Ray Corbett - To Whom Lord Shall We Go? - Beenleigh Specials 1999

In John's gospel near the end of chapter 6, Jesus had asked His 12 disciples, "Will you also go away?" Peter answered: "Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life & we believe & are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the Living God." 

I don't really Peter had any thought of going anywhere else, but maybe, in the turmoil of the time, he had been weighing it up. Some disciples walked no more with Him. Had Peter considered, could he go to the mocking Pharisees - no, he couldn't go there; could he take sides with those who weren't willing for what Jesus said? No, he wouldn't do that. I'm sure as he weighed it up, even though some of Jesus' words were straight, we need them & His words are words of eternal life. 'There was nowhere else to go. We can't join in with those who are against Jesus & can't go along with those who are not willing for what He would say. Perhaps, we sometimes feel like Peter did, that there's nowhere else to go.

The hymn says: Amidst a world of doubt & strife, there's nowhere else to go. Then it says, when we see our sinful hearts, there's nowhere else to go; because in Him alone is provision for our sin. There's nowhere else we can go to have our sins forgiven & be right in the sight of God, because Jesus has paid the price for our sin. When life has wounded bitterly, there's nowhere else to go. There's healing in Thy nail pierced hands & there's nowhere else to go except to the One who understands, is there? Our friends may understand to some extent, but no one understands, like Jesus; there's nowhere else to go. It says that many of His disciples had started to walk with Him; had started to learn & then they weren't willing to go any further. Sad that they missed out on all that could have been theirs. I think it is a lot sadder when some who have never started start & then don't finish. They turned back; they turned aside.

Some didn't turn away. In the book of Ruth, 1 turned back & 1 said, "There's nowhere else to go but onward, forward." Ruth refused to go back. Orpah didn't take much coaxing to go back. Her mother-in-law said, 'There's nothing to be gained by coming with me - go back'; so she kissed her mother-in-law & went back. But, Ruth clave to Naomi & was steadfastly minded not to go back. She said to her mother-in-law, 'this is for life; this is forever; I'm not going back'. It meant separation from Ruth's peo­ple & her gods; it did the same thing for her as it did for Abraham when he heard the call "to go out to that land that I will show you". By faith he obeyed & went out to that land he had never been to before. He had faith in the promises of God, the same faith we need to have in God's promises. Do we have that faith in the promises of God, that He has promised us something so wonderful?

Faith is what enabled Abraham to journey through the Promised Land as a stranger & a pilgrim, because he had faith to see far beyond this world, to the promises of God & something far greater than anything in this world. He looked for that city with foundations. We need that kind of faith. That's the kind of faith that Ruth had; she saw something in Naomi. Maybe Naomi had told her about God's people & God's presence & God's leading, & she had faith to embrace it, & she wanted it & said to Naomi, 'I'm not going back, there's nowhere else to go; I'm going forward'. I hope we can all be inspired by looking to Ruth.

Jephthah too said, "I can't go back". Why? Because he had opened his mouth to the Lord. We heard about anchors, & that was an anchor to Jephthah - he had opened his mouth to the Lord & said, "I can't go back", & that's something that will help us to keep on going: to open our mouth to the Lord. It's often been said, that it's better not to vow, than to vow & not pay; but it's a lot better to vow & pay because opening our mouth to make a promise, is going to help us to keep on going. Like when God appeared to Jacob & he saw that ladder, God made a promise to Jacob. Did Jacob say, 'Thank you very much' & leave it at that - no, he made a promise to God. In his heart there was such gratitude to God for all that He was holding out to him & I'm sure that it helped him to keep on going & helped him to realize that there's nothing else worth living for, but to be in the will of God & do what He asks us to do. So, I hope that we won't be afraid to open our mouths to the Lord. It's not about saying things rashly; we should sit down to count the cost & be willing to open our mouth to the Lord. We read that Jephthah's daughter helped him to fulfill what he had said, because she was willing to be the sacrifice & she encouraged him to do what he said. It's good when there are those who do that. She could've said, 'that's being extreme'; it's human isn't it to say, there's no need to go that far'.

It was said over & over again that Jeroboam made Israel to sin. What did he do? He told Israel there was no need to go so far, 'there's no need to go up to Jerusalem to worship' (1 Kings 12:28). We don't have to say by our words sometimes; we can tell by our example there's no need to go that far. But Jephthah's daughter said, 'You be true to your word; you do what you have said you will do'.

When Paul wrote to Timothy (1 Timothy 4:12) to be an example, first in word. I wondered why he said 'word' first, but that's very important. He who controls his tongue is a perfect man; to use it when he should use it & refrain from using it when he shouldn't, is a perfect man. I wonder if our word is reliable. We live in a world where men's words don't mean much; people say what comes the easiest & have no intention of fulfilling them. Before we rush in to say yes or no, we should consider this: are we going to be true to our words? Jephthah was true & he kept on going.

We read what Jesus said about “he who puts his hand to the plough and looks back’, not being fit for the Kingdom. I was thinking about where we look. It is so important what we get our sights on. In Hebrews, it says, 'Looking unto Jesus' and then it says about running the race with our eyes on Him.

Jesus said that man was not fit for the Kingdom. I don't know what He meant by that, but I do know this: we can't plough a straight furrow if we are looking back; we really must line up with 2 things if we want to plough a straight furrow. If you have something near & something in the distance & line them both up, then you can plough a straight furrow, but there's no way we can plough a straight furrow if we keep looking back. We need to keep the goal in view; we need to keep Jesus in view. We need to keep a forward view & not look back with a longing to be there. God's people looked back & desired those things they had left behind in Egypt (the things of the world), & I hope none here look back to want the things the world has - it's fashion, pleasures & treasures. Where are you looking? 'Looking unto Jesus’. There's safety there; it's going to help us keep on going & not turn­ back. We hear these days of some who have turned back. They have their eyes on something else that they think is cheaper & eas­ier. They're saying, ‘we are saved by grace, Jesus has done everything for us, there's nothing for us to do.’ We ARE saved by grace, 'but' - grace only moves us to obey. Jesus said that those who hear His words & don't do them are fools. We won't be saved without grace, that's for sure, but we won't be saved by grace - unless we obey & put our feet in the path the Master trod.

Lot's wife looked back, when they were told: 'Don't look back; flee as fast as you can'. But, she did what she was told not to do, & I that's like our human nature. Why did she look back to nothing attractive back there, where morals were so low. Maybe she had been feeding on them & became a pillar of salt, a monument to those who looked back.

It says ".... look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, & to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged." (Isaiah 51:1). It's sometimes good to look back to where we've come from & where we would be except for God's mercy - but to desire to be there, will have awful results - looking back. We have so much to go forward to. A hymn says, "one the earnest looking forward". I wonder if we have this earnest looking forward to His coming. This old world doesn't have much to hold us, does it? It's so evil these days & we repeat these words - "Come, Lord Jesus, come". We'd love to see Him come; we'd welcome His reign, because the world is so evil. It tells us in one place that Jesus' face was set as if He would go to another place; He had a definite purpose & aim & that's what we need too. We can read of those who had that aim, that purpose.

Daniel & his friends had that purpose that they wouldn't defile themselves. It was a definite purpose. They had quite an effect on those they came in contact with, even the king & I'm sure Daniel had a wonderful effect on God's people being given that opportunity to go back to Jerusalem, to restore the city there. Because of his definite purpose, God could use him in a wonderful way & he could say, "to whom, Lord, shall we go". Daniel wouldn't go even a day without being in contact with God. He would sooner face the lions’ den, than go 1 day without being in touch with God. He was a witness to those ungodly men & showed them there's no God like the God of Daniel. We can be like that too, & not defile ourselves.

People soon learn whether we'll come down to their level, or not. When younger, several of us were working for a man who would bring drinks around for the older ones, & then he'd say, "a lemonade for the boys". People soon learn whether we'll take a stand or not & we don't have to tell them every day that we don't drink. But, if you give in to them once, they'll be at you again/again & you'll make it harder for yourself. We need to show them that the God of heaven is our God & we're living for Him, not the approval of this world & the things the world goes in for.

Hebrews 10, near the end of the chapter: "Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while & he that shall come will come, & will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him". God has no pleasure in them who draw back, or keep back. Remember what happened to Ananias & Sapphira; it wasn't that they were keeping back their money, but they were deceitful. God takes no pleasure in those who draw back or hold back, because all these things will result in us going back & I'd like to have a more forward & upward vision. Many times God said, "Lift up your eyes". It's easy to get taken up with things that are around us; but if we look to Jesus, we'll prove that there's nowhere else to go. "Thou hast the words of eternal life". "Thou art the Christ". I'm sure that as time went on, Peter's assurance grew, because he had been so definite that he was not going back, even though others did. Maybe we'd see others turn aside & lose their faith, but Jesus is our all & we will find everything in Him.

I hope that we will put our best into this Way & press on.