Tom Hinkle - Boring II, Oregon Convention - August 30, 2007

Hymn 79, "Hast Thou Ever Proved the Sweetness of the Saviour's Lowly Way?"

That hymn that we just sang is much more of a gospel hymn. The first verse of it is what has been on my mind for so long:

Hast thou ever proved the sweetness of the Saviour's lowly way?

Or has Satan kept thee burdened, drifting on from day to day?

Both of these sentences are questions, and it has appealed to me that that it is not just the Faith or the mind of someone who does not know the way of God. That can sometimes be the life of God's own people. I was thinking about it in this light, as a servant of God preaching the Gospel for 30 years now, actually I was in the downtown field here for four years, and in my hymn book, I kind of keep a record of the hymns that we sing in each meeting, a little chart thing. I happen to have all of the little pages, most are on the back of convention speaking lists and I added it up one time. In the four years in the downtown field, we had 180 gospel meetings (it felt like 1000) but still it was 180 gospel meetings and I know that I couldn't think of something different to speak in every one of them, not even close. I realised that an awful lot of preaching and teaching that I do as a servant of God, it is telling the things about Jesus. It is just teaching of what Jesus taught. Probably somewhat the same as some of you that go to college and learn to become teachers, then you go back out and you teach the same thing over and over again, year after year, because you know that it is true. You know that it is the acceptable manner of doing things. You are confident that it works, but how many times have we ever proved that the thing that we are teaching works.

I have had to ask myself that question, "Have I ever proved the sweetness of the Saviour's lowly way?" It is one thing to believe in the sweetness of the Saviour's lowly way, it is one thing to believe that it is true and that it is right and that it is of God. It is one thing to believe that. There are people out there in the world that believe that today, and they aren't here. It is one thing to even believe that it is the best for us but quite another to prove that it is the sweetest way. I didn't go to the dictionary but I asked myself, "What does it mean to prove something? How would you go about proving something?" Some people have asked me to prove that there is a God, and I have never yet been able to prove that to anybody except myself. I have proved it to myself. I have never been able to prove it to anybody else.

"Hast thou ever proved the sweetness of the Saviour's lowly way?" That is what I would like to prove. It is true that I believed it for years but I hadn't proved it. It is true that when we prove something, we prove it by doing it and seeing that it works. In one of the Psalms, I forget which one it is now, and I looked it up this morning even. It is the eighth verse of some Psalm and it says, "Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good." Taste and see; if you haven't tried that, you don't know it. Now there is a lot of food that I can look at and I can see, now that is going to be good, but really I haven’t proved it until I taste it.

Last convention, Cheryl mentioned something about our homework, doing our homework. We heard that quite often throughout the convention, and it really appealed to me because you know, convention in a sense is not really reality, is it? It is not life. It is for four days. I see some familiar faces here, so you probably were here the last four days also. So, maybe you have gotten two or three conventions. But that is not life. It is a little tiny part of our life. We don't come to convention and suddenly get made better people, better Christians or even made into Christians. We don't come to convention and, I won't say a transformation doesn't take place, because things do take place at convention, but it is living it out in the home life that proves everything that we heard at convention. I don't doubt that I am going to hear more at this convention than I will be able to prove this year. I might have used the wrong word there, I said, "Able to prove;" maybe I should have said I am willing to prove it. I'm just not sure of that yet. But in either case, I know that there is going to be lots of teaching, lots of admonition, lots of a correction; there is just going to be an awful lot here for my soul, for my life. What I really need to do is to do my homework and that is to prove to see that it works. It isn’t that I don't believe that it works. I haven't heard anything at convention yet, at least this year, that I haven't believed would work, but if I don't go and do it, then it is never going to be proven in my life that it works. Then more than that, to prove that God planned it to be the sweetest way, that it would be the thing that we would enjoy the most.

It seems strange that God would ever have to try to prove himself. We think about the universe that we live in and the earth that we live upon and look at it with any sort of thoughtfulness and it kind of tells us, at least it tells me and I think most of us, that there is a God. It tells us so much about our God even. I don't believe that nature is how God intended for us to be in fellowship with Him, but He did mean to speak to us by everything that is around us, and there is much that proves that there is a God to us. I have met many a person who doesn’t even believe that there is a God and they see all the same things that I see. They said, "Prove to me that there is a God," and I can't do that. I saw something recently when I was checking out this word prove in the Scripture. In the book of Acts, Luke writes, "The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after that He through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom He had chosen; to whom also He shewed Himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God." By many infallible proofs. Jesus, after He died on the cross and was put away into a grave, three days later arose from the dead and proved to His own by many infallible proofs that He was the Son of God, that He was alive, that He was the way of life, that He was the plan of God for their lives. He proved himself in so many, many ways.

You know, I was thinking about this and if I had been Jesus (it is a good thing that I wasn't) the first person that I would have appeared to would have been the high priest. I would have showed up at the Temple three days later and proved to them that they had made a big mistake. I noticed that in reading through this that Jesus never once appeared to a non-believer, as far as I can tell, in the Scripture, after His resurrection. He was not any more interested in proving to unbelievers that He was God's sent one than God is in proving to unbelievers that He is God. God has nothing to prove to unbelievers. Jesus had nothing to prove to those that put Him on the cross. But He loved to prove to His own disciples and apostles that they had made no mistake in the one that they believed in. He is very, very willing to prove to His own that they have made no mistake in the one whom we have trusted and believed in. A confirmation of proofs. What the world accepts as infallible proofs is nothing close to what God's people accept as infallible proofs. Probably one of the most common infallible proofs that we ever get as God's children is when He speaks to our own hearts. That is likely the kind of proof that we are going to receive at this convention and we will be reassured that we have made no mistake in whom we have trusted, in whom we have believed in, for our salvation and for the sweetness of the Saviour’s lowly way.

Romans 12, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." That ye may prove. We have the opportunity of proving everything that we hear at this convention. There is going to be a year laid out before us, maybe not a full year for everyone here, maybe not even that much of a year, but there is a life to follow after this convention and in that life we can prove everything that we have heard at convention. We can prove everything that is in the Scripture that we haven't heard at convention. Anything that we come upon of the word and will of God, it is our privilege of proving it.

We sing that hymn, "Hast thou ever proved the sweetness of the Saviour's lowly way?" To think that I have had 50 some years to prove the sweetness of the way of God, not that I have walked in it all that time, not even close, but I have had that much time on the earth and I could have used any of it that I wanted to, to prove the sweetness of the Saviour’s lowly way. So, how much of it am I dead certain of because I have proved it? Yes, I have learned it, learned a lot of it, but I want to prove it. Not that I am in any way interested in proving that God is wrong. He has made promises of the richness that we see in His word, why would anyone want to prove it wrong? We would all want to prove it right, wouldn’t we? If we go out and prove that God is right about everything that He has said, the way His Son lived and gave His life was the perfect will of God, because if we prove that, then we are going to have what He had. We are going to have the same feeling of sweetness about the Saviour’s lowly way. We are going to see it like He saw it; we are going to feel about it like He felt about it.

There is no one in the pages of the Scripture that couldn't say at the end of life that God's will is not perfect. This verse in Romans says, "That good and acceptable and perfect will of God." The apostle Paul, as a writer, seemed to use a lot of adjectives and adverbs. I always kind of wondered about him and the way he wrote. I know he didn't have any English teachers because he wrote in Greek. I just kind of wondered why do his sentences get so long and seemingly repetitious and here is one of them. He says, "Good and acceptable and perfect will of God." This is just in my mind, the way I was reading it lately, maybe he was writing along and he said good, then he thought, that is not strong enough. So he writes acceptable, no, that's still not strong enough. So, he wrote perfect. He couldn't raise it any more levels after that; then he put the will of God on the end of it. To prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. You know, we heard a definition, and I think it was at convention, about perfect. When something is perfect it cannot be made better. It can be made no better. I don’t doubt that that is the way that Paul was feeling when he wrote to the Romans. This Will of God, you couldn't make it any better. When you think of something that so drastically affects or lives and it couldn't be made better, why would I not be proving every single bit of it? Everything that I could prove of it, I would want to prove that it is true because it is only going to add to my life. It is only going to give me greater fellowship with the Lord. It is only going to give me a greater love for His way. It is going to increase everything that I want increased, that is all that it can do.

I know this, that everybody that has ever done the will of God has looked back on life, and everything that I did of God was the best and I should have done more of it. There is another side to this story. Hebrews 3:7, "Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith) 'To day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness, when your fathers tempted Me, proved Me, and saw My works forty years." They proved God in the wilderness. They very definitely did, His own people proved Him in the wilderness. What did they prove of God for 40 years in the wilderness? They proved that, if you were not willing for the Lord's way, you could just die and leave your carcass in the wilderness. That is what they proved. They proved that everything that God had ever said was true. They proved that God meant what He said. They proved that, when you are ungrateful, God will not fulfill His promises. They proved that, when you like your own way better than His, you can have it and regret it. They proved all kinds of negative things that didn't need to be proved because they weren't willing to prove the sweetness of the Saviour’s lowly way.

We have a year laid out ahead of us (hopefully, we do) to prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. I know that if I don't do this as my homework, I will prove the other.