Bill Macourt - God's Continuity - Williams Convention - 2003

Hymn 345 


Well, here it is Friday morning of the second Convention. This is a morning that we usually talk together as a family of God — workers and friends alike — all of us, not just one talking to others. There's nothing that helps our meeting so much, after the help of God's presence, than the absolute cooperation of God's people and His Spirit that draws us together, for it is with the help of our Lord and Master. There may be a few things we can talk over this morning, but perhaps as a starting place we can mention those words in Matthew 16:13. These were words that Peter used when the Master asked him a certain question, "When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, 'Whom do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?' And they said, 'Some say that Thou art John the Baptist: some Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.' He saith unto them, 'But whom say ye that I am?' And Simon Peter answered and said, 'Thou are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' And Jesus answered and said unto him, 'Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven.'" I read over this portion of scripture again this morning lest I should misquote it for these are very important words, which meant much when they were spoken. If we are able to be in that same condition of heart and mind this morning and that revelation comes to us, we would be well able to answer the Master if He asks us that same question. Peter clearly confirmed to the Master Himself with those beautiful words, "For flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven." That is the proper starting place for this wonderful ministry of guidelines, and what a comfort it was to the Master when Peter answered that way.

 

Peter was a man that Jesus was able to trust, as were the other disciples. This was a special place for Peter, "Thou art the Christ." Yes, he had heard about John the Baptist and the others and that wonderful, continuing miracle that was happening which continues to happen right down to our own day — this spirit of God working upon dark, far away human hearts and bringing light and life to them from heaven. It's no different today than it ever was, and this is why I commenced with this verse. We receive the same message as clearly this morning and perhaps clearer than ever before, and will one day be able to stand and give the same answer to every kind of unbelief in this world. I’m sad to say that unbelief is on the increase but not amongst God's people, for Truth has been revealed from our Father in heaven so we know real revelation. It's God's plan that revelation comes before we come to the time of speaking about baptism. Jesus Himself didn't explain it in so many words but He did tell us how it happens, "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit." We feel today the effect of the Spirit, even though we can't see it. Isn’t it wonderful when we hear the word of God according to the proper manner? First, God deals with our hearts and we hardly know how, with sweet whispers coming to our soul in the darkness of the night, bringing light and with the light life and an understanding of God's great plan. This brings us to what may seem like a diversion but it's not.  Isn't it comforting that ordinary you and I can get to know God's plan and Truth in Jesus, and how it comes from God Himself, through the influence of His Spirit? This occurred back in the days of the early scriptures, right to Abel, and continues until now. Abel lived in his first home when sin entered that house. Both he and Cain had grown up knowing that, because their parents had told them. It was by the all-enlightening Spirit of God that Abel saw the plan of salvation, but his brother Cain didn't want to see or wasn’t willing for it. Abel received that all-powerful effect of God's Holy Spirit — he got it very clearly. Some time later, Abel brought the firstlings of his flock and the fat thereof as a sacrifice. How marvelous God revealed it to him as He did to Peter and everyone since, this one Way that he embraced, this revelation of the one plan for God's Salvation that was given through His Son from the foundation of the world. 


Some have been inclined to wonder about God’s continuity of His plan on earth. Let us get this clear, for there is no question of His continuity or plan in heaven, none at all, and neither do we speak about it from the platform.  That continuity is left to only poor and feeble human beings. The continuity of God's plan is from the foundation of the world and dwells in the heart of God. It was there in Abel's day and in Moses' day — that rock which has followed us was with Christ right through the New Testament to our day. Let's get that clear. Some of us might be inclined to believe there is a human link, but let us say, our father shook hands with our grandfather; and our grandfather shook hands with our great-grandfather, and then our great-grandfather shook hands with someone else, right back to the day of Peter the apostle. Now doesn't that sound weak to think our God would leave His continuity in the hands of poor, sinful men? Yes it is!  It has been left in God's heart Himself — in the Father, His Son, and in the Holy Spirit. When God saw fit that the conditions were right, like in the last century, He brought about the other part of His plan so that ordinary souls like you and me could hear of His wonderful plan that came from heaven — the place where it has been preserved. It was brought down from heaven — not out of any storage. God uses human vessels and we know that His continuity has been kept safe in heaven.  


The Roman Catholic Church has a type of continuity that extends back as far as Peter, but look at the mess they are in today! What resemblance is there to the homeless stranger and preacher that sit in the Vatican or its organization today? It shows us a little what human weakness really is. God saw far past that in the proper order. Yes, He saw human vessels and that old enemy Satan, for he was there from the beginning, since the time of Cain and Abel. He succeeded in his victory over Cain, but not with Abel, and he is here today, bringing false statements that trigger unbelief, though he doesn’t bring unbelief itself. In the garden it became abundantly clear, that as soon as the Holy Spirit left off speaking, the enemy came and said, "Yea, hath God said." That old serpent arrived on the scene immediately to cast doubts on the glorious plan of salvation, and yet God had mercy on all humanity. From the foundation of the world He planned that a redeemed people would be in heaven, at no lesser cost than the giving of His own precious Son so we might have hope. He revealed this to Abel who received a clear revelation of the Lamb. He could have been like his brother but no, "Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling." The devil’s attempt is to stop you and me but don’t be tripped up, when His plan is all so clear. The Truth of God's plan is preserved with absolute continuity as God sees fit, and when conditions in our hearts are right, He brings His revelation to needy souls. We can thank God for this, thank Him for the opportunity to listen to His message. 


Peter spoke with such authority and conviction when he said, "Thou art the Christ." The Master looked at him and it must have brought such pleasure when He saw Peter had the right revelation, from the right source. Jesus could then trust him to take this gospel into the world. It was like the beautiful stream that flowed from the river of God, which passed to the vessel that Jesus had chosen. It was no different with Saul of Tarsus when he was on the Damascus road, and said, "I know in whom I have believed." He was able to write those words to Timothy at the close of his life when the old enemy, that deceiver was there, and many other voices, because Saul said, "I thought within myself I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth” — but that light from heaven had shone into his heart. Perhaps some of you young people know personally of being on the road to Damascus and seeing the light and receiving a very definite conviction. In keeping God's plan, Paul was subjected to preaching and teaching like the homeless stranger to the end of his days, and it is evident he rejoiced in the victory given him by our Lord, which silenced every other voice of the deceiver and settled it forever in his heart.  He learned such wisdom at the feet of Gamaliel, when he said, "What things were gain to me those I count but dross, that I might win Christ and be found in Him." In other days Paul had lived after the straightest sect and was proud of it, but it wasn't salvation. Salvation only came when he accepted God’s word entirely, and then he was given the fellowship of the Lamb of God, "I know in whom I have believed." Now Paul could say to Timothy at the end of his life, "I wasn't fooled or led to follow some will-of-the-wisp way, neither was I led to follow all that's going on around me." He had listened and he saw the light from heaven that changed his course. May God help every one of us have that same conviction that sweeps away those doubts the enemy of our soul suggests, and we would dispense of unbelief. Young people face unbelief out in the world all the time but know that the entirety of the Truth has been preserved from the very beginning. In God's good time, He alone is able to reveal it. There may have been times when this Work hasn't been as active, but in God's good time He raises up men and women to take the gospel into the entire world. It was not something that began in this century but was always in God’s heart, His plan of, "Will you go forth?" There is no need to ever be concerned about human continuity, or whatever expression you want to call it, for we have this continuity of heaven, with heaven revealing its plan as it’s always done.

 

Let us think for a moment or two, just a little while, of the order of His coming that brings ordinary you and me in touch with the glorious gospel, and the possibility of us making our choice to serve Jesus or not. Yes, God is in heaven and we are on the earth, but He has provided this wonderful plan of salvation, this continuing plan of heaven, to be within our reach here on earth. He has formed a wonderful plan, decided in heaven, we know not when, for it is not for our finite minds to know. He formed a perfect plan, this message of salvation, when He came. He was the greatest messenger, Prophet, Priest, and King, and this plan was from the foundation of the world — from the heart of God. It was His fulfillment of everything. Jesus lived to show us how to live and died to answer those questions of sin. He rose to show us the power and the hope of the resurrection life and how we, one day, will return to be with Him in eternity. How was this introduced? After He had those good men, the Apostles, wasn't it quoted here that He turned to His Heavenly Father and thanked Him, that these things were hidden from the wise and prudent and revealed unto babes? His plan was working but poor Judas was a failure. After the fulfillment on that glorious morning of the resurrection, we read that He arose again. He was with the apostles and gave them that commission to forth into the entire world to preach the gospel to every creature, teaching them to observe all things as He commanded them. This going into the entire world was not some notion that the apostles had but it was what they saw in Jesus and heard from Him. That commission has never been withdrawn and I hope some of you younger people will take it forth after a while. I hope you will never doubt what has been given by the Master Himself. Just before Jesus left this earth, He gave the apostles this commission to call men and women, willing to disinherit themselves from this earth, to become homeless strangers and go forth to preach. This commission has never been withdrawn from this world. We hear some people trying to do this or that outside the border of God's kingdom, and all I can say is "I feel sorry for them," because there is no other Way. I hope this conviction is deepening, especially with our young people.


One man on his death bed set out with a real desire to tell people about the Truth but he didn’t have the right principles. But we will leave that for now as I want to tell you what he said, "All I have succeeded in doing is creating another sect." We must do our best wherever God has put us. Another question that is sometimes asked is, "Do you believe there is only one Way?" and I can only answer, "Yes, with all my heart for God has revealed it to us by the gospel." It's not through any brilliance of our own but it’s the Way that has been given to us through Jesus. We don't qualify for this Way for it has been brought to us in all our sinfulness and we have utterly depended on Him. This Way has been revealed by wonderful inspiration of God's Spirit in the Word — the same Word that’s been brought by His servants. The Gospel message is the same message that was taken into the entire world and we can be very thankful for it. It was brought to this land by men and women who disinherited everything of the earth. 


Now I will speak to you about some conditions. When John the Baptist, the preacher and forerunner to Christ spoke, there was a call for repentance that went out. When we listen to the gospel that is brought in the right manner, it causes us to make a decision. Every servant of God does their best to bring people to that place of decision, the decision being, what are we going to do with God? God's dear Son makes it so clear in that parable of the 10 virgins and those 5 who foolishly departed. It wasn't that the 5 didn't know truth, but He said, "I never knew you."  I remember, as a young fellow sitting in the meetings, we heard so often about "true salvation being the knowledge of a person." If we never knew that conviction then we didn’t have it, but if our conviction was true, we must leave our old dead ways behind, that old clergy way, and step into the glorious light of the Kingdom of God. We want to make this very clear to you young people today. You don't need to be meddling around with the religious world or whatever, because the enemy of our soul is a spirit, a spurious spirit with power, and if we meddle with that power of darkness and doctrine, that spurious spirit will get hold of you. Leave it alone for only then is there repentance. Never touch it again and don’t meddle with it!

 

Remember on the Gaza road that wonderful mission that took place? We don't know how many hours or minutes that mission took, and we don’t know how Philip got that Ethiopian eunuch to believe because sometimes it takes a long time, but when they reached that place we reach, that eunuch said, "See, here is water; what doth hinder me from being baptized?" There is a proper message in the beginning and a fulfillment of the necessary conditions right from the Master and we value those who repent, saying, “My way is wrong, God's way is right, God's way is seen in Jesus." Without adding to or taking from the Scripture, Philip preached there on the road to Gaza, not a new doctrine or the doctrine of the Sadducees or any other man, to that eunuch. When the preaching was done, then what? Jesus was born from the light above. "See, here is water; what doth hinder me?" What did Philip say? "If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest." Not just a mere acceptance of certain facts but my heart is changed and the One that I didn't know before I now know through the ministry and operation of God's Spirit on this earth. "If thou believest…" or "I believe." It's a beautiful thing when we can believe Christ and be renewed with fresh vigor and urging from God's Spirit and can whisper, "I believe." There is no more questioning. Not everyone rode in chariots and I suppose this was the only ride Philip ever had in a chariot. “…Philip said, 'If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.'  And he answered and said, 'I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.' And he commanded the chariot to stand still, and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.” They both went down into the water together and he was baptized according to the scriptures, and not by sprinkling or any other device. That eunuch willingly gave Philip assurance, "I have come to the end." This was the beginning of a new and living way for him. Later Philip was taken away to some other place. 


Some have listened to this gospel during the past year and have been brought to a conviction — young people, older people, and occasionally elderly people. How was it done? By conviction. Baptism denotes that we are finished with our old, dead ways forever. When Jesus introduced the rite of baptism at first, it was done through John the Baptist, but when He came to be baptized He showed His absolute belief as necessary so that all righteousness could be fulfilled. If you have known this first experience, it is proper that you fulfill all righteousness when going down into the waters — this burying of the old way of life and its beliefs that were once held, before walking in the new and living way and being led by our Lord and Master with His people, to God and home. If everyone is spared until tomorrow morning, and if you feel you have fulfilled those conditions, come up to the platform after the meeting and we can talk it over. 


Now there are some who have been worried about things they’ve heard on the Internet. I am no authority on the workings of it — its mechanical or electrical workings — we leave that to the young people, but we do know that there's no question that the Internet is an instrument for proper knowledge with regard to the affairs of this life, whether it’s engineering, medical, etc. We realize that, and are not saying anything against that, but when it comes to these things of God, the deceiver is a mastermind. I remember when I was young and the radio came and how this same thing happened. It was a wonderful thing for the safety of ships, but the old deceiver had been on the scene before and had entered people's homes. Suitable steps were taken to protect God's people from those things that were brought into the home, but with respect to the Internet, I can understand why some of you want to find out about certain facts about God's way, but it’s the worst place you can go, especially if someone has a chip on their shoulder concerning the Truth. The mastermind, who is behind it all, is the one we have been talking about this morning. There are some things on the Internet that are not going to be a help to us, and often it has to do with one of these individuals. You won't hear on the Internet of those hundreds of workers who once left the British Isles. How much is on the Internet about them?  But if there is a tendency for failure, you will hear about it. The world is expert, clergy are expert, but we must not listen to them but rather the still small voice of God. We have no need to turn to anything outside. 


When that man pulled up his chariot on the road to Gaza, he said, "What doth hinder me to be baptised?" This was the finish for He had found the altogether lovely One. You may have missed steps in the Way, but it does not alter this Way because it is a perfect Way. Are we thinking right as a family about the Internet, for if there is some tendency to find a hole in the fence, you will find it. Farmers know that there are some sheep that are expert at finding holes in the fence, and you will see a dead sheep or a dead lamb sometimes. A foolish sheep can take a lamb through the fence, so don't go to the Internet looking for holes in the fence, because you will find them — it’s human thinking, not the Truth. When you have had time to think things over, you will have made a decision to be baptized already. We thank God for the way you have listened today, a little more than usual, but these things are a concern to all of us. We don't want the master distracter to get at us, and we thank God for those amongst us who are keeping him where he belongs. I want to be one like them until the journey ends. We have managed to come to this place and we will go out through the gate together in a few days’ time. Are we going to hold our position? I trust we will.