Duane Hopkins - Williams, Western Australia Convention - 1986

Hymn 264, many times Jesus just met with His own disciples, and all others were excluded. Then at other times, there were the twelve and other people, all together, and they heard the profound teachings of Jesus. But at other times, He was alone with His disciples. In Matthew, I noticed where Jesus was talking to the multitude, and then He turned to His disciples and said to them. He taught them gems and jewels that He did not teach the multitude. Matthew 5, 6 and 7 records what Jesus spoke to His disciples. Matthew 10 to 12 is for His disciples. Matthew 13, the last part of the chapter, He was in the house, speaking to His disciples. Matthew 18, the whole chapter was for His disciples. Matthew 24 was to His disciples. Matthew 24, 25 and 26 was to His disciples. A lot of His time He was spending, speaking to His disciples. Sometimes I have been over anxious about spending time in the field, but to Jesus it was so important, vital, to spend a lot of time with His disciples. No doubt Jesus had a blanket truth that applied for everyone and all could accept, but much of Jesus time was spent speaking to His disciples. We need to learn to divide the words of truth that we accept the things that apply to u, and not confuse it with the things that apply to someone else. Then the scripture become alive and profitable to us. All truth we can learn, but it is of no profit unless we are able to bring it to our day and apply it, and use it in the very present tense.

 A popular theory in the world today is to believe in the message that Jesus brought 2000 years ago, just the same as in Jesus' day. The Jews believed in Abraham, they believed in Moses, but they did not believe in Jesus. They did not bring up to date the thing that was profitable. They believed in their mind in Abraham and Moses, but it did not affect their lives. The multitude was following Jesus, and He seeing the multitude, turned aside and went up the mountain. When His disciples had come to Him, He spoke unto them words that the multitude never heard. There are a lot of people who talk of Jesus, but as long as He stays on their level it is all right, but Jesus came to raise people above their setting. The disciples rose above the level of humanity. Jesus spoke to His disciples that the first thing that is important is the condition of the spirit. That is the right order. A person can have a lot of sacrifice, a lot of service, and it does not amount to anything unless it is done in the right spirit. If one thing is lacking, it will spoil our whole service. When I was a boy, my older sister was baking a cake, and she forgot the baking powder, and the cake did not turn out as she wanted it to, all for the lack of a spoonful of baking powder. I don't know what is the most important thing, but I know that we need all the ingredients to be true in our service to God.

The first thing that God wants to deal with is the condition of our spirit as we are gathered for these four days. Jesus will teach us, instruct us, correct our ways. We have come together to rest a while, and it is not because we have been doing things that are bad or out of line. Jesus spoke those words to His disciples after they had taken the body of John the Baptist, they were discouraged, disheartened, and He just said, "Men, come and rest a while." They were weary because of doing the right things. To have true rest we need to have a right spirit. If we are going to solve all our problems we need to be in the right spirit. Jesus began to teach by saying, blessed are and Jesus brought blessing to their lives, and God desires to bring a blessing. Jesus brought peace to the earth, and good will to men. This was God's purpose in sending Jesus to man- kind. He wanted to bring peace, but it did not turn out that way. It has been the desire in God's heart to bless His people.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. He didn't say they will be in the kingdom of Heaven, no, theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. We cannot always judge by outward appearance, because we have the record in the scriptures of men, rich and poor, who have obtained His blessing. It is in the reach of everyone. Some speak of the virtue of poverty, but it is not in being poor naturally that brings virtue, it is not being poor naturally that will bring His blessing, but it is the condition of the spirit that brings blessing. When we speak of a man that is in need of bread, and he has nothing to buy bread with, we say that is a poor man. If we see a person who is not able to work very well, we say that is a poor person. It is when we understand that within my spirit there is a need, I can only beg, I can only ask, to receive the necessities of my heart. This makes us poor in spirit. Others who are self satisfied do not receive a blessing. Being independent is no help for anyone, it is not a good help for the spirit, for when we need the help of God, we receive His blessing. This brings fellowship. There is no need to fight amongst ourselves, because peace is so Godly. This is a kingdom of poverty of spirit. The kingdom is only in the hearts and lives of those who are poor in spirit.

Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. I don't know what Jesus had in His mind, He did not speak of people who were sorry for themselves, but people who saw the condition of the world, who see the need in the hearts of others, and mourn, and those who know the failure in their own lives and mourn, and those who mourn when they suffer, because they see the righteous trodden under-foot.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Meekness is not weakness. The meekest man on all the earth said, "Gird every man his sword." Moses, when he was defending the rights of God, fought and he told them not to spare their father, their mother, their brother, their sister, their uncles, their aunties, they were to fight valiantly for the interests of God's kingdom. They were fighting mercilessly. But then later, we read that he fell on his face and prayed for the people who despised him, he did not rise up in his own defence. When the kingdom was threatened he didn't just say, "Well, I know," and go along with it, he fought valiantly for the kingdom, but when his own name was threatened he did not rise up in his own defence.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled. We see people who hunger for this world. Some men are given to study, to knowledge, and it is never satisfied. There is no end to it, because no matter how much we learn, there is always more to learn, and we are never satisfied. Some men have ambition for material things, and they accomplish a certain amount, but they are not satisfied, they always need more. Others have positions in life, or honour, and always want a little more, never satisfied. Those who have a hunger after righteousness have the measure of God. They know the peace that passest all understanding. We may have a lot of natural good, but the thing that brings the most blessing is peace in our hearts. This is the most important thing that we could live for. If we could speak about these things more we would have more peace, and we would be more like Jesus. We may sometime fall in our attempt, but we can rise up again. Proverbs 24:16, for a just man falleth seven times and riseth up again, but the wicked shall fall into mischief. The proof that this just man is righteous is that he gets up again. We have all made blunders and failed, but God does not record our failures, He does not hold them against us. This righteous man falls seven times, but gets up again. The fool falls once and then falls into mischief. He says, "There is no hope for me. What is the point of trying? I will just stay down," and falls into mischief. But the person who fails, and strays, and rises up again, he is a righteous man and is blessed. James said that if any man lack wisdom let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not. Sometimes we ask somebody a question and they say, "You should know that," and they love to upbraid us before they tell us. The Lord does not upbraid us, we can ask Him and He will give it to us.

Blessed are the peace makers, for they shall be called the children of God. We will never be called the children of God unless we have the nature and character of God, and that that is portrayed and it is seen that we are his child. The first year I was in the work, we were in a home where there was a five year old boy. After twenty years, I went back there again, and at the convention, I saw a little boy, and asked him if he was so and so's son. I knew he was, because he looked just like his father had twenty years before. Jesus was so much like His Father. To be a peace maker does not come cheaply or easily, it is costly. Abraham was a peace maker before the trouble started. He did not want anything to affect their relationship, and he said to Lot, "You choose." After Lot had chosen the best, Abraham did not get into a bad spirit, and when Lot got into trouble he risked his house, his future, his family to save Lot. We do not read of anything he said to Lot about doing the wrong thing, but he went home to pray for Lot, he was a peace maker. Abraham knew that his brother had not done right, but he went home to plead and pray for him. He sacrificed his own nature and right to be a child of God. He was so much like God.

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. We speak of fellowship, and in John 17, Jesus prayed, that they all may be one, as Thou, Father, art in Me and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me. Oneness in the church, unity, right with everyone all over the country, all over the world, one harmony. One day, as we are one, we shall all be gathered around the throne with Abraham and Jacob and we shall be one with all people of all the other ages. If we are persecuted, if people mistreat us, we are all one, for we will be bearing things the same as they did. We will face the same struggle as they faced. In Revelations it tells us of all those around the throne and the question is asked, "Who are they?" "I don't know, they did not come out of my community, we were just a few, but these are they who came out of all nations, and kindred's and tongues and they stood before the throne and before the Lamb, an innumerable company, all as one." They had been through the fire, and washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and could sing a song of gratitude. Paul prayed that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering, being made comfortable unto His death. To have fellowship with Jesus in eternity, we must have fellowship with Him in His suffering and I don't find that an easy prayer to pray.

For I say unto you that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of Heaven. The Pharisees righteousness was that they kept the law in every detail, but Jesus said, "You do better than that, you do right deeds, have right relationships, but also be right in spirit." Those righteous Pharisees had murder in their hearts. They themselves went not into the judgement hall, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover. Our righteousness must embrace all the human side, our social life, our family life, our business life, and it must all be done in the right spirit. Otherwise, it will all go for nothing, and be a deception, a curse, if we are not right in spirit.

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old times, "Thou shalt not kill," but I say unto you that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgement. The old law was right but I say unto you. This is the spirit and attitude of service. The law said, "Thou shalt not kill," but I say unto you anyone who is angry with his brother. We may not kill a man, but if we are angry with our brother, maybe we could say something that would hurt and we are guilty. If we say to our brother that he is a vain fellow, worthless brother, in a malicious way, then we are wrong in our spirit. Jesus was concerned with the condition of the spirit. We may say things that mask our true feelings, man looks on the outward and judges, but the heart may sometimes be wrong, the motive may be wrong. We may make mistakes, but our purpose might have been excellent. We should not judge by first appearances, we have learned not to do that. The Pharisees were content when the physical law was met, and that is all right, but Jesus spoke of going beyond that to have the blessing. We must be able to control the spirit then we do not need to worry about our actions. We will not maliciously kill a man, we will have victory of spirit, the truest service beyond the sacred page. We will be able ministers of the spirit, and we will not despise the letter, because no jot or title of the law will not be fulfilled. Jesus teaches us the law, but He goes beyond the law. The condition of our hearts goes beyond the law.

In Matthew 6, Jesus shows us the way to serve. If any man sue thee at the law and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. Jesus tells us a person may have a perfect right to sue us if we are guilty. We will not be the loser if we give him our coat and our cloak also. If we are guilty, don't defend yourself, give your cloak also, and you will have the blessing of God. This does not mean that we have to give all to everyone, no. This law is for when we are guilty, and if we are why defend ourselves.

If we are guilty, we have to pay. We know a young couple who had some dogs, and one night, they got out to the neighbours and killed their prize rabbits. The neighbour man came over, angry, and our friends accepted the guilt, and said they were sorry, and were prepared to do anything to make it right. They were humble. They did not believe that they were entirely at fault, but they accepted the guilt. The other man went home and said, "I can't believe it. They did not defend themselves," and so they became good friends. They gave more, and it brought the blessing. Those people came to meetings, and are now in the family of God. If we are guilty we should pay and pay gladly. Jesus speaks about doing alms before men. The Pharisees blow a trumpet so that what they do is noticed, and they have their reward. They do it to be seen of men, and they have all their pay in advance. There is a danger in this, that if it is going to be seen that we would do it. True humility, genuine righteousness is when we do right whether it is noticed or not noticed. Even creation tells us that. I have climbed the mountains where hardly anyone goes, and seen lovely flowers growing, unnoticed. Then go down in the valley where everyone walks, and see the same flowers flowering just as well. It is just the nature in the seed, and this should be true of the child of God. If we are seen, or noticed, we do not alter our service unto God. It is the motive of our heart that makes the difference. If we are doing righteousness and men see this, they will glorify God. It is the preferable way to do things that are not seen of men, but if our motive is right then God who seeth in secret will reward us openly. Right acts should be done when the need is there, doing it not for our own glory, but that our Father would be glorified. This is a good testimony, a good idea that in all our service to God, God has the credit.

In chapter 7, Jesus tells us of those who hear these things and do them, like the man who dug deep. The other man who did not do is the foolish man, who built a house and it fell. We have to remember who Jesus was talking to, His disciples. He was teaching them how they could have the blessing. He told His disciples that they could fail to have this spirit, and they could go on building and building and not pay any attention to the fundamental parts of our service and sacrifice, and not lay up any treasure in Heaven, and only find out on the last day that they did not do it according to the will of God. This has urged me to examine my own soul, and to apply to my own life the words of Jesus, and I have put in hours of study, studying the words that Jesus said to His disciples, and to see how the outcome is so important, to see who is great in the kingdom of Heaven. It is the little child, and if we do not become like a little child we do not even get into the kingdom of Heaven. This is a sobering thought. Unless the condition of my spirit is right, I will not enter into the kingdom of Heaven.