Companions of Christ and the Heavenly Calling
Chapter 4 - The Satisfaction of the Companions
I have often been very comforted by the words of Scripture which
say, "He remembereth our frame, that we are dust". And if the Lord
remembers our frame, that we are dust, I'm quite sure that He
would have me remember that.
We have had a heavy day today and there does come a time when
we've just about had enough that we can carry. I feel,
therefore, that this evening I should take perhaps a little
lighter line and not go more deeply into the matter which is
before us in these days, but just speak in a simple way in order
to encourage the Lord's people in this heavenly calling.
I can remind you of the basic words, "Wherefore, holy brethren,
companions of a heavenly calling". Then I'll turn you to the
tenth chapter of the letter to the Hebrews, at verse 35, "Cast
not away therefore, your confidence which hath great recompense
of reward for ye have need of patience, that, having done the
will of God, you may receive the promise."
Sometimes the companions of the heavenly calling get a bit weary
and they need such words as these, "cast not away your
confidence which hath great recompense of reward". Now, those
words are all of a piece with this whole letter and its purpose.
These Hebrew Christians were in danger of doing that very thing.
They were in danger of casting away their confidence. There were
various reasons for this, they had those who were all the time
trying to persuade them to take an easier way, to be satisfied
with something less than they were being called to... just to
settle down to the historic religion, the religion of forms and
creeds and symbols - without Life - all that which made up the
Old Testament Jewish system.
These people were saying, "Why? Why are you so troubled
about this upward heavenly way? Be satisfied with just going to
church when the time comes to go to church, and bringing your
offerings at the time to bring offerings, and going through all
the set rituals of the temple. Just be satisfied with this
routine! Don't be so worried about this 'higher life', let go of
all that and be content with an ordinary kind of religious
life." And seeing that these people were having a very bad time
from the world, that was a very real temptation. You will read
in this letter that when they made their decision for the Lord
Jesus, they suffered a great deal at the hands of the world. The
world turned against them and they lost a lot. And that
persecution had persisted, they were having a difficult time.
And so the appeal to take it easy was a very real temptation.
"Just do not go on", was the argument.
You notice how the letter comes in again and again, "Let us go
on! Let us neither look back nor stand still". These were their
perils, and so the writer gave them this word of counsel, "Cast
not away your boldness, it has a great recompense of reward."
But it's one thing just to say something like that, "Oh
brothers, don't give up! Oh brothers, don't let your confidence
go. Oh brothers, keep going on!" Well, that's alright, but it
really isn't enough - you want something more than that. And so
the Holy Spirit through the writer of this letter just shows the
ground on which we should keep going on; the method of meeting a
situation like this. And what is that matter? The matter that
this letter presents: it is a wonderful fresh unveiling of
the glories and greatness of Jesus Christ. You notice how
the first part of the letter is just one glorious revelation
of the Lord Jesus. And all this is said in order to get these
people really satisfied with the Lord Jesus.
There's nothing like being satisfied with anything to draw you
away from dissatisfaction. You know, it's a wonderful
thing for a people to be seen to be satisfied with the Lord.
It's a wonderful thing for those people themselves, but it's a
wonderful thing for other people.
Now, I am going to give you a little bit of personal testimony,
that is, if you will promise me one thing: that you will not
think that I am trying to draw attention to myself, or that I
think that I am anything very important. Those who know me best
would never think that of me; no, I'm trying to be helpful by
just touching upon some principles of a life of victory,
something in my own early Christian experience. I think very few
people have ever heard me say this before, but my hope is that
it's going to especially help the young Christians here tonight.
And if it applies to the old ones, well, you wear the cap!
When I was a young man in my late teens, although I had had a
very godly mother, who had prayed much for me and from infancy
had taught me about the Lord, there came this time when I was
far from happy. I knew about Christianity, but I was not
rejoicing in the Lord; indeed I was a very unhappy person.
I was living in the city of Glasgow and one Sunday evening, very
unhappy, I decided that I would go for a walk. I didn't know
where I was going, I just went out and began to walk down the
street. After I had been walking for about 15 minutes, I heard
some singing in the distance. And, as I listened, I heard that
it was a hymn that I knew. I decided to make my way in the
direction from which the singing came. As I got nearer and
nearer, the singing became louder and louder. At last I arrived
at the place where it was coming from. It was a place where five
roads met and right in the centre was a great lampstand with
five lamps. Gathered around those lamps was a circle of people
and then a great crowd stretching in all directions. And these
people in the centre were singing these hymns.
I began to forget that I was miserable as I worked my way nearer
and nearer. Well, before the meeting was finished, I was
singing! They were just very ordinary working people, men who
loaded the ships, men who drove carts in the street, men and
women who worked in the factories, but how happy they were! How
satisfied they were! And it was just their satisfaction
that went to my heart. They were rejoicing in the Lord Jesus.
Now, I wasn't anybody important, I was only a young man of 17
years of age, but these people were delivered from themselves
because they were so occupied with the Lord Jesus! I was just
living in my miserable self because I didn't know their joy in
the Lord Jesus. Their joy in the Lord Jesus delivered me
from my miserable self and turned me out so that I
became satisfied with the Lord Jesus. Now, that's not all of the
story, but that's a very good beginning. I'll tell you some more
in a minute.
You see, you come back to this letter to the Hebrews and that is
just the situation that you meet: people who were losing their
joy. Perhaps they had lost their joy. There were days,
this letter says, when they were full of joy in the Lord, and
now it's gone. And the writer says, "Have another look at the
Lord Jesus! Take your eyes off of yourself, take your eyes off
of your troubles, have a look at Him." And then he gives this
wonderful picture of the Lord Jesus. That's something to look
at! And that is going to be the beginning of your salvation, the
beginning of your salvation as Christians.
Now to go on with the testimony.
The Lord had gained the first victory along that line, and by
the satisfaction of these Christians with Himself, had brought me
to the same satisfaction. Now, shall I tell you that it wasn't
long after that, that I was right in the middle of that ring
giving my testimony! I'm afraid it was a very feeble effort, I
was very nervous. I can't remember for the life of me what I
said, but nevertheless, I let go and that was the second big
thing in my crisis. By stepping into that ring and committing
myself to the Lord, and giving my testimony, I was a completely
released man. I had been all locked up in myself, just in the
prison of myself, and that night when I spoke about the Lord
Jesus, told somebody else, told all those people what the Lord
Jesus was to me, I was completely released. From that day I went
right on testifying to the Lord Jesus.
Sometimes I was speaking in as many open air meetings as five in
a week. Now, don't think about me, think about the principle:
you commit yourself, and let people know it, and you will be
released. Tell other people what the Lord Jesus is to you, and
you'll find it has a wonderful releasing effect in your own
life. You know, this is a New Testament law, "if thou shalt
believe in thine heart and confess with thy mouth the Lord
Jesus..." I know how elementary that is, but dear friends, there
are times, even in the lives of advanced Christians, when they
become silent; when their discouragements or their troubles
close their lips and they again become all locked up in
themselves. The only way of deliverance is to commit yourself,
and declare yourself: "I am going on with the Lord! There's
plenty of discouragement in myself, there's plenty of
discouragement in my circumstances, but I am going on with the
Lord by His grace." Say it! Let people know it, and it will be
your way of salvation. So the letter says to these people: "Let
us go on!"
Now, that is not all about the testimony, and the next thing is
a little more difficult for me to say. Again, it is not because
I think anything of myself, but many of you know that the Lord
has given me a very wide ministry during these many past years
in so very many parts of the world, by personal ministries and
by written ministries. It's just gone out over a very large part
of this world. The value of it I don't know and it is not for me
to think anything about that; heaven alone will tell what the
value has been. But this is my point: a faithful company of
people whose lives were hard and difficult who were rejoicing in
the Lord, was the beginning of this worldwide ministry.
My point is this: you never know how far reaching your faithful
testimony is going to be! I don't know what happened to all
those people. I lost sight of them in after life. I was
preaching in Glasgow some years afterwards and I did see one
little man in the congregation whom I recognised as one of those
people at the open air meetings. I don't know what happened to
them and I am very doubtful as to whether they knew what
happened to me, but the fact is they were faithful in their
testimony. It was not an easy thing to live in that city in
those days. Their lives were very hard lives indeed, but they
were faithful to the Lord Jesus and their faithfulness
led to whatever value there has been in this worldwide ministry.
I don't want you to tell me what the value of Aeschi conferences
is, but I have to conclude that you don't come here for nothing.
These Aeschi conferences alone began in that open air meeting
all those years ago in the city of Glasgow. My point is:
friends, be faithful in your testimony and you never know what
the fruit of it will be. You may never see that fruit, but it
will be there.
"Let us go on," says the letter. We may not know in this life
the value to others of our going on.
Now, my last word at this time is just this: that, of course,
was a very simple beginning of the Christian life. At that time
I just knew the Lord Jesus as Saviour and I was rejoicing in Him
as my Saviour. The day came later on when the Lord showed me
that that is only the beginning; that He does save us not just
to save us, but with a great purpose in view; that there is a
very great purpose bound up with our salvation. And that is just
the burden of this letter. It is as though the Lord was saying
to these people, "You were saved, you did rejoice in your
salvation, but that was not intended to be everything. There's a
great purpose unto which you are saved, a marvellous
inheritance. Cast not away, therefore, your boldness which hath
great recompense of reward, do not be satisfied with being
saved. Set your hearts wholly upon the great purpose for
which you were saved."
Now, that hasn't been a very heavy discourse has it? Very
simple, but I feel, full of very important things. It may be
that many of you here tonight just need that word. Seek that
full satisfaction with the Lord Jesus, for as others see how
satisfied you are with Him, it may just be the turning
point in their life.
You know, dear friends, this is very practical. Today everything
is being done to try to attract people, especially young people,
to the church. They will have entertainments, they will have
cinemas; anything to attract young people, and it's a poor
business... these young people, if they are attracted, don't go
very far with the Lord. They always want more and more
entertainments, but if they are drawn because they themselves
are not satisfied, and they see people who are
satisfied, that will answer their need if they are able to say,
"I came in because I saw how much of the Lord Jesus there was
there; I saw how satisfied those Christians were with Christ".
Yes, Christ is the big Attraction, He is the big Satisfaction
and it is the answer to this world's deep need. The world has
all those other things; church cannot give the world anything of
its own kind, but the Lord Jesus can go far beyond the world.
Well, you and I must pray that we will be an attraction for
others toward the Lord Jesus. I think that's enough for tonight.