John Newlands - Our Heavenly Calling - Mudgee, New South Wales, Australia - 2017

Hebrews 3:1, “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.” Holy brethren, that is what we are, that is what we should be. Later, we read that the holy brethren weren’t so perfect, but at least that could be our aim. Purity means separate from everything else, not adulterated. We heard in prayer that this is holy ground and it is, at least for these four days of the year. Maybe we could include the time of preparation as well. Sometimes, they are not so holy days but for these four days this place is holy ground. The rest of the year all the dogs and cats in the world can run through here but in these four days, this is holy ground because God is meeting with His people here and He wants us to be holy people.

The children of Israel were brought out of Egypt, came through the wilderness those forty years. It was really only a journey of about twelve days, maybe two weeks at the most, but because of the condition of the people, God led them through that wilderness for forty years. He was seeking to make a holy people for Himself.

There was a great cry from the children of Israel when they were in Egypt. We have heard about cries today. Amy was telling us she was brought up in the truth, but there was something lacking and God can supply the lack. We can see that lack was supplied years ago. We are here because we want to be here. We are God’s chosen people, that is true, but when we listen to the Gospel, it is our choice. God wants everyone to have salvation, but He doesn’t oblige anyone, it is our choice whether we walk with God or not. The very fact that we are here indicates that. There is no point in complaining in experiences, because we chose to follow Jesus.

When God was speaking to Moses out of the burning bush in Exodus 3:7-8, it says, “And the LORD said, 'I have surely seen the affliction of My people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; And l am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.'” God said, “I saw,” and, “I heard.” God responded to that cry. God responded to our cry, too. Some would say they didn’t really feel their need, but after God had shown them their need, the cry went up and it is still going up. I hope we will always feel needy until the last day of the journey. “I have seen . . I have heard .. I know their sorrows.” How did God know that? Who was ever a taskmaster over God, to know the situation? God has had an adversary, long before we ever had one, Satan.

Satan is our adversary, but he was God’s adversary long before he was our adversary. He rebelled against God and wanted to sit on the throne of God. In a sense, God knew the hearts of the people. It is a wonderful thing that He saw and heard the need of His people and it says, “I am come down.” That was our experience. God came down to be a help to us. He drew the children out by the hand of Moses. That hankering for Egypt, as we read through the history of God’s people, it’s like a cycle. God did a work and God raised up prophets to be a help to His people and guide them into the way of God. After a generation or two, there was another falling away.

The gospel came to Venezuela in 1980 and already there are wee signs of things creeping in. We can ask ourselves the question, is the return to captivity more advanced that we realize? Things weren’t very settled. They entered into the Promised Land, God gave them all those riches for which they never laboured.

There just seemed to be a lack in so many, captive to their own thoughts and desires, memories they had of the past, things they had been forced to give up in the journey through the wilderness. But there was a hankering in their hearts. We want to be pure; the first pillar is purity. We would like to have no part dark but have the heart full of light, His presence, that our hankering and desire would be to be over the other side, to be in full fellowship with God. A mixed bag came out of Egypt. It took years to get Egypt out of the children of Israel.

Hebrews 3:1, “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.” The heavenly calling that is our calling. In Matthew 5:48 it says, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” He didn’t say, “Be ye perfect as My Father is.” The only desire in the heart of Jesus was that we would have fellowship with the Father, and of course, it comes through Jesus. That was Jesus’ desire. As His disciples were walking with Jesus, it must have thrilled the heart of Jesus to begin to see His Father in them, to see little signs of the life of His Father in His disciples. That was His mission, to be like the Father. We must be like Jesus. It must have been a real joy to see His disciples acting and reacting just as His Father would have done. This is the whole purpose of salvation, to save our soul that our soul would have the likeness of Christ and of the Father.

We think of the judgement day. It’s not going to be such a long drawn out process like judgments in this world. It’s not going to be like that on the judgment day. God will be looking into our spirit and all He will be looking for is the likeness of His Son, purified in spirit, in a fit condition to dwell with Him for all eternity. Jesus was the postman, He had the message. A postman takes a message and delivers to another person as it has been given. Jesus had a message from His Father and He is still giving it to us. The message has not changed. Maybe, we still don’t like it, but we are satisfied the message has not changed and that gives us hope.

I am a slow learner. I know I am a slow learner because I have not been willing. That is the bottom line, because God is giving us every provision: grace, strength, power to change, the faculties, to learn the lessons. All we have to do is reach out and accept these things. We are thankful that God has patience and gives us time. We might be a slow learner at school. It is not that way in the Kingdom of God, it is lack of willingness. I would like to be willing to learn from the messages. He is our High Priest, He makes intercession. Jesus came with the message and showed us how to get the virtues, the strength necessary to carry out the message. He left us with the message and, with His Father, is watching us trying to put into practice the message of Heaven, trying to be lively sons. He sees our struggle, He knows.

Hebrews 3:15, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” Jesus was tempted in all points. He must have had a terrible nature. You are not tempted in all points, but Jesus was tempted in all points. He knows what each one of us goes through to try to get His likeness into our lives. He knows the struggle and is well able to intercede for us and asks that His Father have patience. “I was through that experience and it was a terrible experience.” God is being patient with us, because He believes His Son.

Hebrews 3 speaks of unbelief and even going back. A companion I had, about the same age as myself, in Scotland. One year we got together in the Isle of Lewis. We enjoyed our year together. He was eight years in the Work then He got married and things seemed to go all right. He went to England to live, and then he left the Truth and the overseer in Scotland was having a conversation with him. He said, “I don’t believe.” How is it possible? When we spent a year together, he obviously had the Spirit of God. I wonder how people can get to that stage.

Moses was up the mountain and God told him to get down, because the people had quickly turned out of the way. Even God Himself used that word ‘quickly.’ These things don’t happen quickly, but the decision is made quickly, and there is always a reason for it.

Hebrews 3:13, “But exhort one another daily, while it is called today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” The first thing was getting into sin. Sin comes through disobedience, knowing the will of God and not being willing to fulfil it. If we keep doing that there is a hardness of heart from it. It speaks of an evil heart of unbelief. After the hardening of the heart, comes unbelief. It has made me sad since I came here to Australia, hearing of people who have left the Truth, people who seemed to be so hearty in the Truth. Things seemed to be fine, but they turned quickly out of the way, soon going into things we should not. It leads to hardening of the heart, turning to other things.

It was the besetting sin of God’s people, their own human nature. We don’t believe that what God is offering to us through the Gospel is any better than what we can have in the world and because of that, there was this hankering after the things of Egypt. The passing of time is a test unto us, quite apart from experiences that come, the length of time, day after day, can wear us down. That is why it is so vital to make sure we are in touch with God every day through prayer. Taking time to read and pray so that God can keep us with strength in His way.

Jordan opened up and they went in, but so few really had the Spirit of God. In all the nations of this world, when Jesus came, there just seemed to be a handful of people. There were plenty keeping the law, but nothing of God in their hearts, just doing things the way they wanted to do it There were just a few who were obedient to Him.

John 6:30-31, “They said therefore unto Him, 'What sign shewest Thou then, that we may see, and believe Thee? What dost Thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, "He gave them bread from heaven to eat."'” They followed Him just to get bread. The wonderful provision in the wilderness was just for the body. So many of them were partaking of the provision God, Himself, made for them, that came down from Heaven, but they still died.

The Bible can be like manna or bread. I say to myself, “Johnnie, what are you going to get out of this Convention? Are you going to just be feeding on the manna or the Bread and body of Christ?” People in the world come rushing to Psalm 91. You see a Bible covered in dust, opened at Psalm 91. When there is a death, the first thing they start reading is the Bible. They get consolation from it, help from the word of God, get a certain solace from reading the Bible, a kind of peace in times of trouble, but they still don’t know God. “Are you still going to be feeding on the nice messages, or on the broken body of Jesus, the Bread from Heaven?” God wants a pure people. I need to do my part each day to make my calling and election sure. I don’t want to be superficial, want to really make the sacrifices necessary to be like Jesus.