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Sermon on the Mount

by George D. Knepper

Eighth in Series (see previous months)

By G. D. Knepper

Big Creek Church of Christ, Louisiana

June 28, 1958

 

Now the first was, “Ask, and you shall receive.”  The second was, “seek and you shall find.  God has lifted our tastes out of the kingdom of the world.  We still eat food, we still drink water, and we still satisfy our hungers and thirsts.  But now we find our great hunger and our great thirst on the level of the kingdom of heaven.

Now I want you to turn to II Peter 1:3..  We are to seek.  I want you to show you that we have a part in this.  It isn’t just a mere matter of asking God to bless us.  Don’t misunderstand me.  Of course you as God to bless you, but remember there is something that you must do.  I think there is too much of an idea that all you need to do is ask God to bless us. I’ve had in my Bible every night one man’s conception of God.  Too many people look upon God as a Santa Claus.  They expect God to just pour things in their laps.  There seems to be no feeling of any responsibility for doing anything about it.  “God bless me; just do these things for me. I will read the passage from Phillips and accent certain parts.  Speaking of Christ Peter writes:

He has by His own action given us everything that is necessary for living the truly good life, in allowing us to know the one has called us to him, through his own glorious goodness. It is through him that God’s greatest and most precious promises have become available to us, making it possible for you to escape the inevitable disintegration that lust produces in the world and share God’s essential nature.

“He has by His own action given us everything that is necessary for living the truly good life,”

So I don’t go asking him to give me something more in that way.  He says he has given us everything in allowing us to know the one who has called us to him through his own glorious goodness.

“In allowing us to know the One who has called us to virtue and glory.  It is through Him that God’s greatest and most precious promises have become available to us men, making it possible for you to escape inevitable  disintegration.”

And, folks, that is just what happens.  Blessed are the pure in heart, because that is just the opposite of disintegration.  Disintegration means going to pieces, scattered.  And blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  Not in eternity. That is not what he is talking about.  Everybody is going to see God in eternity. “To me every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess.”  So he isn’t talking about when we get over there.  We lack “the inevitable disintegration that lust produces in the world.”  That is just what happens to the man who is seeking to satisfy his lust on the physical level.  It disintegrates that man –scatters him divides him up. Now then we escape the inevitable disintegration that lust produces in the world and to share God’s essential nature.”  What are you striving for? Matthew 5:48?  To be perfect as God is perfect.   You are seeking to share God’s essential nature.  And folks, he is telling you how to do that.  By the way, I think I have said this before, but I am going to say it again.  What you get in appropriating these beatitudes is not a reward. What did I tell you it is? It is a result.  It is an inevitable result.  It is bound to follow, it cannot help but follow.  It is infinite, it comes from God himself.  You are becoming more like God, you are building up the God part of you, and it is inevitable you will be happy.  I mean that literally.   You can’t help it.  You will never find anybody who puts those into practice taking tranquilizing pills, I’ll tell you that.  You won’t.   I challenge you to find anybody who puts those things in to practice that has to take tranquilizing pills to go to sleep at night.  I challenge you find anybody in a mental institution because of the fact that he has become mentally upset, who had put into practice those beatitudes.  You can’t find them.  It is because we disintegrate inside of us that we have those things.  But when I have become pure in heart, when I focus my life on one thing  I will share  the essential nature of God, and I will have peace, I will have joy, I will have the peace that passeth  understanding.  Insults, mistreating, suffering, none of them can take away that peace.  It is too deep.  They couldn’t take it away from Christ.  When they spit in his face, when they crucified him, when they cried out from him to come down from the cross, oh, they couldn’t take away that peace.  Pilate couldn’t understand it.  He said, “Why don’t you do something?  How is it that you are calm in the face of all of this?’  Pilate didn’t understand it and they won’t understand you.  And the next one after that,

“Blessed are you when men persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake, and the gospel’s, and blessed are you for you goodness, because people mistreat you for your goodness.”

Now, those two are not alike.  Don’t run those two together, because they are different.  You are going to be persecuted first for your goodness.  They are going to say, “Oh, he’s a sissy, is he?  He doesn’t mean that now, of course.  When he gets out in the dark, he’s going to do things you won’t know about, Oh sure, sure.”  They are going to say any mean evil things about you for your goodness, for the fact that you are reaching that perfection that God set up for to reach. See?  And then if you go actively work for God, you are doing what to the kingdom of Satan?   You are despoiling his kingdom, see?  And the consequence is you are going to be persecuted by the Devil himself….Folks, there is so much! All of God’s message to you and me focuses in that Sermon on the Mount, in those beatitudes.  Jesus simply wrapped it all up.  Now back to II Peter 1:3ff. V5 “For this very reason you must do your utmost from your side, and see that your faith carries with it real goodness of life.  Your goodness must be accompanied by knowledge, your knowledge by self control, yourself control by your ability to endure.   Your endurance too must always be  accompanied by devotion to God; that in turn must have in it the quality of brotherliness, and your brotherliness must lead on to Christian love.  If you have these qualities existing and growing in you it means that knowing our Lord Jesus Christ has not made your lives either complacent or unproductive.  The man whose life fails to exhibit these qualities is shortsighted – he can no longer see the reason why he was cleansed from his former sins.”

     “For this very reason you must do your utmost from your side…”  Because I am sharing God’s essential nature, I must do what I can do.  “..You must do your utmost from your side…”  In other words, I’ve got something to do besides as God to less me, and here is what I have to do: “…see that your faith carries with it real goodness of life…”   I can understand that can’t I? “Your goodness must be accompanied by knowledge,” – not this knowledge of the world, but the knowledge you get out of that book (Bible). “..Your knowledge by self control..” Now that’s a hard one folks.  Man you will fight and fight if you have a temper.  Temper is a good thing, folks, I like people with plenty of temper, but my, oh my, it must be controlled, “self controlled..”   SELF-controlled, not asking God to control me. He expects me to do that myself.  I am to reach a place where I can control myself, not expect God to always keep me from getting angry and breaking loose and exploding.  “..yourself control by your ability to endure..”  Jesus said, “He that endures.. (how long?)  to the end.”  “..your ability to endure..”- –“.. Your endurance too must always be accompanied by devotion (real trust in) to God;..”

I think I told you about old Sister Wade up at Mt. Victory, Ohio.  Crippled up so that she could hardly get around at all, living alone, said she  used to go to bed at night just scared  nearly to death.  One night she awakened up and sat up in the bed.  She thought she heard a noise of somebody trying to get into the house.  She finally said, “Sister Wade, you believe that God is our Father, and he will take care of you.  Now sister Wade, you lie down there and go to sleep.  And she did, and from that time on, she was never scared about what might have happened to Sister Wade.( “A real trust in God..”)  “..Devotion to God; that in turn must have in it the quality of brotherliness, and your brotherliness must lead on to Christian love. “There is the Second Commandment, see?  It must lead on. That’s what you are aiming for, that is what you are striving for, that what you are reaching for –Christian LOVE. Now,  “.. If you have these qualities..” If you have them, if you have mastered them to a degree at least, “..existing and growing in you..”  He doesn’t say you have to get them all at once—“.. growing in you it means..” –watch this! – “..means that knowing our Lord Jesus Christ has not made your lives either complacent or unproductive.”   And that word “complacent” is a big word because that is a thing that is cursing professing Christians today. They are complacent. They say God has fallen asleep or he is dead, we can do as we please.  But, of course, when we get on our death-bed, what are going to do? When they wheel my body down to the church and the preacher stands up here, what has he got to say?  Oh, brother, it doesn’t matter much how I’ve lived, he has o tell everybody that I went to heaven.  Complacency, folks!  Let’s not do it. Fight it, fight it, fight it. DON’T become complacent.  You are dealing not only with time, but you are dealing with eternity.   You are dealing with where you will spend eternity. “The man whose life fails to exhibit these qualities is shortsighted – he can no longer see the reason why he  was cleansed  from his former sins.”

     “Set your minds, then, on endorsing by your conduct the fact that God has called and chosen you.  If you are going along the line that I have indicated  above, there is no reason why you should stumble, and if you have lived the sort of life I have I have recommended God will open wide to you the gates of the eternal kingdom of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.

     “Set your minds, then, on endorsing by your conduct..” – not by what you say. If some who know me from Winchester come down here and say that I am one thing down here and something else up there, God pity me because I going to need it, I’ll tell you that. ““Set your minds, then, on endorsing by your conduct the fact that God has called and chosen you.  If you are going along the line that I have indicated  above, there is no reason why you should stumble, and if you have lived the sort of life I have I have recommended God will open wide to you the gates of the eternal kingdom of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.”  God will “swing wide the gates” when you get up there and say, “Come ye blessed of my Father.  I was hungry you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was sick and in prison and you visited me.”  “Swing wide the gates!  I like that, don’t you?  Your older translations   says you will have an abundant entrance, but I like the idea that God will “swing wide the gates” to let you in, if you have done the things he numerated here.  To me, folks, that is worth anything that it costs, and I tell you again; as I have told you before that I am not sacrificing one thing for God.  I’m trying to live so that  those gates will swing wide, and  that will repay me for everything I could have possible done a thousand times over. I have no time or patience for those people who talk about what they are sacrificing for God.  Does that startle you?  It doesn’t need to.  When you study God’s word you will find that is true. All right, the, we ask seek and knock.  We make it positive.

We go out and do what we can, see?  We ask God and then we seek.  And we go beyond that, we knock. Don’t knock somebody else! A lot of us can do that, you know.  That isn’t the kind of knocking he’s talking about.  Why do you do it (ask, seek, knock)? Because you are hungry and thirsty for righteousness, or right standing with God, that perfection that is achievable, that goal that you have set, that goal  that you are reaching forward to, climbing the heights, There you hunger and thirst, and  you take a step  up,   you are satisfied for the time, but what happens? Great huger and thirst, and that hunger and thirst becomes greater and greater. (Jesus is a marvelous teacher, isn’t he? The world has never seen or heard anyone like him.  Remember when an arresting party went out to seize Him and came back to the authorities with out him?  When the authorities asked, “Well, why didn’t you bring him in?” They said, “Never and man so spake.”)

After you ask, seek and knock, the Book says God will give you good gifts.  Always think of it that way folks.  When you ask God for something, maybe it was a Serpent; maybe you in your little finite mind didn’t know what was good for you.  But God will give what is good for you.  If your earthly parents know how to give you good gifts and won’t give the child poison instead of something that is good for him, he says your heavenly father will give you the Holy Spirit

Now then, turn to Matthew 7:12. “All things therefore whatsoever those men should do unto you, even so do you also unto them:  for this is the law and the prophets.” We call that the Golden Rule. It is very, very significant that it is inserted here.  It was no accident that Jesus stated it here in this place in his teaching. Oh, no.  No accident about that statement coming where it did, none whatever.  It happened right here, because it is the culminating point of it all.  I ask, seek, knock for what purpose?  To shower upon others the good things God has showered upon me.

The story is told of Buddha.  A man came to Buddha asking how to get peace.  Buddha took him under water and held him there until the man was just next to drowning.  When he let him up, he said to the man, “What did you want most when you thought you were drowning?”  And the man said, “Air.”  What do you want most out of this life?  Matthew 5:48, the development of tat essential part of God in you.  And when you hunger and thirst after it most, what are you going to do? Fight for it like that man was fighting to get his head above water so he could breathe again. See? “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness,” for what, they will never get it?  They shall be filled or satisfied.  There you are folks.  Like that man that was being drowned by Buddha, fight for it, fight for it.  Get a great hunger and thirst. But you can’t get it by saying, “O God, give me that great hunger and thirst.”  You won’t get it that way, folks.  You will get it by putting things in your life that we read about in II Peter 1:3 ff.  You will get it by putting things into you lives, and it is not by accident.  It follows just as absolutely as the law, “Whatever a man sows, that is what he is going to reap.”  If you sow to flesh you will reap corruption.  Disintegration, isn’t that what I said?   But if you sow to the Spirit, you shall of the Spirit reap life eternal. That’s right. And, folks, that is an absolute law of God.  It has never been amended; it has never had a by-law passed in regard to it. It is and absolute inviolable law of God. that you are going to reap what you sow.  And I can reap for my children and they can reap for me.  I can’t reap for my wife, she can’t reap for me.  She may be involved in my reaping if I go out ruin my life, she may suffer for it, but I will reap.  Let nobody kid himself.

All right, our good intentions and motives are not enough.  What road is paved with good intentions?  Haven’t you heard that expression?  The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.   Good intentions are not enough.  They must be put into practice.  Folks if you have made some good intentions during this two weeks  that we have been together, if  you have felt  you must promise God something, DO it!  That is Jesus tried to drive home so desperately in that last conversation he had with Peter here on earth.   I think that is what he as trying to drive home.  “Peter, after I gone, don’t go back to this old life of fishing.”  If you have some good intention, if you have made some resolves, if you promised God something, do it, do it, do it.  Don’t give in.  What happened to that seed that was sown on stony ground?  What happened?  The birds came along and plucked it up and it never grew.  I’m pretty harsh here.  Folks, I wouldn’t make God’s way any harder that it is for anything in this world.  If I believed that  you could get to heaven with the complacency  and indifference of so many people, and meet God face to face  – if I believed that the doors of the eternal kingdom would swing wide for you just by going along indifferently, serving God if you feel like it, of course I would tell you so. But I can’t do it.  I’ve got to face God someday, you know.  Paul said, “Be not many of you teachers for you shall receive heavier condemnation.  Do you see that I have a heavier responsibility than any of you folks sitting and listening?  I’m going to be held responsible before God on how I use this opportunity.  So I’m not trying to make the way more difficult than I believe it is.

Now the, we must love God above everything else.  Nothing can be loved above God.  And that love can only be expressed by practicing the second great commandment.  Because I can’t do anything to God personally, face to face. Turn to II Cor 3:4-11  “We dare to say such things because of the confidence we have in God through Christ. Not that we area in anyway confident in our own resources – our ability comes from God.  It is he who makes us competent administrators of the new agreement, and we deal not in the letter but in the Spirit. The letter of the Law leads to the death of the soul; the Spirit of God alone can give life to the soul.

 

The administration of the Law which was engraved in stone (and which led in fact to spiritual death) was so magnificent that the Israelites were unable to look unflinchingly at Moses’ face, for it was alight with heavenly splendor.  Now if the old administration held such heavenly, even though transitory, splendor, can we not see what a much more glorious thing is the new administration of the Spirit of Life?  If to administer a system which is to end in condemning men was a splendid task, how infinitely more splendid is it to administer a system which ends in making men good.  And while it is true that the former temporary glory has been completely eclipsed by the latter, we do well to remember that it is eclipsed simply because the present permanent plan is such a very much more glorious thing than the old.

There is a point here that we have just got to get, because it comes up many times. “We dare to say such things because of the confidence we have in God through Christ, and not because we are Confident in our own powers.”  If I place my confidence in my powers to persuade you folks with wonderful language and marvelous powers of swaying a crowd, then God pity me.  Paul did not do that.” It is God who makes us competent administrator of the new Agreement..”  I like that better than New Covenant.  Doesn’t that carry more meaning to you?  “New Agreement?”  “.. and we deal not in the letter but in the Spirit.  The letter of the law leads to the death of the soul; the Spirit of God alone can give the soul life.”

     “The administration of the Law which was engraved in stone (and which led in fact to spiritual death) was so magnificent that the Israelites were unable to look unflinchingly at Moses’ face, for it was alight with heavenly splendor.” I think you all know the occasion, when he (Moses) came down from the Mount, remember, his face shone – he had been in the presence  of God, and he had absorbed so much of that holiness of God that they couldn’t look at him, he had to put a veil over his face.  That is what he is saying here

     Now if the old administration held such heavenly, even though transitory, splendor, can we not see what a much more glorious thing is the new administration of the Spirit of Life?  If to administer a system which is to end in condemning men was a splendid task, how infinitely more splendid is it to administer a system which ends in making men good.  And while it is true that the former temporary glory has been completely eclipsed by the latter, we do well to remember that it is eclipsed simply because the present permanent plan is such a very much more glorious thing than the old.

You don’t fool around with that plan of God’s!  You don’t fool with what is revealed in that.  The people that set at naught Moses’ law, what happened to them?  They were put to death.   O how much sorer punishment, Peter says, do you think we will be held responsible for if we neglect. Just neglect it.

Now just keeping that law makes a Pharisee, and don’t you forget.  Keeping the letter of the law makes Pharisees, but keeping the spirit of the law makes Pauls.  What was Paul when he was still Saul?  A Pharisee! And what  kind of a man I did that make out of him?  A man that was persecuting the very children of God!  And Christ said, “You are persecuting me.”  Remember  on the way to Damascus when he (Saul)  was stricken to the ground? “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” Now he was keeping the law to the letter.  He was doing what the letter told him to do.

Now, let’s see the difference between a Pharisee and the Christ.  Now remember, folks, it is all involved in what we do to others. Now the Pharisees bent over his books to see that not one jot or tittle of that law was transgressed.  When Jesus and his disciples went through the wheat fields on a Sabbath day and shelled a few grains of wheat and ate them, what did they say?  “Oh dear, oh dear you have broken the Sabbath.” Yes siree, you have broken the law!  Then the disciples went in to eat without washing their hands when the law said that just before you sat down to eat you must go through a ceremonial, a performance of washing hands.  Bit the disciples did not perform the ceremony and they ate with unwashed hands.  What I’m trying to get at is this: Those Pharisees just bent over those books and studied every one of the different laws – something like 600 different things that you had to do or refrain from doing.  Jesus Christ bent over broken bodies, diseased bodies, the blind, the deaf, and the mutes.  He bent over those bodies, not to see that    not one letter of that law was broken, but to see that not one of God’s children down here on earth was over-looked.

Now, I don’t know whether you know it or not but there are three kinds of Samaritans. Remember that Good Samaritan? Well, there are three kinds of those Samaritans.  You didn’t know that did you.

You have that respectable Samaritan.  He does these things and lets it be known all over the country that he did this for somebody, you see.  You have an example of that in Acts 4 and 5.  Who was that man who sold all of his property and gave it to the church – Barnabas.  Now you have those respectable Samaritans.  Who were they?  Who were those two people who wanted to emulate what Barnabas did, wanted to get the same credit, the same respectability, but they didn’t want to pay the price?  Sapphira and Ananias.  What did they do?  They gave half of it, but they wanted the same praise, the same respectability, the same attitude of the community toward them that Barnabas had gotten..  But they wanted to do it in a cheap way.  Folks, don’t be cheap with God. Don’t do it, don’t do it.  Think where I’m placing god when I get cheap with Him. Then you have the righteous Samaritan.  He does it because it is his duty.  It is my duty to go to my neighbor and help in the time of sickness.  It is my7 religious duty to do that.

 

Now the third Samaritan did what?  He went down into the ditch,  But did he say I ought to do this.  Did he say Well now, the public will speak well of me if I do this?  He had compassion. What does that come out of?  Your heart!

So you have the respectable, the righteous and the Good Samaritan.  And believe me there is a world of difference between those three. When you lift this law up to the plane of the Kingdom of Heaven, you will do these things because you can’t help it.  You are hungering and thirsting after righteousness.  Be like God.  Of course God waited until you were all cleaned up of all your sins and a righteous person before he saved you.  Did He?  OH, God expressed his love for us while we were still sinners, dead in our trespasses and sins.  That is the way God expressed his love.  Was it his duty? Was he trying to be respectable before the angels? No.  He did it because he loved us. God so loved the world….There is quite a lot in the living a Christian life, isn’t there, folks.  It is a life time job.  It is a life time job.

Now just as what the good Samaritan  did went beyond the field of duty, so  your righteousness and mine must go far beyond the righteousness of the Pharisees and Scribes  He said, “Except  your righteousness exceed (goes beyond)  the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees  you shall in no wise –what?- Enter, enter.  Not over there on the other shore, but here.  I can’t even get into the kingdom of heaven and get it into me unless my righteousness exceeds theirs.  Were the Pharisees and the Scribes in the kingdom of heaven?  Absolutely not! What did he say to them?

Now what did they do?  Kept the letter of the law!  Now if my righteousness is to exceed their righteousness, I must keep the spirit of the law.  Now, don’t let this doing for others have to be pushed out of you by duty.  Don’t let this expressing your love for others have to be pushed out of you because it is your duty to do it.  Let it be pulled out of you by something outside of you. Love! Because your love, this will be pulled out of you, as it is pulled out of John when he travels around here, picking up these kiddies.  The expressing of his love is pulled out – he can’t help but do it.  And you can’t either.  When you have that hunger and thirst, what are you going to do? When you love others as you love yourself – do you have to take care of yourself because it is you duty? Not quite.  We get   the best for self because we love self.  Now if I love others as II love my self, what am I going to get for them?  The best!  Don’t let this have to be pushed out of you.  Let it be pulled out by something outside of you.  Turn to James 2:14

      “Now what use is it, my brothers, for a man to say he “has faith” if his actions do not correspond with it?  Could that sort of faith save any man’s soul?  If a fellow man or woman has no clothes to wear and nothing to eat, and one of you say, “Good luck to you, I hope  you’ll keep warm and find enough  to eat,” and yet give them nothing to meet their physical needs, what on earth is the good of that? Yet that is exactly what a bare faith without corresponding life is like – useless and dead. If we only “have faith” man could easily challenge us by saying: “You say that you have faith and I have merely good actions.  Well, all you can do is to show me a faith without corresponding actions, but I can show you by my actions that I have faith as well.” To the man who thinks that faith by itself is enough I feel inclined to say, “So  you believe that there is one God? That’s fine. So do all the devils in hell, and shudder in terror!” for, my dear shortsighted man, can’t you see far enough to realize that faith without the right actins is dead and useless?  Think of Abraham, our ancestor.  Wasn’t it his action which really justified him in God’s sight when his faith led him to offer his son Isaac on the altar?  Can’t you see that his faith and his actions were, so to speak, partners – that his faith was implemented by his deed? That is what the Scripture means when it says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness; And he was called THE friend of God.

     “Now what use is it, my brothers, for a man to say he “has faith” if his actions do not correspond with it?  Could that sort of faith save any man’s soul?  If a fellow man or woman has no clothes to wear and nothing to eat, and one of you say, “Good luck to you, I hope  you’ll keep warm and find enough  to eat,” and yet give them nothing to meet their physical needs, what on earth is the good of that?..”  Does anyone know? I hope you have good luck, I hope  you get something to wear,  I hope you get some food, but I don’t do anything about it.  What did the Levite say when he saw that fellow in the ditch.  “I hope somebody will come along and get you out of this, but I can’t do it, I haven’ got time.  I’m very religious, I am super-religious, and I am going down there to pray?” What did the priest say? “I can’t take time.”  He may have uttered a prayer for him. He may have said, “God you take care of that fellows in the ditch. I can’t, I haven’t got the time.”  God, of course, had lots of time, see.  God did take care of him, didn’t he? Yes!

     Now to go on: “…Yet that is exactly what a bare faith without corresponding life is lie – useless and dead.”   I’ll tell people what great faith I’ve got from God, and do nothing about it, and believe me, that is more than faith, repentance, confession and baptism.  What is going on after you get through the door. “You say that you have faith and I have merely good actions.  Well, all you can do is to show me a faith without corresponding actions, but I can show you by my actions that I have faith as well.” What did Abraham do? He was justified by faith because he did what? Took his son up there when God told him to take his son  up on the mountain and kill him. Abraham took him (his son) up there  and the  Book says as far as Abraham was concerned he (his son)was dead.  Abraham had that knife up there in his hand ready t plunge it into his heart.  By his actions he demonstrated his faith.  That is what James is saying.  James is harder than I am sometimes, I believe. , “So your believe that there is one God? That’s fine. So do all the devils in hell, and shudder in terror!”   The devil believes in God.  He has been face to face with God, hasn’t he? He believes in God all right.  All the demons believe in God, but they shudder there now.  “..for, my dear shortsighted man, can’t you see far enough to realize that faith without the right actins is dead and useless?”   So don’t let this goodness you are going to do, or should do, or ought to do have to be pushed out of you by duty, but let it be pulled out of you because you love God, and when you love god you are bound  to love the ones that God loves. So that will pull that out of you, not have it pushed out.  All right let’s go a little farther.

What did Jesus say hungering and thirsting after righteousness will do to you? Not  only satisfy you, but he said what?  Blessed!  It will make you happy. Now let’s see why it makes people happy.  You have satisfied a great hunger and desire and that brings you happiness.  It brings you happiness on another basis, too, folks.  Doesn’t it make you happy to do things that make others happy?  And I believe (I’m saying reverently) that when you women did that for those three girls this afternoon, you made God happy. I believe you did. I am absolute certain of it. So you should be happy over it, too. (Three girls had come to help out Sis. Knepper with the Bible Classes for the young folk. Matty and Patty Loftis were two and perhaps Thelma Ricks, one of our own, was the other.) Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness for they are going to d these things, and if the do these things, if the take care of God’s children down here, if they help to alleviate some of their suffering – does anybody that that God is gloating over the fact the people are suffering, that  people are in  the depths of sin – does anybody think that God is gloating over the fact that up there in Amite tonight there are all kinds of sin and agony going on and men and women are going lower than animals?  Does anybody think that God is happy over that? No!  But if you help to lift some of those to a higher plane, if you help to alleviate even some of the physical suffering –didn’t Christ always alleviate the physical first., if it was necessary? Sure he healed first the body, then, if he could, he got them to follow him.  But he healed the body. Now I believe that makes God happy when you do that, when we help to take care of some of his needy children down here.  When, if necessary, I give  up some of the good things that I could have in this life, so that somebody else can have food or clothing or shelter. I wouldn’t to say to their faces, but so far as I am concerned Bro. and Sis. Fulda have given up a lot so that we could be housed and fed and made to feel at home.  And I want to say to you, we won’t forget it in this life.

Sister Knepper has built a mansion over there on the other shore so big that my little log cabin that I have won’t amount to much of anything.  I could go back and tell of years way back, when we just got married a short time, of the work she did.  But I’m only going to tell you of one incident.

This is a true incident.  This happened. She use to spend a great deal of her time —  as I look back now, I am ashamed, because I think there were times when I was selfish and  thought she ought to wait on me instead of giving her time waiting on others — she spent a great deal of her time as a mid-wife, because the doctors in Bryan, Ohio wanted her to because she would go free of charge.  She went into homes where there was no money or anything of that kind, and she often come home and say, “George, they just haven’t got this, they haven’t got that..” and George would try to dig up another  nickel or dime so she could get it for them.

But what I want to tell you is this.  She went one time to where a babe was coming into the world.  The mother was a girl for whom we had named one of our children – one of the sweetest, most clean and wholesome of girls.   And that family to which she belonged were friends of ours.  We went to their home, and they came into our home.  They had other children, too.  But the young husband, when he was sixteen years of age, and I am telling you this for you boys and girls who are that age too, perhaps, went out with a traveling salesman to Toledo, Ohio, and made a night of it,  and contracted a venereal disease.  After he got back he thought he was cured.  He married this beautiful, clean, wholesome girl, and when the baby came, it was a piece of damaged goods.  I don’t know whether it was a coincident or God planned it that way,  but Paul’s father ran a picture-show and the day that this baby came into the world,  they were running that picture called “Damaged Goods”  and it was a story  of just exactly what happened in Paul’s home,  and when Paul came back and Sister Knepper was putting compresses on that baby’s eyes trying to save the baby’s eyes.  Paul said to her, “What’s the matter, what is wrong?” Sis. Knepper sad to him, I fear that you have a piece of damaged goods on your hands.”  And Paul, a great strong, rugged chap fell in a dead faint on the floor.  What I want to say to you is this.   Sis. Knepper stayed on that case day and night – I don’t mean during the day and got rest at night – she stayed on that case for three days until I finally went up and said to her, “You’ve got to come home.”  Now what I’m getting it is this. People told those people that Sis. Knepper was to blame for that baby’s eyes.  That family turned upon us, and ceased to be our friends.  Now folks, you can expect that if you go out and do those things.  That is what you get from people.

That is what I am talking about, folks:  doing for others without the thought of reward.  She went into home after home where there o money, where they couldn’t have good care, and those doctors knew that Sis. Knepper knew how to do it, and they were getting the finest care that they could possible have even given by trained nurses.  God is happy when you do things for his children down here.

Now then, I want to call your attention to those lasts words that Jesus spoke to Simon Peter. In John 21 Jesus is speaking the last words that he will ever speak on earth to Simon Peter, see.  You all realize, of course, this is after the resurrection. What does he (Jesus) call him:  “Simon Son of John.” He didn’t call him Simon Peter.  What did Peter mean?  A Rock! He is talking to Simon the man, not Simon the rock.  He is talking  to Simon the Man.  And I don’t think there is passage in that book that more pathos in it, more exquisite feeling in it, than the words Jesus speaks to Simon Peter.  Jesus realizes, what is going to happen after his departure.  Remember Paul when he was there at the church in Ephesus, and told them that that was the last time he that he would see them?  What did they do?  They cried. Cried because they wouldn’t see him anymore.  But he said, “I know that grievous wolves would come in…” Doing what? Tearing the flock to pieces!  May I pause here for just a minute.

Folks, don’t let the devil tear this little flock to pieces.  I tell you that you are one flock in a thousand.  I mean that literally.  I’m not trying to curry favor with you or anything of the kind.  This one little flock in a thousand.  Don’t let the devil come in and tear this little flock to pieces

Now, Jesus knew the same thing, didn’t he?  He knew after his departure what would happen. And he is saying to Simon Peter – it seems to me, he is trying to drive home to Simon Peter how much he is depending on him to take care of that flock after he is gone. Now he can’t do anything face to face after he is gone, do you see.  He has got to go back,   just as Paul had to leave Ephesus.  He’s got to go back to his father.  He is there tonight pleading for you and me, but I can’t hear him, I can’t see him.  He is our advocate with the Father for you and me, but I don’t hear him, and I can’t see him. He is our advocate with the Father pleading for me when I fall by the way side, when I do something cheap and little instead of expressing great loyalty to Christ.  He is pleading for me.

Now, he is saying to Simon Peter, “Simon Peter, do you love me? Do you really love me? Do you mean it?” Not Simon Peter, I’m sorry I said that.  He is saying that to Simon the man, son of John, Simon, not as a rock, but Simon the man son of John, the man who mingled with fishermen. “Do you love me as a fisherman, Simon?”  “You, Simon son of John who spent your life up to this time doing these things.  Do you love me more than these things?” Three times he asked.  And the last time, Simon Peter, broken-hearted, said, “Lord, you know everything, you know that I love you.”  Did you ever read the book “Quo Vadis?” the story is based on an incident that is supposed to have taken place?  You will recall that Rome had sort of become the center of the Christian religion. Paul, you know, wanted to go to Rome, and did go to Rome.  He probably was put to death there.  The story goes that they were torturing Christians.  And the Caesar did.  He made torches out of them.  He strapped them to poles out there in his gardens and put inflammable material on them and lighted his gardens with the burning bodies of those Christians. He put them into the arena with wild animals.  He starved the animals for days, then put the Christians out in the arena and turned those animals      loose on them.  My isn’t it terrible how much I have to sacrifice for God?!  Isn’t it awful?  People say, O you can stand it!  You are an old man.  You can’t make that long drive down there, and if you do, you can’t teach two hours a night.  What    t a great sacrifice I’m making when I look those Christians back there in the arena being torn to pieces by wild animals.  When I see Caesar’s garden lighted up with the flaming bodies of those Christians.  And I talk about making a sacrifice?  Well what I’m getting at is this.  The story goes — now it tradition, I’m not vouching for its truthfulness – that the disciples got around Peter and told him he was too valuable to stay in that city. “They are hunting for you, and if they find you they will kill you, and you are too valuable.” And they finally persuaded Peter to leave the city and he was going out on the Appian Way (a leading road in ancient Rome) and got outside the city limits when he saw a man coming to meet him.  And when he got up next to him, he saw it was the Christ and asked, “Quo Vadis, Domine?” ( Where are you going, Lord?)  And Christ said to him, Well you have deserted my disciples,  you have deserted my loved  ones.  I have to go now to take care of them.”  Do you see why I have to do everything I can, for Christ? Quo Vadis, \Domine?”   Do you have to come back and help the people I could help?  Do you, Lord, have to come back and take the hand of that one whose hand I could hake in you name? “Quo Vadis, Domine?”

That is hungering and thirsting for righteousness.  In the hospital – you might see this some time.  It actually happened.  A lady was waking through the hospital, through the children’s wards where the children were lying on beds sick being taken care of by nurses.  Every once in a while she would come to a bed with a placard at the head which read “L.T.C.”   “L.T.C” she asked, “What does that mean?”  “Loving Tender, Care” the nurse said. Something was seriously wrong with that child – maybe a broken spirit, maybe suffering from neglect or something like that and the attending nurses must show loving, tender, care in a very special way. Let us remember that when we meet that person that is needing loving tender care, we must not kick him down a little further.  I could tell you of a place where a Japanese girl went to school and she wasn’t a Christ at the time.  She was told that she would go to hell if she didn’t accept Jesus Christ.  That might be true, folks, but that isn’t the way you win people, I’ll tell you that! There is no loving tender care in that attitude! That doesn’t win people.

I’ve got a certain scripture marked here.  Let’s look at it. I Cor 3:5  Keep in mind that Paul is speaking to Christians in the church at Corinth

“After all, who is Paul?  Who is Apollos?  No more than servants through whom you came to believe as the Lord gave each man his opportunity. I may have done the planting and Apollos the watering, but it was God who made the seed grow! The planter and the waterer are nothing compared with him who gives life to the seed. Planter and waterer are alike insignificant, though each shall be rewarded according to his particular work. In this work, we work with God, and that means that you are a field under God’s cultivation, or, if you like, a house being built to his plan. I, like a master builder who knows his job, by the grace God has given me, lay the foundation; someone else builds upon it! I say only this, let the builder be careful how he builds! The foundation is laid already, and no one can lay another, for it is Jesus Christ himself. But any man who builds on the foundation using as his material gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay or stubble, musts know  that each man’s work will one day be shown for what it is.  The day will show plainly enough, for the day will arise in a blaze of fire, and that fire will prove the nature of each man’s work. If the work that a man has built upon the foundation will stand this test, He will be rewarded.  But if a man’s work be destroyed under the test, he loses it all.  He personally will be safe, though rather like a man rescued from a fire.

I don’t want to be like that.  I don’t want God to have to let me just squeeze through the door like a man being rescued from a fire.  I want hi to swing wide those gates in his eternal kingdom.

Now then, turn back to Matthew 16:18.  I want you to read that pretty carefully because I want you to accent it in a certain place.

And I may also say to thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.”

If you were to accent one word in that verse, which one would you choose?  Who is going to do the building?  Christ.  Now, let’s look on remember who is going to do the building.  Christ! Now turn to Acts 2:47

“And the Lord added to them day by day those that were saved..”         Who added to the church? The Lord!  Now watch.  And yet 99 per cent of our preaching  is doing what? What do we claim when we report to the Word and Work? “I had so many additions..”   I used to preach that stuff.  There was one time over here in the edge of Tennessee that the people got excited.  Every day, almost, we were down there at the waters of baptism, baptizing and they said just about every body I the neighbor hood had been baptized.  Boy, was I a big shot! Oooh, my!  We spend 99% of our preaching, preaching to whom? Unconverted sinners! We spend our time trying to build.  We take it upon ourselves.  We didn’t approve of what Christ said.  Christ said who would build the church?  “I will build,” he said.  Don’t we think he has sense enough to build it? .

     Now if we had a church (an assembly hall) full of people who have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, I would start back there with it.  But when I have a church full of people who have known Christ nominally for weeks, months, and years, who do I preach to, will you tell me? To people I am talking to!  What did Jesus tell Simon to do? “Feed my sheep.”  “Feed my sheep.”  Have we been doing that as preachers?  You know just as well as I do that we don’t.  And that is the reason you folks have somebody that feeds the flock, but there is a lot of churches that don’t.    Folks, its terrible,  the lack of knowing  of God’s word  at all  among people who have been in church nominally at least, for years.  I have tried it in some of my bible teaching opportunities and found that they didn’t know whether to turn to the Old Testament or the New Testament when I mentioned a reference.  Had they been fed?  You ought to feed whom?  The world?  He told them to:”Feed my sheep.”  Folks, that is what I came down to try to help to do.   When we have fed the sheep, and they are enjoying God, hungering and thirsting  after righteousness, the rest will take care of itself.  Christ is building the church, not I. God a little further.  I think there is entirely too much preaching about the kingdom.  Who will take care of the thing the kingdom is supposed to do? Christ!  Do I have to worry whether it will be taken care of or not? Or am I afraid God won’t be able to take care of it? Who is taking care of the coming of Christ? God!  Does Christ even know the time of his coming?  He said that he didn’t even know.   Will Christ come when God is ready for him to come? Absolutely!

Now don’t misunderstand me.  The people I find  teaching that the most, if they could convince me by their lives that they believe he might come before tomorrow morning,  then their preaching would have some affect on me.  But when I find these people telling me, “Oh, yes he may come before tomorrow,” and then doing all the things that worldly people do, don’t tell me that that man believes it.  I know better.  He is just talking to be heard.  You see why you don dare tell this outside the church building? You see what would happen to me?!!  Now, I can appear to be wonderfully wise if I talk about the kingdom and all those things to come, you know.  I used to.  I thought I was a big shot.  O read these books about the kingdom that the brotherhood had written.  I knew it all.  You couldn’t tell me anything!  But now, if Christ gives me the opportunity, I am going to feed the flock.  I’m going to feed God’s sheep and His lambs.  When I have done that, it’s going to create in them, through God’s help, a hunger and thirst after righteousness.  Then Christ will build into the church those who are being saved just as he did on Pentecost.  I have reached the conclusion that we are attacking this thing from an entirely wrong standpoint.  We are not making God very happy just nominally getting people into the church and nothing else.  This is a bad, bad thing for the kingdom, folks.




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The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 10:10