

(Preached at Fleetwood in 1964)

Reading: 2 Thessalonians 3:1-18

Text: “Finally Brethren!”

a. Listening to a boring sermon how eagerly have we awaited these blessed words – “Finally Brethren!”

b. “Finally Brethren” is a characteristic of Paul’s writing.

  • “Finally Brethren … Farewell!” 2 Corinthians 13:11.
  • “Finally Brethren… Be strong in the Lord.” Ephesians 6:10.
  • “Finally Brethren… Rejoice in the Lord!” Philippians 3:1.

And like most Pentecostal preachers he found it difficult to stop! So to them he said again: “Finally Brethren… Whatsoever things are true etc., … Think on these things!”

c. With a true shepherd’s heart, Paul gives his final counsel to his beloved Thessalonians… His words, being of the Holy Ghost, are timeless and apply to you and myself.

1. Finally Brethren: Pray for those in the forefront of the fight

a. This great soldier knew the value of prayer. 1 Thess. 5:25 “Brethren pray for us!”

What a ministry is this for the Church today! I cannot understand people who call themselves Christians, saying they have noting to do and nowhere to go, and yet they do not come to the prayer meeting.

The greatest preacher may be helped by the humblest intercessor.

b. “That the Gospel may speed on and triumph” (RSV).

At Antioch – “The Gentiles glorified the Word of the Lord” (Acts 13:48).

At Ephesus – “Mighty grew the Word of God and prevailed” (Acts 19:20).

O that those days could come again — they can, if we pray!

2. Finally Brethren: God can be trusted! (Vs. 3)

Compare verses 2 and 3. The Jews had chased them out of town – But they had not chased God out of town.

We too need this assurance.

a. Many a believer dreads failure – but “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Christ.” (Phil. 1:6).

b. Many a preacher dreads failure – but “He abideth faithful.” (2 Tim. 2:13).

3. Finally Brethren: Live by the Book

Read 2 Thess 3-4 and compare verse 14.

Unlike the Pharisees (Matt. 15:9) PAul did not teach for doctrines the commandments of men.

Friends the Bible tells us not only what to believe – but how to BEHAVE.

a. How many Christians are adopting the world’s standards.

b. How many Pentecostals are adopting the opinions of nominal Christians.

c. God have mercy on us preachers who have lowered the standards.

4. Finally Brethren: Live in the light of His coming (Vs. 5).

Two tremendous motives for holy living:

a. “The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God.” “Do those things that are pleasing in His sight.” 1 Jo. 3:22.

“If ye love Me, keep my commandments.”

b. “The Lord direct your hearts into the patient waiting for Christ.”

Do you “love His appearing”?

“Be patient brethren unto the coming of the Lord.” James 5:7.  At Thessaloniki, they had confused the SUDDENNESS of the 2nd Coming with its immediacy, and many had ceased to work! Now they were sponging (See Vss. 10/11).

5. Finally Brethren: Choose carefully your companions

“If any man obey not our word, note that man, and have no company with him.” (2 Thess. 3:14).

Note: This applies to Christians and their Christian friends.

“I implore you my brothers, keep a watchful eye on those who cause trouble and make difficulties among you – and steer clear of them.” (Rom. 6:17 Phillips).

Note this: “Withdraw” in Vs. 6  “As a mariner steers his vessel away from the rocks.”

6. Finally Brethren: Do not tire (Vs. 13).

Compare Vs. 11.

The devil is the great discourager – watch you do not help him by:-

Spreading 1. discontent. 2. unbelief. 3. fear.

Are you the only Christian where you work?

Do your Sunday School scholars never “receive the truth”?

Are you hard pressed at home by opposition?

“My beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord – you labour is NOT in vain in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 15:58).

7. Finally Brethren: My last prayer for you (2 Thess: 3:16).

“The Lord of peace – give you peace!”

“Peace be unto you!” can be as conventional as “How do you do?” But true Christianity turns convention into sincerity.

Unrest tortures every human heart, and peace is the hope and quest of all.

He is the “Lord of peace” – he was tranquil – unruffled. But… peace is not apathy. It is not indifference.

He sorrowed, He wept, He wondered – yet He was at peace.

So peace is not stolid indifference, or avoidance of difficulty, skirting of sacrifice. Peace is the central calm of a heaving activity!

“Peace always” – unbroken in its continuity.

“By all means” – that is “in all ways” – Peace in the paths of plenty or in the ways of want. Peace always, and in all ways. There is light in Goshen even when darkness covers Egypt.

Dear friends remember the words of the Lord Jesus – “In the world ye shall have tribulation, but IN ME ye shall have peace.” Jesus is the Lord of peace.

 

 

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Then Did They Spit In His Face

(Preached at Bonsall 1964)

Matthew 26:67 “Then did they spit in his face…”
Revelation 20:11 “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.”

Introduction:
a). In the palace of Caiaphas the High Priest, let us learn the deepest meaning of these terrible words: “Then did they spit in His face.”

b). Of all forms of vile vituperation this is the most foul.
Of all expressions of disgust, it is the most disgusting…

1. Note The Time Of This Loathsome Act
a). These men did this shameful deed after they heard our Lord affirm His Kingship (The right hand of power). — “Then did they spit in His face” is to say “We will not have this man to reign over us.”

b). When He spoke of “coming in the clouds of Heaven” – It was in contempt of this claim – in derision of this honour – “Then did they spit in his face.”

c). Note also, it was when the high priest had condemned Him with the words “He hath spoken blasphemy: what further need have we of witnesses? Behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy” – “Then did they spit in his
face.”

  • 1. Thus Caiaphas leads the way in contempt of Him.
  • 2. I tremble to think how eminent a man may be in religion and yet become the enemy of Christ.
  • 3. How many priests this very day are taking upon themselves to offer Christ afresh upon incensed altars and thus dishonour Him. Antichrist never more surely dwells in any place than in the places where Christ is thus dishonoured.

 

2. Learn From This Shameful Deed

1. How far sin will go.
If I need proof of the depravity of man… point not to the cesspools of Sodom and Gomorrah… Speak not of Herod, whose hands were crimsoned with the blood of babies… But tell me that men did spit in the face of Jesus.
a). That face which is the light of Heaven
That face which is the joy of angels
That face which is the bliss of saints
That face which is the brightness of His Father’s glory – – –
b). Why? What evil had He done…
He had healed their sick – – He had blessed their children
c). I say again – relate not to me the crimes of ancient nations, nor the more elaborate iniquities of our great cities… THIS, in the sight of the angels of God, and in the eyes of the God of the angels, is the masterpiece of iniquity: “THEN DID THEY SPIT IN HIS FACE.” Thus far has sin dared to go… our human race is guilty of the worst.

2. How deep the humiliation he had to suffer.
“He was made sin.” Incumbent upon Him to be treated with shame. Not as Son of God – not as a righteous man – but AS a sinner.

a). O Lord, to what terrible degradation Thou art brought!..
Into what depths art Thou dragged through my sin.

b). Let us hate sin – not only because it pierced those blessed hands, but because it even dared to spit in His face.

c). I want to kiss His feet, when I think that they did spit in His face.

3. How omnipotent was His love.
How could He bear it?
See how meekly He endures the shame… With a word He could have slain those tormentors… But His love was omnipotent.
He had the omnipotence of force – yet there is no omnipotence like that which doth restrain omnipotence.

3. Have We Done What They Did?
Today some spit in Christ’s face by

1. Denying His Godhead.
Many of these are in the Churches today.

2. Mocking at His Gospel.
The atoning sacrifice is mocked as “slaughterhouse religion”.

3. Preferring their own righteousness to the righteousness of Christ.
If you prefer your merits – then of you it can be said: “Then did they spit in His face.”

4. Forsaking the profession of following Christ.
To leave Christ for the world, is to spit in His face.
4. Now See The Contrast In Our Other Verse
Revelation 20:11 “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.”

a). “I saw” – O that you might foresee this great sight.

  • “A Throne” – For Christ now reigns.
  • “A white Throne” – Not bespattered with injustice – He is righteousness.
  • “A GREAT white Throne” – The thrones of all other kingdoms put together, would not make a footstool fit to lie before this throne.

b). “And Him that sat upon it” — His divine Majesty!
What a sight it was to John – who had leaned his head on Jesus’ bosom, to see that same Master sitting upon the throne.

c). Notice what happened… “From Whose face the earth and the heaven fled away”

1. Heaven and earth began to roll away like a wave receding from the shore.

2. What must He be before Whose face Heaven and earth shall retreat in dismay.

d). What will you do then?
“He drew me by His love, but I finally rejected His mercy!”
“I gave Him up for the pleasures of the world!”
Repent tonight and believe the Gospel – – then instead of looking that day into the face of your JUDGE – you will see the face of your SAVIOUR.

When Life Is Like A Dream

(Preached at Coventry 1966)

Text: Acts 12:11
a. Luke must have had first-hand knowledge – he records Peter’s thoughts in this verse. Possibly John Mark was his informant.

b. The Christian life is such an experience – Psalm 126:1 “When the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream.”
It is my purpose to learn these lessons from this story.

1. If we let our enemies get hold of us, they will hold us fast.
Peter was too big a prize to be lost.
We pilgrims travel through hostile country. The espionage is everywhere – at HOME and ABROAD.
If we fall into their hands we may as well expect mercy from a Demon, as expect tolerance with our shortcomings from worldlings.

2. The case is never hopeless if put in God’s hands.
16 soldiers!
2 chains!
2 doors!
1 iron gate!
But prayer was made!
Look at the sequence here and compare these verses: Psalm 18: 6, 9, 16, 17.

3. God is never in a hurry
Jesus stayed two days longer where he was before he went to raise Lazarus – John 11:6.

a. In stead of the executioner – there came an angel.
That happens every time a saint dies – the Door of Eternity opens to him, and there stands not DEATH but LIFE EVERLASTING.

b. As soon as I had experienced Vs. 7 – I would have run outside in my pyjamas.
“Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He tapped Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his wrists.”
But see Vs. 8:
“The angel said to him, “Fasten your belt and put on your sandals.” He did so. Then he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.”
O the leisure of Almightiness!

c. Omnipotence is never in a hurry!
God is not only slow to bring judgment upon men, He is leisurely in mercy too, as becomes His Majesty.
“For you shall not go out in haste, and you shall not go in flight; for the LORD will go before you…”
Peter learned “He that believeth shall not make haste.”

4. It was just a dream!A light of glory

  • Angelic visitation
  • Falling chains
  • Sleeping guards
  • A world of enchantment!

But the Iron Gate would put an end to the dream.  Vs. 10: “They came to the Iron Gate!”
Iron gates are very prosaic. They are down to earth. They represent the return to reality.

a. After our most spiritual and radiant meetings – there’s the iron gate. Worse than iron curtains.
How often after a delightful Sunday – the cool caress of linen sheets – and then out of the cold dark the alarm clock yells at you: “Hey! It’s Monday morning!”
And you have come to the iron gate.

b. As long as Peter had an iron gate before him, he had an angel beside him.
The opposite is true also – as long as Peter had an angel beside him, he had an iron gate ahead of him.
Angels do not walk beside us just for fun.
If I have an angel beside me – it is because ahead of me there is a work only an angel can do.

c. Good times are omens of coming struggles.
The Transfiguration pointed to Gethsemane.
But the iron gate opened to them of its own accord.
Iron swims (remember Elisha?) and iron swings when God is about.
Sometimes battalions of sorrows overwhelm us, and we stagger in amazement – dazed, bewildered…
Sometimes God’s mercies rush upon us and suddenly everything is clothed with the glories of a dream.
“Heaven above is softer blue, Earth around is sweeter green,
Something lives in every hue, Christless eyes have never seen.”

5. The dream was real.
Peter thought he saw a vision. Vs. 16: They went out and passed through one street, and forthwith the angel departed from him.
He had walked along lamp-lit prison corridors behind an angel – through an iron gate swinging silently and mysteriously – out into the empty street, stirring in morning grey light – and the angel melted away with the first sunbeam
– vanishing in the light of common day.
That sobered him! “He considered the thing!” out there in the street and said: “Now I know the Lord hath sent His angel and delivered me.”
The angel has to be gone before we are sure he was here.

Emotion of experience has to cool before we fully understand the experience.
Meditation discovers more of God in the great moments of our lives than we understood while we were living in those moments.
No man fully understands what riches he receives when he receives Christ – it takes a lifetime to possess it.
“Jesus! I am finding out the greatness of Thy loving Heart!”