Jacob Kevligham - Willingness to Leave Behind and Learn - Williams Convention, Western Australia - 2001

Hymn 285  

I am glad for quite a few things that we have heard here today about the passing of generations. This is something that one has come to fear with the passage of time.  What happens with the passage of time among God's people?   Things have crept in.  A few months ago I was in a home where those people's relatives began to serve God in the late 1800s.  They first met together under a tree and a number who came to those meetings accepted the Truth, but no home was available. Many of those people came from different homes, but there was no open home, so they met this way until others came, too.   I am glad today for the gospel that came to my parents at the beginning of the last century, but I have a fear of what will happen in the passage of time, and that we might get too far from the stable.  Jesus began His life in a stable and ended it in a borrowed tomb, remaining there for three days and nights. We never want to keep our eyes on that.

When we were at school, we had a copybook.  Every page had lines, and on the top line there was copperplate writing and we had to imitate this perfect headline.  When we did our first line, the writing was not too bad and the next line was worse, but as we continued down the page the writing looked nothing like the example.  The teacher understood what was happening and she gave us some blotting paper to cover up every line we wrote so nothing else was in sight except the headline, and so our writing improved. Our eyes kept on the headline.  We like to know the record of God's people throughout the centuries, and God in His wisdom has shown us the headline and that is our safety. 

We are glad for parents and grandparents who have lifted our eyes beyond that to our safety, and that God has preserved the headline in Jesus. We need to keep looking to Him!  There is a tendency with the passing of generations of little dangers, a little slackness, and a little less separation.  In Abraham's case, he was looking for a bride for Isaac, and he sent his steward to the land where he came from.  That steward said, "…if the woman is not willing to follow me, do I bring Isaac back again?"   Abraham told him, "Beware that you do not bring Isaac down there."  God had taken him out of that place and he knew the reason for that.  He left it and left it forever.  Then we see the next generation and what happened there.  Jacob went back there and he was encouraged by his parents to go, but we see little changes.  Then we see the next generation of Jacob's children.  Dinah went to see the daughters of that land and there was less separation again.  Then came the famine that brought them to Egypt, and they were there for many generations in bondage.   This came about as a result of human thinking and a human tendency.  My father was very strict and as children, we thought that he was far too strict.  Our mother had died when we were children, but we knew that other children could do things that we couldn't do.  When we went to secondary school we wanted to join in with the sports and play rugby, but one day we had to play another school in another area and had to travel to this other town. I went to my father and he said, "You'll not be going."  That was pretty tough because other children of the friends were going.  I wouldn't say that this would do a lot of harm, but it would go on and on and on.  As the team got better and better, they formed a club and this led to a lot of social life. Our father knew the danger, and he nipped it in the bud. Today we are glad for it.  We thought then that he was far too strict, but we grew up in a city, and many here know what is like living in the city; it is more difficult in some ways.  Our father had his business but he was alert to what we were doing, and he was aware of the dangers of playing in the street, so he invented something for us to do that kept us inside. We thought that was very hard, but he knew how to nip things in the bud.  He knew the friendships that could follow and the snares that would lead to danger. Each generation wants to relax things and feel their parents were far too strict, and then the next generation relaxes, and so it goes.  There is a danger with the passing of each generation, the passing of time, and we need to keep looking back to the headline Jesus, to the ladder. 

God spoke to Jacob, "I will not leave thee until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of."  This is a nice thing to know, that with all our faults and failures and disappointments, God stuck with them and bore with them until He set up a ladder on the earth and until He sent Jesus.  God said that He would not leave Israel, but we see Him setting up the ladder and remaining faithful to that people until He had set it up.  Jacob was fleeing for his life that night, and this was the thing that God offered him, such a love that made it possible for him to be in Heaven.  This verse was very clear to him, "I wish you to be with me in Heaven, and if so, you'll have to take steps," steps, with an “s” on the end, for it is plural.  Any ladder has many steps. 

The religious world thinks that you just need to join a church and that is one step and there is nothing more to do.  But if we are going to be in Heaven, there are steps that need to be taken, and today we can look at some of these steps in Matthew 5, 6, and 7, where Jesus taught some of them.  These were things that we need to rise above, things that we need to overcome, and things that are a part of our human nature that we are born with.  Jesus quoted the Ten Commandments, but then He said, "I tell you about something higher."  The religious world keeps the Ten Commandments and feels dead sure of their place in Heaven.  But keeping the Ten Commandments never gave anyone a place in Heaven, but it's the application of the Ten Commandments in our daily life.  God knew the limitation of the human nature with the Ten Commandments and that it is possible, for we read of those in the Bible who did keep them.  This was the limit that anyone could reach with human nature who had received the spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified. 

God is not unjust or unreasonable, and neither are parents who ask their small children to do things that are within their reach to do.  It is unreasonable or impossible for children to do things that an adult does, but you just reduce the requirement to the capacity of a child. The Ten Commandments were the limits at the time that Jesus came and before the Holy Spirit was given and people were born again.  Now there was a far higher law. 

Jesus said of the old law, "Thou shalt not kill, but now I say unto you who is angry with his brother he is guilty.”  Whosoever defames or speaks disparagingly of another is counted guilty, and whosoever mentions that person is a fool is found guilty. So you do not have to murder anyone to be guilty, but just be angry without a cause.  Cain was angry without a cause. He slew his brother because of envy, or jealousy, or maybe both.  If he had risen above those things, he could have overcome and not been found guilty.

Jesus said, "I say unto you”--this is a far higher law on that day when we will be judged by the teachings of Jesus, but there is provision in the ladder to rise above the human level.  When we raise our feet on the ladder, our whole weight is on the rung that we are standing on--the whole pressure is on the ladder.  If there was no ladder there is no hope of going upward, and no way of rising above things. 

There are angels on the ladder, too, and this is more provision for us.  Angels are God's Heavenly messengers bringing a soul-saving message. Jacob could speak of the angel who had redeemed him from all evil, and we are conscious of that help too, for angels are very necessary.  In the message to the churches in Revelation, we see John had the privilege of seeing the workings of Heaven and He saw Jesus there. Seven angels were in his hand and in the midst of the seven churches.  We read a lot about angels, like His little ones have angels and this suggests that every church has an angel.  An angel is a messenger waiting for a message to carry to the church.  Jesus dictated the message and John intercepted it.  Jesus also dictated to the angels and John heard the dictation.  The messages came in book form and John was told to write and to send the messages to the seven churches.  John was privileged to see how Heaven works.   Jesus received the message from His Father and gave the message to the angels by the aid of a ministering spirit, and John overhead these wonderful messages, those soul-saving messages.  These soul-saving messages are not enough to get us to Heaven but it is what we heard in the beginning. 

What would happen if the message was received and nothing was done about it?  All had heard the gospel when the truth came to Ephesus, they were now forty years in the way of God and they had received the message and acted upon it, and it tells us that their candle would be taken away if they did not respond to the message.  I remember a couple, a brother and sister, my first year in the work. She was a schoolteacher and had lost her sight, but her brother would read scripture to her every day.  We would have good visits with them but they never got to a meeting.  John Hardy came into that area and those people rejoiced in receiving the gospel and would tell how they had heard the truth and had come out of darkness, but they never took any more steps on the ladder. It was a very sad thing.  We tried to encourage them to come out to the meetings but they made all kinds of excuses, and then they died just like that.  They told of the beginning of days for them but there was no present in their lives. That happens if we cease to take steps. 

The message we hear in the beginning is not enough, for in the message God said to the church "I know." I know what you are doing, I know what you need.  When Jesus left His disciples He said to them, "I know" and He appeared and disappeared and reappeared to them, and He did not need to find out where they were last night or what they were doing because he knew, and He knew what they needed.  He accompanied them and He will be with us too right till the end of the world.  I'm conscious that God knows what is happening. 

God knows our situation and what we need.  He told all the churches a message. He did not say "You speak well in meetings," but "I know your works."  There were some great surprises in the messages, and how many deceived themselves. The easiest person to deceive is oneself.  One day there will be a lot of surprises.  We talk about the ten virgins and the five that were wise and the five that were foolish, and we think it is too much to say that fifty percent are not going to a saved eternity.  Jesus is not given to exaggeration; humans are inclined to stretch things, but not Jesus.  Jesus said, "Then shall the kingdom of Heaven be like…"  This has nothing to do with the world or the religious world.  These are ten virgins in the kingdom, and this seems a frightening statement.  The five foolish were friends of the friends, and the five wise were friends of the bridegroom.   We could come to the place where we are satisfied that we are in the right fellowship and are content with the right friendship, but we need fellowship with the bridegroom.  It is easy for this to happen with the passage of time.  We can have company with the friends and yet neglect our fellowship with the bridegroom. 

No matter how far we have come in the way of God, we are never far from the ditch.  No matter how far we have journeyed, whether a thousand miles or more, we need to remember that we are never far from the ditch; it is very easy to be on one side or the other. This was an active church at Ephesus but it was nearly in the ditch and they were not having fellowship with the bridegroom. He was not in the centre of their lives and He was not satisfied with that.  They needed to rise above that and put things right to have victory over these things.  It is very important when a young couple is keeping company to spend time together. They could be so happy by visiting with the bride's family, and yet never having a word with each other.  This would not suggest a very good marriage, would it? This would not be very satisfactory at all. 

Every church had things that they had to overcome.  In some, the flesh was overcoming; in some, Satan was overcoming. There was a wrong doctrine and this could happen to us too.   Where we have been working there are six churches and one church has a question mark over the elder because he is a little bit different.  His wife is faithful, but he got into the doctrine of Abiram.  He said the workers take too much upon themselves and that all the Lord's people are holy.  He also believes that after we receive the gospel we don't need the workers any more, but they need to go to the unsaved world.  He talked with another man in the church who was a faithful man and had been a help to a great many people and he resented that, and did not want to hear it.  He kept pouring in a little more of his doctrine until it began to take root.  This other man began to listen and to think that way too, and today that man and his wife and the first man's family are all out of this fellowship and meet on their own.  They do not need any more of the message they heard at the beginning.   We read in the Bible "by a prophet Israel was brought out of Egypt, and by a prophet Israel is preserved."  This is the Lord's arrangement, and one soul-saving message is not sufficient.  It is not only the first message we need to hear but also the Lord has other soul saving messages for us through the years.  

One time I was going through a crisis.  I had the flu and I could not go to the Sunday morning meeting in our home I was staying at, but my need was so desperate that I went downstairs and listened at the door.  Only God knew that I was there.  One man in that meeting had a message that was exactly what I needed. He didn't have a clue as to what I needed, but that man received a message from the ministering spirit that came from the Father in Heaven.  But for that soul-saving message, I wouldn't be here today.   The messages to the church were to the overcomers.  He wanted them to rise above and receive the promises for the overcomers.  There are no promises to those who do not overcome.  I have sometimes wondered how many had ears to hear.  I am curious about that.  I do not want to hear something that appeals to the ear but what the ears hear that the Spirit has to say.  This is where the ladder comes in and enables us to rise above what we are by human nature. God puts His finger on the spot and we must give attention to that.  There are great things in store for the overcomers, and this is where the angels come in.  It is so vital to hear a message from the homeland.  A pilot on a plane starts off flying by the controls but he is guided later in the air by the control tower.  He is told when and where to land and receives various messages to keep him on course.  We need to receive messages on life's course too, for we are not any better than these seven churches we read of here.  Jesus is interested, the angels are interested, and all are working on our behalf giving us the correction that we need to be able to rise above.  We are all left without excuse because all the provision is made that we might finish in our eternal home.  We do not need to be clever or have a B.A. or some other degree, but we need willingness to leave behind and learn things, and a willingness to be separated from the things of the world so that we might be with Him eternally.