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by George.D. Knepper

By Brother George.D. Knepper

June 24, 1958

Preached at Big Creek Church of Christ in Louisiana

(This is the fourth in a series of articles by Bro. Knepper from the Sermon on the Mount)




Blessed are the meek, for they will be tramped under the feet of everybody.  Isn’t that what we would expect?  Why that is the most impossible thing you can imagine!  Blessed are the meek – – that is one – – that is one that takes a lot of study.  Blessed are the meek for they shall (a better translation is) possess the earth.  “Possess” is a better word because it won’t make a miser out of you.  Inheritance implies you must be meek in order to be rewarded:  “I’ll be meek so I can have a thousand acres of land.”  Oh, no, no, no, no.  That isn’t what it says at all.  They shall “possess” the earth.  What was Hitler trying to do? Posses the earth!  What are the communist leaders seeking to do? They want to possess the earth.  They want to rule over it. Possess it!  You will either be meek and posses the earth, or the earth will possess  you.  Get that one.  The fellow who isn’t meek, is possessed by the earth. What about Hitler?  Where is Hitler tonight?  He tried to posses the earth and the earth possesses him.  Jesus is warning us against letting things possess us.  If we are meek we will possess them.  But folks, you had better study what real meekness is.

You have heard the saying “as meek as a mouse”?  Well, a mouse is not meek at all.  It is timid, easily frightened and scurries around trying to get out of our way. But that isn’t meekness at all.  Uriah Heep in Charles Dickens David Copperfield   was supposed to be meek.  But he wasn’t. The character is notable for his cloying humility, obsequiousness, and insincerity, making frequent references to his own “‘humbleness”.  He was smooth, oily, sly, wolfish, cruel.  He wasn’t meek at all.  He pretended to be.  I have seen some people who pretended to be meek, but they were not.  I’ve heard preachers tell of their own meekness, but just try to critique their teaching you’ll find out just how meek they are. You’ll have the chance to turn the other cheek.  That fellow (like Heep) that has to tell you how meek he is isn’t meek.  You will know it by his life, not by what he says.

Was Jesus meek?  Sure he was.  He was meek and lowly in heart.  He was the Lamb of God as well as the Lion of Judah.  With that combination you have real meekness. Meekness can be defined  as “controlled power.  “There’s nothing so strong as gentleness and nothing so gentle as real strength,” Frances de Sales. That’s meekness!  When the disciples said to him that he shouldn’t talk of being put to death Jesus said, “Don’t you know that I could call upon my Father for more than twelve legions of angels?” This demonstrated the unlimited power under his control, but did he use it?  No!  His meekness allowed him to control his power and not call upon his Father.  That is meekness.  Is power any good until it is under control?  What do you have to do with the explosions in a car engine before you can go anywhere?  You have to control them.  If it blows a gasket it makes a lot of noise but it’s not going anywhere.  What is the great problem in developing nuclear power that will send a man to the moon?  The problem is to control that power until the time comes to release it in controlled sequence.

Jesus did not have the heart of a lamb and the strength of a lion separately. The lamb and lion characteristics are involved simultaneously in order to have meekness.

COMMENT:  When Jesus cleansed the temple, he used some power there.

REPLY:  Correct. Meekness is controlled power, but released at the right time for the right purpose. He had the power to do some real damage there, but he only turned over the tables scattering the money and released the animals, he did not harm the money changers.

COMMENT: Jesus was called upon to use his power to come down from the cross.

REPLY: Could he have done it? Absolutely!  He had the power to have come down from the cross.  But he controlled it and did not use it.  That is what you and I have to do sometimes – we have to take a lot of insults and injuries – we have to be smitten on the one cheek and then turn the other one, and not hit back.

Passages for study:

The meekness of Moses. Numbers 12:3; Exodus 19:18-21;  24: 16-18; 32:9-14, 16,19

The meekness of David. II Samuel 16: 5-14

The meekness of Paul.  Acts 7:58  8:1-3;  9:1,2;  (As Saul) I Thes 2:5-12; I Tim 1

We sang a couple of wonderful songs tonight. One of them  ‘The Son of God Goes Forth to War’ who follows in his train.”  You look upon your Christian life in that light.  The other one: put Christ in the place he belongs and crown Him Lord of all.  Those are good songs, but I want to call your attention to one in just a few minutes that no Christian aught ever to sing, yet it is a very, very popular song.

Tonight we are studying perhaps the most difficult to understand of all the “Blesseds” and one where a great many people either turn back and admit they turned back or pretend to go on having made that great blessed theirs.  But in truth if you go on you are simply sounding brass and a tinkling symbol and it would be better for the kingdom of God if you would turn back. Blessed, or, happy, are the meek for they shall possess the earth, and anyone pretending to be a Christian that doesn’t take it so seriously that they ask God over and over and over again to help him achieve meekness, is making a very serious mistake.  You can’t go on until you have achieved at least a measure of meekness.

Now those who don’t turn back but go on pretending  sing this  song:  “Jesus lover of my soul, let me to thy  bosom fly, while the nearer waters roll, while the tempest  still is high” — (God don’t let me suffer, don’t let the water roll up to me, let me hide in thy bosom.  O Lord I see danger, I see trouble, I see suffering, so let me hide myself in thee.  I don’t want to suffer.  Don’t let the waters come near me.) “Hide me, O my savior hide me, till the storm of life is past.”  I don’t want to suffer, Lord.  I don’t want to see the storm.  I don’t want to have to go through the storm, Lord.  “So hide me, O my Savior hide, till the storm of life be past, and then Lord, safe into the haven guide.  O receive my soul at last.”  Bunk! The cry of a coward!  It is the sniveling cry of a man who doesn’t want to pay the price of discipleship with Jesus Christ.  Suppose Jesus had sung that text. Suppose he said to God, “Hide me, O my God, hide me!  Don’t let the tempest strike me! Safe into the –“ O, folks, pure bunk! God help me never to sing that song and be thinking of the words at least!  The melody is beautiful, but the words are from the Devil.  Does that startle you?  I hope it did.  Is that what Stephen, Paul, Peter, James and John asked? When did Jesus say that Lazarus was comforted?  That he was hidden in a man’s bosom?  Answer:  In Abraham’s bosom.

But what did he say he suffered before that?  What kind of things here in life?  The hard things!  That’s what Jesus said.  Lazarus in his life suffered the hard things.  Now he is in Abraham’s bosom.  You can ask God to give you rest, take you home, but don’t ask him to keep you from the storm.  Ask him to help you to help others in the storm.  If there are others just barely floating on the water of the nearer waters as they roll, ask for help that you will step out into those waters and help to rescue though it may cost you your life.  Ask God not to take you away from the storm, but to help you that in the storm you will help somebody else.

I told you last night about Gertrude and Frank.  Gertrude, bleeding to death,, tying up her leg and crawling to Frank, her husband and taking his head upon her lap, forgetting her own life (they thought for days after she was  taken to the hospital that she would not live)  She wasn’t crying, “O God, send somebody to help me.”  She was doing her utmost to help somebody.  So don’t ask God to keep you from the storm, the nearer waters, or something like that.  Ask God that you may stand up and help somebody else.  You know, there is a saying, “God helps those who help themselves.”  That’s a lie!  God helps those who help others.  The Devil manufactured that statement and that’s exactly what he wants you to think.   He wants you to think that all you have to do is go out and help yourself, grab all you can out of this life.  The MEEK will possess the earth, but if you go to grabbing it, you won’t possess it.  It will possess you.  On the level of the world, we talk about owning certain acres of land.  In a sense we do.  Legally we own that land. Actually, it owns us if we don’t look out.  When you talk about blessed are the meek for they shall possess the land, you are talking about something real and not to be fooled with for one minute.  How much land did Jesus own while he was here?   None at all!  He didn’t even own the place in which he was buried.  A rich man had to permit his body to be placed into another man’s grave.  But he possessed the earth.  That is what he is talking about, folks.  And he isn’t joking for one minute.  That is the reason so many turn back at this point, as we shall see as we go along.

We think that it is the arrogant, the self-assertive, the haughty, the proud who will get the earth.  Sure, sure. The fellow that goes out and gets it, if he has to crush some of his fellow-men, if he has to be a little bit on the dishonest side, that doesn’t make any difference:  he is getting the earth.  Oh, no he isn’t.  The earth’s getting him, not he the earth.  Oh, the meek, sure they may get to heaven, but they won’t get anything on earth.  Let’s look out folks.  What did we learn right in the beginning from this last verse of the great Sermon on the Mount?  He spoke as one having authority.  You are listening to the words of one who knows the One who has said, “He that hath seen me has seen the Father.”  You are listening to the words of the one who created this world, “for all things were made through him”, so he knows what He is talking about.  You can try your utmost to break the laws, but you can’t do it.  They will break you.  When Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek for they shall possess the earth” He is stating a profound, fundamental truth for every man and woman who would live a Godly life in Christ Jesus.

And this is one when they turn back, or else from there on they are making a pretense of their so-called Christian life.        You had better ask God over and over to help you achieve meekness – you can’t go on in the others until you do.  You will never hunger and thirst for righteousness until you have become meek, really meek.  Not the meekness of a mouse, not the meekness of a lamb, not  the meekness of a Mr. Milktoast, or Uriah Heep.  If you are acquainted with those comparisons know that they are not at all examples of meekness.  You cannot go on in the beatitudes and it would be a blessing before God and you fellow-man if you would just get up and say “I quit! I’m not going on pretending before others, and before God,” because God will hold you responsible.  “Blessed area the MEEK for they shall possess the land.”

Numbers 12:3 said Moses was the meekest of men.  If you want to find out what meekness is, you go back and study the lives of those men that God said were actually meek.  At Age 40 Moses was in the palace of Pharaoh, one who would be ruler of all Egypt.  That was what was ahead for him.  For 40 years he had grown up as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter and the logical one to inherit the throne of Egypt.  At 40 Moses goes out and finds one of the Egyptians beating one of his brother Hebrews, and Moses kills him.  Does that sound like meekness to you? Not all.   Not the definition that God gives of meekness.  Meekness – if they hit you on one cheek, you turn the other cheek.  Meekness – if they compel you to go one mile, you go two. That’s more like meekness, but Moses, brought up  in the home of Pharaoh,  the logical one to become Pharaoh himself,  he grabbed  his sword and he killed the Egyptian, “I’ll show you, you can’t do that to one of my bothers.”  He buried the Egyptian’s body in the sand saying, “Ah, fine, I’ve got it covered up.”  Folks, you can do the same things with your sins – just as foolishly, you’ll say, “Nobody will find out about this.”  I remember living in Brian, Ohio, 50-60 miles from Toledo. (That was a long way in those days.  You didn’t just jump in an automobile and drive 60 MPH.  It was a long way to Toledo).  We use to have some good church members who went down to Toledo and made a night of it in those bad houses, and came back to church in Brian on Sunday – real good fellows – nobody would ever find out what kind of a life they were living.  But you can’t hide that kind of thing.  Moses was acting very foolishly in covering up that body.. He covered it up and the next day he went out and found the two of his brothers  quarreling.  He said “You shouldn’t do that – you ought not  to  quarrel.” One of them said, “What? Are you going to kill me like you did that Egyptian?”  “So they know it do they.  They will be spreading it around, and I’ll get into bad trouble.”  He got out of there as fast as he could, and went into the wilderness.

Now there is quite a difference in the place he went to and the place he had been living up to that time.  In time he found some women watering sheep at an Oasis and helped them.  They took him home and he eventually married one of them.   He then spent another 40 years as a shepherd in the wilderness.  Forty years!   You can’t hurry God.  He never hurries.  You never read in the book that Jesus hurried.  Forty years Moses lived as a shepherd in that wilderness.  Mister, if you want to learn to be meek, you go into the wilderness and tend sheep.  They will teach one phase of meekness. He had the strength – the power – but it wasn’t controlled.  We saw it get loose from him that resulted in murder. He has to learned to control his strength until God says use it.   So to the sheep he went. Sheep must be handled gently. When sheep don’t do what you want them to do you can’t pick them up and shake them, man handle them or beat them. It took forty more years of Moses to learn the gentleness that would control his strength and the power of God that would come through him.  He learned that side of meekness that required him being kind and gentle.  He learned to control his power. But it took forty years!  Some of us have lived more than forty years and still haven’t learned this control.  If somebody says something about us and Bang! We are ready for a fight right now.  It takes some of us a good deal more than forty years to get a handle on meekness.


Now at 80 Moses goes back to Egypt endowed with the power of God.  From time to time he used this power especially through that forty year Exodus journey that ended at the Jordan River in Israel. Misuse of that power prevented him from entering the land.  God took him up on a Mountain to be with Him.  Here was a man who is meek.  God had given him tremendous power.  When he threw the stone tables of the commandments to be smashed in to bits and pieces, God said, “Get from between me and those people.”  They were doing worship of a golden idol they had made of one of the dumbest animals on earth – God told Moses to move out of the way and “I will wipe them off the earth and I will make of you a great nation.”  Then we see the great meekness that Moses had.  Moses is a prominent example of meekness when he dares to stand between God and the people. Moses didn’t ask God to hide him until the storm passed.  He made up his mind to stand between the God he talked to in the burning bush, the God who called him to his presence with clouds, lightning and earthquakes and say “Don’t do it. Don’t destroy the people.” That’s meekness, but it took 80 years of his life, and now at 120 years old he stands with God looking over the Jordan into the land he will never walk in.

There is one thing we must never forget.  Moses with all his greatness, with all his power, and in all the demonstrations of meekness, had committed a sin.  For that sin Moses was not permitted to lead the children of Israel across the river Jordan. In order to glorify God Moses was to assemble the elders to witness the glory of God as he Spoke to the rock.  Moses did not give glory to God when he struck the rock instead of speaking to it. I wonder what God will do with some of poor little preachers that after we have held a meeting and had a few converts, brag about how many converts we had.  I wonder if God is getting the glory that belongs to him.

Well, that’s meekness, folks. Real meekness!  Power controlled.  Jesus was meek and lowly in heart, but he wasn’t a mouse.  He was a lion controlled by the heart of a lamb.  Power unbelievable!  All you have to do is turn to the 19th chapter of the Revelation and you will find there that Jesus has tremendous power.  Such power that the wipes out  the mightiest army of men this world  has ever known or ever will know;  that is kind of power he had, but it was controlled power, as someone suggested last night, that  when he stayed there, nailed to the cross, he was confining that power.   When they said “Come down from the cross and we will believe in you,”   he had the power to do just that.  It was not those nails that held him to the cross. It was the will of God that held him to that cross.  The power was there.  “I could call upon God for a hundred thousand angels,” Jesus told them when they came out to arrest him, and the men, when they first came to arrest him, fell on their faces looking into the face of Jesus.  They sensed the power that was in him.  Jesus calmly said, “If you came to take me, take me.”

Meekness, TRUE meekness, REAL meekness, makes a man both loving and loveable as was the Christ.  The little children flocked around him.  Publicans and sinner pressed through the crowds to get to him. That’s what meekness does to you.  That’s what God intended for you to do.  And he drew no links of distinction between the rich and the poor.  “The poor have the gospel preached to them,” he said.  He went to the hall of a rich man to eat, and a bad woman of the streets came in there, and that rich fellow thought, “Ah, now if this fellow is what he claims to be, he’d know that is a bad woman.”  as though she couldn’t step into the presence of Jesus without his knowing, or without his feeling.  Do you think it didn’t hurt Christ terribly to see a Jewish woman, and for that matter, any woman, that had sold her womanhood for a price?   Oh, you’ll never know how much it hurt him.  You’ll never know how it cut him to he depths of his soul to find a woman who ha done that.  He knew who that woman was and what she had done.  And there that woman was, spilling her tears over his feet, wiping them with the hair of her head: the most uncouth, uncultured thing that you could think of happening to a Jewish man in the home of a rich person.  And Jesus said to that man, “You never gave me water to wash my feet, I didn’t ask you to bathe my feet.  She washed them with her tears.”  That, folks, is meekness.  Jesus was meek and lowly in heart.

Here is one man’s conception of that same Jesus: (He gets this from the couplet that we sing,)  “Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, look upon a little child”  this is what he has to say about that word “mild.”   You know, you talk about something being mild when it is innocuous,  it is just almost tasteless, and this man is exploding the idea that Jesus was mild, that he didn’t have any affect, that he just went around and you didn’t notice him  in particular.

“This word ‘mild’ is apparently deliberately used to describe a man who did not hesitate to challenge and expose the hypocrisy of the religious people of his day.  He dared to stand up to the religious leaders, the men to whom the whole group looked up to as the religious leaders, the men of whom they said, ‘If they can’t be saved then who can?’ A man who had such personality, so much outshining of a real man, that he walked unscathed  through a murderous crowd.  A man, so far from being a non-entity, that he was regarded by the authorities as a public danger; a man who could be moved to violent anger by shameless exploitation or by smug, complacent orthodoxy; a man of such courage that he deliberately walked to what he knew would mean death, despite the earnest pleas of well meaning friends.  Mild? What a word to use for a personality whose challenge and strange attractiveness nineteen centuries have by no means exhausted.  Jesus Christ might well be called meek, in the sense of being selfless and humble and utter devoted to what he considered right, whatever the personal cost, but mild –never!”  (a quotation found in the book From chaos to Character by Leslie R. Marston.)

There is a great deal of difference in being mild and being meek.  All we have to recognize folks is this: the universe is run by law.  Now there are people who think they can change the laws of God, defy the laws of God.  They go out there and drive 75 or 80 or 90 miles and hour.  They run two automobiles together.  There is a law that two solids can’t occupy the same space at the same time, but we keep trying it over and over again and it doesn’t work.   God has put into effect certain great laws in this universe that man cannot amend.  You can amend the laws of the U.S.A. but you cannot amend God’s laws.  So you and I must learn to work in consonance with those laws.  “The soul that sinneth it shall die,” and “the wages of sin is death.”  Those are Laws that have never changed nor will they ever be.   They are the same yesterday, today and for ever more.  They are as eternal as God himself and you can’t change them. It doesn’t matter whether or not I like those laws – that has nothing to do with it.  They are still the laws of the universe and I can’t change them.  Then eventually my will comes into conflict with the will of God, with his laws, and I insist upon having my will, and there is where the true meekness comes in.  When I can say and mean, honestly, (and by the way you had better mean it, folks, if you say it). You had better mean it just as much as that young man and woman when they stand down here and the preacher says certain things to them, and they say, “I will.” You had better mean it just the same as they mean that, only on a thousand-fold higher plane.)  When you say, “Thy will, not mine be done,” – when you say to God, “What will you have me do?-   and God says “Here is what you are to do” – you had better do it.  Don’t say, “I will” if you don’t mean it, because God will hold you responsible for having said that.

Now, you don’t become meek without suffering, I’ll tell you that.  Did Moses? Did Jesus? Did David? (I Samuel 23) Do you recall that story of David?  What has he been going through for years past? Who had been chasing him, trying to kill him?  King Saul!  He has been a wanderer on the face of the earth.  Now his own son,
Absalom, is trying to kill him, and he is leaving the city, going down the road,  Shimeah follows him, curses him, throws stones at him, says every mean thing he can.  Now Watch!  What did one of David’s top military men say? “Just give me the words and I will cut is head off.”  What was that? That was power.  All David needed to say was, “You go and cut his head off.”  Did he?   No!  He said, “NO, no.  I am suffering, I deserve it. I did things I should not have done.  I am suffering.”  Folks, you will always have suffering where there is meekness, and you can’t be perfect as God is perfect with out suffering.  For the road to perfection that Jesus is teaching here is through the pathway of suffering.  I’d like to convince you folks that this walking with God is not a joy-ride in the sense that we think of joy-riding.  I’d like to impress you with the fact that when you stand before the world, planning to be followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, that it is a serious, serious thing, and that it is going to cost you, not in  money only.  It may, like the rich young ruler, be that God would ask me to give up every dollar in the world that I have.  I expect to meet God face to face some these days, and I hope it won’t be long, and when I do, I don’t want to be ashamed to look Him in the face.  I don’t want any of you folks to be there, and say, “well, he didn’t tell me the truth, he hedged, hinged, he shied around the truth.”  I don’t hate any of you.  I love you.  If I didn’t, I’d pussyfoot around, try to make this easier.  It is a costly thing to follow Christ.

Now I want to take up with you a little bit of Paul.  If you looked up those references, you had some things about Paul while he was still called Saul.  One in the seventh chapter says that he was standing at the stoning of Stephen and consenting unto his death, and they even laid their garments at his feet, and he  verily thought he was doing God’s will.  Then if you go on to the eighth and ninth chapters, you will find that he was out persecuting the church trying to destroy8 it.  Now there was power, but not controlled for God.   Tremendous power!  Now, let’s look at II Corinthians.  I want you to see where he got to from that.  First I want to see what it cost him.

II Corinthians 11:16-17 (Phillips) “Once more, let me advise you not to look upon me as a fool.  Yet if you do, then listen to what this ‘fool’ has to boast about. I am not now speaking as the Lord commands me but as a fool who must be ‘in on’ this business of boasting.” ( He had a lot of fellows going around boasting about how much they had done for the Lord, telling how much they had done in the kingdom, upsetting the people, turning them against him, and that is the reason he says he is going to be in on the rest of this boasting.) “Since all the others are so proud of themselves, let me do a little boasting, as well.  From your heights of superior wisdom I am sure you can smile tolerantly on a fool.  Oh, you’re tolerant all right!  You don’t mind, do you, if a man takes away your liberty, spends your money, makes a fool of you or even smacks your face?  I am almost ashamed to say that I never did brave strong things like that to you.   Yet in whatever particular they enjoy such confidence I (speaking as a fool, remember) have just as much confidence. Are they ministers of Christ?  I have more claim to this title than they.  This is a silly game but look at this list.”  (This is the price he paid to change from Saul of Tarsus to Paul, the Apostle.  I’m telling you that it costs.  You can’t have it any other way.

Meekness, true meekness, is through the pathway of suffering.) “I have worked harder than any of them.  I have served more prison sentences!  I have been beaten times without number. I have faced death again and again.  I have been beaten the regulation thirty-nine stripes by the Jews five times.  I have been beaten with rods three times.  I have been stoned once.  I have been shipwrecked three times.  I have been twenty-four hours in open sea.  In my travels I have been in constant danger from rivers and floods, from bandits,..”  (Then you hear preachers talking about the sacrifices that they are making for Christ.  I’d think they would be ashamed, ashamed to even use the word sacrifice and read what Paul did.) .. from my own country men and from pagans.  I have faced danger in city streets, danger in the desert, danger on the high seas, danger from false Christians.  I have known exhaustion, pain, long vigils, hunger and thirst, doing without meals, cold and lack of clothing.”

“Apart from all external trials I have the daily burden of responsibility for all the churches.  Do you think anyone is weak without my feeling his weakness?  Does anyone have his faith upset without my longing to restore him?”

“Oh, if I am going to boast, let me boast of all the things I was not clever enough to dodge!  The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ knows that I speak the simple truth.”

“In Damascus, the town governor, acting by King Aretas’s order, had men out to arrest me.  I escaped by climbing through a window and being let down the wall in a basket.  This the sort of dignified exit I can boast about.”

That is Paul talking.  Saul of Tarsus, who through the things that he suffered achieved real meekness.

Now let’s look at I Thessalonians 2:5-12.  He didn’t shun to declare the whole counsel of God, as far as he received it at the hand of God.

“Our message to you is true, our motives are pure, our conduct is absolutely above board.  We speak under the solemn sense of being entrusted by God with the Gospel.”  He didn’t say, “I’ve gone to college, I’ve got my degree, I’ve got my D.D. degree:  that is the reason you folks ought to listen to me.”   No such silly “tommy-rot” as that.  “We speak under the solemn sense of being entrusted by God with the gospel.  We do not aim to please men, but to please God who knows us through and through.  No one could ever say, as again you know, that we used flattery to conceal greedy motives, and God Himself is witness to our honesty.  We made no attempt to win honor from men, either from you are from anybody else, though I suppose as Christ’s Special Messengers we might have done so.  Our attitude among you was one of tenderness, rather like that of a devoted nurse among her babies.”  That’s meekness.  “Because we loved you, it was a joy to us to give you not only the Gospel of God but our very hearts – so dear did you become to us.”  I am trying to show you that this man Saul, breathing out slaughter against the church could become what I was reading to you, because he achieved meekness.  He had tremendous power with God.  He was caught up into the third heaven and heard words that could not be put into the language of men.  God dared to do that for him, because he had learned to control power.  He was truly meek.

Take the apostle John.  Tremendous change in that man!  When he came to Christ, he and his brother were known as Sons of Thunder.  One time they found some fellows preaching in the name of Christ and they came to Jesus and said, “We forbade them. Yes they are not with us.  They are not with our company. We forbade them.” And another time, when they went to a town to get lodging for the night, and people turned them down, they said to Jesus, “Call down fire from heaven and burn them up.”  That is the kind of fellow John was, when he started, folks.  But he achieved meekness, so that God took him up to heaven as you read in the Revelation, and let him see that mighty throne where were all the angels of God, the four and twenty elders, and four living creatures worshipping God.  He saw the future unroll, and he wrote those great love letters.  That’s John.  That is what I am trying to get across to you, that if you achieve real meekness, if you will allow God to discipline you, if you will take those things that come to you, that you did not bring upon yourself because you disobeyed God’s law of the universe, but that God permitted to come to you to come to you, you will achieve a condition of lovableness, which is sadly lacking in all to many professing Christians. All too many of us are anything but lovable in our attitude and in our treatment of others.  And by the way, folks, that is the center of all that God is doing for you and me.  That is the center of the Sermon on the Mount.   He is trying to get me into a condition where I will treat my fellow-men as God treats him.  Then I can say I am perfect, as God is perfect.  The whole thing bases in persons, not in things, and so I strive, strive, strive to achieve that meekness.

Turn to the sixth chapter of John, verse 65.

John 6:65-66 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. “And he said, ‘For this cause have I said unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it be given unto him of the Father.’” That is what I said to you!  When it gets to the point of achieving real meekness – all you have to do is read the context there to know why the people turned back.  One of the amazing things about the ministry of Christ is that toward the end, instead of more and more people flocking after him, what is happening?  They are turning away from him, turning back.  When the road was getting rough, when they found out that it was going to cost them something to follow Christ they turned back and walked no more with him.  When that rich young ruler found out that it was going to cost him something to walk with Christ, he turned his back upon Christ and walked away.  The great question in each one of our minds should be “Which way am I going, and how far?”

When it comes to the test, Jesus said, as we have had it over and over again, that we must forsake ALL or we cannot be his disciple.  He didn’t you can’t try it, but you can’t BE.  So, in achieving this meekness make up your mind that it is going to cost you.  Paul said, “I died, and Christ lives in me” and he meant that. I died and Christ lives in me.  The ego, the “I”, the fellow who runs this body of mine to the extent that he controls the body and tells it what to do – he died. And now Christ tells this body what to do.  Christ is in me.  Christ is the engineer, the man at the wheel, at the helm, the man who is directing what I do.  If you can’t do it, turn back, quit, don’t pretend.  You are harming the kingdom of God.  If you don’t want to go with Christ, turn back and quit pretending.  Jesus said of those hypocritical Jews, “You won’t go into the kingdom yourselves and those that would go in, you are preventing.” OH, God help you to ask yourself, “Is anybody staying out of the kingdom because I claim to be in it?”  You had better.  You may fool people, but you can’t fool God.  Be honest with God.  Now why did these people turn back?  For years and years they had held to some certain beliefs and had ordered their lives along a certain line, and they didn’t want to change.  You see that over and over again.  It is just as true to day as was back there.  People who lived and were taught and have grown up under certain traditions of the elders, of the brotherhood, and you come along teaching something else.  You come along like Christ, turning the world upside down, right side up, whichever way you want to think about it, and you see what happens to you.  They didn’t want to change, and so they left him.  At least we have that much that they did right. Jesus called for a new way of living.  You are going to go out of that kingdom of animals into the kingdom of heaven.  You come out of the broad road into the narrow road.  That is what Jesus was calling them to do and they didn’t want to do it.  So they turned back and walked no more with him.  But that doesn’t mean that they didn’t still pretend to be religious leaders of their time.  What did they finally do with him? Killed him!  That is one way, folks.  If you don’t want to do what the Book teaches you to do, then kill the fellow, or kill his influence.  Make people believe he is a fanatic.  Try to at least.  “Oh he is a visionary, he’s idealistic.  You can’t walk like he is telling you to do, you can’t do that.” Nobody ever has yet tried God’s way and found that it wouldn’t work A lot of people have tried God’s way and found that is was too difficult and turned back.

Nobody ever tried God’s way and found that God’s promises are not true.  You can’t do it.  God is truth.  You will never prove that God has lied, because it is impossible for God to lie.

Well, these fellows turned back.  Jesus wanted to change them – a new way of looking at life.  The rich young ruler had grown up with wealth.  He kept the commandments from his boyhood and he couldn’t change, so he turned his back on Christ, and I honor him for it.  He didn’t tag along then pretend to be following Jesus.  He turned his back and walked away from Jesus and the straight and narrow way that he could have walked in, I honor him for that.  He didn’t pretend.  If you are going to walk with Jesus, if you are going to walk the narrow way, if you are going to learn meekness, you must pay the price.  You must think for yourself.  I let no man do my thinking.  I will listen, but I will do my own thinking.  I am not going to follow and teach certain things  because the brotherhood teaches it, nor because the brotherhood are going to kick me out because I don’t accept what they teach.  Never! God has always seen that I have food, clothing and raiment, and my family didn’t suffer and will still continue to do it.  I have never knuckled under and taught this or that because the brotherhood teaches it, and I never will. Never!  You have to decide.  Stand out from the crowd. Be unpopular. Be brave.  Go against the pull of habit.

Did you ever ask yourself why the prostitutes and the tax-collectors went into the kingdom of heaven ahead of the Pharisees?  There was a very definite psychological reason why they went into the kingdom of Heaven, and super-religious fellows didn’t.  Those super-religious fellows had a cloak of respectability and they wouldn’t lay it aside.  But your prostitutes and your tax-collectors had nothing.  They were a outcast in the world and had nothing to lose.  So they accepted Jesus Christ.  They were known all over as sinners.  They had not been covering up and pretending they weren’t sinners.  They had not been covering up and pretending they were following God.  They had no cloak of respectability they had to lay aside.  They could accept Christ and they did.  They went into the kingdom of Heaven ahead of those super-religious people. Jesus said he came into the world a light, and men loved darkness rather than light.  Your fellow that isn’t willing to pay the cost, but he wants to be known as a follower of Christ doesn’t want the light.  The light is too bright – it shows him up.  It shows up his pretense, his hypocrisy, so he doesn’t want it.   He wants to walk in a half-light a greyish light. He wants to keep that cloak of responsibility covering the outside.  He wants to make the outside of the cup clean.  He wants to paint the sepulchers white on the outside,.  He wants to keep his cloak of respectability, but he doesn’t want to pay the cost of following Christ.  That is the fellow who can never be meek.  Never!  That man is not meek at all.

Next there is with those fellows the opposition of the law and love; the opposition of the  man whose righteousness was his own self-righteousness.  He boasts about that he tithes, mint and cumin. He boasts that he goes to church every Sunday. He is boasting about the little things that don’t matter particularly, but never expressing his love for God by trying to lift his fellow-man, by sharing the load of a fellow traveler.

There is a conflict of law and love.  Law righteousness makes self-righteousness and builds self up, but love tears down self and makes you like God.  There you have the opposition of the two.  They said that Jesus and his disciples were breaking the law.  The disciples on the Sabbath day shelled out some wheat and ate it.  Oh, dear, you are breaking the law.  Jesus said man is bigger than the law.  You are breaking the Sabbath.  Yes!  They (Scribes and Pharisees) kept rules and commandments.

Oh, and we have them today.  We have them at the Lord’s Table, folks.  I was taken to task one time because I broke the bread before I gave thanks.  A good elder waited on me and he said, “It says that you are to give thanks, but Jesus gave thanks and then broke the bread.”   How many of us see in that loaf and that cup the body and blood of Christ?  With how many of us, sitting around that table and taking part in the bread and the wine, is it just a performance? And with how many of us is it a deep experience of coming into contact with the blood and the body of Jesus Christ?  Jesus said, “This is my body, this is my blood”. But oh, we keep the outside, the external – How many a church today is serving on that table a musty old cracker.  I know one church where the kept a bout a six-months supply of bread and kept it open to dust and everything else, and they would put it on the table of the Lord on the Lord’s day, and ask somebody to as the Lord to bless.  I can’t!  I don’t want them to ever ask me to ask God’s blessing upon a thing of that kind.  If there isn’t anyone in that congregation somebody who loves God enough to see that the bread is fresh on every Lord’s day, then God pity us.    Laws!

Keeping the law and the commandments!  Keeping the letter of the things and the spirit of it!  No, no folks the showbread was put on every week and the old bread was removed and fresh put on.  That was what Jesus was up against.  Oh, they are breaking the Sabbath!  Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath.”  Men and women are greater, beyond any law or commandment.  So Jesus was not keeping the law as they conceived it, but he said, “I didn’t come to destroy the law..” He came to lift it out of the animal kingdom into the kingdom of heaven.  He came to lift that law up to the level of the kingdom of heaven, not to destroy it.  God had to give it on the lower level first.  In 1900 years he  has tried to get us to recognize it on the higher level but we still don’t do it..  Think what they were up against.   Yes, they turned back, and walked no more with him.  But they pretended to be following God’s will and were willing to put to death the Son of God.  And the book says that is what I do:  Hebrews 6:6 If I do those things I crucify anew, afresh to myself the Son of God.  Except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, Jesus said, you cannot even get into the kingdom of heaven.  As long as your righteousness is self-righteousness – keeping the law, going to church every Sunday, doing this and doing that and other things and not lift those things into the kingdom of heaven, it is self-righteousness.  And except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, Jesus said, you can’t get into the kingdom of heaven  now or later.  It makes no difference how much you pretend.  You may be thinking I’m too serious about this.  I tell you this because there is so much at stake.  It isn’t a question of getting into heaven.   Maybe a lot of people will be saved even though they are merely pretenders, but I want to meet God and hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been found faithful in a few things, I will make you  ruler over many.”

I don’t think we are all going to be on a dead level over there.  That’s absolute bunk!  God teaches that some will receive a greater reward than others.  It has not entered into the mind of man  the things God is preparing for him.  I want to go to heaven having done those things that God will be able and willing to want to give me a great reward.

I’m not talking about going to heaven or hell.  I don’t think of those things.  I’m thinking about living in the kingdom of Heaven and functioning there.  Then everything else will take care of itself.  I don’t worry about that.

Let’s see how they treated Paul.  Turn to Acts 21:21.  These were the fellows who were keeping the law which is law-righteousness.  “and they have been informed concerning thee, that thou teachest all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.”  Breaking the Law of, Moses!  Paul?  So they are trying to kill him.  Now turn to Acts 22:21, 22.  Oh dear, oh dear, they could kill Paul.  And Jesus’ disciples ate with unwashed hands;  they could  be killed.  They could kill the Christ.  Back in the twentieth verse you’ll find that Paul got so far in telling what was happening, but when he got to the name of Christ  and said he had been sent to the Gentiles, that caused the  explosion.  Why, nobody else dared to be saved.  God didn’t love anybody else but the Jews, and if you didn’t keep the law, then you were anathema.  The whole thing bases in the spirit of Christ, in what we do, and the spirit of religious righteousness – the spirit of Christ and the spirit of religious righteousness; being right by doing some little things that don’t cost me anything and pretending that I am walking in the footsteps of the master-man.  Doing little things that don’t cost when God says it is going to cost me my life if I walk with Christ.  I can die following Christ. If you lose your life, you save it.  But if you don’t lose your life, and save it for this lover level, you will lose it.

Folks, you had better take these things seriously.  This walking with Christ, this living a Christian life is not religious righteousness.  It is dying with Christ that you may live with him.  That is what you said when you went down into the waters of baptism, wasn’t it?  You were dead in your trespasses and sins, and you were raised to walk in newness of life.  Born again!  Folks, those things are just as important and meaningful as baptism, or repentance, or any of those things that you have heard over and over again.  Those things have exactly the same force, spoke by the3 same Christ, taught by the same man, and they have exactly the same force.  And so, we learn to take them seriously.  And I beg of you, if you don’t want to pay the price, turn back and walk no more with him, and tell the neighborhood that you have done it, that you are no longer professing to be a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.   I ask God that whenever I refuse to do what I know he wants me to do, whatever  it cost me, then I hope God will strike me dead, or make it so clear to everybody that they will know that I have ceased to follow Christ, that I no longer claim to be walking with him.  I would rather shoot myself before tomorrow morning than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.  I’d rather take my chances with God under the condition of suicide.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the earth, it shall not possess them, but meekness lies through the path of suffering.  You are a student in God’s school of discipleship and he is pruning away, like the branches of the vine which he cuts away when they do not bear fruit, so that others can bear more fruit.  I got an advertisement for dahlias saying if you want the biggest dahlia bloom in the country, cut off all the buds except one.  God prunes away, cuts away, that I may bear much fruit.

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I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:13