Today we look at the fourth common characteristic of the Christian life and that is the desire to succeed. Derek teaches that everyone, in a sense, has a yearning for success. The key to attaining that success is to do the will of God. The will of God is unshakable, unchanging, eternal and undefeatable. And when you unite your will with the will of God, you become like that will of God: unshakable, unchanging, undefeatable.
I’ve counseled so many people who struggle with problems. Things don’t seem to be working out. They say they believe, but they don’t get the results of faith. One reason very often is they’ve not made a real personal commitment to Jesus. He’s not a convenience. He’s someone who demands our absolute loyalty. He demands that we put ourselves totally and unreservedly at His disposal. And when we do that, we get the benefits of it.
And then a fourth thing that is common to all human beings, I believe, is the desire to succeed. I’ve never met a person who wanted to fail. I’ve men hundreds of people who have failed, but not because they wanted to. Everybody, I think in a sense, has a yearning for success.
I want to give you, free of charge tonight, the key to success. And I can give it to you confidently because it has worked in my life. It’s just one verse in the first epistle of John, chapter 2:17. It’s a very simple verse. Most of the really important truths in the Bible are simple. I was a professional philosopher for a long while. That was a way I got a job and made my living. You’re not a professional philosopher unless you can make your living by it. The business of philosophers as I see it, is to make things complicated. And the more complicated you make things, the more people think you’re clever.
Well, when I met the Lord Jesus sovereignly in the middle of the night in an army barrack room, all of that changed. I was used to reading philosophers who wrote sentences that went over two pages without a period. The philosopher Kant is an example. What impressed me about the Bible was it was so simple, so down to earth. And I realized there’s a different kind of wisdom that doesn’t make things complicated. I think sometimes we make things complicated because we don’t want to face the truth. The truth is too clear, too powerful, too cogent.
Anyhow here is my simple recipe for success, and I make no charge. You can have it the way I got it, for free. “Freely I receive, freely I give.” But I want to tell you, it’s worked in my life. 1 John 2:17:
“And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
You need to understand what’s meant by the world. The world is all of society that is not submitted to the righteousness government of God’s King, Jesus. The world can be very religious, very intellectual, even in a way very moral. But they are not submitted to the Kingship of Jesus. They seem good, but you begin to speak to those people, those moral religious people about a personal unreserved commitment to Jesus and something rises up in them, the old rebel. And you discover that beneath all the morality there’s rebellion. So we have to learn what it is to live in a different way. That’s the way the world lives. It’s not all evil. It can be moral. It can be really quite good in its own way. But it is not submitted to the Lordship of Jesus. And God has made Jesus King. Anybody that’s not submitted to God’s King is a rebel. He may be a very religious rebel, a very intellectual rebel, a very wealthy rebel. But he’s still a rebel. And that whole system that rejects the government of Jesus, is passing away. It’s on the way out. The world is passing away and every desire that’s associated with the world.
We’ve been staying in downtown Cleveland and I’ve been looking at all those big towers—what do they call it—the Terminal Tower, and the other towers. And you know it always comes to my mind when I see such buildings, it’s a phrase in the Prophet Isaiah which speaks about, “...the day that the towers fall.” And I believe there’s a day coming when the surface of the earth’s crust is going to ripple and every tall building in every part of the earth will fall. It’s a symbol of God’s rejection of man’s arrogance and pride and self-dependence. It doesn’t impress me any longer. I’m content to use the facilities, but I don’t trust in it. There’s a day coming when all of that is going to pass away. The only thing that will remain is he who does the will of God. Because of the will of God is unshakable, unchanging, eternal, undefeatable, and when you unite your will with the will of God, you become like the will of God—unshakable, unchanging, undefeatable. That’s the key to success. It’s to find God’s will for your life and commit yourself to it.
I made that commitment in 1941 when I was a soldier in the British Army in World War II. I didn’t make it in a religious setting. I didn’t go to a church. I was confronted by the Person of Jesus. I didn’t see Him but I knew He was there. And I felt that I was wrestling with some invisible Person. I don’t suppose most of you remember the story of Jacob, how he wrestled with a man all night. And he couldn’t overcome this man, but in the end he broke and he clung to him. And he said, “Unless you bless me, I will not let you go.” And I found myself in direct relationship, not visible, but direct with Jesus in the middle of the night in an army barrack room. And as I clung to Him I began to say, “Unless you bless me, I will not let you go.” I became so determined that I kept saying, “I will not let you go, I will not let you go.” And the power of God came upon me, struck me down to the floor, and I spent an hour or more in the middle of the night in an army barrack room under the power of God. There was nothing intellectual in my conversion.
But the next day, I discovered to my surprise, I was a totally different person. I was, I’m sorry to say this, but you know the British Army is the most foul-mouthed group of people in the world. There’s no one else quite like it. And I was one of them. Next day, I didn’t have any doctrinal explanation. The night before I couldn’t pray. I didn’t know what to pray, I didn’t know how to pray. The next day I couldn’t drink a mug of water without thanking God for it.