Sproulie Denio - Fighting the Battle to the Last - Dumaresq, New South Wales, Australia Convention - 1961

Acts 24:14, “But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets.”  Paul was speaking before the governor, a great ruler. Verse 16 says, “Herein do I exercise myself to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.” There is nothing more important to God’s people than having a conscience void of offence, not only toward God, but also toward man.


“Herein do I exercise myself...” How do you exercise yourself? Perhaps in things we ought not to do. Psalm 131, “My heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty; neither do I exercise myself in great matters or in things too high for me.” I have got into trouble many times because I have exercised myself in things I ought not to have done. What is this conscience? It is something very important. We were speaking yesterday about those who gave up having a good conscience. If ever we, as God’s people, lose a good conscience, it won’t be long till we have lost our hold on the truth of God. A good conscience means God is able to restrain us when no eye sees. We can all sit down and read our Bibles and God can speak to us, in meetings like this, in the place of prayer, when we visit with each other, in different ways, but there are times when we don’t have our Bible, don’t have the privilege of the fellowship of God’s people, when we stand alone and no eye sees but the eye of God. It is then that a good conscience can restrain you and me from doing the wrong thing.


Restraining power is just as important as motive power. There has been much in these meetings like motive power that will enable us to go forward and do the things we have been talking about, but restraining power is important, too, and our good conscience is that restraining power. Don’t ever lose it, throw it away, or give it up. It may be the thing that will save your life some day when you stand alone and nobody can see. Every young person in this meeting must have experienced that when out alone with friends of the world; you could have done something that was wrong, but your conscience would not let you. We read about men whose conscience has been seared as with a hot iron. God can no more appeal to their hearts.


The Indians defined a good conscience. They said a conscience was something in a man’s heart like a little square box with sharp corners and when they did wrong the box, began to turn and give pain. If he kept doing wrong, the corners wore smooth and it no longer gave pain. This could be loud case when we don’t obey when God speaks.


Continue in prayer, walk in wisdom, let your speech be always with grace seasoned with salt are the three parts of your service and they come in God’s order: prayer, walking, and talking last. If we want to walk wisely before the world and our brethren, we must be faithful in the secret place. It is easy to be faithful and true here, but to be faithful when no eye sees but the eye of God, that is being faithful.


Romans 1:14, “I am a debtor both to the Greeks and to the Barbarians, both to the unwise and to the wise.” Paul speaks now as the servant of God. “I am a debtor to all men.” Everyone in this meeting is glad that there was someone who felt a great debt upon their soul for you, and they were willing to leave home, friends and families and country, and come to your shores as young man and women, not knowing what lay before them. It was all done because they felt that great burden of debt upon their hearts.


Have you ever felt that debt upon your heart? Have you ever felt you owe the perishing world a debt? You would if you could see the teeming millions and the hopelessness that is written on their faces and the hunger that is in their hearts. I was asked, “Is it possible to love these people in Korea?” I could love those people just as much as I would love my own people. There has never been a time when the world needs you more than today. People are hungry for the bread of God and there is nobody to tell them. There is a young girl in Korea, about nineteen years old who said to me, “We people of Korea are hungry not for bread, but for the word of God.” Have your parents ever prayed, “Thrust out labourers to the harvest,” and are you willing for your own children to go? The harvest is white and the labourers are few. There is a tendency in all of us to say, “There is plenty of time,” but souls are perishing and we owe them a debt.


Philippians 1:20-21, “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” That is part of Paul’s own personal testimony. These verses stirred my heart. What is life to you? To some people to live is their bank account, to some it is their family, to some their business or their automobile, but to this man, to live was Christ. May we all be able to say this from the depths of our heart.


Sometimes we are all a little bit ashamed of Christ. Paul wanted to manifest this Christ unto the world. How can I manifest Christ to the world? There is only one way to do it. “Always bearing about in my body the dying of the Lord Jesus that the life also of Jesus might be revealed in our body.” We all have a desire to manifest Christ to our friends, neighbours, and business associates. There is only one way to do it and that way is to die. The way of life has always been the way of death. There is no other way. There are no shortcuts to usefulness. Death is the only door. The way of Christ from the beginning has been the way of death.


“I beseech you by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” The reason there are so many different religions in the world today is that men have been trying to make an easy way. Have you been guilty of trying to find and easy way? From the day I took my stand as a boy of eleven, I signed my death warrant. I had been in cubs and the scouts. My mother protested but I got my own way. We had good times together with nothing wrong, just good clean fun. Then I said, “Mother, do you suppose I could continue being a scout and be a Christian?” She said, “You will have to decide that for yourself.”


Next there was a ball game on the Sunday and I thought, “I cannot go because I have professed to be a Christian.” The next Sunday there was a picnic and the following Sunday something else and I very soon began to see this little thing was going to hinder my fellowship with God and I gave it up. I began to to see this is an awful debt. Keep yourselves upon the altar. Adam and Eve tried to make a way for themselves without death, but God was not satisfied with that, and God made them garments of skins, and a little animal had to die.


What was it that caused those boys Cain and Abel to think about God when they reached the age of maturity? It was something Adam and Eve had put into their hearts. They had learned the great lesson that God had taught them, and they were passing it on. Are you parents teaching your children to sacrifice? This child is only given to you for a little while. You are entrusted its care. How will you stand before God, and how will the little one stand before God later on? Cain brought of the fruits of the field, not even the firstfruits, and offered it before God. It may have been a beautiful sacrifice to look upon and we would say, “God will surely accept it.” And then we see the little lamb, skinned and put upon that altar and we turn away with disgust and horror, but as God looks down, He turns His face away from the sacrifice of Cain, showing to the world from the beginning, His way was the way of death.

Cain was trying to find an easier way. I think most of us have been guilty of that. May we each one be willing to bind our sacrifice to the altar and keep it there till it is consumed. Your body, not your money, automobile, farm, but your body. Many people are willing to give their dollars, time and talent almost anything, but the one thing God wants most is their lives. Revelation 6:9, “And when he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held.” Why had they been slain? Because their sacrifice had been bound to the altar and kept there till there was nothing left but the ashes.


Abraham offered a sacrifice and the birds of prey came down upon that sacrifice to take it away. There are birds of prey that would rob you of your sacrifice: worldliness, selfishness, pride, covetousness. I pray everyone will be like Abraham, that we will guard that sacrifice until the going down of the sun, that the sacrifice might be all consumed. Jesus taught that unless man was willing to be the corn of wheat, he could never show Jesus to others. That was when the Greeks came seeking Jesus. There are many in the world who long to see the Lord. There Jesus taught them that one lesson how Christ could be revealed to a perishing world. There is no other way to reveal Jesus to the world but by dying, just like a corn of wheat.


Philippians 3:13-14, “Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Have we been guilty of looking back, thinking about your wrongs and failures and faults I have made? But I am leaving that now to be covered by the blood of Jesus. The present is also covered by the blood of Jesus and the future is covered by the promises of Christ. The past is all over and done. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God. Lot’s wife looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt, a monument of failure.


In II Timothy 1:11-12, this old man Paul had come to the end of his life and he was able to speak with such assurance, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” There is nothing like the hope God gives to the hearts if man. Thirty years before this, this man fell on his face and said, “Who art Thou, Lord?” He did not know Him. Now at the end of his days, what a wonderful testimony. To hear the testimonies of the aged amongst us, with not many years to live, has warmed my heart. An infidel continued to maintain there was no God and at the end of his days, he was asked, “What do you think now?” He said, “I do not know what the future holds.” What a terrible thing to come to the end of life and have to say, “I do not know.” Paul could say, “For we know that when our earthly house of this tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building ... eternal in the heavens.” God grant that every one of us could face the valley’s gloom with that assurance.


II Timothy 4:6-9, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness ... at His appearing.” That is a wonderful climax to a wonderful testimony. That day is coming to all of us very soon, the time when the final part of our sacrifice is poured out. Can we say what Paul did?


This did not mean Paul had won every battle. He went down in battle just as we do, because he was just as human as we are, but he continued to rise again and fight. You remember when the Japanese were nearing your shore and those brave men were standing between them and you, you would pick up the papers and often read of them going down to defeat, but they rose and fought on until finally they won the last battle. The loss of a battle does not mean the loss of a war. It is winning the last battle that means winning the war. I hope we will keep fighting on and finish our course as this man did.