And this is Life Eternal

.

Scripture: John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

Opening Hymn of Praise: 226 "Lift Up Your Heads"

Closing Hymn of Consecration: 159 "The Old Rugged Cross"

It is said that every preacher only has one sermon. If this is true, you are about to hear my one sermon. The most important thing in life is to Know God. There are three habits we need to develop to know God. The first is to respond to His drawing us to Himself with His cords of love. The only valid response is to accept God as God, and to come into a love relationship with Him that is expressed in absolute obedience to His will. So the first habit is the recurrent decision to have God as my God and for me to be His obedient subject. The second habit is for us to continually seek God in response to His seeking us. We respond to God in our minds. We say yes to God in our minds and we stay in His presence by keeping our minds centered and fixed on God. So the second habit is to keep our minds stayed, centered, focused on God all the time. This is called praying without ceasing in Scripture. Habit three is to hear God speaking to us. The clearest and most certain way to hear God is through reading and meditating on the Scriptures. We call this Bible Study. We need to have a set time every day for Bible study.

"Believing in Christ and receiving His transforming grace is not guesswork, but a work which causes Christ's virtues to be reflected in mind and character. When you gain this experience, you will say, "I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. The Lord Jesus shall be my portion forever." The power of the cross will move in you the mysterious springs of hope and fear, adoration, and love. Angels are watching and waiting, and will witness to the fact that the world has you not. Jesus has found you sitting at His feet to learn from Him, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Henceforth, surrendering your will to the will of Christ, you are drawn into a region where the cross is the central object. The world fades from your view. The glory shining from the threshold of heaven is the all-attractive influence. The riches of the grace of Christ hold you in willing obedience." Lift Him Up page 252

The great object of life is to know God and to be held by His grace in loving, willing obedience. The words none of us want ever to hear is: Matthew 7:23 "And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."

The starting place to know God is to respond to the initiative that God takes in coming to you to draw you to Himself with His cords of love. Nobody is left out or is exempt from God’s efforts to draw them to Him. At some stage in this drawing process I have to make the decision to make God the absolute King and Lord of my life. It is not possible to be drawn into a love relationship with God where you are a buddy, an equal with God. This is not possible. This is not reality. There is only one realistic relationship between your soul or my soul and God. That is a relationship of absolute dependence and absolute obedience on my part, and on God’s part, absolute sovereignty. Doing my own thing some of the time and doing God’s will some of the time while knowing God is a deception. The only true relationship with God is that expressed by Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane: "Not my will, but thine be done". There are no exceptions. This decision to do God’s will absolutely, is made in different ways with different people.

When I was five years of age I made a life-changing decision. At age five I lived on the edge of the Kalahari desert in Bechuanaland. Today it is called Botswana. As a child the Bushman were my heroes. I wanted to be a Bushman. What I found so attractive about the Bushman is that it seemed to me that all they did all day is just what they wanted to do. They had everything in life their way! They got up when they wanted to. They did what they wanted to do all day. They went to bed when they wanted to! I wanted to be a Bushman.

Now I was aware that my parents had other goals for my life. And so the certain knowledge that I would have to contend with my parents over the matter of being a Bushman consumed my thoughts for the next few days. I was aware that I could not win in a fight with my parents, therefore the choice that presented itself to me was that I could lie down and die, or that I had to "work, work, work" all the rest of my life. I pondered this question for many days and finally came to the conclusion that "work, work, work" was preferable to lying down and dying. Now just in case that you do not think that lying down and dying is an option, let me assure you that some patients I knew of came into the mission hospital in Bechuanaland and did just that! So I decided to "work, work, work" and to my surprise, I discovered that work was pleasant and an activity to be desired!

My life-changing decision was to "work, work, work". That is how I viewed the necessity of life at age 5. I have never regretted that early decision. Some decisions in life, I sometimes think were not the best. This is not one of those decisions. I enjoy work. Above all I enjoy the consciousness of being where God wants me, doing what God wants me to do. Unless we do God’s will on every conscious point, God is not the supreme King and Lord of my life. But all other beings, and all other things are false gods and unworthy idols. We are deceived and will be disappointed in the end to make anything but the true and living God the supreme object of interest and worship in our lives. The worst thing God can do to us is to leave us alone to ourselves and to our idols. The most terrible words in Scripture is found in Hosea 4:17 "Ephraim [is] joined to idols: let him alone."

So there are these three habits we need to develop to make and keep God the supreme King and Lord of our lives. So step one is the decision to have God as my God and for me to be His obedient subject. This decision needs to be made daily so it becomes a habit. Conversion is on a point. Life is like a newspaper picture. It is made up of lots of points. There needs to be the decision at each point, that God is God and "Not my will, but thine be done", on that point.

The second requirement is for us to seek God in response to His seeking us. We respond to God in our minds. We say yes to God in our minds and we respond to Him and stay in His presence by keeping our minds centered and fixed on God. So step two is to keep our minds stayed, centered, focused on God all the time. This is called praying without ceasing in Scripture. It is not natural for us to consciously center and focus our thoughts on God. We naturally center our attention on ourselves. By deliberately centering our attention on God, it can become a habit. There was a sweeper in a monastery in Europe who became well known for his godliness. His name was brother Andrew. He was asked how he became so much like God and he told them that it was because of the focus of his thoughts. He said that when he was sweeping the floor, he would pray, God sweep everything out of my life that is not like you. When he was mopping the floors, he would pray, God mop everything out of my life that is unlike you. When I dust the furniture, I pray, Oh, God, wipe everything out of my life that is not like you. And thus day by day as brother Andrew beheld God in His mind, and he was being changed, by beholding God, from one degree of character-likeness to another degree of glory.

2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, [even] as by the Spirit of the Lord.

I do not clean floors all day, but in whatever I do, I can lift my heart and my mind to God and ask Him continually to make me like Himself in character. When I do this, I experience a peace and a joy and an efficiency in my activity, that is not there when I do not keep God continually at the center of my attention and focus. I think I have told you this experience before, but maybe there are some who have not heard it so I will tell it again.

I spent 10 years flying a private, single engine Cessna aircraft around Africa from one mission hospital to another. At one of these hospitals I visited, there was a young student missionary who had the duty of showing me the list of patients that had been collected since I last visited that were scheduled to have surgery. She nervously twisted the paper in her hands and explained that there was one patient on the list that she wanted me to see. She said that the patient was dying and that nothing any of the doctors or nurses could do was helping the patient. So she asked if I would mind seeing that patient as well as those on the list.

From that history, I was sure I knew what the problem was. When we got to the bedside and looked at the patient, I knew what the problem was for sure. The patient had his head under his blanket. When I pulled the blanket off his head and looked into his face, I saw major fear in his wide eyes. I knew the African customs, because I had grown up in Africa. I disregarded all of the customs and niceties of customary greetings and starting a conversation in Africa. I simply (Western style) came right to the point and asked him if he had been bewitched. Yes! He said and looked even more frightened.

At that moment I heard (in my mind – I don’t think anyone else heard it) "Ah! Everybody thinks they are bewitched!" I considered that suggestion for a moment and concluded that it would be very easy to check out that suggestion with a room full of patients. So I looked at the patient in the bed on one side of the patient and asked him the same question: "Have you been bewitched?" "No" was his answer. So I looked at the patient in the bed on the other side and asked him the same question. This man in that other bed said "No!" so vigorously that it left no doubt that he did not want to be either! So I came back to the man in the center bed and asked him again, "Have you been bewitched?" Again with big frightened eyes the man said that he had been bewitched. So I asked him to tell me about it. He said that it had to do with his rice. "Well", I said, "I don’t understand. You will have to tell me about your rice." He said that he had grown more rice that year than anyone else in the village and that they were jealous of him and so they had him bewitched. So I told him that I understood now. "Now", I said, "This is the question. Do you want to live, or do you want to die?" The man said that he wanted to live. So I explained that he would have to pray to God for life and not to die. Was he willing to do that? He said that he was. I told him that in addition to praying, he would have to do some other things. He would have to get his head out from under the blanket and get outside and sit in the sun for 10 minutes a day. He agreed to that. I told him that he would have to drink 8 glasses of water a day. He had to think about that for a while. After a few moments he agreed to that. Then I told him that he needed to give 1/10th of his rice to God. Would he agree to that? Yes, he said, he agreed to that. So we prayed together and asked God for life and we left and saw the other patients.

The next day, the student missionary told me excitedly, that I would have to see this patient again. "O my!" I thought to myself. "I wonder what has happened!" We went to the bedside and saw the patient. He was a different person. The fright has left his eyes and face. His head was not under the covers. I asked him if he had prayed for life, if he had sat in the sun, if he had drunk water, and if he remembered about giving God 1/10th of his rice. Yes, yes, he had done all of that. We prayed together and I left.

The third day the student missionary told me that the man had a question for me. I wondered what his question would be. He said "Dokata, why must I stay in hospital? I can sit in the sun at home. I can drink water at home. I can pray at home. My rice is at home!" I was so pleased to tell him that there was no reason at all for him to stay in hospital. That man went home rejoicing with life instead of death. And if I keep Jesus in mind, and focus on Him all day, I can have abundant life instead of death day by day.

The third habit to cultivate is to hear God talking to us. The clearest and most consistent way to hear God talking to us in reading or hearing Scripture.

"For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe." 1 Thess. 2:13. {HP 134.1}

"The Bible is God's voice speaking to us just as surely as though we could hear Him with our ears. The word of the living God is not merely written, but spoken. Do we receive the Bible as the oracle of God? If we realized the importance of this Word, with what awe would we open it, and with what earnestness would we search its precepts. The reading and contemplating of the Scriptures would be regarded as an audience with the Most High." {HP 134.2}

Let us hear the word of the Lord speaking to us at this time. Turn with me in your Bibles to I Samuel 17:32 and let us hear God talking to us.

"And David said to Saul, Let no man's heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine."

Is there anyone here whose heart is failing because of some circumstance or because of something in your life. Hear the word of the Lord: "And David said to Saul, Let no man's heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine." David was a youth. I don’t know how old. He may have been 12 years of age. Jesus was 12 years of age when He first went to the temple in Jerusalem. David was 30 years of age when he began to reign as king over Judah and Israel and he reigned 40 years. (II Sam.5:4) Jesus was 30 years of age when He began His public ministry. Jesus is King forever. And David was a type of Christ. And God wants each of us to represent Jesus in our lives and in all that we do. God wants each of us to experience the life of Jesus in our lives. This is how we give glory to God.

So David was a youth when he first met and talked to the king of Israel. We have many young people here today. God is speaking to you through His word. The Philistine who David said that he would go and fight was a champion soldier of the Philistine army. This Philistine army man was named Goliath. Goliath means "to denude, to strip, to make an exile". When we understand that God is speaking to us personally and that everything He tells us is of great importance to us, then Scripture comes alive as we hear God talking to us. Satan wants to strip us of our righteousness that we have in Jesus. Satan wants to denude us of the character of God that we were originally created with. Satan wants to exile us from the Kingdom of God. There is only one way he can do that. It is by getting us to sin. It is through sin that Satan strips us of our righteousness of Christ, and denudes us of the character of God, and exiles us from the Kingdom of God. By getting us to sin is the only way Satan can touch us. Goliath came from the city of Gath. Gath means winepress or the holder of the grapes to be trodden out. The name David means "rarely, (fully) loving." And so the meaning of these names shows us that this is the choice we each face. We can be rarely and fully loving, like Jesus. Or we can be a stripper, a denuder of righteousness living in and coming from the city of where God is going to tread out the grapes of His wrath at the end of time until the blood reaches the bridles of horses. This "grapes of wrath" time is soon to come.

David said to Saul, "Let no man’s heart fail because of him". David was talking about the 12 foot tall Goliath. God is talking to us through the words of David at this time. Jesus is saying, "Let not your hearts be troubled, I will go and fight for you." Now there is only one thing that can trouble us in this world, and that is sin. Jesus is saying to us, let not our sins, and your habits to sin, and our track record in sin, trouble you. Your sins may look like a 12 foot giant, that is there to strip and denude you of my righteousness and make you go into exile. But be of good cheer, I will go and fight Satan in you! Praise God!

V33 "And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou [art but] a youth, and he a man of war from his youth."

Has church leadership, research, statistics, or any other authority, or even your own experience, told you that you cannot stop sinning? Saul was the national king. His word is law. Saul said to David, you are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him because you are too young, and the Philistine is a fighter since he was young. From a human standpoint the match between David and Goliath was uneven and in Goliath’s favor. From a human standpoint the match between you and sin is uneven and in sin’s favor. While that is true, it is not the whole truth.

V34 – 37

"17:34 And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock:

17:35 And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered [it] out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught [him] by his beard, and smote him, and slew him.

17:36 Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God.

17:37 David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee."

Have you ever had any victory over sin in your life in the past? The same way that you experienced victory over sin in the past is the way God will give you victory over every sin in the future. Victory over sin is what the gospel is all about. No victory over sin, and there is no salvation either now or at any other time! Sin is the problem. Sin is the giant that strips you and denudes you of the righteousness of Christ and puts us out of the Kingdom of God into exile. The lion that David met represents selfishness. The lion is the king of beasts. Self strives to be the king of our lives. By God’s grace we have to put self on the cross and put Jesus on the throne of our lives. The bear represents lust. Most people do what they feel like doing. We all in the end do what we want to do. The gospel changes us so we want to do God’s will no matter what we feel, until we have done God’s will so long and so consistently that we feel like doing it in the end. This is the goal and object of the gospel as it is in Jesus. The gospel as it is in Jesus is not a method of saving us from the consequences of our sins merely. The gospel as it is in Jesus is a method of saving us from ourselves, and our unholy feelings, and from sin itself. The gospel as it is in Jesus creates in us a new person with the mind of Jesus and the thoughts and feelings of Jesus. The real gospel is the power of God unto salvation. Jesus gives us victory over self and our selfish feelings. This is what God wants to demonstrate in our lives. Each victory in our lives prepares us for the next victory. By God’s grace and through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can gain the total, consistent victory over our besetting sins. And unless and until we do – we have no real knowledge or relationship with God no matter what we believe and think and profess. Jesus is the Captain of our salvation. Jesus is the One who gives us the victory over sin. Any so-called relationship with Jesus that omits on-going victory over sin is a deception and a fraud and a lie. I John 3:6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.

3:7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

3:8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

3:9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

3:10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

3:11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

Any so-called salvation and unity that does not destroy the works of the devil in the life and give us genuine love for our brother, is a deception, a fraud, and a lie.

God had demonstrated His ability to save David from a lion and from a bear. This is what David told Saul. Then Saul told David, Go, and the Lord be with thee. It is God’s help in the past that gives us a personal knowledge of God. Is there anybody here who has never experienced victory over sin by God’s grace at some time in their lives? Beloved, we are to look to past victories, and praise God for them and present them to God along with His promises, to ask for help in the present temptation.

Now we see an interesting detail at this point in the story.

I Samuel 17:38 And Saul armed David with his armor, and he put an helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail.

17:39 And David girded his sword upon his armor, and he assayed to go; for he had not proved [it]. And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved [them]. And David put them off him.

Saul had a sword, a helmet, and external armor. These he put on David. Saul was not willing to go himself and fight Goliath, but he commissioned David to go and equipped him with his own armor. David started out to the battle with this armor on but soon returned and took them off. David’s reason for taking them off was that he had not proved them. David’s former victories over the lion and the bear, was accomplished without that armor. The way God has given you victory over sin in the past, is the same way He will give you victory over every sin all the time. It was with the staff and the sling that David had gotten his former victories by God’s grace. The shepherd’s staff represents the law and the providences of God for our correction and instruction. The sling represents prayer. The stone represents Jesus, the Rock. It is through prayer in harmony with the law of God that Jesus goes before us and gives us the victory. We need daily to eat of the law of God and make it our own through obedience. Daily we need to use the slingshot of prayer that gives Jesus the right to go before us in the battle against the giants of our besetting sin and give us consistent victory.

 I Samuel 17:40 And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd's bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling [was] in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine.

It was without man’s armor that David met Goliath. What does the staff represent? The shepherd’s staff represents the law and the providence of God for our correction and instruction. What does the sling represent? The sling represents prayer. What does the stone represent? The stone represents Jesus, the Rock. It is through prayer in harmony with the law of God that Jesus goes before us and gives us the victory. We need daily to eat of the law of God and make it our own through obedience. Daily we need to use the slingshot of prayer that gives Jesus the right to go before us in the battle against the giants of our besetting sin and give us consistent victory. This is what glorifies God. This is how we fear God and give glory to Him. It is through victory over every sin that doth so easily beset us.

Man’s research and man’s methods and man’s armor of denial of sin and guilt and drug remedies to make us forget God and His law will only result in weakness and defeat. The sooner we turn around and face the scorn for taking off man’s armor, the better. It is not education; it is not degrees; it is not position or authority that assures us victory over sin. It is the firm decision to deny self and take up our cross and follow Jesus daily; it is Jesus Himself, His presence, His undertaking in co-operation with our will and our effort, that gives the victory in the fight against the devil. This is what destroys the works of the devil – that is – sin.

I Samuel 17:40 And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd's bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling [was] in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine.

17:41 And the Philistine came on and drew near unto David; and the man that bare the shield [went] before him.

17:42 And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him: for he was [but] a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance.

17:43 And the Philistine said unto David, [Am] I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves? And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.

17:44 And the Philistine said to David, Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field.

17:45 Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.

17:46 This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.

17:47 And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle [is] the LORD's, and he will give you into our hands.

17:48 And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came and drew nigh to meet David, that David hasted, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine.

17:49 And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang [it], and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth.

17:50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him; but [there was] no sword in the hand of David.

17:51 Therefore David ran, and stood upon the Philistine, and took his sword, and drew it out of the sheath thereof, and slew him, and cut off his head therewith. And when the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they fled.

In our one to one fight with the devil it is well for us to know the ground-rules. David represents Jesus. King Saul represents you and me. We have to authorise Jesus to represent us in the hand to hand fight with the devil. We have to be willing for Jesus to represent us in His own way with His shepherd-staff and His sling shot and the stones that represent Himself. It is Jesus that fights the devil hand-to-hand, one on One. But there is a part that we have to do in the battle against sin. We have to agree and ask Jesus to fight for us. We have to send Jesus to fight for us. Saul said, "Go, and the Lord be with thee." We have to agree for Jesus to fight for us and risk everything to the outcome of the battle – our life, our throne, our kingdom – as Saul did to David. But that is not all we need to do.

I Samuel 17:52 And the men of Israel and of Judah arose, and shouted, and pursued the Philistines, until thou come to the valley, and to the gates of Ekron. And the wounded of the Philistines fell down by the way to Shaaraim, even unto Gath, and unto Ekron.

Have you ever heard the modern take on I Samuel 17:52? It reads this way:

"And the men of Israel and of Judah arose, and shouted, and sat down to feast and play and celebrate the completed victory of David that day."

Is that what Scripture says? Is that what is commonly taught among us?

The gospel as it is in Jesus reads:

I Samuel 17:52 And the men of Israel and of Judah arose, and shouted, and pursued the Philistines, until thou come to the valley, and to the gates of Ekron. And the wounded of the Philistines fell down by the way to Shaaraim, even unto Gath, and unto Ekron.

17:53 And the children of Israel returned from chasing after the Philistines, and they spoiled their tents.

Beloved we have a work to do at this time. The way I cooperate with God to destroy the works of the devil in my life is 1. Make the decision that God is absolute ruler of my life. 2. To practice the presence of God by centering my attention on Him moment by moment. I need the sling-shot of prayer with me and I need to be using it every day. This means to pray without ceasing. And 3. I need the Shepard’s staff with me. I need to hear God speaking to me in daily Bible study. Daily, I need to eat the staff of life – the Word of God. This is the way for us to pursue the Philistines to the gates of Ekron and to the gates of Gath. Unless we by faith and by God’s grace, follow up the victory of Jesus on Calvary with the complete destruction of the works of the devil in our own lives – beloved, we are lost while we may be celebrating our salvation! If we learn these three skills and by God’s grace destroy all the works of the devil in us, in the judgment we will hear the words, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of my Lord." If we are in the celebrate mode and expect Jesus to do for us what God has given us to do, we will hear those terrible words, Matthew 7:23 "And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."

Day by day we are all developing characters, whatever we are doing or not doing. ""When the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come." Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church. When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own. {COL 69.1}

Who would like to come forward and knee with me and we will ask Louie to come forward and pray with us that we may know Jesus personally day by day in victory over sin to the glory of God and to the hastening of His soon coming?