Jack Carroll - We Represent a Fellowship - 1947

It may be there are some here who have been wondering: Just what do you people represent, anyhow? This morning, I would like to help you understand just a little of what we claim to represent as the professed people of God. There are three Bible words familiar to all of us that may help answer this question. These three words are: Fold, Kingdom, Family. These three words are used in connection with the Fold of God, the Kingdom of God, the Family of God. God's people in the world, in every age, are spoken of in the Bible as His Fold - the lambs and sheep of His Flock. The fact of the matter is, if we were to study the Bible as a whole from this viewpoint, we would be amazed to discover how from the very beginning of history the Bible is filled with teaching about the lambs and sheep of His Flock. So this morning we claim, however feebly we may support that claim, that we represent a fellowship of under shepherds and sheep in the Fold of God, under the care and guidance of the Good Shepherd, the Great Shepherd, the Chief Shepherd. John 10:11,14; Hebrews 13:20-21, I Peter 5:4.


I would like to dwell for a moment on the word fellowship. It is one of the most important words in the Bible. It means companionship, comradeship, and partnership. We represent, then, a fellowship, a comradeship, a companionship, a partnership of under shepherds and sheep in this great Fold of God, under the care of the Good Shepherd who left an example for all under shepherds, who for the sake of the sheep laid down His life as the Great Shepherd; who made an atonement to settle the sin question for all the lambs and sheep of His Flock; and the Chief Shepherd, who will reward all who have shared in this great business of shepherding.


It is rather unfortunate that in Ephesians 4:11, speaking of the New Testament ministry, the translators used the word "pastors." In speaking of God's gift to His people, His sheep, it says: "He gave some, apostles; and some prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers." The word "pastor" is the Latin word for shepherd. If the Greek word for pastor had been rightly translated it would have been shepherd. I like that word. The Lord Himself declares that He is the Good Shepherd. The writer to the Hebrews speaks of Him as the Great Shepherd; and Peter, an under shepherd, speaks of Him as the Chief Shepherd.


There are in the meeting this morning about fifty young men and women, and some older, who are under shepherds. They are responsible not only for going out into the world to seek after lost sheep, but they are responsible also for caring for, feeding, guiding, and protecting those who have already become the lambs and sheep of His Flock. It might be a matter of surprise to some of you to be told that these under shepherds of whom I am now speaking have taken steps that Jesus Himself appointed; and which, as far as this world is concerned, have blighted and blasted all their earthly prospects. Just as truly as Peter, James, and John in the long ago actually "forsook all," this is as true today of the men and women in this meeting who have made themselves homeless and poor, who have said "No" to the claims of their own flesh and blood, and have gone forth into the world to be "as the corn of wheat that falls into the ground and dies." They are dying to much of that which is honourable and legitimate to others in the Fold of God, so that they might have a share in this Business of shepherding, under the care and guidance of the Good Shepherd, the Great Shepherd, the Chief Shepherd.


One of the outstanding characteristics in the life of the Good Shepherd was His willingness to lay down His life for the sheep. He gave himself fully and utterly, even to the shedding of the last drop of His life's blood, in order to prove His love for the sheep of His flock.


We feel there are in this meeting men and women who have drunk somewhat of His Spirit, and are just as willing in this our day to lay down their lives unreservedly in order to prove their love for the lambs and sheep of His Flock. There were no hireling shepherds in the Fold of God in Jesus' day. In fact this question of hire, pay, or salary could never enter into the mind or heart of any true under shepherd in the Fold of God. There were no hireling preachers then. There are no hireling preachers now in this Fold of God. As I have said, there are fifty at least under shepherds in this meeting this morning, and the question of pay or hire or earthly reward for their labours in shepherding never has, and never can, enter into their minds as they seek to follow in the footsteps of the Good Shepherd, who laid down His life and gave it fully and utterly in order to prove His love.


The relationship which exists between under shepherds and the lambs and sheep of the Flock of God is not an official relationship. It could not be. It is a love relationship. Those under shepherds love the sheep, and the sheep love their under-shepherds. You will remember the story of the great day of reckoning described in Matthew 25. The Lord is sitting upon the throne of His glory and all nations gathered before Him. The sheep are to be set on His right hand, and the goats on His left hand. He will say to those on His right, "Come, ye blessed of My Father, enter the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hungered, and ye gave Me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave Me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took Me in: naked, and ye clothed Me: I was sick, and ye visited Me: I was in prison, and ye came unto Me." In their surprise, some will say, "Lord, when saw we Thee an hungered, and fed Thee? Or thirsty, and gave Thee drink? When saw we Thee a stranger, and took Thee in? Or naked, and clothed Thee? We lived in California in 1947. It couldn't be so." And yet that Good Shepherd, that Chief Shepherd of the sheep, seated upon the throne will say to them, pointing to those of His under shepherds seated with Him about His throne, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My Brethren, ye have done it unto Me." The Lord Jesus, the Good Shepherd, that tender Shepherd, that wonderful example Shepherd, shall say, "Inasmuch as ye have done it to the youngest, the weakest, the least of these My under shepherds in their days of shepherding, ye have done it unto Me." As it was then, so is it now.


The same Good Shepherd, the Great Shepherd, the Chief Shepherd, is watching and taking account of this business of shepherding and ministering. Very humbly we claim to represent a fellowship of under shepherds and sheep, a fellowship of love, in this great Fold of God. Then we make another claim. We claim that we represent a fellowship of citizens and ambassadors in the Kingdom of God. "The Kingdom of God" is a phrase that occurs many times in the Gospels. The word "church" only occurs three times in the Gospels.


Jesus was not interested in establishing a church system, or many church systems. He came to establish the Kingdom of God, and only those who are citizens of that Kingdom are eligible for membership of His church. He was continually speaking about the Kingdom of God. He simply meant God's rule and reign here and now in and over the hearts of men and women. He manifested this reign in His own life and ministry.


If you have read the Gospels you will notice how frequently He invites men and women to share in this same reign and enter this wonderful Kingdom of God. It might surprise you to notice how often this word "enter" occurs. (51) In speaking to Nicodemus about being born again, He said, "Verily, verily I say unto you, except a man be born again he cannot see - cannot enter the Kingdom of God." John 3:3-5. "Except ye become as little children, ye shall in no wise enter the Kingdom of Heaven." Matthew 18:3. On another occasion He said, "Enter ye in at the strait gate." Matthew 7:13. Later He said, "Strive to enter in." Luke 13:24. Don't allow anyone or anything to hinder you from taking your place inside the Kingdom of God.


During the three and a half years of His public ministry, Jesus made clear that there are just two sides to this Kingdom, the outside and the inside. There were some still on the outside, and some who had fulfilled the conditions and had stepped inside this Kingdom of God. In looking into the faces of the men and women to whom He spoke, He did not ask them if they belonged to this sect or that, this race or that. He saw men just as they really were in the sight His Father, as being either inside or outside this Kingdom which His Father had sent Him into the world to manifest, proclaim, and establish.


We are gathered on this hillside this morning, and the same Father looking down from Heaven sees us just as He saw men and women then, either inside or outside His Kingdom. You can be inside a church or a lodge; you can be a member of many honourable institutions, and yet can be outside this fellowship of citizens and ambassadors in the Kingdom of God. There were just two classes inside the Kingdom of God in New Testament days. There were those who were spoken of as citizens, and those who were spoken of as ambassadors.


Not every citizen of the United States is qualified to leave this land and represent this country and government in another land. Ambassadors are specially selected and have to have special qualifications. This is equally true in the Kingdom of God. Not every citizen is free or could fulfill the conditions in order to become an ambassador. But out of the rank and file of the citizens of the Kingdom, there are those who have counted the cost, and have fulfilled the necessary conditions, and are laying down their lives as His ambassadors in the world as their rightful King and sovereign. Their only interest now is in living for His sake, and for His Kingdom, living with eternity's values in view. Ephesians 6:19; II Corinthians 5:20-21; II Timothy 2:15.


Let me ask you a question: Where do you stand? Are you still outside the Kingdom of God? Or have you crossed the threshold and entered the Kingdom? We have been reminded that sometimes to enter the Kingdom is a very costly thing. Jesus said, "If thy right hand offend thee, cut if off. If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out. If thy right foot offend thee, cut if off. For it is better to enter into life halt and maimed than having two hands, and two feet, and two eyes to be cast into hell fire." You may say in your heart this morning that entering this Kingdom of God is a very costly thing. We admit this is true, but it will cost infinitely more if you do not face now in this life this matter of entering, and go out into eternity still outside the Kingdom.


Once up North we were having dinner at the close of a day's meetings. There were ten or twelve under shepherds in the home where we were guests. We had chicken supper. There was a boy of about 10 present, and before dessert was served one of the company picked out the wishbone and asked Dale to wish. He wished, and they pulled the bone, and got the longer end. Someone asked him, What did you wish? And Dale very seriously and soberly replied, "I wished I was inside the Kingdom of God." Everyone was silent for a little while, but two weeks later Dale, as a boy of 10, surrendered his life to Christ and entered the Kingdom of God. Later he went to serve his country, and while in Italy he took a special interest in boys in different camps who had made a similar choice. When he returned home it was not long until he found a place in the ministry, and he is now laying down his life for Christ as an ambassador of this Kingdom of God.


We claim, then, however weakly we may manifest this, that we represent a fellowship of citizens and ambassadors in this Kingdom of God. The third word I wish to speak of is "family." I like that word. It only occurs once in the New Testament, and is found in Ephesians 3:15. It is used not of the human family but of God's Family. The phrase in which it occurs is, "Of Whom the whole Family in Heaven and earth is named." It suggests that some members of the Family are already at home with the Father, their Elder Brother, and their brethren. Others are on their way home, but it is all the same Family.


God's people in the world are not a sect, or a denomination, or a church. They are a Family. They are His sons and His daughters. He is their Father; Jesus is their Elder Brother, and they are brethren. This Family is also spoken of as the "household of faith."


Some years ago we were pitching a tent in Seattle, and while I was driving in the pegs an elderly man came up and asked what was being put up? "Is it a merry-go-round?" I said, "No." and he asked, "What is it?" I told him we planned on having Gospel services in the tent. "Gospel services," he said, "Well, what faith is it?" I replied, "The faith of Jesus." "Why," he said, "I never heard of that faith before." He had heard of the Methodist, the Presbyterian, the Catholic, and other faiths, but he had never heard of the only faith mentioned in the New Testament, "the faith of Jesus," and he went away completely puzzled.


The Family is spoken of also as the "household of God." Peter speaks of the Family as a "brotherhood," a worldwide brotherhood. This was the idea in the mind of God. It is based not on our natural birth, but solely and only on a new birth, a spiritual birth, which Jesus spoke of in John 3. We claim we represent this family fellowship, this brotherhood. This is a family gathering. We are these days enjoying the family fellowship. There isn't a hired man on the premises. We don't hire the cooks, the waitresses, the dishwashers, or even the preachers, thank God. This is a family fellowship.


If you went into a family and saw the father taking up a collection after each meal, you would wonder what sort of a thing you had gotten into. In this family fellowship the family spirit of service prevails. If that were not so, we would fail to fulfill our claim that we represent what the New Testament speaks of as God's Family in this present evil world. Just as there are two sides to the Fold, the outside and the inside, so there are two sides to this Family of God. There is the outside and the inside. Would it not be lovely if any of you who have been made conscious of the fact that you are still outside of this fellowship of brethren in the great Family of God would decide that no longer will you remain outside, but here and now make your choice and step inside the Family of God?


I John 1:3, this is a key verse, and to me a very wonderful verse. It speaks of a three-fold fellowship, companionship, and partnership in this great Family of God. It speaks of fellowship with the Father, with the Son, and with each other. There can be no fellowship with each other unless it is based solidly first of all on fellowship with the Father and the Son. I would like to think there are those in this meeting who have a great desire in their hearts to have a share in this three-fold fellowship with the Father, with the Son, and with each other.


It is a little difficult for me to distinguish between these three, because they are so closely related. To help you to understand better what this fellowship is, we will speak first of all of fellowship with the Father, then with the Son, and then with each other. If you wish to write down three words that have helped me in this connection you may do so. The word separation has to do with fellowship with the Father. Submission has to do with fellowship with the Son. Obedience has to do with fellowship with each other. I hope at the end of this meeting you will have a better understanding of the word fellowship.


We have been told that from the very beginning of history the Father himself has had a great hunger in His heart to have fellowship with men, with sinful men, those who have come short and who have failed. The fact of the matter is, when I read about the tabernacle, and the temple and all the sacrifices that were offered in Old Testament days, I am brought face to face with the fact that all had one purpose, and that was to help men to understand what it really means to have fellowship with God. There was the sin offering, and the trespass offering, and the peace offering. As we study these sacrifices, we see one step after another leading men to the place where they cannot only enjoy fellowship with God, but fellowship with each other.


When we come to the New Testament, we see all those sacrifices were actually and literally fulfilled when for the sins of men Christ shed the last drop of His life's blood on Calvary. The purpose behind His sacrifice was to bring sinful men into living, loving, hearty fellowship with Himself. This clearly is still in the heart of God, and of the Lord Jesus Himself, Who shed His blood there on Calvary. We hope He will see the travail of His soul in these meetings, and be satisfied.


By nature, all of us as we grow up, take one step after another in the wrong direction. It is as natural for men to go astray like lost sheep as it is for water to run down hill. That is the bend and bias of our nature. The older we grow, the farther we get away from God. How glad I am that in my need and extremity God in His mercy by the Gospel reached men, and I said in my heart, "Whatever it means, henceforth it is 'Christ for me forever.'" Fifty years have come and gone since I made that choice and never once in the joys and sorrows of life have I had one single regret for that first choice and submission to my rightful Lord and Sovereign.


The story of the prodigal son can be told in four words - rebellion, submission, reconciliation, and fellowship. The word rebellion covers the first chapter. The word submission covers the second period, when he said, "Father, I have sinned..." The father, knowing what was in that boy's heart, understanding his thoughts and purpose, saw him afar off, and had compassion upon him, and ran and fell on his neck, and kissed him. The boy came to him and said, "Father, I have sinned against Heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son." But the father said to the servants, "Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him: and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it: and let us eat and be merry, for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost, and he is found." Reconciliation follows submission. There can be no reconciliation apart from submission. The real reason perhaps why you are outside the Kingdom of God is because you are unwilling to submit. When the prodigal was leaving home he said, "Give me," but when he turned his face homeward the language of his heart was, "Make me."


Would to God there would be some here who would come to the end of their rebellion and would say, "Make me," for that is exactly what God wants to do for you. Sometimes we sing, "God is now willing, in Christ reconciled, Wiling to cleanse and pardon the defiled; God is now willing, are you?" Fellowship follows reconciliation. After we have taken the initial step into this Family of God a very serious responsibility rests upon us in order that this fellowship with God which has begun may continue. I am interested now in trying to help you to understand this responsibility. God Himself has assumed His part. Now are we willing to assume ours?


I would like you to turn to II Corinthians 6. Paul is writing to men and women who had entered this family fellowship seven years or thereabouts before. He is anxious that they would feel the responsibility that rested upon them if this fellowship was to continue. He wrote in verse 14, "Be ye not unequally yoked with unbelievers; for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?" In chapter 7:1 he says, "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."


What Paul was anxious to convey to these members of the Family of God in Corinth was the possibility of allowing some things, outward and inward, to hinder their fellowship with God. It may be there are in this meeting some who have been amongst us for four days and they are very conscious as they look back over their lives that they have permitted some outward things or some inward things to hinder their fellowship with God. I am not going to make out a list for you of the things that could hinder, either outwardly or inwardly, but if you know anything of the anointing of God, you know in the depths of your own heart just what is hindering you from having that fellowship with God that is your rightful inheritance. There are some people who allow wrong things to hinder them. Others allow right things in the wrong place to hinder them.


You remember the story of the three men who excused themselves from accepting an invitation to the feast, not because of wrong things but because of honourable and legitimate things. One man said he had married a wife, another said he had bought five yoke of oxen, and the third said he had bought some property. None of these things were wrong in themselves, but these men permitted honourable and legitimate things to take the place in their hearts the Lord alone should have, and as a result they were excused and excluded from the Kingdom for all eternity. - I am speaking now to God's children.


I would like to ask you, are you allowing love for your property, for earthly things, to hinder your fellowship with God? Are you permitting your business to hinder your fellowship with Him? You say it is first in your life. Well, that is your choice, but it is a dangerous choice. You say you can't be in your right and proper place on the first day of the week, or on Wednesday evening, because you are too busy. I say if you are foolish enough to allow your job and your interest in things material to hinder you from having fellowship with God, and in manifesting your desire by being in your rightful place on the first day of the week or in the middle of the week, then you are trifling with your soul, and unless there is some change these excuses may lead you to complete exclusion from this Kingdom, to be left outside and that for ever.


An idol is anything or anybody that takes the place in your heart and life the Lord alone should have. Are you willing to deal with these idols? Are you hiding in your heart idols that hinder you from being right with God? How good if you would settle this thing, and say,, "I will put these idols out of my heart for ever. You would then enter into a closer fellowship with God, with nothing between." "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." We cannot do this for each other. There is a cleansing by the word and by the Blood, but here is a cleansing for which we alone are responsible.


Let me ask you on this last day of this convention: are you truly and honestly willing to cleanse yourself, if you have not done so already, from everything that you know deep down in your heart is hindering you from having fellowship with the Father? I Corinthians 1:9, "God is faithful; by Whom ye were called into the fellowship of His Son, Christ Jesus our Lord." I have suggested already that the word separation has to do with fellowship with the Father. The word submission has to do with fellowship with Jesus Christ our Lord. This is a truth that is lost sight of by many truly devout people. They do not see that the purpose for which Jesus died nineteen hundred years ago was that some day, somewhere, we might be willing for Him to be our Lord, our Master, and our King. There are those who would like to think of Him as their Saviour, but they are unwilling for Him, the only Saviour, to be their Lord and Master.


Let me say this: the New Testament teaches clearly that no man can have Jesus as Saviour unless he is willing for Jesus the only Saviour to be his Lord and Master. The only way in which He can become Lord is by that inward submission to His claims, and willingness to acknowledge Him before the world as Lord. Romans 10:1-3, 9, 10. One of the most wonderful pictures in the New Testament is that of Saul of Tarsus on his knees in that home in the city of Damascus. He was brought at last to the place of submission, of absolute surrender. If I were an artist, that is the picture I would love to paint. Here was the man who thought it was his business in life to stamp out this new religion and throw in prison those who followed Jesus, a blasphemer, and a persecutor. Here at long last is this man on his knees - "Behold, he prayeth." Acts 9:1-17.


Let me ask: have you been brought to the place of submission? I am not asking do you believe a certain creed, or have you joined some institution, religious or otherwise. I want to ask you heart to heart, in the presence of God, have you been brought to the place of submission, where you are willing for Jesus the only Saviour to be the Lord and Master of your life, regardless of cost? Thirty years later, writing to his friends at Philippi, Paul said, "What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; for Whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ." He was still in the place of submission. Have you ever been brought there? May God grant this may be true in your experience before you leave this place.


The third word I want to speak of has to do with fellowship one with another. We have been speaking of a three-fold fellowship: 1. Fellowship with the Father - the key word separation, 2. Fellowship with the Son - the key word submission, 3. Fellowship with each other - the key word obedience - obedience to the law of love given on the last night of the life of the Lord Jesus. John 13:34-35.


You will remember in the upper room, after partaking of the last Passover feast, He said to them, "A new commandment give I unto you, that ye love one another. As I have loved you, even so love ye one another. By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another." Some may have been asking: What keeps you people together? The secret is that this is a fellowship of love. This is a love service, a love ministry, the sweetest and most gracious fellowship and ministry that can even be known among men.


Each of us is responsible for contributing our share toward making this fellowship all the Lord intended it to be, and all He made possible it could be, by simple, childlike obedience to the law of love. On the last night of His life, looking away into the future and understanding the difficulties they would be up against, He did not give them a set of rules, He did not give the skeleton of some institution into which they could bring men. They were to go out into a world divided by racial, national, religious, cultural prejudice, and bring men into a fellowship of love. The love of God shed abroad in men's hearts will bind and unite as nothing else ever can or will. John 17.


There might be some who are asking: Can you give me a little help in understanding what is included in this new commandment? The same Christ, living His life over again in His servant Paul and putting His thoughts in Paul's mind, gave to us in I Corinthians 13 a definition of this new commandment. I hope at the close of this convention you will remember these three things:

1. The responsibility that rests upon you in maintaining fellowship with the Father - the key word separation;

2. The responsibility that is yours in maintaining fellowship with the Son, inward submission to His rule and reign over your life;

3. The responsibility that rests upon you in maintaining fellowship with your brethren in the Family of God, by obedience to the law of love as defined by the Lord Jesus Himself in 1 Corinthians 13.


At a convention a number of years ago, one of our fellow servants who had been preaching longer than most of us have, was to speak that afternoon. He gave us a great surprise. He stood up and read I Corinthians 13, and he preached the shortest sermon I ever read. He said, "If I could just live this out I would be a mighty good man," and he sat down. There wasn't one in that meeting but felt that they too, if they could only live out the teaching of I Corinthians 13, would be mighty good men. 1 Corinthians 13:1, "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. 4. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5. Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6. Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7. Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 8. Charity never faileth: but whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity."


We represent then a fellowship of under shepherds and sheep in the great Fold of God. We represent a fellowship of citizens and ambassadors in the great Kingdom of God. But more than that, we represent a fellowship, the sweetest fellowship known on earth, a fellowship that begins here and continues into the great beyond. We represent a fellowship of brethren in the same great Family of God.


We recognize that each one of us is responsible for contributing his or her part toward making this fellowship more and more attractive to those who are still outside, and should seek to so walk and order our lives that men will take knowledge of us that we have been with Jesus and are now living our lives as members of God's great Family, with eternity's values in view. May God grant that each one of us may be faithful in doing our part so that by manifestation of the Truth we may commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.