Denis Wilhoit - Thailand Convention - 2003

Hebrews 3-14, "For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end." I John 2-28, "And now, little children, abide in Him; that, when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming." We were know that the time of the Lord's coming is at hand. As we come to this convention, I wondered what is our level of confidence. I think we would like the Lord to increase our confidence while we are here, but it is not that simple, because it is something that we must develop ourselves. It would be very good for us to examine ourselves. I would like to take the things that John said in this epistle. It seems that he dwelt on this thought of confidence. In the 3rd and 5th chapters, he also spoke of it. He spoke on how we can have this confidence before God. We can see that he proved it in his own life. There is someone else that also gave us an example in this - three people. Mary and Martha and Lazarus. I would like to share with you some thoughts that have come to me.

 

We read about the beginning of our confidence, but that is not all there is to it. This beginning of our confidence will always be important. John began his letter by speaking about that. He spoke about the things that we have heard and seen and handled. Those were things that he remembered when he heard the gospel from John the Baptist, and then he went to Jesus after that, and that was the beginning of his confidence. We read the same of Mary and Martha. Mary sat at Jesus' feet. I am glad that all of us here can look back to that day. My mother and father were in this way before I was born, and I look back to that time when I was about 11 years old. I remember the mission that the two sister workers had, and I can say from my experience that faith comes by hearing. It was a genuine confidence. Later, some of my best friends fell away from the truth.

 

In the second chapter, John mentions that falling away but I was glad that I could still listen to the gospel. I was able to regain that confidence that I almost lost. I think of an old man that I met this past year. He remembers when I was about 3 years old, because we went to that home where he was the elder of that meeting. He knew me when I began in this work and through the years, he has written to me ever since. There was never a man who loved the gospel more than he. At the beginning of the year, we were in that same city and he was in his late 80's and he was listening to the gospel as though he had never heard it before. He passed away three months ago. I believe he kept that confidence to the very end.

 

I remember one course I took in school. It was a chemistry course, and we sat in class a lot, but we had to go to the lab, and we learnt to test a lot of substances to be sure what it was. I never forget the final examination. This one thing we call bi carb soda, we take for stomach trouble sometimes, it is a white powder. The final examination was, we get this white powder and the question was, is this bi carb soda or not? If it is right, you will get an A, but if it is wrong, you will get a F. So none of us felt like guessing, and we were afraid to taste it. It might have been poison, so we just had to apply the things we knew from the classroom. Fortunately, I got the right answer. That is the way it is with the truth. We are glad that those that come to us offered proof of this gospel. We are just confirming the things that are written in the Bible.

 

That is what Mary did as she sat at Jesus' feet. That was the beginning of their confidence, but that wasn't all there was to it. Later, we read that John stood by the cross, and he observed some things the others may not have seen. He saw the soldier pierce Jesus' side after His death, and he saw that water and blood flowed from it. In this same letter, he referred to that. He mentions three things that bear record in Heaven, but he also said there are three things that bear witness on earth. They are the spirit, the water, and the blood.

 

My first companion was a very religious man when he was young. He was stationed in Japan as a soldier and he was involved with religious activities there. In our country, we have a famous evangelist, Billy Graham, who asked this soldier to tell about the religious activities he had been involved with in Japan. This soldier then decided he wanted to be a preacher and he applied at a seminary on the west coast of the US, and he was going to stop and visit his uncle and aunt on the way there. It happened to be at convention time and his uncle and aunt talked to him and invited him to the convention. He listened to the meetings that day, and after the last meeting, he saw the elder worker, and he wanted to have a visit with him. He told the elder worker that the spirit was moving him to become a preacher. This elder worker asked him a couple of questions. He said, "Would you believe or accept that the 'water' here is speaking of God's word?" The young man said, "Yes." Then the worker asked, "Would you accept that the blood is speaking of Jesus' life?" "Yes." "Where do you read in God's word about God's servants going to a seminary? Where do you see that Jesus did that? Is that the Spirit leading you where Jesus did not go?" He understood then that it wasn't the spirit that was leading him to the seminary. He learnt something that day that helped him all his life, because these three are always in agreement - the spirit, the water, and the blood. If we have a question in life, we can think about that. The spirit of God will always lead us according to His word. We can always find something in Jesus' life to back that up. That is still the beginning of our confidence. We are glad that we can see the Spirit's guidance in all things.

 

John mentioned many things that can cause us to sin. When we come to a place like this, we think about our sin, and we lose our confidence before Him. It is not because of the way or the leading of the Spirit, but it is our spirit that has caused it He spoke about the fact that if we sin, He is the advocate that we can go to. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us. We can have confidence in that. I like to think of something that John showed us by his example. He and Peter were chosen to go and prepare a place for the Passover feast, and the other 10 apostles and Jesus came later, then Jesus girded Himself with a towel, and washed their feet. I am sure that Peter and John must have felt condemned about that, because they should have been the ones to do that. When Jesus came to Peter, Peter withdrew from Him. That is what we often do when we are condemned. Then Jesus said, "If you do that Peter, you will have no part with Me." So Peter allowed Jesus to wash his feet. We don't read that john withdrew from Jesus, but we read that he was leaning on Jesus' breast. That is the correct reaction to correction - just to draw closer to Jesus. I would like to learn that better.

 

Regarding Martha, I can say the same thing. She was rebuked a little, but we read of her in chapter 11, and it says that Lazarus was sick and he died, then Jesus came to them. Martha and Mary were both sitting in the house when they heard that Jesus had come, but as soon as Martha heard this news, she ran to Him. That shows that she had a child-like attitude, because that is how children react to correction. They just try to draw closer.

 

When we were studying Chinese, we had to do some homework, and we had to write these characters out many times to memorize them. Our teacher would give us a big page of characters to memorize. She would write an example in the first column. She wanted us to not just write it, but to write it correctly like she did. She had a very nice handwriting. I would write one by one, and the further I went, the worse they looked. So finally I had to start at the end and work backwards, because that forced me to look at the example each time, otherwise I would just look at the last one I had written and do one like it. That is the advantage if we can draw near to Jesus after correction, and we don't get into the habit of repeating our own actions and thoughts. This makes it easier for Him to forgive us and give us another chance. All of this just belongs to the beginning of our confidence. If we want to go on to perfection, there is a lot more than this. I fear that we can finish the convention and we would be just satisfied to be forgiven, because our purpose for the future is to do better. There is a verse that can help us to see that that could be. I John 3 ­14. "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death."

 

Then he went on to explain this, verse 18, "My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him." Verse 21, "Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God." I love to see Martha's example in this. Jesus referred to Lazarus as "our friend." That is a term that we use for those that are in our fellowship. It shows that he might have been on equal standing with Mary and Martha, but then it says that Lazarus was sick. In those days, sickness had a connotation of sin, and then Lazarus died. In James, we read that the prayer of faith shall save the sick and the Lord shall raise him again. That is the wonderful possibility of those who have fallen away, that someone would have enough love for them to pray for them. We couldn't imagine that Mary and Martha would be critical of their brother, but they would pray for him. Both Mary and Martha had time alone with Jesus. They both said to Jesus, "If You had been here, my brother would not have died." If Jesus is with us, we will not sin.

 

Now Lazarus had been dead for 4 days, but Martha added, "But I know, that even now, whatsoever Thou wilt ask of God, God will give it Thee." John also mentioned that we have this confidence that if we ask something, according to His will He will give it to us. Here Martha's faith was tested. They came to the stone that was in front of the tomb, Jesus reminded her, "If you have the faith, I can do this." Martha must have had the faith, because her brother was raised from the dead. A nice picture we read in Ephesians, "Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus..."-

 

At the beginning of the next chapter, we see Jesus and Mary and Martha and Lazarus sitting together. That is a picture of our fellowship in heavenly places. Lazarus was there because someone prayed for him. I think that would open up possibilities for us, too. That is how we can prove that we do love the brethren. Once my companion and I saw someone begin in God's way, and she did well for two years, but then she fell away. We were at preps and we made a special trip to go and see her. I remembered Luke 15 and carefully spoke about where it mentions about a woman losing a coin, and then there was joy when she found it. Then it mentions a shepherd finding a lost sheep, and there was joy again, but it is obvious that it was a greater joy, because that was a higher relationship, the shepherd and the sheep. Then it mentions a father finding a lost son that is a much higher relationship again. He said, "My son was dead," and he said to the older brother, "Your brother was dead and now he has been found again." We were glad to tell this lady that that is how God values her soul. That is why God would like us to have that love for those who have lost out.

 

It says that Martha served, and we can see her love in this way, too. We would have to be very diligent in this to have confidence in Him, that is, there is a greater need than this. That is what Mary did. She took the alabaster box and broke it and poured that precious ointment on Jesus' feet. She could have saved that ointment for herself. Some suggested that she could have sold it, but she gave it to Jesus for His burial. I am sure part of it was because of what Jesus had done for her brother. I like this picture of her wiping His feet with her hair. We read of the feet of Jesus being members of His body, but John was telling us 20 years ago that in this land the head is the glory and the feet are despised. That is also true in Mongolia. We have to be very careful that we don't point out shoe towards anyone when we sit down in a house. Sometimes the ministry is likened to Jesus' feet, and sometimes we think of those in the Kingdom might be like that. That is how Paul thought of himself, a part of the Kingdom. Mary wiped His feet with her hair. That hair was her glory. It is a wonderful thing to pray for a brother, but we should think of others better than ourselves. If we can do that, we can have confidence before Him. That is what I need to learn to do. Pour contempt on all our pride, and then we can be more like Him. That is the love that Jesus had for all mankind. We want to keep the beginning of our confidence to the very end, but we need the Lord to help us to love our brethren as we should. This is the kind of confidence we like to have.