Willie Hughes - Things That Could Be Lacking - Sydney - 1940

I feel tonight that our brother John (Hardie) has done all that is possible to make us at home in this meeting. We thank him for his kind words.

I wonder how many of you remember the first time I preached to you in New South Wales. I am quite sure that none of you do. I think I preached in New South Wales before John Hardie. It was at Riley’s corner on George Street, Sydney, and we had four meetings in succession on our way to the New Zealand Convention. There we met John and later we went to Melbourne. We had not one single friend in either of these States. We were not afraid of anything that was ahead of us in those days. John mentioned Percy preaching in South Australia and Queensland but he forgot that Percy’s first mission was in New South Wales with me in Broken Hill. So Percy had his beginning in New South Wales.

I thought we might confidently speak a little about the Gospel of Matthew. The Gospel of Matthew is often spoken of as the Gospel of the Kingdom, and there are a great number of parables spoken about the Kingdom. There are eight things to which the Kingdom is likened. Some of the twelve disciples heard the Gospel first from the lips of John the Baptist. Matthew put his whole time into that for which he made his choice. Perhaps it was because he had let religion go to a large extent, and that he now rejoiced in seeing how the Scriptures were being fulfilled in Christ. Look that up sometime, how Matthew says a certain thing happened that the Scriptures might be fulfilled. It must have been comforting to Matthew to notice that the Scriptures were fulfilled in Christ from His birth right through to the time that they looked on Him whom they had pierced. It is full of judgement scenes. Matthew gives us a great deal to show us what the Judgement day is going to be like.

Now the first place I noticed is in Matthew 7. It reads like this, “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of Mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of Mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.” So we can see what it is that will cause our foundation to stand and what will cause our foundation to be swept away. We don’t want to be those who have no foundation. I believe there is a great danger among us to have a kind of satisfaction in our hearts that can be distasteful. We have heard the true Gospel, heard the true Servants, that we are in the true fellowship and meet in the true way, and therefore what danger have we of ending wrong? The Lord shows us that these people, after hearing the words of God, had to be doers of the word of God. The things that He spoke to them of, we might look upon them as material for the foundation.

Material for the building is what He talks about in the 5th, 6th, and 7th chapters. I did not realise that He said, “... these sayings of Mine...” How many of us have set ourselves to be doers of the sayings of the sermon on the mount? The 5th chapter has so much material – material for a good foundation. “Blessed are the poor in spirit...” That is a real sense of need in our hearts. “Blessed are they that mourn.” We have to be mourners with not too much lightness, of not taking the matter lightly, but taking it seriously. There is a great deal to mourn about in connection with the Kingdom of God.

Then He spoke about the necessity of being meek. This would not prevent us from being ambitious towards the Kingdom. He speaks of hungering and thirsting after righteousness. Is that spirit in us? “Blessed are the merciful...” This touches our spirit towards one another. “Blessed are the pure in heart...” That must be there if we are building. “Blessed are the peacemakers...” Our whole attitude is that of making peace. “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake.” There could be a tendency in us to try and be true to our testimony and yet avoid suffering of any kind. “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake.”

Let us be honest with ourselves and try and search our hearts and see if we are keeping these sayings of Christ and doing them, or are we trying to get through and escape persecution. What is our approach, the things we talk about, before the world? What are our business methods, or the way we dress in the world? These could be a way of escaping persecution. “Ye are the salt of the earth; ye are the light of the world.” “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.”

We could have the attitude that certain things don’t matter very much. John in his epistle said, “Love not the world neither the things that are in the world.” We might say that is just one of the things which the preachers are always harping on. “Whosoever shall break one of these least commandments, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.” Then it speaks of our attitude toward our brethren, that we could develop a wrong spirit towards them. It speaks of our attitude towards our sisters. We could begin to sin in our minds. Then it says, “Let your communication be yea, yea: and nay, nay.” If we cannot establish a reputation like that, that what we say we mean, we cannot establish a good foundation.

In Matthew 6 it tells us how to give alms and how to fast and how to pray. He goes into a great many more things. He says don’t have the attitude of getting treasure on earth, but seek to lay up treasure in Heaven. We don’t want to get rich here, but rich up there. It speaks about having faith in the Lord that we will get our food and raiment. It is all right. It is built on the promise of God which is, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”

In the 7th chapter it speaks of the narrow way. Then it goes on to say, “Not every one that saith unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven.” Are we a people who are more or less satisfied because so many months or years ago we said, “Lord, Lord,” for the first time and we have called Him “Lord, Lord,” ever since? You want to learn these sayings by heart, and know what He taught on the sermon on the mount, and use them to put into the foundation. God wants us to look at the material we are putting into the foundation of God. Chapter 7 speaks of having no foundation.

Chapter 13 speaks of no root. It speaks about a mission and of people attending the mission and hearing the truth. There were four classes. One class received the word with a great deal of joy, yet they did not go on and the reason was they had no root. It is nice to meet with people who receive the word with joy. I don’t know why we shouldn’t receive the word with joy. How could it be otherwise? I know how it was with me. I had thought I was on the right road. I sat in a Gospel meeting and heard about the new life. I went home from the second meeting of the mission and I said, “I am on the road to a lost eternity.” I thought, “If I die tonight, I shall go to a lost eternity.”

As I went on I heard how I could receive eternal life. I heard of a way that was the Lord’s Way. Even to meet with preachers in the year 1940 who are going out to preach as the Lord went 1900 years ago, has brought wonderful joy to a great number of people. Jesus is the Pattern for preachers and saints alike. Jesus is the Pattern for everybody. Could anybody ever say that it is going to be an easy way to follow the footsteps of Him who began in a manger and finished on the cross?

Could that be an easy way? It so appealed to them that they received it with very great joy, so what was the trouble? They never saw that it was going to bring persecution and tribulation. Could it bring anything else to us when it brought us to the Lord? You see now how possible it would be for people to hear the Truth and be in God’s true Way and have no root in themselves. Afterwards, when tribulation arises, they are caused to stumble. They say, “I did not bargain for this. I am going to give it up.” They give up because there is no root. The thing that is going to save us from ending without any root in us is to get our eyes on Jesus, the Pattern, all the way through. These were reformed lives.

The stronger than the strong man had never entered in. The devil returned to find the dwelling empty, swept and garnished. “Then goeth he and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.” That would be a reformed life that never got the heavenly rest.

Then you remember in another chapter, the 21st, it speaks of no fruit. The thought in my mind was why did Jesus go from Bethany to Jerusalem in the early morning, hungering? Would you do it? Would Martha and Mary do it? In the morning, as He went towards Jerusalem, He was hungry. He saw a fig tree. This tree had leaves so it should have had fruit. This tree had life, professed to be a fruit-bearing tree. The Lord went to it and it had nothing on it but leaves. Jesus cursed it and it dried up from the root. There is enough to show us why that fig tree was fruitless.

Jesus went into Jerusalem and He used a whip of small cords to cleanse the temple. He did exactly what He had done three years before. In the 2nd chapter of John, He cleansed the temple and three years later He found the temple in the same condition or worse and He cleansed it again. He cleansed it in the first week of His Ministry and also in the last week. I wouldn’t be surprised if the disciples didn’t say, “Now we know why He cursed the fig tree.” That fig tree that had a great appearance of life but there was no fruit on it, had dried up from the root.

The next chapter speaks about no wedding garment. Jesus sent them forth to those who were already bidden. That message was for the Jews. Through them rejecting it and being unworthy, the Gentiles got their chance. “Go ye therefore into the highways and compel them to come in.” The servants were sent to them, and these were people who had no profession, no righteousness. They were very glad of the wedding garment. There was one man there who did not have a wedding garment. He was brought to the feast and sat at the feast and the king came in to see the guests, and there was one man there and the servants believed in him and passed him in. His fellow guests sat with him and had fellowship with him, and when the king came in he could not believe it. He said, “Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment?” The Lord will one day ask how you got in with a garment like that. That is your own righteousness. He thought it was so near the real thing that it would pass. It did not pass. Only the righteousness that the Lord gives us in Christ will see us through. The man without a wedding garment did not get in.

In the chapter 25 it speaks of no oil, no increase and no fellowship. The foolish said unto the wise, “Give us of your oil.”  I am a little afraid of people who have to depend upon others in the meetings, who have to be fed by others in the meeting. If we go to others for our oil we shall one day say, “Give us of your oil.” We must have the oil; we must have the Holy Spirit. We must have the life of Christ. We won’t get through by depending on others.

Some young people profess because their parents are in the Way. We are always glad to see them, but every young child starting in the Way of God has got to have the real thing. “Go to them that sell and buy for yourselves.” Pay the price yourself and you will get it. Do a little searching and ask yourself, “Have I the experience of sins forgiven? Have I the experience of receiving a new life?”

It was very real to me. After we surrender to Christ the devil often says you are no different from what you were yesterday, and so discourages us. The Lord said, “He that cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast him out.” The Lord has promised that He will do the receiving and I felt that the Lord had. That brought a good deal of joy because when I sat in the meeting I began to feel that I belonged to this. I found that the Bible was new to me, that prayer was new to me. Make sure that you have the oil in your own life. It is on that that I am depending to bring a little life to the world.

The next parable speaks about the talents. One received five, one received two and another received one talent. Each received different but the reward was the same. “Well done thou good and faithful servant.” In the parable of the pounds each received the same but the reward was different. We don’t all start with the same opportunities and ability. There are souls who love the Lord and who would love to have an open home, but they can’t do much. Their opportunities are very, very few. If we do our very best with the talents that God has given us, we are going to hear the very same words, “Thou hast been faithful...” We all get a level start but we don’t all make the same use of it. In the parable of the pounds, ten people each received one pound. Some wasted their opportunities. There was no increase. It takes 15 years at 15% compound interest to double your money. Don’t be discouraged as long as we have accomplished something.

No fellowship speaks of the sheep and the goats. We will be either one way or the other up there. It will be whether we are right or wrong. The sheep are sheep because of their attitude towards God’s servants, and the goats are goats because of their attitude towards God’s servants. In Matthew 25 it speaks of those whose attitude towards the shepherds God had sent was exactly the same as their attitude would have been towards Christ.

Some here may have their favourite preachers. I don’t know that it is possible to escape that, but we would be condemned if we treat any different to the others. If our treatment is different we will be condemned. Jesus thought a little more of John than of the others, but He did not treat the others any different to John. The sheep treat the very least of God’s servants as they would the others.

Matthew 25 speaks of servants who were unprovided for as regards food, drink, raiment, shelter and friends. All God’s servants go forth and as far as the future is concerned they are all like that. They are unprovided for. Look back to Matthew 10 and you see Jesus sending forth His disciples. He sent them forth unprovided for. Drink was not mentioned, but they were unprovided for as regards food, raiment, shelter, and friends. The Ministry has never changed, and the way of sending them has never changed.

I would not like any of us to go away with this impression that, “I may be a person with no foundation, or no root, or no fruit, or no wedding garment, or no oil, or no increase in my talents.” These portions which we have tried to put before you tonight not only show you the possibility of ending wrong, but the material for ending right. We can have the foundation if we build on the sayings of Christ, if we are not just carried away with the Truth as something we rejoice in. If we are prepared to take Christ as the Pattern in every sense, we would not be without root or fruit. The wedding garment will be the righteousness of Christ. We will make sure we have oil and we will use our talents to develop them, and we will value the fellowship of His people and His servants.