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I want to speak about motivation for living. What makes life worth living? What gives meaning and purpose to life? As a young man, as a student, both of Eton College and of Cambridge University, this was probably my number one preoccupation. What is it that makes life worth living?
I had grown up through the Anglican Church in Britain but there didn’t seem to be anything in the version of Christianity with which I had been confronted that really gave me a motive for living. I in no sense want to criticize the Anglican church. But if I were to say one thing where they failed me, it was, they never challenged me. They never called me to any real commitment or sacrifice or effort. And strangely enough, although I was outwardly a playboy, in a sense, inwardly that was the thing I was longing for. It was to be challenged, to find something I could give my life for. Something that was worth living for and dying for.
I think that’s one reason why so many of the “ism’s” appeal to people. Including atheistic communists. Because it demands commitment. If a thing isn’t worth committing yourself to it isn’t worth much. And so many brands of Christianity betray that they have little to offer because they demand so little. Jesus demanded everything. He said, “Unless you forsake all that you have you cannot be my disciple.” He offered a great deal. But His demands were on the same level as what He offered. Which is reasonable. I’ve often said that in the kingdom of God, God never has a sale. He never reduces His price for one week. The price remains unchanged. If you want what Paul had you have to pay what Paul paid. However the other side is the good news that in the kingdom of God it’s the one place that there is no inflation. The price doesn’t go up and it doesn’t go down. So I want to speak to you about what I believe will give motivation, meaning and purpose to your life. I want to take primarily the Lord Jesus Christ Himself as the example. Also probably touch a little on the life of Paul. But primarily Jesus is the one I want to point you to. What was the real motivation in the life of Jesus? What was it that caused Him to go through with the task that was committed to Him?
Now you could probably answer in various different ways and all the answers could be in some respect true. But I will tell you what I see in Jesus. I see that the great overruling motive for everything He did was to do the will of God. That was how He started, that was why He came, and that was how He ended. It never varied. I think if there is any strength and stability in my life it arises from the same motivation. It is my sincere desire to do God’s will. And as far as I know myself I would not let anything come between that and me. I’d like to give you a number of scriptures. Turning first of all to Psalm 40. Here we have a prophetic picture, as we have many times in the Psalms, of Jesus, in His eternal nature, before He became a carpenter’s son in Nazareth. We have a prophetic picture of the motivation that made Him willing to give up His place in the glory of Heaven to be born as a human child and to live a life of humility, struggle, and suffering. See I don’t think any of us can avoid suffering. The question is, are we going to grow by suffering, or are we going to be defeated by it? I don’t see any recipe in human philosophy or in scripture that will enable us to avoid suffering. I think if you are going to go through life trying to avoid suffering, you are going to be a disappointed person. I think there is an appointed share of suffering for every one of us. Paul said that he might fill up that which was lacking in the sufferings of Christ for His body’s sake. I think perhaps there is a kind of version of Christianity which has gained some ground in some sections of the Charismatic movement, that all you have to go through in Christianity is just to learn to prosper. And that prosperity is the thing to aim for.
Now I believe that God prospers His faithful and obedient servant. But I would not make prosperity my goal. In fact the scripture says, “Those that desire to be rich fall into temptation and many earthful snares that drown men in perdition.” One thing I’ve seen about God is, He unerringly discerns our motives. And He deals with us, much more according to our motives than the things we actually do.
So in Psalm 40 verses 6–8 you have this prophetic declaration of the motivation that brought Jesus down to earth to do all that He did. And we will then look at Hebrews which quotes this passage and specifically applies it to Jesus. Let’s look first of all in Psalm 40. This is spoken by this unnamed person that is actually the Messiah, to God:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced. Burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. [And there is a comment on that in Hebrews which we will look at in a moment:] Then I said, here I am, I have come, it is written about me in the scroll, to do your will Oh my God, is my desire, your law is within my heart.”
There I think is the motivation of Jesus. “Here I am, I have come. It is written about me in the scroll.” I believe God has a scroll for every persons life. One of the things Ruth and I find ourselves praying day by day is, that in that given day, we may do everything that is written in God’s scroll for us for that day. We have really no desire to improvise. Paul says in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God has before ordained for us to walk in.” So it really isn’t for us to improvise and try to think of something to do. It’s for us to find out what God has already before ordained for us to do. What’s written in the scroll of the book for me today? When I come to the end of the day will I have done what’s there? “Here I am, I have come, it is written about me in the scroll. To do your will, O my God, is my desire. Your law is in my heart.”
Let’s turn to Hebrews and see what the writer there says. Hebrews chapter 10 verse 5. And you see the writer of Hebrews has no question about applying that passage in Psalm 40 to the Lord Jesus Christ. Let me make a general observation. In the gospels you get the historical facts about the life of Jesus. And sometimes they are extremely brief. For instance, the crucifixion is stated in three words: “They crucified Him.” To me that is part of the inspiration of scripture. I can’t imagine any author writing from a human standpoint who wouldn’t have gone into some details about the agony of the crucifixion. But by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit the writers of the gospels never exploited that. They simply said, “They crucified Him.” But if you go back into the Psalms, Psalm 22, Psalm 69, you get the Holy Spirit’s description of the inner experiences of Jesus at that time. So to get the total picture you have to read the gospels and the Psalms and others of the prophets. Isaiah chapter 50, “They plucked off the hair of my beard,” “I gave my back to the smiters,” and so on. Peter says in his first epistle, “The spirit of the Messiah was in them, testifying beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow.” How do you think David felt in Psalm 22 when he said, “They pierced my hands and my feet. They divided my garments amongst them and cast lots for my clothing.” Would you have had the faith to write that? It certainly never happened to David.
There again is another mark to me of the unique inspiration of scripture. That 1000 years before Jesus came, David could write this vivid description of a crucifixion that hadn’t taken place. Indeed as far as I know in those days, crucifixion was not a method of execution that was ever used. So in the Psalms and in the prophets if you can find it, you’ll find the inner motivation, the inner experiences, the inner agonies and triumphs of the Messiah. Now we turn to Hebrews 10 verse 5:
“Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said. . .
I have become so oriented to Israel that I’d like to change Christ and say the Messiah. When the Messiah came into the world. It sounds different doesn’t it? I mean it isn’t different. Christosis simply the Greek word for the anointed one. But it has got such a different churchy sort of meaning for us that I like to switch back and say something a little less familiar.
. . . When [the Messiah] came into the world [and now it is quoting Psalm 40:], he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—I have come to do your will O, God.’“
First He said, “Sacrifice and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them.” Although the law required them to be made. Then He said, “Here I am. I have come to do your will.” He set aside the first, that’s the sacrifices of the law, to establish the second, His own sacrifice. And by that will, the will of God done by Jesus, we have been made holy or sanctified through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all. Note that the will of God led up to the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. That was the ultimate destination of God’s will. That was the culmination of what was written in the scroll for Him.
Now I’d like to turn to some words of Jesus during His earthly ministry and just bring out this continuing unchanging motivation that guided Him. And I would say impelled Him through His earthly life. I think the word impelled is appropriate. I think there was a very strong pressure that kept moving Him on in the purposes of God. We’ll turn to a number of passages in John’s gospel. Beginning in John chapter 4. It’s an interesting thing when you are studying certain themes in the Bible. You will find that again and again a certain theme will send you to a certain author or to a certain book. And this theme of doing the will of God in the life of Jesus is one of the primary themes of the gospel of John. It’s one of those themes which John picks out and focuses on.
So in John 4, the well known scene where Jesus has been resting by Jacob’s well. The disciples have gone in to the local town to buy food, and the Samaritan woman comes out and Jesus begins to talk to her about living water and so on. And then we read what happened when the disciples came back with the food. Verse 27:
Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find Him talking with a woman. [Obviously it was not usual for Jesus to talk to a single woman.] But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?” Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ [the Messiah]?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him. Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought Him food?” “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me, and to finish his work. [Then He goes on to speak about the harvest field:] Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.”
That is a very remarkable statement. Jesus said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me. And to finish His work.” And it would appear from the context that without partaking of natural food, Jesus actually had been physically strengthened. Can you accept that?
I have found it true in my own experience. A matter of fact I am finding it true very much in these days. Because Ruth and I have been under tremendous pressure. Spiritual, physical and so on. And since the end of August we haven’t really had any time to rest. And it seems just as we overcome one task the next one is before us. And my schedule this month is particularly full. We got back from Israel the last day of October. And by the fifth of November I set out on a journey traveling around the Eastern states. And I will not be back in Florida till the end of October. And this time for some reason we had a particular struggle with jet lag. Which is unusual. We usually escape jet lag. And yet I would have to say almost every time I find myself in a meeting, I’m at the limit of my strength. And yet by the time the meeting is over I’m stronger than when I started. This is really true. It’s not imagination. I think I can understand a little of what Jesus said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me.”
We were in High Point, North Carolina, just recently for some very significant meetings. And they certainly kept us busy. Monday night the meeting started at 7 o’clock. And I had finished preaching by about 9:30. Started to minister to the sick, and God moved in. We didn’t close the meeting until after midnight. We were there for 5 hours continuously. And yet at the end I was ready for sleep, but I was strong, resilient, excited. Really, in a sense, that is what keeps me going. People have been kind enough to tell me that I look good and healthy. I appreciate it. But if anything makes me healthy that is it. I think of my first wife, Lydia, who is known to some of you. She was of a ripe old age when the Lord took her home. But almost up to the last few months she didn’t cease any of her ministry activities. When she was feeling under pressure and tired she said, “I want to hear the word of God. That is what keeps me going.” Sometimes I would say, “Would you like to stay at home?” She’d say, “No. The thing that keeps me going is being in the meetings and hearing the word of God.” So I want to say that this is a reality. There is a source of supernatural vitality. Which is doing the will of God. Paul said our outward man perishes. But our inward man is renewed day by day. And as Christians we are going to have to learn to live on an inner source of strength and vitality.
Now I believe in taking care of my body. And so far as circumstances permit I try to do everything that is reasonable and practical to keep my body in good condition. But when there is a . . . when I am faced with a choice between what the natural would dictate, and what the spiritual requires, I always make it a principal to go for the spiritual. Because I believe that God will make up what is needed in the natural. I observe also that being set to do the will of God gave Jesus a different perspective than that of the disciples who hadn’t yet learned this lesson. So after He had spoken about doing the will of God He said, “You don’t see anything. You say the harvest is 4 months away. I can see the harvest is ripe already.” Why could he see what they could not see? I think because he was united by the will of God. And I want to suggest to you that it could be true in your life that you think there is plenty of time. You don’t see the reality of the present situation. And yet I believe the present situation in the United States and in the world is urgent. I believe the dangers are tremendous, I believe the opportunities are tremendous. It would be a tragedy for you as a child of God not to realize what you are confronting. And yet I am inclined to believe that if you are not really committed to do the will of God, you will remain spiritually blind to the realities of the situation.
Coming back to the United States from Israel is always something of a shock. Because in Israel the realities are so naked. It’s survival, that is the key word. There aren’t many luxuries or amenities or forms of entertainment to blind ones eyes to the fact that it’s life or death. Why did Israel bomb the nuclear reactor in Iraq? I am not a politician and I am not a military strategist but I believe their motivation could be summed up in one word, survival. America doesn’t see it that way. And that frustrates the people of Israel. And it is like a kind of veil in front of the eyes even of American Christians. We’re not really at grips with reality. And I believe the only remedy for that is to be committed to do the will of God. I think that lifts the veil and enables us to see things that other people do not see.
To look at the situation in a different way, let me continue in some other passages in John. John chapter 5 verse 30. And I won’t even go into the background of this verse. I’ll just read it out. Jesus is speaking. He says:
“By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just [or right], for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.”
It is very difficult to be truly objective in many circumstances. One of the desires that I believe the Holy Spirit has put in my heart is to be a realist. I am tired of sentimentality. I am tired of wishful thinking. I am tired of people who say one thing and do another. And in some sense I am tired of being fooled by people. And when I ask myself why do I always not judge right about people? I think the answer is because I have projected myself into the situation. I think that’s the real problem of the way that the administration or the government of the United States approaches the Middle East. They approach the Middle East hoping that people will do what they want them to do. I believe it is a totally unrealistic hope. I believe that the Moslem nations have declared categorically what they intend to do which is to destroy Israel. And I hope that they won’t. That they will be nice. It won’t change the situation. I believe the United States is in danger of making somewhat the same mistake as Britain made with Hitler. Hitler declared before he came to power what he intended to do. But Neville Chamberlain and others just hoped if they were nice enough with Hitler, he wouldn’t do it. It didn’t work out. He went ahead to do everything he declared he would do. And I feel that is a lack of realism. I feel there is a lack of realism in the church. We relate to people on the basis of what we hope they will be. They don’t come out that way. They come out the way they are. You meet a person who has been unreliable three times and you relate to him as though he was going to be reliable. He won’t be reliable. Jesus said it won’t happen. “He that is unfaithful in that which is least is unfaithful in much.” I regret the times that my wishful thinking has blinded me to the truth about people. And every time it has happened I have paid for it. I don’t want it to happen again. And I think that Jesus gives the solution. My judgment is accurate. Why? Because I am not seeking to please myself. I only judge as I hear. My motivation is to do God’s will. I don’t go into the situation with my own plan ready made. I can see things as they really are. Because I’m not projecting myself.
How many times, to take a very downtoearth example, a young lady is deceived about a man she wants to marry. Why is she deceived? Because she projected her own emotions and wishful thinking. I tell young ladies, and I have had a lot of daughters get married, you don’t marry a man because you feel motherly towards him. You marry a man whom you are going to be able to respect as your head. That’s very different. I’ve said to several young ladies, don’t marry out of pity. It won’t work. That’s not a motive for marriage. Be a realist. Check on his record. It sounds easy but you can’t do it unless you have learned the lesson of Jesus. Lord I don’t want to get married unless it’s the man you have given me. Or a young man. I don’t want to get married unless it is the woman you have appointed for me. I am prepared to wait. Some are not prepared to wait. You know the old saying: Married in haste, repent at leisure. It is a very downtoearth application of that principle. We go on to John chapter 6 verse 38:
“For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.”
That is very clear. I have come down from heaven. That is right in line with what we read in Psalm 40. What brought Jesus to earth? What was His motivation? To do the will of the one who sent him.
And then in John 17 verse 4. Now Jesus is praying to the Father. And He says, looking back over His earthly ministry which was almost finished:
“I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.”
This translation says “complete.” I prefer to stick with the word “finish” which is the same word used in Greek all the way through. Jesus’ motivation was not merely to do the will of God but to finish it. To see it through to the end. And then we turn on to the final example in John 19 verses 28–30. This is the last moments on the cross:
Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.
Now I am not suggesting that I can plumb the full meaning of that phrase, “it is finished.” Let me say, first of all, it is a tremendously powerful phrase. We have the gospel in Greek whether Jesus originally spoke it in Greek is another point. But that’s the language in which it has come to us. And in Greek “it is finished” is one single verb. It is one word, tetelestai. And it is the perfect tense of a verb that means to finish something or to do it perfectly. I’ve said sometimes you can translate it “it is perfectly perfect,” “it is completely complete.” And I link that with all that had gone ahead. “My food is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish the work.” And I believe that Jesus expired because he could say, “It is finished.” I see this motivation all through from eternity to His death on the cross. The one overruling motive of everything He did, every point in His life, was to do the will of God, and finish it.
And I think at my age in life, I can appreciate the emphasis on the word “finish.” I believe that basically since I became a Christian, though I have stumbled and I have had problems at times of weakness, I have walked in the will of God. I believe I am in the will of God now. I believe it was a tremendous step to the fulfillment of God’s purpose for my life when God opened the way for my return to Israel.
So I want to say to you, and I trust that I don’t say it out of arrogance or conceit, I believe in the light of my personal experience, it is possible to walk in the will of God. It is not an unattainable ideal. That does not mean we don’t ever make mistakes. But it means that basically our life follows the course that God ordained for us. Some of you know, I know that Eric knows, the first time God ever spoke to me through the Holy Spirit, He gave me, in essence, the outline of His plan for my life. And I was so unspiritual I didn’t even know I was exercising a gift of the Spirit. At that time when I was marvelously converted in an army barrack room of the British Army, instantly without any process of reasoning, it was clear to me in a way I could not explain, that God had a plan for my life. And that the thing that mattered most, was to fulfill that plan. And I believe now, just after 40 years later, up to this time, I have fulfilled that plan. But I know it is not finished.
And I don’t want to discourage any of you, but I want to tell you nevertheless, that it does not get any easier to be a Christian. People talk about the problems of young Christians, somebody needs to talk about the problems of old Christians. Don’t have any false hope, the pressures do not decrease. In fact I would say that they increase. I said to Ruth about being in Jerusalem, some time back, being here right now, even in the will of God, is like walking continuously against a heavy head wind. Not physical but spiritual. And I tell you one thing that is constantly in my mind, it doesn’t worry me, it doesn’t make me nervous, but it is never far from my thoughts, it is finishing the work.
So I understand the tremendous triumph of Jesus. Before He gave up His spirit He said, “It is finished. There is nothing more left to do. I have done it all.” So in that hour of agony and apparent defeat, Jesus knew total victory. Because of His commitment to do the will of God.
I want to look very briefly at the testimony of Paul. And I am only going to take three quotations. But I want you to see that the same motivation directed the life of Paul. I was going to say “dominated” but I changed my mind. The will of God doesn’t dominate you. You can escape it. It is only if you yield to it. In Acts chapter 20 verse 24. Paul is speaking to the elders of the church of Ephesus. He tells them he knows that he is going up to Jerusalem and that he is going to have persecution and imprisonment there. But he says after all that:
“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”
I see there the same motivation in Paul. He had been a Christian a good many years. He said, “My primary ambition is to finish, to complete. See it through to the end.” We could look also in Philippians chapter 3 verse 10 and onwards:
“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings. . . .”
Isn’t that an amazing statement? I want to know the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings. I have to say for many, many years, I have read that verse, and I have had to say privately to God, “Lord I don’t want to be a hypocrite, but frankly I really can’t say that yet. Maybe the day will come.” But I learned something when the Lord called my first wife, Lydia, home. Which I think God would have me share. The weekend that Lydia passed away, she died on a Sunday, I was committed to be preaching elsewhere, with the other teachers, all of them. And Lydia’s health was not at all good. And I shared with the other teachers and they all felt that my place was home with her and so I dropped out of the meetings. And I want to say I really thank God for their sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. I think they probably knew before I did what was going to happen. And so I was there when Lydia was taken very ill in the middle of the night. We rushed her to the hospital and the Lord called her home about ten hours later. I and all the four daughters that were in Ft. Lauderdale were present with her. But when I thought over that I said to myself that was an agonizing experience. But there was no where else in the world that I would have wanted to be at that time. And I began to understand the attitude of Paul toward sharing in the sufferings of Christ. He was so committed to Jesus that he didn’t want Jesus to suffer alone. I don’t know whether you can see that. But I see what it means to be really committed to a person. You are not just interested in sharing their joy. But you are equally interested in sharing their sorrows.
You know there is a hymn, it is very familiar, probably not familiar to many of you because you have come up from a different route. But it says, “Must Jesus bear the cross alone and all the world go free?” I think many of us would be willing to let Jesus bear the cross alone. What Paul was saying is, “If Jesus is going to bear the cross I want to be there.” And I think that is something that we have to search our hearts about. I am not sure that I can even say it now. But I know I am nearer saying it than I was some years ago. Well let us go on reading:
“I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
That is an amazing statement from the great apostle to the Gentiles isn’t it? Somehow to attain to the resurrection of the dead. Then he goes on to say very clearly:
“Not that I have already attained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
There is a man with a single motive. This one thing I do. I think at times Paul must have been difficult to live with. I think at times he might have been somewhat insensitive to his companions. I think it is obvious that when John Mark, the young man that started out with Paul and Barnabas chickened out, Paul’s attitude at the time was not very charitable. It encourages me to know that many years later Paul said bring John Mark with you, he is useful to the ministry. And I think it is to the credit of Barnabas that he didn’t abandon John Mark. So I am not saying that this is without its problems. I think any man with strong convictions is liable sometimes to walk over the toes of the people around him. But, nevertheless, I have to respect Paul’s determination. This one thing I do.
When Ruth and I talk things over, if we have some decision to make, the moment it starts to get complicated, I say I don’t feel good about this. I have a little saying that came from Corrie Ten Boom, some of you have already heard it. “K-I-S-S: Keep It Simple Stupid.” And that is really one of my motivating determinations. I don’t want the issues to become so complicated I can’t see what the will of God is. I believe in that kind of simplicity. Now Paul goes on to say:
“All of us who are mature should take such a view of things [the same view that he took]. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.”
Sometimes people have come to me and they have said I don’t really know what God’s will is. I said “Fine, but if you really want to know, God will make it clear to you. Don’t act until He does.” And then that grand triumphant statement in 2Timothy chapter 4 verse 6:
“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure.”
That is really a victorious statement isn’t it? I am leaving on time. I am not going to be behind schedule, I am not going to be ahead of schedule. I think it is good when we can know when the time has come for our departure. I have no desire to hang around after that time. I do not want to give you the impression that I think the time is at hand for me because I really don’t. He says, “I am being poured out like a drink offering.” That is a very vivid picture. In the Mosaic law, in the Levitical priesthood every offering had to have, every animal that was sacrificed had to have a drink offering of wine poured out on it. Or poured out with it. And so Paul says, “My contribution to the church is like that offering, but with it I have to pour out my life.” I really believe that the only offerings God will ultimately accept are those accompanied by the drink offering of our own life poured out. And I am not talking about becoming a martyr. I am talking about giving yourself with what you offer to God. And then he goes on to say the words that I wanted to come to:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
I would like to observe that if you are going to keep the faith you will have to fight the fight. It will not be always easy. There will be a battle. If we are not willing to fight the fight, we will not be able to say, I kept the faith. I think I will turn to just one more scripture. To close with. It has become very, very meaningful to me. Especially in the context of the Middle East. I think it is hard for most of you to understand how extremely unsettled the Middle East is. I mean life in America is not settled. But it is tranquil compared to life in the Middle East. And we are surrounded in Israel with surging forces. Aggressive, violent, I would say wicked, and very powerful. I have discovered in my preaching that if I preach a thing often enough God is going to ask me to back it up with my actions. I have preached for years on the restoration of Israel. But when you go to live in Jerusalem you need to believe in the restoration of Israel otherwise it is not a safe place to be. I am happy to be there. I do believe in the restoration of Israel. But it is no longer just an interpretation of the Bible. It is a fact of my life. And there in that extremely volatile, unstable situation, one of the scriptures that has become so meaningful to me is the one that I am going to give you now. In first John chapter 2 verses 15–17:
“Do not love the world, or anything in the world.”
I have heard Bob Mumford say it, “‘Do not love the world.’—that is addressed to young people. The world seems very attractive. ‘Do not love anything in the world’ is addressed to the older generation. Your boat or whatever it is, the particular thing that grips you.” I have to say that for me the world is really, in the sense it is used here, is really not an attractive place. I don’t really even feel tempted to love the world. But there might be something in the world that would still hold me.
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
Now we need to distinguish between the world and creation. God created the earth. There is much that is very good and very beautiful and worthy of love. In what God created. But the world means the present human order. It says of Noah’s day, as a result of the flood, the world that then was, perished. That whole social order disappeared. New order took its place. So when it says, “Do not love the world,” that doesn’t mean you can’t love the trees and the mountains and the rivers and the lakes. But it means don’t get entangled with the present social order. Because it is passing out. It is passing away.
“For everything that is in the world, the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes, the boasting of what he has and does comes not from the Father but from the world.”
That’s a rather vivid translation, I am not really familiar with it. The cravings of sinful man. The usual translation is the lust of the flesh. The lust of his eyes. And the boasting of what he has and what he does. That is rather a good way of expressing the pride of life. Man’s pride in his own achievements or abilities. That is probably the motivating force of the philosophy that we call humanism. It is utterly impregnated with man’s own pride in what he does. And all that is not from the Father but is from the world, this present world order. Then we come to this summation:
“The world and its desires pass away. [they are all on the way out, there is nothing permanent, nothing stable, nothing of true lasting value] But the man that does the will of God lives forever.”
I prefer the translation that says “abides forever.” That is a beautiful promise isn’t it? For the one who makes the will of God his purpose in life. God says in Hebrews the 12 chapter that He is going to shake everything that can be shaken. We see it happening and I believe we will see it happen on an increasing scale. How can we remain unshakable in the midst of a shaking world situation? By being united with the will of God. Because the will of God is going to prevail. Ultimately God is going to do things the way He intended to do them. There may be delay, there may be opposition, but it is going to come out the way God said it would. God is going to work out His will. And when you are committed to and united with the will of God you are as unshakable and as unsinkable as God’s way. You can face any situation, any threat, any opposition, with perfect inner calm and tranquillity because it cannot defeat you. It cannot defeat you because it cannot defeat the will of God. So in any situation where your peace is threatened and where you feel fear or doubt beginning to rip you, don’t begin by weighing up the situation. Begin by making sure that you are committed to the will of God. Then you can face the situation in a different way. Jesus saw the situation there beside Jacob’s well quite differently from His disciples. He said, “You don’t see what I see.” Why did He see it differently? We have already seen. Because He was committed to do the will of God. You see things differently from that view point. That is my recommendation to each of you tonight. Be united with the will of God. Don’t try to work it out beforehand.
John 7:17 Jesus said, “If any man will do his will he shall know.” You don’t know and then do. You do and then know. It doesn’t come by intellectual reasoning. It comes by commitment. Commitment is the key that unfolds the will of God in your life. You can’t bargain with God. He doesn’t ask for your talents. He doesn’t ask for your money. He asks for you. He is very clever because when He has got you He has your talents, your money and everything else. Don’t try to bargain with the Almighty. Submit to Him. Yield to Him. Trust Him. He has your best interests at heart. Paul says in Romans 12:1–2, “Present your body a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God.” Then he said, “You will prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” See, that is commitment. Present your body. Hand yourself over to God without reservation. Then you are renewed in your mind. And with the renewed mind you can discover God’s will for your life. You can sit in a church pew or in a seat in a meeting like this, and speculate on what God’s will might be for your life, but you will never find it out until you present yourself to Him. God is not bargaining. He is laying down the conditions.
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