In John 6:44 it says, "No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him."
This word "draw" is used six times in the New Testament as "to draw a sword," "to be drawn away captive," or "the drawing of a net." In this case it means, as it does in John 12:32, where Jesus said, "And I, if I am [crucified and] lifted up [raised up] from the earth, will draw all peoples to Me." We had nothing to do with the drawing. It was something special. God wanted us.
With me it was no sudden thing. As I recall, in the past I read a book called, "What Would Jesus Do?" It was a Protestant tract, and the question that the book posed was, "If Jesus Christ were to live in my shoes, how would He live my life?" That was the question. Although there was no immediate change after reading that book, still the perception was running through my mind that there was a God and that I should be starting to do something, that I should be making some changes in my life.
With most of us, God led us to the "World Tomorrow" broadcast, to pick up a Plain Truth, or to talk to somebody that we knew at work who was in the church and who knew all about God, and that was impressive. With us, one of the people we talked to was a neighbor across the street, Paul Christofferson. He was a rough and tumble bricklayer, and I think he had every Plain Truth and every Good News that was ever printed, and he loved Herbert W. Armstrong. He said he was a little suspicious of Ted, but he loved Herbert W. Armstrong. Every time we talked about God, he quoted Mr. Armstrong. He would just reassure us and reaffirm with us that Herbert Armstrong knew what he was talking about. He never came into the church, but he certainly helped us to come in.
Then we wrote to the church and we requested a church visit. Somebody came out, and then we came into the church. Now God the Father was the One that drew us, but who was the one who chose us? Let us go to John 15, verse 16, one of those old memory scriptures. Jesus Christ is speaking and He says:
John 15:16 "You did not choose Me [in other words, we had nothing to do with it], but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you."
So here we see that Jesus Christ and God the Father are so close in understanding, that Jesus Christ could look down and select whom He wished. We find this certainly today. He would ask God the Father to draw them. We find this today in corporations. Somebody is put in charge of a really special project, and he has the option many times to select whom he wishes to complete that project, and so this is what has been taking place with us.
Jesus Christ Himself looked down and He called you, and He called me, and He said, "I want these people to complete the project that I have in mind, to bring them into the Kingdom of God, to be the firstfruits." Up to this point we still have relatively little to do. Jesus Christ selected us. God the Father drew us to where we would contact "the work," and then Jesus Christ provided teachers for us.
Let us turn to Ephesians chapter 4 and get a quick review here.
Ephesians 4:11-13 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers [He provided teachers for us.], for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
You see, this is why we have been called. This is why we are here, to become like Jesus Christ, to the fullness of His stature.
Ephesians 4:14-15 That we no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.
Jesus Christ provided teachers for us so that we might grow and that we might become just like Jesus Christ. Now Christ, the Son of God and the Head of the church, does all this for us. I am sure that everyone of us has benefited personally from being in the church and from all the gifts that have been given to us. We have been healed, we have been protected on our jobs, we have been taught how to handle our money, how to conduct ourselves with each other, how to raise our children, how to have a happy marriage, and how to serve our employer.
Chances are, as we heard in the sermonette from Mr. Armstrong this morning, that we have been protected many times by the angels that God has placed around us. For all of us who have had children and have had our children blessed, we look back on their being raised. We wonder how they ever survived. We know the blessing of God, that that particular gift protected those children. This is why we have them today.
Brethren, because of this, it is easy subconsciously to feel that our responsibility is to continue to look for the blessings of God, which it is in part. We receive these helps that our life may continue to be better, and that we may have a richer and fuller life. But is there more to our calling than just sitting back and doing this? The answer is, "You bet there is!" If we are not careful, our focus can only be on receiving, when in fact it should be on the giving of our effort to overcome in a response to all that has been given to us.
Everybody likes to receive something for nothing. I find that in myself. I would love to receive the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. In this last month in Los Angeles, we had a $100 million plus jackpot. People went crazy. They lined up around the block, slept on the streets overnight to be sure to buy their ticket, and it was just a regular madhouse. I think three people split that, so they had their wealth.
Today brethren, we do not have the attitude of really wanting to work at our life in many cases. Many that are doing well financially want to retire at age thirty-five or forty, and do what? We are a nation that is referred to as "the Me generation," where a people tend to have a welfare mentality. By this I do not mean that anyone who is on welfare is taking advantage of the country, but we as a people more and more keep on looking to the government that we have to take care of us, and we in the church can have that attitude rub off on us.
President Kennedy made a famous quote that everybody quotes today, but not many people follow. He said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." Of course we can apply this by asking, "What can we do for God after all He's done for us?" You see, of all the people on the face of the earth, we have been honored by God, by the calling that He has given us. We have been glorified by God, not with the glory that we will have, but nevertheless we have been glorified. We are going to see that here. We have a responsibility to stop and consider all we have been given, and we have a responsibility to respond to those gifts.
We all face problems, and one of the tremendous gifts from God is that everything works for us. Please turn to Romans the 8th chapter and verse 28.
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
We can have peace of mind, brethren, even in our trials. That is a wonderful gift as well, because all things work together for our good. All of our affliction, our trials, our confrontations, though they are going to continue long sometimes, still they are set to work for our good. They all work in cooperation because God has called us, and He is teaching us and He is working with us. He is personally developing us for His purpose.
He called us, and we responded to that invitation, and we know that God has a specific purpose for us being called. We have not been called by chance. We have been called and given the opportunity by the explicit intent of God. That has got to be encouraging. That has got to be a wonderful thing.
Romans 8:29 For whom He foreknow, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Again we are to conform to the image of Christ. This is what our calling is about. The word "foreknown" is certainly correct. That is exactly what it means. It does not pertain to the entire world, because the entire world is not being taught to conform to Jesus Christ. It pertains to us. We are the ones who have been called to conform to Jesus. It implies that those that God called would respond, and indeed you have, and we will see what that response is shortly.
In this calling He has a specific reason for it, and brethren, even though we cannot answer all the questions pertaining to our calling, we do know that God has His eyes intently on each of us for our growth and for our development so that we can be in His Kingdom. Adam Clarke made an interesting comment here. He said, "We are the subjects of His gracious purpose." That is exactly what we are. That purpose is to imitate Jesus Christ and model ourselves after Him and copy Him completely. Nothing else is His purpose. That is His purpose.
Romans 8:30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
Brethren, we are special. I do not mean we are better, but we are special because God has called us and has given us this great privilege. It is the highest gift that we can have right now—being called by God.
Romans 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
I could not help but think when you move into a brand new tract, and you have little kids, the little kids will sometimes say, "My dad is bigger than your dad." Well frankly, our Father is bigger than anybody. There is no power, there is nothing that can hurt us, because our Father is in charge. Who can destroy us? What earthly or demonic power can prevail against us? The answer is "none." Absolutely none.
Romans 8:32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
He said that God did not refrain or keep His own Son from suffering death. He gave us the highest proof of His love that a Father could give, and the highest demonstration of His willingness to do good for those He called, and for mankind. No matter how many times we slip, no matter how many times we fall, Jesus Christ has given His life, and it was given by His Father, that we might repent, that we might be made clean. So after the price was paid, God will not forsake us. He will truly give us everything we need for growth and to enter finally into the Kingdom of God.
Romans 8:33 Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies.
We belong to God. We were chosen by God. Who can separate us from Him? The answer is, "nobody." What a wonderful gift, and what a wonderful period of confidence we can have. Of all the people on the face of the earth we are the most blessed, and of all of mankind we are given understanding in a time of darkness.
Please turn over to Isaiah 60, verses 1 and 2. This one really caught my mind. It just made me stop and think. There is a command here to shine.
Isaiah 60:1 Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you.
Albert Barnes made this comment. "It was written to the church, or to Zion, as the seat of the church. It is represented as having been in a state of affliction and calamity. The church is now called to arise from the dust and impart to others the rich privileges which were conferred upon her."
I just read over that command to "Arise, shine," and I did not really recognize it, but it was a command for us to "shine." There are quite a few comments by the commentators on this verse. One commentator wrote, "Be enlightened, for your light comes." Boyer said, "Enjoy light." Ferger said, "Be light." Vertringa said, "Pass into a state of light." That is, enjoy light yourself, and impart it freely to others. Gesenius said, "Shine. Be bright." That is, be surrounded and resplendent with light. The sense here is to rise now from a state of obscurity and darkness and enter into times of prosperity. It is not so much of a command to impart it to others as it is to be encompassed with light and with glory. It is more of a call to participate in the light that is shining than to impart it to others.
In other words, he is saying "You've been called. You've been given the truth. Now participate in that truth. Be active in it." He said, "The gospel is come unto you, the utter splendor of God. It is risen upon you." You have been called out of all the world in contrast with all the other people. It is risen upon you as if you had gone from darkness into light, from nighttime into morning. He said, "It is risen upon you in contrast with all the other people and nations on the face of the earth." This is how special the calling is that you have been given.
Isaiah 60:2 For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the LORD will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you.
The sense of this is the darkness shall cover the earth, and the deep darkness the people. He is showing that all the rest of the world is enveloped in a deep spiritual darkness. That is true. This darkness shall envelope the whole world except where it is illuminated by God, and by the word that God gives. The term "deep darkness" means a thick vapor, a deep obscurity, a thick cloudy darkness of gloom. It is a word that has a meaning much more tense than darkness, and the idea is that nations would be enveloped in a cloud of ignorance and sin so dense and obscure that no light would penetrate it.
It is a description that really applies to the world today, and certainly in the days of Noah. But then he said, "The LORD will arise over you." This is exactly what has taken place. Like the sun, God will manifest His perfection. He will make it real to you in a truly glorious manner. And He said it shall be seen upon you. There will be something different about you. This does not mean that His glory would be just visible, but conspicuous. It would be so bright, there would be such a contrast that it could be seen from afar. People would recognize who you were, that there was something different about you. And then it goes on into verses 3 and 4 and tells the wonderful things that are going to start to happen.
What about God's light being conspicuous on us? Conspicuous how? By you being different from the world around us, that you are living rightly. I hope that does not sound too simple, because we are going to be getting into that.
Why were we called? Were we called just to receive? Let us take a look at part of the answer in Exodus 19, verses 3 through 6.
Exodus 19:3-4 And Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain, saying, "Thus shall you say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: 'You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings, and brought you to Myself.'"
Adam Clarke has sort of an interesting comment on that. He said that there was a brand of eagles or a bird something like an eagle, call rachama, over in the Arab countries. They would actually transport their young on their back. I could not help but smile in thinking of our golden eagles which live high up in the cliff. When their offspring first take off out of the nest, they sometimes go straight to the ground and never fly, and die, and so the parent eagles will sometimes fly under them and support them. Adam Clarke also said that the meaning the commentators drew from this was that God was teaching Israel to fly, and would support them until they could fly. I could not help but just smile at that.
Exodus 19:5-6 'Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel."
The children of Israel were being called by God, and they were going to be a special people He purchased for Himself. Now what were the requirements of Israel to be a special people to God? They were to obey His voice. They were to receive revelation or instruction from Him, and they were to act according to that instruction, and not according to their own reason, understanding, and desires. They were to be obedient to God. They must keep His covenant and be faithful, not just to the Ten Commandments, but to all the statutes and ordinances, as much as possible, even to the intent behind those.
They were to be a special treasure, or an inheritance, or heritage. They would be a people over whom God would have total control. We in America do not like anyone to have total control over us. He would have exclusive right to order their lives, and though all the peoples on the earth were His, it was this people that He chose to hold as special because of Him giving them His laws which they were to obey and live by.
I am sure that we can draw analogies to this for ourselves. Because of this, they would live under a theocracy and become a nation of kings and priests, and they would be a nation of one people, with one set of laws—God's laws. They would have power and strength because of being united and acting under the directions and blessings of God. This in turn would make them a holy nation. Not only were they to be a special treasure to God by being obedient, but they were to be a representative of God to other nations. Other nations would come into Israel and they would see the prosperity that the country enjoyed. They would see the joy in the face of the citizens. They would see the happiness among the people. They would see the happy families. They would see the crops that grew, and the clean clear water, and the prosperity of the nation, that it was protected by God. They would see the fruits that were produced by God's people, and they would want those fruits for themselves.
This is what was expected of Israel with the calling of God. Psalm 135:4 says that God chose Israel for His special treasure. He said that God selected Jacob to Himself, and Israel for His special treasure, which means its acquired wealth as far as God is concerned, or property. God places tremendous value on those that He calls. So many times I do not think we think we are valuable, but to God we are exceedingly valuable. That applies to you and me. He redeemed them and made them His own.
Turn to Deuteronomy chapter 14 and we will get one more little aspect of this.
Deuteronomy 14:1-2 "You are the children of the LORD your God; you shall not cut yourselves nor shave the front of your head for the dead. For you are a holy people to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth."
What has this got to do with us? It says, "You are the children of God." This is an extremely high honor to have been called and made the children of God. It is the highest honor that can be placed on a nation or on an individual. Therefore He says, "Don't cut yourself." Actually what He is saying is, "Don't act as the world around you does. Act as the children of God, because you're a special treasure."
Brethren, God redeemed them, and He fought for them. He saved them. He taught them. He wanted to give them every blessing possible. He wanted them for His own special treasure, but they would not have it, and they went their own way.
What response did God want from His people, and what response does God want from His people now? He wanted their love. He wanted their willing obedience to His instruction. He wanted their faithfulness and deep respect toward Him, and the gratitude for all He had done, and for all that He is doing for them currently. In other words, God wanted them to glorify Him.
What does it mean to glorify somebody? The definition from the Reader's Digest Encyclopedic Dictionary means "to make glorious; to honor or exalt or worship; to give great praise, or to laud." Concerning glory, when you give it to others, you distinguish, honor, and praise. You make somebody distinguished, or you honor him, or you give him a great reputation, or you give to them worshipful praise and adoration, or you attribute to them magnificence and splendor. This is what you do. You want to be like them.
Now listen to all the synonyms to the word "glory" or "glorify." You laud; you magnify; you glamorize; you boast; you exalt; you bless; you praise; you pay tribute to; you extol; you adore; you honor; you celebrate; you hail; you acclaim; you eulogize; you venerate; you elevate; you dignify; you aggrandize; you apotheosize in that you give supreme exaltation. You indicate that someone is the perfect example of what something should be. You ennoble, and you uplift.
I think we have to ask the question, "Do we glorify others in our nation today?" You bet we do! We truly do. We give glory every day to rock stars, movie stars, sports heroes, and to other successful beautiful people. How do we do it? How is glorification shown? We pay to go to their movies. If they are a sports figure, we buy their jerseys, we buy their hats, and we root for their team. With any really popular celebrity, especially with the younger people, we adopt their walk. We adopt their mannerisms, their slouch, their vocabulary, their approach toward life. We buy their lipsticks, their perfumes. We smoke their brand of cigarettes, and we try and buy the style of clothes that they advertise. In essence, we do all we can to be like them, because we think that they are the right example to follow.
Well you see brethren, this is exactly why God wanted Israel to glorify Him. God wants His people to adopt His very nature and to become just like Him. He is our right example to follow. We aggrandize temporal human beings every day for some remarkable thing that they have done, and mostly it is just for foolishness. We should be taking note of someone who maybe once in a while has saved a life or has returned money and has done something that is honest that pictures the right type of character. Though we should imitate the right character that we see shown by our fellowman, no one begins to have the glorious character of God. No one has the goodness, the love, the mercy, and the righteousness that God does.
When we hear the name of some personality, for example President Clinton, you would all have an image of what President Clinton does. If I mentioned Elton John or the Beatles, you would identify immediately who they were and what they are known for. But when the world hears God's name, they quickly conjure up the wrong image, and go on about their life. We, as God's people, had better have the right image of who God is and what He does, because you see, this is the One we are to glorify. If we do not have that image, we will not do it.
God is referred to as our Creator, and this indicates His relationship to mankind that He has created us. This is the same God, but He has made the covenant with us. God's name is also, "He will see," and "He will provide for His people." He is referred to as, "the God that heals you." He is referred to the God as, "being our banner." He is the God that sanctifies us. He is the God that sends peace. He is the Lord of hosts of all the armies of heaven. He is the God of our righteousness. He is the God that is there when we need Him. He is the Most High God, and He is the God that is our Shepherd, and watches over us.
He's the God of our salvation. He is the God that knows all and sees all, and performs all things for His people. He is the God that possesses heaven and earth, and He is the God that is a dispenser of blessings upon the earth. He is the God that is the Giver of all good things, and He supplies all the needs of His people. He is the Ruler of the earth. He is a God that blesses the earth. He is also known to us as Father, which indicates a deep personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and that relationship is extended to those who God calls, which is us, so that we can share in that intimate relationship.
He is the God that exercises power. He is referred to as, "the Almighty," and it discusses His exercising of power over all that He has created. He is referred to as, "the Mighty Prince" or "the Owner." He is referred to as, "the Master" and "the Teacher." He is referred to as, "God with us." That is what Emanuel means. He is referred to as, "Jesus." This name is associated with shame, because He humbled Himself on the cross, and He took all the sins of mankind with Him, and that is the God we worship as well. He is also the Master, the Owner, the Despot, the Master of the house, the Commander, the Teacher, the Guide or the Leader. These are all names that apply to God.
He is referred to as, "the Son of God," showing a relationship to God the Father as the Christ, who is Heir of all things, and who is invested with all power, and is "the resurrection" and "the life" and He has the power to raise the dead. And as the Son of God, all judgment is committed to Him. This is the One we have to answer to. He is also referred to as, "the Son of man," showing His connection to the earth, how He gave up His Godhead, and came down to mankind, and suffered, that we might live.
God uses all these names to reveal Himself to us today, and He has used many of these names to reveal Himself to our forefathers. He also revealed Himself to them by opening the Red Sea. He brought water from the rocks. He sent manna from heaven. He performed the miracle of the walls of Jericho to fall, and performed the miracle of "the long day." He performed many, many more miracles.
Over a period of years the Israelites let go of their calling. They let go of the fact that they were special people. They did not glorify God. Is it not amazing that we will exalt human beings as being very important, and we will exalt things as being more important than God. We will completely ignore the tremendous loving God that gave us every single thing that we have, and we will go after something else.
Now brethren, though the calling we have been given is not as it was for ancient Israel, that we have not been slaves in the same sense, yet we were slaves. We did not come out of the cities en masse, borrowing from our captives, and yet we came out and we were victors. God has revealed Himself to us in a more subtle way. He gave us the impression that He was there, and all of a sudden He started to work with our minds. Then we began to discover that we were living in the wrong way, and that the way we were living was going to cause our death and our destruction. Then He slowly began to teach us the right way to live. We began to see the error of our way, and turned it around. Now as God selected Israel to be His special treasure, God today has called each of you, and me, to be His special people, His special treasure.
Let us turn over to I Peter chapter 2 and start in verse 1.
I Peter 2:1-2 Therefore laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.
We are to grow. This is part of the purpose why we are here. We are to grow, and I think you will see the reason I stressed that shortly.
I Peter 2:3-5 If indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious [He is generally rejected by men.], you also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Again, this is part of what we are to be doing. We are to be offering up spiritual sacrifices. We will see what those are shortly, that are acceptable to God.
I Peter 2:6 Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, "Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame."
In other words, no matter what happens to us, no matter what the situation is in the world, if we believe and we are sticking by God and His laws, we will not be put to shame.
I Peter 2:7 Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious [of great value]; but to those who are disobedient, "The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone."
There is a differentiation here. I do not know if you caught it—the words "disobedient" and "obey." This is what God is after. Those are the two parameters.
I Peter 2:8-9 and, "A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense." They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed. But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
We read this in Isaiah chapter 60. You were called to show forth the praises of God.
I Peter 2:10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
You are special because God called you.
Please turn now to Titus chapter 1 and verse 16. I think you will begin to get the drift here.
Titus 1:16 They profess to know God, but in works [in the way they live] they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.
That is what reprobate means. Everything they do is disqualified because of the way they live. In talking to us he says:
Titus 2:1-9 But as for you, speak the things which are proper sound doctrine [proper doctrine]: that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things—that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed. Likewise, exhort young men to be sober-minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned; that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you [because you have been righteous, because you have done what is right]. Exhort bondservants to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing them in all things, not answering back.
You are not to talk back to them, not to be smart-mouthing.
Titus 2:10 Not pilfering [stealing], but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.
In other words, your actions, by what you do, is going to glorify and adorn God.
Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people [and here is the key:], zealous for good works.
This is part of our response to God.
Now brethren, where did ancient Israel fall short in the relationship with God? It is simply that they did not glorify Him. Again, when we glorify someone we see them as an example to follow or imitate. I can remember when I was a boy I tried to imitate Tarzan, and it was disastrous! One time I swung, and my feet went out from under me and I went right down on my back, and I could not breathe for twenty minutes. I really thought Tarzan was wonderful. I was not big on Cheetah, but Tarzan was pretty special.
So when we are younger we try to imitate our heroes. How many young children have two cap pistols on their hips and a big cowboy hat like Hop-a-long Cassidy's? Of course no one knows today who Hop-a-long Cassidy was, or Tom Mix either. Most people do not even know who the Lone Ranger was. But we have our heroes and we try imitating them. Young people want to fly. They want to be like Superman, to be like things like this.
Well, it is the same thing here. When glorifying God, we want to imitate God. We should see God as a loving Father who truly knows what is best for us, and we should recognize that we do not know what is best for us, because we do not. We should want to be approved of God in every way, and we should really desire for God to show us how we should live. We should want God to show us, in mercy, every flaw we have, that we might turn around and correct them. We should honestly want God to carefully lead us every step of the way so that we will be a member of His Family, and that we will overcome so that we will be in the Kingdom of God, and give Him honor.
Brethren, the glorifying of God must come from the heart. Words can be spoken that sound good. We can sound religious, but if we are not sincere, then disastrous results will be produced. What is the result of not glorifying God? Well I tell you, it is pretty scary. Turn over to Romans 1. Just hear what happens to these people when they decide not to glorify God.
Romans 1:21 Because, although they knew God, . . .
They knew about Him. They knew He was the Creator. They knew He provided everything, but . . .
Romans 1:21 . . . they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts [That means they felt that they knew more than God.], and their foolish hearts were darkened.
They no longer could see God or hear His instruction.
Romans 1:22-32 Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their own bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this reason God gave them to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for that which is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing that which is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind [a mind that would not understand], to do those things which are not fitting [proper]; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; the are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who knowing the righteous judgment of God [They knew it, they understood it.], that those which practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same, but also approve of those who practice them.
Here they have the instruction of God, but they felt that they were better than God, and in the vanity of their minds they pushed God out of the picture, and they lost the opportunity they had.
Brethren, when we choose not to glorify God, we choose to place ourselves in danger of losing our opportunity for eternal life in the Kingdom of God. That is how serious this is. Now how then do we individually glorify God? Do we glorify God by attending church services each week? Yes, we can, but we can also attend church each week and not glorify God. Do we glorify God by stating that we understand the sermons? Perhaps we do. We can glorify God by understanding the sermons, but yet we can also not glorify God.
Are we glorifying God by being a faithful member of the Church of the Great God, or any of God's churches? Well, we can glorify God that way, but we also cannot glorify God that way. We can attend each Sabbath, we can understand the sermons, we can be a faithful member of the church, but if we are not physically putting into practice what we are taught, we are not glorifying God. This is where the rubber meets the road. You put your money where your mouth is. God uses one criteria to judge, and we best not be lulled to sleep by thinking there is another way.
Turn over to Luke 6 please. Remember, if we do not obey God, we are not glorifying God.
Luke 6:46 "But why do you call Me "Lord, Lord,' and not do the things which I say?"
In other words, "Why do you give Me lip service, and not perform?"
Luke 6:47-49 "Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings, and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great."
In other words, if you are founded on any other foundation than God, you do not have a foundation. The point being here that the ruin of it was great and so sad, for you see, this was a person that had an opportunity to be God. Again, God uses one criteria to judge, and we had better not be lulled to sleep. So many in the church focus on technicalities as being vital, or being able to quote Scripture, or having a specific posture on government. Others can look at their position in life and feel secure that all is well, and still others can just "know" that God's love will make them acceptable in God's eyes. But there is that one criteria that God judges with, and we had better not be lulled to sleep in thinking we can do it some other way.
Matthew 7:21-22 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and cast out demons in Your name?'
No man can cast out demons. God chose to cast out those demons through those individuals.
Matthew 7:22-23 'And done many wonders in Your name?' "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'"
Adam Clarke had a comment on this verse. He said, "The sense of this verse seems to be this: 'No person, by merely acknowledging by authority, believing in the divinity of My nature, professing faith in the perfection of My righteousness and infinite merit of My atonement, shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, shall have any part with God in glory; but he who will enter does the will of My Father.'"
"He gets the bad tree rooted up, and the good tree planted, and he continues to bring forth fruit to the glory and the praise of God."
Adam Clarke quoted a saying that the rabbis had: "A man should be as vigorous as a panther, as swift as an eagle, as free as a stag, as strong as a lion, to do the will of his Creator."
This is how important it is.
Brethren, to whom does God give His Holy Spirit? Please turn to Acts 5, verses 28 through 32. The apostles had been taken before the priests, as the priests had been complaining. They had told the apostles not to use Jesus Christ's name.
Acts 5:28-29 "Did not we strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man's blood on us!" But Peter and the other apostles answered and said, "We ought to obey God rather than men."
That is for us as well.
Act 5:30-32 "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him."
Again, obedience. Now turn to James, chapter 1.
James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
Hebrews 13:8 says God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. There is no turning. God is God, and He does not change. He is like the sun at high noon, where there is no shadow and the light is bright.
James 1:18 Of his own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.
Albert Barnes had a comment here that I would like to read, because it pertains to not just this verse, but to the entire chapter and the next chapter. He said:
The connection is this. Since God is the only source of good, since He tempts no man, and since by His mere sovereign goodness, without any claim on our part, we have had the high honor conferred on us of being made the firstfruits of His creatures. We ought to be ready to hear His voice, to subdue all evil passions, our set ways, our stubbornness, our laziness, and every other trait that is against God, and bring our souls into entire practical obedience. The necessity of obedience, or the doctrine, that the gospel is not only to be learned, but to be practiced, is pursued in this and the next chapter.
This is a principle. The doctrine is to be practiced. This is what our calling is about, to practice what God says.
James 1:19 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.
He said, "Put yourself in the posture of a student, to learn. Don't be ready to teach. Don't be ready to judge, or to run out and tell everybody how it is to be done. Put yourself in the posture of a student so that you might learn. That's what you're here for."
James 1:20 For the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
You cannot learn when you are angry or when you are puffed up.
What he is saying is that because God has called us to be a special people we should work to rid ourselves of everything that is disgusting and that is an abomination to God, and that we should implant, as you would graft a fruit tree, God's instruction into you that you might make the changes you need to make. In verse 22 is a remarkable statement. He said:
James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
Brethren, how do we deceive ourselves in this? The sense of the deception is that we could imagine that just hearing what God has to say is enough. That is a deception if we just hear what God has to say, and say that that is enough, when in reality what God is after is our obedience and our follow-through. Do not lull yourself into that trick.
James 1:23-25 For if anyone is a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes his way, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in his what he does.
The sense of this is that the particular word "looks" means "to stoop down and examine more closely; to get near." The idea is of giving close attentive observation. The object is to show that if man would attentively look into and continue in the law of liberty and not do as one who went away and forgot how he looked, he would be blessed. The emphasis is not so much on the manner of looking, but it is on the duty of continuing or persevering in the observance of God's laws. This is what James is after.
Brethren, being a doer of the word is one who perseveres in his or her overcoming, and one who persists in not letting down. What is that persevering in the observance of God's law called? It is called "faith." It is called faith, that God knows what He is talking about, that He knows what is best for us. What end does faith produce? It produces a humbling of ourselves in obedience to God's instruction, and that obedience is called "works."
Please turn over to James chapter 2 and verse 14. James has been referred to as an epistle of straw [Martin Luther], because he said we have to have works and everybody else says that we are saved by faith. But you see, faith without works is just useless.
James 2:14-17 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you say to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
In other words he is saying that just holding a religious feeling is not good enough. You have to put your money where your mouth is. He said that good wishes and kind words do not get it without appropriate actions. You see, faith is designed to lead us to good works. Faith in God is designed to make us imitate Him with kindness and thoughtfulness.
James 2:18 But someone may say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
He says, "You that just maintain knowing about God is enough, show me how that is going to benefit you. What is that going to do for you? Your faith won't lead you anywhere, as the works that come from my faith will lead me to imitate God, and into a holy life, and my works will be a response to the instruction of God, the things that I physically do."
James 2:19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!
He said that the demons believe that there is a God, but it did not do them any good. They believed that God had certain laws, and it did not do them a bit of good because there was no action to follow their belief, and they are in fear and trembling to this day.
James 2:20-23 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working with his works, and by works was faith made perfect [complete]? And the scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." And he was called the friend of God.
Why was he called the friend of God? Because he acted on what God said. He did what God wanted.
Brethren, we can see that persevering in God's laws shows faith, and that faith causes one to produce righteous works, and then what do righteous works produce? They produce the glorification of God. This is why you are called to glorify God by being obedient to Him. Many think that pleasing God is so complicated. The world around us does penance. Every year at Easter time some men allow themselves to be crucified. Nails are driven through their wrists and their feet, and they are hung up on crosses. Others crawl a mile or two on their knees till the knees are bloody. Men and women do this to prove that they love God. Others cut themselves. Others are beaten as was Jesus Christ. Is this what God wants? The answer is "No." This is not what God wants.
Now what does God want from the corporate church? God expects those in charge to feed and to truly take care of the flock. God expects the ministry and those in the office to do the best they can to serve every member, and not to be serving themselves. He expects honesty with the money that is given to the church. He expects love and concern to be shown for everyone being served. He expects right effort to be put into every Bible study, sermon, sermonette, and article. He expects those in the office to be working to equip the saints to prepare the bride for His Son. Any organization that does this to the best of its ability will glorify God.
What does God want from us individually? What does God want in this church, from John Ritenbaugh on down to the newest member? God wants us to take time to really be aware of all He has done, and to be thankful and appreciative for a starter. He wants praise from us. He wants us to be really thankful and appreciate all He's done.
Psalm 69:30-36 I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving. This also shall please the LORD better than an ox or bull which has horns and hooves. [Praise and thanksgiving pleases God.] The humble shall see this and be glad; and you who seek God, your hearts shall live. For the LORD hears the poor, and does not despise His prisoners. Let the heaven and earth praise Him, the seas, and everything that moves in them. For God will save Zion and build the cities of Judah, that they may dwell there and possess it. Also the descendants of His servants shall inherit it, and those who love His name shall dwell in it.
Turn with me to Psalm 34. This is from David who loved God with every fiber of his being.
Psalm 34:1-3 I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the LORD; the humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together.
This is what God wants from us, as part of it. In Revelation 4:9-11 it shows when God's creatures bow down to Him, the twenty-four elders throw down their crowns to the ground and bow before Him, telling Him that He is worthy to receive glory, for He has created all things, and that He is worthy to receive glory.
Brethren, upon considering what has been done for us individually, God wants us to respond to all we have been given by doing our part and taking the next step, and the next step is to change. John covered part of this last week, but I will do this rather rapidly. Please turn to Ephesians 4, and we will start in verse 21.
Ephesians 4:21 If indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus. . .
This is an interesting phrase. There is a slight little jab to it. Paul is saying that if you have been in the church all these years and you have listened to the sermons, and you have listened to God inspire the ministry and teach you, then put away the former things that are wrong in your life—your short temper, your laziness, your selfishness, your wrong lusts, your bad habits, and all the things that brought unhappiness to you and unhappiness to God.
Ephesians 4:22-23 . . . that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind. . .
Have a new vision. Make the changes in your thinking that are needed to become new. Do the works of God. Become a new person in your mind and in your habits and in your nature.
We are to become completely new. That is, changing from what we were, to what we should be, and the change is to be so great that it can only be described as telling that you are a totally new person. Because of our calling, because of God's Spirit, because of the instruction that we receive, the new set of standards and principles to operate from is that we are to emulate God, to be like Him. We are to become holy. The contrast is to be so great, so that someone who knew you before, would say that there is something different, that you are a new person. This is how we are to be when we glorify God.
Ephesians 4:25 Therefore, putting away lying, "Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor," for we are members one of another.
We are to speak the honest unvarnished truth; the unexaggerated truth, and for you fisherman that may be difficult. We can have anger without sinning, but we best not hold it past sunset, because when we hold our anger, it turns into a desire for revenge, and also as it indicates in the next verse, when we hold our anger, it opens the door for Satan to enter into our minds.
Ephesians 4:26-27 "Be angry, and do not sin:" do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.
Ephesians 4:28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.
He said, "Don't steal, but go to work." Learn the lessons that will come from work. Learn to support yourself, and with the fruits of your labors help others.
Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.
Work to see that only positive uplifting things are spoken from your mouth, that you might encourage and uplift others.
Ephesians 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Brethren, how do we grieve the Holy Spirit? We do this by resisting it, by refusing to change, by bringing pain and suffering on others by not forgiving, by ingratitude, by holding anger, by harboring wrong thoughts and lusts.
Ephesians 4:31-32 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ has forgiven you.
Brethren, when we work to make changes like this, this is what pleases God, and it glorifies Him. God has placed many practical examples in the Bible, and I am the kind of person that needs a practical example. I need someone to say, "Do this." This is how my mind is built.
We will cover a few more of these as I wrap it up here. Turn to Deuteronomy 25, verses 13 through 16.
Deuteronomy 25:13-16 "You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a heavy and a light. You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small. You shall have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure, that your days may be lengthened in the land which the LORD your God is giving you. For all who do such things, and all who behave unrighteously, are an abomination to the LORD your God."
So what He is saying here is that He wants honesty in all business and in everything that we do of this type, not just in weights and measures. The man who owns the auto repair business wants honest quotes and good parts. For the employees he wants them to receive all of their wages on time, and he wants a good day's work for an honest dollar. When we sell that old lemon, he wants full disclosure, because you see, you represent God when you sell that car. He wants honesty. You see brethren, God is acutely aware of every single thing that we do.
Please turn now to Mark 9 and verse 41. A simple thing. A simple, simple thing.
Mark 9:41 "For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward."
Now a quote from Albert Barnes:
How easy it is to be a Christian. What is easier than to give a cup of cold water to a thirsty disciple of Jesus; but it must be in His name. That is because he is a Christian, and therefore from the love of God. This is very different from giving it from a mere motive of common kindness. If it's done from the love of Christ, it will be rewarded, and hence we learn that the humblest acts of a Christian, from the lowest service that is rendered, will be graciously noticed by Jesus, and rewarded. None are so humble in His kingdom as to not be able to do good, and none so poor that he may not show attachment to Him. The feeblest service will be accepted, and the acts of love that may be forgotten by mankind will not be forgotten by God, but rewarded.
Turn now to chapter 1 of James, verses 26 and 27. This is a scripture that we always have quoted here.
James 1:26-27 If anyone among thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
James does not say that this is the whole of religion, because there is much more, but it is this attitude and concern for others that will be the product produced as we work to glorify God. There will be a change of heart. The Kingdom of God is going to have this type of thing all the time—concern for others and love.
Glorifying God by obedience will lead us to have a kind and tender and concerned heart for the needs of others. We will have concern for the fatherless and the widows, and we will develop a heart of service in whatever the situation might be. It does not mean that we have to just visit the fatherless and the widows, it can be deleavening an old couple's house for the Days of Unleavened Bread. You bring a couple to service, and anything like this to serve.
Brethren, the more effort that we will put forth into glorifying God, we will be much more inclined to be unspotted by the world, because the less effect the world is going to have on us. The more you put yourself into the calling you have been given, the less effect and pull the world will have.
What is the standard God uses to measure us? Certainly obedience, and here is an example of that obedience. Turn to Matthew 25 and verses 31 through 46. This always sort of amazes me because so many people want to do so much more, and I am not saying that more should not be done, but they want to cut themselves, they want to beat themselves, they want to do something like this, but look what God looks at.
Matthew 25:31-39 "When the Son of man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to the those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me [to comfort Me, to console Me, to give Me hope].' Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You an hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe you? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'"
They did not even know they were doing this, because they took on the nature of God, and it seemed normal to them.
Matthew 25:40 "And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'"
And by doing it, you have glorified Me. A companion verse for that would be Hebrews 6:10.
Hebrews 6:10 For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
Matthew 25:41 "Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.'
That is pretty tough for not glorifying God.
Matthew 25:42-46 'For I was an hungry and you gave me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in; naked and you did not clothe Me; sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.' "Then shall they also will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You an hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?' "Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' "And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous [the ones that glorify God] into eternal life."
Now brethren, in the beginning of this sermon I brought out that physical Israel was saved from slavery and became a special people and a treasure to God. They were to receive physical blessings, and they were to be an example to other people, showing that the laws of God produce wonderful blessings in their lives. Over a period of time they let down and ceased to glorify God.
We too have been saved from slavery. We have been called to be a special treasure, a peculiar people to God. We have been called to be ambassadors, as Mr. Armstrong used to say, of God's way of life and of the future Kingdom on this earth. Our response to God's calling should be to put forth great effort to please God by making the changes in our life. As it says in I Corinthians 6:20, "For you were bought at a price; therefore glory God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's."
That is what you are to do. That is what you are called for. We do this individually in our daily prayer and study and by insisting that we get it. And by meditating on God and His Word because that gives us encouragement and hope. We fast to draw close to God and to help us overcome the sins that plague us. We do this by our diligent obedience to God's laws, we do this by our overcoming, and we do this by having a deep outgoing concern for our husbands and wives and families and for the greater family of church that God has placed us in.
For God's peculiar people to please Him, they must respond to what they have been given. And if we do respond in the right way, we will share a marvelous future with Jesus Christ.
Romans 8:14-17 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. [What a wonderful title that is.] For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by which we cry out, "Abba, Father." The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God [of all the people on the face of the earth], and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
We could turn to a lot more scriptures to show how wonderful that will be.
We of all the people on the face of the earth have been called to the most wonderful future imaginable! At least, from my point of view, that time to respond to that calling may be very short.
So it is in our best interest not to let down but to put our back into the calling we have been given and to overcome and change and to glorify God. And to do it individually. This is not a collective thing. We do things collectively in the church but this is an individual thing. We each individually have to glorify God.
I would like to close with I Peter 5, please. We know that God says in Isaiah 66:2, that God looks to those who are humble, who is contrite of spirit, and who trembles at His Word.
I Peter 5:6-11 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.