Saints Walk in The Light
Sorry, Video Not Available.
Called to be Saints 3
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
We’ve been talking about what is meant “to be a saint.” And you remember we took that from the verse in Romans 1:7 where Paul looks at all the members of the church and he addresses his letter to them and says, “To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints.” And so we’ve been saying that you’re called to be a saint. We then took that verse, 1 Thessalonians 5:23, where it mentions that God will sanctify you holy and preserve you blameless in soul, spirit, and body until the coming of the Lord Jesus and we said that a person was called to be a saint in those three parts of his life.
Someone mentioned to me this morning that really, all those three parts become one in the Spirit. But we are called upon to be holy in each one of those parts of our personalities. You remember that you are holy by two factors in your life. First of all, you’re holy by what God does. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 says, “May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly.” That’s God making you holy, that’s God filling you with his own holiness. And then there’s that sense in Leviticus 20:7 where you consecrate yourselves. There’s a human way in which we make ourselves holy by setting ourselves apart.
We turned to a verse like 1 John 1:5-6 and applied this to the body; we’re called to be holy in body. That is, in the outward acts of the body and in the outward words of the lips of the body, we’re called to be holy. 1 John 1:5-6, “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth.” And so we said that it is necessary for us to separate ourselves from all darkness in our outward acts and words.
And I don’t want to bore you with it, but I do think we’ve become so used to the thing that it’s worth saying it again. We need to separate ourselves from darkness in the sarcastic words we speak, in the lying words we speak. We need to separate ourselves from the angry and irritable actions that are done and performed to hurt other dear ones. We need to separate ourselves from those things and that’s what it means when you come to be converted; you must separate yourselves from the outward things that God shows you are wrong in your life. And then the second part is true, that God himself will do something and it’s in 1 John 1:7-9, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his son cleanses us from all sin.”
When does the blood of Jesus cleanse us from all sin — when we walk in the light as he is in the light. That is, when we have done with these things then the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sins. In other words, God cannot make us holy by the application of his own son’s blood until we ourselves have separated ourselves from the things that make us unholy. So you have to get rid of lies before God can fill you with truth. You have to get rid of unkindness before God can fill you with loving words. And I think it’s necessary to see the human and divine even at the level of conversion, and you see it says, “IF we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” But if we confess our sins, if we admit that these things are our sins, “He is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
And we said therefore that at the level of conversion a man separates himself from the acts and words that God shows him are wrong, and he walks in the light that God has given him and because of
that the blood of Jesus cleanses him from all the condemnation that he’s built on his conscience. Do you see you aren’t cleansed from the sense of guilt by turning from the sin? Do you see that? Because that leads you into real problems if you ever fall into a sin, then you can’t plead the blood of Jesus, you can only plead your own ability to turn from it. So you aren’t cleansed because you turn, you turn and then the blood of Jesus is offered to God on your behalf and it’s the blood, its God being pleased with the blood that enables him to forgive you and to make you holy in your acts and words.
You see, that’s different dear ones. You turn from the things but it isn’t the strength of your turning, otherwise you’re still in the same position as a moral rearmament person because your righteousness depends on your turning from those things. But the truth is if you don’t turn from them the blood will not be presented to God on your behalf. But it’s the blood that stands on your behalf. So when Satan attacks you and charges you with falling, then you turn from the falling and say, “Satan, it’s not even my turning from the falling that equips me before my Father, but the blood pleases my Father. My Father looks at the blood and he says, ‘I’ll accept you because of the blood, the outpoured life of my son Jesus.’” And that’s how you answer the accuser of the brethren. You don’t argue with him. You don’t say, “Well, you’re right I did do that.” But you turn immediately from it.
I don’t want to press this too far, but that’s why I don’t see any reason for arguing if you’re in fellowship or out of fellowship. Stop arguing. You’re giving the devil a chance when you start trying to justify yourself and prove you’re still in grace. Don’t bother about the technical terms, they’re given to our finite minds by the infinite God to try and give us some truth about himself, but we can’t argue on the basis of intellect. So we turn from those things whether I say it’s a sin or whether God says it’s a sin, we get rid of it. We turn from it and we say, “The blood is presented to you Father.”
Don’t argue with Satan, you see, otherwise you end up getting into a position where even the blood cannot deliver you. So dear ones, I think that what we believe makes us a saint at the level of conversion. That’s where the power comes to overcome the acts and words that are wrong in the future in our converted lives.
We went further than that yesterday. We said that many of us have walked in this kind of victory in our outward acts and words, but we’ve often felt we’d love to tell that fellow where to get off. We’ve held back on it, we have never spoken the words, but we felt a great desire to speak the words and at times it was very difficult to restrain ourselves from speaking them. We did not speak in angry words, but we felt the anger rising up within and we felt a strong inclination to sin. We were in the same position as Paul described in Galatians 5:17 where we found that even as converted men and women who have victory over our outward acts and words, yet it was still true, as Paul says in verse 17, “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would.” And it is necessary to say that the flesh is not “soma” and “sarx” in that context stands for the strong independent spirit of the man, not just the sexual appetites, you see.
I think we’re so preoccupied with that subject because of the prince of this world, that we tend to again, and again, interpret “flesh” as some sexual sin. “Sarx” in the New Testament stands for the strong independent spirit of the man that wants to be as religious as he can without giving up his complete independence. The Bible says that even in a converted man he feels the desires of the flesh fighting against the spirit. So, I want to be patient with someone but the anger rises up
within, or I want to be kind with someone but the irritability is there. I want to love God with all my heart, and soul, and strength and mind, but the love is not pouring out of that fountain within. It’s a love of self that is aborting that. Somebody says something to me and I want to love them, and I want to return good for evil, and I want to turn the other cheek but I feel something rising up within me that does not seem to be of myself; it is of the flesh.
It is of the old self. It is of that old attitude to God of rebellion that we have come to have inside us even though we’re victorious outwardly. And you see what that produces in Galatians 5:19, “Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity,” impurity in your thoughts and I think many of us have had this. It came home to me in a new way in the Old Testament where it says, “Be not a lifter upper of the eyes.” And I think the young men will know what I mean, that there is that tendency to lift up the eyes, and there’s an impurity in the heart. You may even stop the eyes lifting but there is that desire in the heart, there is that impurity in the heart and that’s a work of the flesh. That means that you’re not saintly at the level of your spirit and God has called us to be.
You can see it goes on “licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like.” Now the devil wants you to look at idolatry, and immorality, and sorcery and he wants you to avoid looking at strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, party spirit, dissention, and envy. I think we need to face envy and jealousy and those things and see that if you’re like that those are the things that you need to be prepared to turn from. That does not make you sanctified.
A lot of people come up to the altar and say, “Father, I’m ready to die to self.” And then they say, “Thank you for sanctifying me.” You have sanctified yourself up to that moment. That is, you have set yourself apart from those things. You’ve said, “Father, I know where anger got me at home, it got me my own way. Now Father, I’m prepared to do without my own way. Father, I know anger prevented me being used as a doormat at work. I know I rose up and stood on my dignity and opposed them and asserted myself. Now Father, I’m ready to be used as a doormat for you.”
Now, being ready to die to self is just the human side in sanctification. The divine side is where God through the Holy Spirit applies the cross to you and actually cleanses out the old self by the Holy Spirit. He displaces the old self spirit with the Holy Spirit and that’s the divine side in sanctification. Then when you’re ready to set yourself apart from anger and its consequences he fills you with these Galatians 5:22, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law.”
In other words, when you come to that blessed place, God pours his love into your heart. Now, you can take love for instance, and you can see that you love your dear ones with a human love. You love them either, if it’s your wife, with an “eros” love, or you might love your brothers or sisters with a “philia” love in Greek. And for both of those, “philia”, as Philadelphia and love of the brothers, it’s the love that you might have for someone who is interested in the same things as you. It’s the love of a man for a man, a real friendship and interest because you like this person and he talks about the same things as you, you have something in common. It’s still a slightly selfish love. Even “eros”, though perhaps in a real marriage it’s a little less selfish, yet it’s still you love the dear one because you need her and because she provides something that you need and it’s still basically a selfish love because when she stops producing what you need then that love tends to die down.
Now, when you set yourself aside from those two loves which are both human love, then the Holy Spirit fills you with the divine love, which is “agape,” which loves for nothing, loves for no reason, just loves because it’s pouring out of your heart because it’s put there by the Holy Spirit who sheds abroad in our hearts the love of God. So you can see there’s a real sense in which even in sanctification you have to set yourself apart from the good things in your life, the things that you think are good. You have to set yourself apart and say, “There is no good thing in me Father.” And then when you’re ready for that, then the Holy Spirit is ready to come in and fill you with the things of God within so that you’re safe from the inclination to sin. And as long as you trust and obey the Holy Spirit you can walk in that inner victory without falling as long as you breathe the Holy Spirit in and breathe him back up to God in praise and obedience.
Now, we have come up to that point, and we have seen therefore that in the Christian life there are two vital stages. There is the stage described in John 3:3 and this will nail it home to our hearts plainly once more. John 3:3, there is that stage in the Christian life, “Jesus answered him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’” At conversion you’re born by the Holy Spirit coming in and making you part of the family of God. There’s a real new birth, a birth of the begotten life of God in your spirit. But there’s another spirit warring with that begotten life; there’s the spirit of the old self. So the second stage is described in Romans 6:3-4.
So first of all there’s the birth when you’re converted, and then, sanctification. There is this, in many ways, a more real experience for many dear ones. Romans 6:3-4, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” And so in the Christian life at the level of the body, the outward acts and words, there’s a coming to life where God gives you victory over those. Then there’s a real sense in which there’s a coming to the death of self where through the influence of the cross upon you, God gives you victory over even the inclination to sin. He cleanses the attitudes and the motives of your heart.
Now, I think you can see it plainly because the Bible makes it plain. So it’s not enough to sing up here (on stage) because you’ve given your life to Jesus, but you must sing up here for his glory, not for your own glory. So you can see that those are two effects of Christ’s death. The blood of Jesus is to be presented to God so that we feel no more guilt upon our conscience for our sins within us. But the cross of Christ is to be applied to our own hearts and spirits so that we are freed from the power of sin, in the singular, within. There is a clear distinction dear ones and God calls us to be holy in our bodies, in our outward acts and words, and in our spirits in our attitudes, and motives, and inclinations.
And God takes it further. Thank God that he asks us to go further. Let’s look at the third part of us that needs to be sanctified by God and that needs to be made holy. The third step in saintliness and it really concerns the positive side of saintliness. Some people think you mustn’t preach the gospel like that because if you’re saved from sins, and you’re saved from the inclination of sin, what have you left? What have you left to do? And they say, “We must batter against this old cancer within us day, after day because that’s the fight of faith and if you take that away, if the disease could ever be cleansed by the Holy Spirit then what have we left to do?”
And of course that is all concerned with the negative side. That is taking away the image of the old Adam. But there is all the growing into the fullness of the stature of Christ that takes place
after that. And there’ll be no growth in health until cancer is removed. So many of us are spending all our time getting rid of sins and sin, and have no time to walk on into the fullness of the stature of Christ. So as there was decay into sinfulness, so there was a development in the Christ-likeness and this third stage refers to this side.
You can see it in Hebrews 12:1-2. There the emphasis is that there is no positive moving forward until you have laid aside what is negative in your life, you have laid aside the sins and the sin. In Hebrew 12:1-2, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight,” every one of the sins and acts and words and sin itself, the desire to be independent of God and have our own way which clings so closely. And then when we have laid aside all those, “Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
In other words, you can only move forward when you have entered into both the experience of the blood of Jesus for your sins and the cross of Christ for your old self, only then are we able to move into the fullness of the stature of Jesus. How do we do it? You remember; the body sanctified, the spirit sanctified, and then the soul sanctified. And we’ll pursue this tomorrow in more detail, the soul consists of among other things, the mind. Now it does consist of other things besides the mind, but it does consist of the mind and the moving into the fullness of the stature of Christ refers, for one thing, to the sanctification of our own minds.
In other words, our minds have to be renewed in the image of Jesus. Even when we’ve had the outward acts and words dealt with, even when we’ve had the inward sin dealt with, our minds need to be renewed in the image of Jesus. Now do be patient with me and listen to God’s Spirit as he explains this to us, because many dear ones have failed at this point. They are sanctified and petrified and they are sealed, and dressed, and ready to go to heaven. They’re waiting for the day when he will come and take them to him and there is no glorious moving on, and there is no yearning for the fullness of Jesus, because they do not see that their minds have not yet been renewed in his image; their mind is still in the old image of Adam. So they have all this power within them to do mighty things for God, but their minds have not been renewed, their minds are running in the old ruts that they once were in.
We need to have our minds renewed and you can see the Bible makes this distinction if you look at Colossians 2:20 where we see the emphasis on the death at the level of the spirit, the death of the old self, “If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations.” So there it’s the death and it’s emphasized again in the next chapter in 3:3, “For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”
But do you see that it doesn’t stop there? It goes on in verse 5, and this is where many of us fail, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you.” Not kill it, not strangle it, but put it to the death that God has already wrought in you through the Holy Spirit. It’s not a struggling against immorality, it’s not that old struggle against immorality that you had at the converted stage, but it’s a yielding to the death that God has already wrought in the old self. It’s a yielding to that death of immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. And then see the positive side of the renewing of the mind in verse 12, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the
Lord has forgiven you, so you almost must forgive.”
In other words, the Bible doesn’t say, “Your old self has died, so then you’re set. You’re ready for a victorious growing in Jesus.” No, the Bible says then your mind has to start being renewed in the image that God wants you to enter into. So he says these are some of the things your mind has to start looking to. It has to start looking to a development in compassion, not just that old ‘hail fellow well met’ kind of love or concern such as “We’re glad to see you brother,” but your mind must begin to see the kind of tender, kindly compassion that Jesus wants you to have in it. In other words, your mind must begin to grasp a whole new set of values.
Dear ones, it’s no use us entering into the virtues the Greek’s praised, do you see that? The Greek’s believed in the good life and they praised virtue and temperance and honesty and integrity. But we are not called to enter into the highest virtues that the pagan philosophers have set before us. We’re called to realize the tender Christlike virtues that he wants to form in us and that means our mind has to start being renewed in those virtues. There’s no point in us taking the Carnegie course “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” and say, “Now Lord Jesus, you’ve brought this death in us so that these virtues will become real in us.” Those are no use, nor are the virtues of Socrates or of Plato, nor are the virtues of the power of positive thinking, but the virtues are virtues that Jesus will reveal to you in your mind that you particularly need. That’s one sense in which we need to have our minds renewed.
Would you like to look more carefully at several verses that emphasize the renewing of the mind? Colossians 3:2-3, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” But as Brother Murdock said, then your mind has to begin to be used. Now, I’m with you, the liberals preach the renewal of the mind without the renewal of the heart and I agree that most of our churches today are filled with ethical homilies. We’re all trying to renew each other’s minds, aren’t we?
We’re all saying love each other, and be kind to each other, and you must be like Jesus. Now I agree with you that there’s no point in renewing a dear one’s mind unless their own heart has been renewed, and their own spirit has been renewed. Until that happens they won’t be able to follow after the renewing of the mind. So renewing of the mind is of no use unless the heart has been renewed, unless God has planted in you a new heart. But after he has, through the death of self, then you have to renew your mind. You have to start setting your mind on things that are above not on things that are on earth.
You have to start saying, “Holy Spirit, what is the image of Jesus that you want me to enter into particularly in my life? Show me what you want me to enter into of Jesus.” Now a lot of us get lazy in this, we don’t bother with it. We say we’ll read all the books and we’ll learn what they say we’ve got to enter into. Now, I think you should read the books but then you should ask the Holy Spirit, “Holy Spirit, what is the next step in the beauty of Jesus that you want me to enter into?” And when the mind grasps it, then the spirit can begin to realize it in our hearts, and in our lives, and in our bodies. But the mind has to be renewed.
This is emphasized again in Romans 8:5-6; that it’s not enough to have the hearts cleansed and that we end up in a sanctified and petrified state if we only have the heart cleansed. Romans 8:5-6, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” And then in Romans 12:2, “Do
not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.”
Now many dear ones have experienced a real cleansing of the heart through the Holy Spirit but they have not begun to allow themselves to be transformed by the renewal of their minds. They have continued to look after the things that everyone else was looking after in this world and they have gone back to their jobs, and they have begun to seek the same things that their friends at work seek. They have never allowed their mind to be renewed, which is a radical renewal, dear ones; the mind of Jesus is utterly different from the mind of this world and we need to live in that mind of Jesus.
You see that in Philippians 2:5 and this is really how we have our mind renewed. Philippians 2:5, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,” or, “Have this mind in you which you have in Christ Jesus.” In other words, we’re called to receive through the Holy Spirit the mind of Christ. When the Holy Spirit cleanses your heart you’ve only started and you say, “Holy Spirit, the Bible says you will take of the things of Jesus and impart them to us. Impart to me miraculously today the mind of Jesus so that I can know what he wants me to enter into.”
We must not then be conformed to the mind of this world and what does that mean? Let’s look at the mind of this world. Among some people it runs this way, you’ve got a good education, you’re sort of middle class, and you’ve had a high school education and you’re graduated, and you could even go to college if you want. You’re certainly a lot better off than your parents were who went through the depression so the mind of this world says; “Now you want to capitalize on this. You start off at a higher level than your parents so you ought to rise much higher than them. Now that certainly means you ought to have a better house than they have, and you certainly ought to be better off as far as life insurance goes. And you certainly ought to be able to send your children to a good school, and to provide money for their education which your parents couldn’t do for you.”
And the mind of this world says, “You ought to capitalize on the advantages that you have.” So the mind of this world speaks to those of us even in Bethany (Fellowship) and it says, “Now, look at what God has done in this place. Look at the work we have in Brazil. This is pretty good, all we need to do is to hold this work and maybe extend it slightly. But we ought to capitalize on the advantages we have and we ought to really in a sense, lean on those advantages and depend on them. And there’s no reason why Bethany should not evolve gradually into a mighty mission field, we just keep working on what we’ve got.”
In other words, the mind of the flesh is always thinking in terms of what we, with our human ability, can do with what we’ve been given. Now, will you look at the mind of Christ on that in Philippians 2:5, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God,” though he had a good education, though he was born in a middle class background, though he was born into Bethany Fellowship with all its advantages, “Though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
And that is Jesus’ mind; though he had all things in the universe, he threw them all away and did not try to gain advantage for himself through those things, but he humbled himself and became nothing and said, “God, if you want to exalt me, you exalt me.” Ah dear ones, would you stop saying “I have this talent and that talent.” Would you stop saying “We have this advantage and that advantage and now all we have to do is work on that?” It’s useless, those things are no use. Those things God cannot use. He wants us to have the mind of Jesus, to be prepared to cast away all that mind of the world that says you want to capitalize on what you’ve got.
Dear ones, the world is dying because so many of us are sitting in our homes and having our minds conformed to the image of this world. We’re giving money to the missions and you know we’re doing better than everybody else, except we’re doing far below what Jesus himself did. Our mind is being conformed to the members of our church, or our mind is being conformed by the devil to the image of the liberal churches. We’re looking at everybody else and saying, “Look what they give and look what we give. We give so much more.” Jesus wants us to receive his mind, ready to give everything, ready to begin to live on only the essentials.
John Wesley lived on 28 pounds the first year. He got 56 pounds the second year so he still lived on 28 pounds. Then the third year he got 120 pounds and he still lived on 28 pounds. And then eventually 1,000 pounds came in through his book publishing and he still lived on 28 pounds and died with four silver spoons and felt he shouldn’t have died with those four.
Do you see that the mind of Christ is different from the mind of this world and it’s acquired after we’ve allowed the spirit and the body to be sanctified and made holy? It requires us to walk on and constantly every day ask the Holy Spirit to give us the mind of Jesus in everything, including in Bethany Fellowship. Dear ones, if Bethany – and I love you, you’re great, and I think God is rarely doing any other work in any other place like this, but if we keep going at the speed we’re going, still millions and millions will go to hell.
In other words, we need a mighty miracle by God and that miracle only comes when dear ones are renewed in the mind of Christ. Here is the mind of Christ, and I ask you to be patient as I read it and I’ll try to read it as expressively as an English teacher is supposed to read. You know the story far better than I do. C. T. Studd returned to captain Cambridge cricket in his last year, 1883. “Once again he was reckoned the leading all-around player in England. The cricketing annual saying, ‘Mr. C. T. Studd for the second year in succession must be accorded the premier position as all around cricketer and some years have elapsed since the post has been filled by a player so excellent in all the three departments of the game. His batting especially has been at the highest class.’”
And then (Norman) Grubb goes on and says, “His Cambridge career has been described as one long blaze of cricketing glory. In his last year he topped both batting and bowling averages. Indeed through the previous half century of university cricket only four batsmen had had a better batting average and only four a better bowler, a truly amazing record of all around brilliancy. He also won the Cambridge single rackets match and represented Cambridge against Oxford. He was beaten by Leslie. He took his BA degree and came down from Cambridge in 1884.”
He was not only born middleclass, but really top class in England, and had all that an Englishman born into that class was given. And then the next step, “But as he rose to prominence in the cricket world and especially while serving with the test team in Australia there were two old ladies who set themselves to pray that he would be brought back to God. The answer came suddenly; his
brother to whom he was especially attached was thought to be dying. CT was constantly at his bedside and while sitting there watching while he hovered between life and death these thoughts came welling up in his mind, ‘Now what is all the popularity of the world worth to George? What is all the fame and flattery worth? What is it worth to possess all the riches of the world when a man comes face-to-face with eternity?’ And a voice came to answer, ‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.’
All those things he said, had become as nothing to my brother. He only cared about the Bible and the Lord Jesus Christ and God taught me the same lesson. In his love and goodness he restored my brother to health and as soon as I could get away I went to hear Mr. Moody. There the Lord met me again and restored to me the joy of salvation. Still further and what was better than all, he set me to work for him and I began to try and persuade my friends to read the gospel and to speak to them individually about their souls. I cannot tell you what joy it gave me to bring the first soul to the Lord Jesus Christ. I have tasted almost all the pleasures that this world can give. I do not suppose there is one that I have not experienced but I can tell you that those pleasures were as nothing compared to the joy that the saving of that one soul gave me.” And C.T. Studd entered into the sanctification of his body, he was converted and then through God’s grace he went further.
He learned of a woman who had had great sorrow and pain in her life and suddenly something happened to transform her so that she was filled with joy even through the most tragic circumstances in her family. And C. T. Studd heard about it and he began to seek this same blessing.
He said, “We began looking at the Bible to see if God had promised such a blessing as this.” And then he said, “As soon as I found out that the price of the precious blood of the Lord Jesus was my complete sanctification even in my spirit, as soon as I found this out I went down on my knees and gave myself up to God and the words of the consecration hymn ‘Take my life and let it be consecrated Lord to thee.’
I found the next step was to have simple childlike faith to believe what I had committed to God he was also willing to take and keep and knew I had committed in my soul to His keeping and he was able to keep that. How much more was he able to keep me and what belonged to me in this world? I realized my life was to be one of simple childlike faith and that my part was to trust, not to do. I was to trust in him and he would work in me to do his good pleasure. From that time my life has been different and he has given me that peace, that passive understanding and the joy which is unspeakable. It was not very long before God led me to go to China.”
He said he had never thought of the missions there, he had never thought of even leaving England and immediately he began to think of this, the battle for the world to conform his mind to their image began. In other words, after he had entered into the holiness of heart experience he began to find that struggle that all of us feel in allowing our minds to be conformed to the image of Jesus instead of to be conformed to the image of this world.
“I had never thought of going out of the country before and I had felt that England was big enough for me. But now my mind seemed constantly to run in the direction of the Lord’s work abroad. Then came the big test, and his whole family started to point out to him what good he could do here in England. And they began to tell him, “If you would go through the Universities, if you would go around England all your life with your influence as a cricketer, with your influence as a scholar, you could be a mighty witness for Jesus here in England. You could capitalize on the natural advantages that God has given you.”
And it’s strange, but God will not let us do that, will he? He will not let us capitalize on those natural abilities. It’s only when we have really cast those before him and died to those and say, “Father, I don’t care if you ever use them they’re of the flesh,” that God is able really to renew our minds. And of course, he prayed and he found that God was telling him that he was to go to China. He said, “Many said he was making a huge mistake to go and bury himself in the interior of China. They pointed out the influence he would have with the young men of England, but he himself knew that he must go to China.”
And then he began to humble himself and to follow out what this mind of Christ told him to do and he took the form of a servant. You can see it in these words, “May 26th he wrote to his brother at Eaton, ‘We were overrun with rats who during the night would take away our socks, nibbling off our legging tapes, taking away our blotting paper and putting them at the bottom of the boat in their nest.” Who –this cricketer — this BA from Cambridge? “They caused us a good deal of annoyance so we thought of setting traps for them but we decided not to do so but simply to ask the Lord to rid us of the grievance. Since that time we have had no further trouble. I do not say don’t play games or cricket,” he says to his brother, “By all means play and enjoy them, giving thanks to Jesus for them. Only take care that games do not become an idol to you as they did to me. What good will it do anybody in the next world to have been even the best player there ever has been? And then think of that and winning souls for Jesus.”
And then came the great moment when he looked at his fortune which was $29,000 pounds. He inherited a fortune of $29,000 pounds, that’s about $90,000. One would be tempted to say, “Those are natural resources which God has given me which need to be used for my missionary work here in China.” And do you see how different is the mind of Christ? That’s why dear ones I ask you: call out to the Holy Spirit to reveal it to you and to renew you in it, because then he began signing away all of his $29,000 pounds until he was left in China with his one suit of Chinese clothes and nothing.
What did God do with this man who allowed his mind to be renewed according to God’s values? Well it says in the back of the book, “The total staff of fields at this time of the Worldwide Evangelization Crusade, the total number of fields and home based numbers is 850. There is work in Africa, the Canary Islands, Portuguese Guinea, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Cashmere, Venezuela, Uruguay, Pakistan and so on, twentyfive other countries.” He would have trouble getting to all those countries himself with his natural resources.
That’s why God wants you to be renewed in your mind about your natural resources. Dear ones, there are three thousand million in the world and two thousand million have not heard of Jesus. This morning at one o’clock I committed my mother into Jesus’ hands and at three o’clock in Ireland she died. Now, she was ready to die and so that’s why I smile, and that’s why I have joy in my heart. But dear ones, since she died at three o’clock this morning, almost a 100,000 souls have died and another 300,000 that were not ready to face Jesus and that do not know him.
Now, if you’re going to depend on your natural resources to get to them, you have no chance. If you’re going to come up to God and say, “My loaves and fishes, I’ll start breaking them up and I’ll distribute them to these 200,000 that are dying every day.” Dear ones, they’ll all be dead before you get the crumbs to them. The abilities of your intellect are not enough. The ability of you even to give money is not enough. But we’re called to give all we have — to get rid of it — so that God can begin to produce those magnificent resources. So if you’ll take those loaves and fishes you have and give them to him, then he makes them enough for the 200,000. The problem with
this is not so much that we’re not allowing our mind to be renewed in the distribution of resources, but that we’re not allowing our mind to be renewed in the image of Jesus to see that those natural resources are no good and we need to give them all to God and then trust him to make mighty power available in our own hearts and lives.
So there’s no point you singers or we preachers going to God and saying, “Here, here is my great gift. Here is my great ability, you use this.” The devil will use it to exalt you. You need to give it and say, “It’s nothing. It’s able to achieve no spiritual good, will you take it now?” So dear ones, would you stop using that precious ointment that you have saying, “Father, if I use these gifts I have to take up a good career and earn plenty of money, then I’ll sell the ointment and I’ll give the money for your work.”
The money won’t do that for the 200,000 that are dying each day. But would you waste the ointment on Jesus? Would you go to Jesus and say this morning, “Lord Jesus, I’m ready to waste myself on you. I’m ready to say all that I have and all that I would ever happen to be, you can have and you can use to make me a failure, or you can use to bring many souls into your kingdom.” But dear ones, is your mind renewed in that image, in the image of Jesus?
I pray that you’ll begin to think in these terms. Allow your mind to be renewed and stop looking at your natural abilities and think God can use those. They aren’t enough for him to use. But if you give them to him he’ll perform a miracle through you. Let us pray.