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

Why The Waste?

(Preached at Fleetwood, in May1961)

Lesson: John 12: 1-8.
John’s Gospel tells us where this was, and that the anointing was done by Mary of Bethany.
The first critic was Judas, to whom it seemed folly and ‘waste.’
The disciples chimed in with objections, not because they were superior in wisdom to Mary, but because they were inferior in consecration.
Martha too was there – “amongst them that served.” The two sisters give us difficulty in appreciating and doing justice to either.
Christ understands and does justice to BOTH.
Martha is busy to her fingertips. We are short of such women today. A bustling practical woman. She loves Jesus with all her heart, and shows it in her own busy way – by getting the meal ready for Him.
But Mary could no serve – her fingers were all thumbs; yet she must show the Lord how much she loved Him…
She had one precious thing – her own!
And in a burst of emotion, she smashed the thing… the alabaster box, and poured all the liquid perfume over His head and His feet.
It was a prodigal act. An utterly useless thing. A sheer waste – but it told her love for the Lord.
O that we could see today, more extravagant acts to show our love for Jesus.
1. Christ Shielded Her By Pointing To Her Motive
a. “She hath wrought a good work ON ME.”
Anything that is “on Him” is a good work. Anything which has not that saving grace is not a good work. So many “good works” fail to qualify.
b. What an amazing position for a man to take up – “If it’s done for Me – then it’s alright.”
c. He took the best – and still does – of what we give Him. He never said “You are going too far.” ” You exaggerate Me.”
He taught: “All men should honour the Son even as they honour the Father.”
d. There is too much nicely calculated service today. So many are careful not to be fanatical.
I would like to see more things done for Him that the world would count “sheer waste” – absolutely useless things.
Jesus Christ has in His treasure-house a great many ‘foolish things.’
For instance: Two mites. Cups of cold water. Mary’s broken box. Has He anything of yours?
2. He Showed The Measure Of Her Service
a. Jesus said: “She hath done what she could.”
That was not an excuse for her. He was saying in effect – “What she could do – she has done, and nothing less.”
He could not have said that had Mary but taken a spoonful of perfume from the box.
It all went. And that is the measure of her love. She was utterly abandoned in her love for the Nazarene.
Of course, it was not a wise thing to do, if by that you mean economical.
c. It was not Martha’s way – but then it was Mary’s way. So Jesus is saying – “She has done what SHE could.”
Do not envy others – but do what YOU can.”
3. He Gives Meaning To Her Loving Deed
a. “She hath come beforehand to anoint My body to the burying.”
I do not suppose MARY knew or thought of His coming death and burial, as she snatched up the precious vase and broke it upon Him in fragrant worship.
b. But He put the meaning to it. Saying in effect – “She has brought the tribute before the funeral.” THAT’S THE TIME FOR FLOWERS!
Is it not wonderful when He puts meaning into our works BUT HE ALWAYS DOES.
c. We do not know the value of our own work.
For example, the disciples asked Him: “When did we see Thee hungry ” etc.
His response: Inasmuch as you did it unto these little ones, you did it unto Me.”
d. So poor Mary, trembling before her critics with the broken casket in her hands, smiles in wonder as the Lord translated her act into a higher meaning than she or Judas understood.
Other women had to wait for “the first day of the week” – and though they came with their spices early to embalm the body they found the tomb empty – they brought their spikenard too late!
e. Finally – Christ makes perpetual the deed that took but a fleeting moment.
In one breath-taking emotion-packed moment of loving ecstasy she had shown her deep devotion.
f. It was passed in a moment – but He made it an eternal deed. “Verily, I say unto you, wheresoever this Gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.”
g. O the fragrance of that one wild, useless expression of love unspeakable – that fragrance, I say, not only filled the house – IT HAS FILLED THE WORLD.
“To what purpose is this waste?” – To show the love of a forgiven sinner for her Saviour.

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(Preached at Fleetwood, 1965)

“Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ…” Ephesians 3:8.

a. For 37 years I have personally had the privilege of preaching the Gospel of Christ. From numbers between half a dozen to 1500 have been my listeners.
b. If this should be my last sermon, I have already enjoyed enough privilege for one man. To God be thanks.
c. Tonight I shall ask you to consider the opinions and estimates of a preacher of olden time – Paul.
This is what he says: “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ…” Ephesians 3:8.

1. Paul Had a Poor Opinion of Himself
“The least of all saints!”

a. This is not mock modesty. No adjective fit to express his opinion – so he does violence to language and talks about “less than the least!”
b. Why did he feel thus?…
i. Many of his colleagues were “in Christ before him.”
ii. He had been a persecutor of Christians – and he never forgave himself.
iii. Note: Not only least of Apostles – but of saints!
c. How very different from the self-advertising of some. They announce themselves with terms like “God’s man for the hour!” – “His Holiness.” etc.

2. Paul Had an Excellent Opinion of his Brethren
A poor opinion of self is a great help to a good opinion of the saints.
Yet Paul was no dreamer –
He had sharp contention with Barnabas over John Mark.
He had rebuked Peter to the face.
Nor was he insensible to the low spirituality of those saints to whom he wrote: “carnal babies!” “When you ought to be teachers, you need to be taught!”
“Oh foolish Galatians!” etc.
They are faulty no doubt, but they are the people of God.
The truly regenerate ones are the real aristocracy.

“My soul shall pray for Zion still
For there my friends and kindred dwell.”

3. Paul Thought Very Highly of his Work
“Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ…” Ephesians 3:8.

a. He looked upon his ministry as a gift from God – a favour bestowed.
Yet speaking humanly it was a very poor job..
i. He was no Lord Bishop. He had no palace. Not even a house!
ii. His stipend was such that he said: ” I know how to suffer hunger and nakedness.”
iii. His comfort was such that prisons afforded.
Not many clergymen would apply for Paul’s job!
b. His glory was in his dishonour – his boast in his losses:-
“Stripes and imprisonments await me in every city.”
“I have suffered the loss of all things that I might win Christ.”
c. Yet he literally marvelled at his privilege – I see him raising his hands in astonishment… “Unto me – Unto me is this grace given, that I should preach!”
d. Of course, Paul had a very clear idea of what it was that he had to do:- TO PREACH!
Not to sprinkle with holy water.
Not to carry a crucifix and dress in strange millinery.
Not to set himself up as a demi-god, distributing pardons and placing empty hands on empty heads.
e. Wherever he went among the Gentiles this one thing he did – He preached Christ and Him crucified.
You cannot find me one instance where he played at being a priest.
At Athens he did not build another altar.
At Corinth he did not say mass.
At Rome he did not teach ordinands the ins and outs of genuflections – the art of intonation with voice of misery
Nor did he demonstrate the art of waving incense.
What do you say Paul? –

“It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”

4. Paul Thought Kindly of his Congregation
“Among the Gentiles.”
Peter had a more respectable sphere; the ancient Hebrew.
Paul thanked God for his call – yet they were an awful crew:-
i. Greeks – full of lust and learning.
ii. Romans – noted for profligacy and power.
iii. Scythians – barbaric, uncouth.
Is it not touching to hear some missionary speak with affection and tenderness of the natives among whom they labour?
Paul had become a Gentile to the Gentiles!

5. Paul Loved his Message Most of all
“The unsearchable riches of Christ.”
To Paul – and to us – no message is comparable to the message of the Gospel…
a. He preached Christ
What riches were in Christ-
The winds knew Him and were still
The waves knew Him and fell at His feet.
The water recognised its Creator and blushed into wine.
Sinners loved Him and washed His feet with tears.
Devils feared and fled Him.
Today He has put off His servant’s form. He has laid aside the towel wherewith Her washed the disciples’ feet – and “all power is given unto Him in Heaven and in Earth.”
He is crowned King of Kings and Lord of Lords – and His Name is “Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”
b. But Paul preached “Chris – and Him crucified!”
Of all unsearchable riches His blood is most precious.
It is the only antidote for your sin:-
Water cannot wash the stain away.
Fire cannot burn it out.
Hammers cannot pound it out.
But His precious blood can wash it out and make you white as snow.
The Saviour every sinner needs is the bleeding Saviour – Those ruby drops are “the unsearchable riches of Christ!”

A Faithful God

“He abideth faithful: He cannot deny Himself.” 2 Timothy 2:13.
The faithfulness of God is a familiar theme and a great favourite with Paul. He speaks of it in his first letter and here in his last he comes back to it. After a lifetime in “testing” God he cries: “He abideth faithful.”
Other New Testament writers loved this truth and we will gather a few expressions in connection with God’s faithfulness.
First of all: what God’s faithfulness means.
When we speak of “keeping faith” we mean keeping our word. My word is my bond, we say. “He is faithful that promised” (Hebrews 10:23). “She judged Him faithful that promised.” (Hebrews 11:11).
He is true to His word.
Now it is remarkable that these 2 scriptures are the only New Testament references that carry the idea that God’s faithfulness means He is faithful to His word.
But our text witnesses to a deeper meaning: “He cannot deny Himself.” His nature and character constitute a solemn obligation. He is His own law – He is bound by what He is.
We (humans) drop below our best selves. No man is always himself.
God is always Himself. He cannot fail for HE IS GOD.
Even the sun has spots. “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1-5. He is true to Himself.
He is also true to His past. This is brought out in two different ways.
Peter says to troubled disciples: “Commit the keeping of your souls to Him in well-doing, as unto the faithful Creator.” 1 Peter 4:19.
The other application of God’s faithfulness in connection with His past bears on man’s redemption:-
“God is faithful by Whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son.” 1 Corinthians 1:9.
Now let us look at what this all guarantees to us.
Remember – He is faithful to His word. He is faithful to Himself. He is faithful to His past. His faithfulness as Creator guarantees He will care for His creatures. Creation is not merely a work of power, but of love. “To Him Who made great lights; for His mercy endureth for ever.” He poured Himself into beings because His name is love. His faithfulness to His past in creation guarantees to us that the DESIRES implanted by Him will be satisfied.
It also guarantees that tasks will be proportionate to our strength. “God is faithful Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able…” 1 Corinthians 10:13.
His faithfulness to His past as REDEEMER guarantees FORGIVENESS. “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9. Since Christ has died God’s faithfulness is implicated in pardoning mercy. Mercy is the outcome of God’s faithfulness.
And then again, His faithfulness guarantees the perfecting of Christian character. “Faithful is He that calleth you, Who also will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24.
He does not begin a work and then get disgusted with it, or turn to something else. He never stops until He completes. There are no unfinished works in God’s workshop.
What is more, His faithfulness guarantees bliss and blessedness. If these poor natures of ours as they NOW are – were all that Christ had won by His agony and blood – then, I say, He paid too high a price. We need Heaven to vindicate the faithfulness of God.
Finally, God’s faithfulness demands a corresponding attitude in us:-
“Hold fast the profession of your faith without wavering, for He is faithful that promised.”
If He is worth trusting at all, let us trust Him altogether.

Some people you “feel at home with.” You may experience this because you have like interests. You are akin.

When I enter some homes I sense the folk there are uneasy – and my departure gives them relief.

Should Jesus of Nazareth enter your house – would you feel at home with Him? The Gadarenes “besought Him to leave their country!” Peter said: “Depart from me for I am a sinful man!”

One thing is certain Jesus cannot be ignored. Men will finally swear by Him or swear at Him.

Indeed men can now be grouped by their attitude to Him: His enemies – chiefly the upper professional classes said “He has a devil!” (John 10:20). The benefitted said “He is a good man.” (John 7:12). But Peter said: “Thou art the Christ!” (Matthew 16:16).

Here is an ascending road. Walk at my side tonight.

1. “He has a devil” – This could only be born of hatred. Jesus was free from crude ambition. He condemned sin with burning intensity.

2. “He is a good man” – So much must be admitted. Nothing need be added – leave it at that. But every good man has a sense of sin. Wesley said: “I am in bondage to sin.” Bunyan spent “night and days in tears because of his sinful heart.” Paul called himself “the chief of sinners!” These men were not guilty of the devil’s darling sin – the pride that apes humility.

Yet Jesus had no sense of guilt. Here we are face to face with something unique in human experience: a good man without a sense of sin. “He knew no sin.”

I cannot therefore live in the belief that He was ONLY a good man.

3. “You are the Christ – the Son of God!” No other category is big enough to contain Him…

He accepted worship – which is the right of God alone.

He forgave sins – which is the prerogative of God alone.

His claims were fantastic:- “I am the light of the world!”  “No man comes to the Father but by me!”

Increasing numbers are finding him. Mohammed said his religion would flourish where the palm tree grew.

But no limit of clime or culture limits the sway of Jesus. Africans and Eskimos, Chinese and Chileans bow at His nail-torn feet.

If I could but tell you how truly Jesus loves you. He knows the worst about you – yet beckons you to follow Him.

Open your heart to Him.

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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.

 

 

(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.