Doing God's Work God's Way

John 2:24: "But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men."

"God's Work, done in God's Way will never lack for God's Supply."
This famous phrase was the motto of James Hudson Taylor, the founder of the China Inland Mission.

In a sense, the phrase is so self evidently true that it is hard to argue with.
Quite simply, God is sovereign and He will do whatever is required to achieve His purposes.
The way in which the China Inland Mission grew and developed during Hudson Taylor's lifetime provides
a vivid, demonstration of why he so firmly believed this motto.

There are times throughout our lives that we need to take a sober re-evaluation of those standards
of commitment which are prevalent today, and which are used for Christian dedication.

"I Did It My Way" may be a great title for a song, or a book, but it's not the way to live,
if we want to know the fullness of life that Jesus wants us to have.
Our desire as Christians ought always to be, "I did it the way God wanted me to do it."

True commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ gives Him "right of way."
True commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ releases His Life through you and all the freshness
and power of divine action, so that according to His gracious promise,
out of your innermost being "springs and rivers of living water may flow continuously."
(John 7:38, Amplified New Testament)

Remember, you do not have to push a river.
It cuts its own channel, and cleanses as it flows.

We need to remember the situation that the Lord Jesus Christ had when He entered Jerusalem
at the Feast of the Passover, and how He received a tumultuous welcome to Jerusalem.
Matthew 21:9: "Hosanna to the son of David!" They cried.
"Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest."

The disciples were probably filled with excitement, and highly delighted that their Master
should receive such a tremendous ovation – yet maybe, there were some among them who had their misgivings.
If only He could be prevailed upon not to say the wrong thing!
If only they could persuade Him just this once, not to do anything that would spoil it all.

But He did it again!

What a heart-break, Christ would be today to some well-meaning, "promotional committee"
or to some "business manager"!
It seemed that He always did the wrong thing or said the wrong thing, just as He was on the crest of the wave,
and at the height of His popularity.
To others, He never seemed to understand what was in His own best interests!

Amidst all this popular acclaim, the Lord Jesus Christ went straight to the temple and found
"… those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:
And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple,
and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables;
And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence;
make not my Father's house an house of merchandise
." (John 2:14-16)

Had He been prepared to accept "religion" as He found it, and recognize the "status quo,"
no doubt the Lord Jesus Christ might well have found acceptance, even among the Pharisees.
But He was a troublemaker!
He dared to cleanse the temple!

Christ did not come to be "accepted," nor was He "looking for a job" in contemporary religion.
He came to cleanse the temple – and to do a bigger job than just to cleanse the temple in Jerusalem.
He had come to cleanse the temples of man's hearts, that they might be fit to be
"an habitation of God through the Spirit." (Ephesians 2:22)

Challenged to declare by what authority He presume to disapprove, and by what authority
He was prepared to translate His disapproval into action, the Lord Jesus Christ gave this answer:
"Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. – But this spake he of the temple of his body."
(John 2:19, 21)

Christ's death and resurrection were to be His mandate, and commitment to Christ for anything less
than to be cleansed from sin and inhabited by God, misses the whole point of the cross!
He will accept nothing less!

"Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name,
when they saw the miracles which he did.
But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men,
and needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man
." (John 2: 23-25)

Although the crowd appeared to have committed themselves to Christ,
the quality of their commitment was such that He was not prepared to commit Himself to them!

What is the quality of your commitment to Christ?

You may be accepted in the membership by the "church," and approved by your friends and entrusted
with a responsible church office, but of what possible value can these things be,
if your commitment to Christ is such that He is not willing to commit Himself to you?
The value of your commitment to Christ will only be the measure of His commitment to you!

The Lord Jesus Christ is the Truth, and as in all other things "that pertain, unto life in godliness" (2 Peter 1:3),
He is the Truth about true commitment.

He was committed to the Father for all that to which the Father was committed in the Son,
and He was supremely confident that the Father who dwelt in Him, was gloriously adequate
for all that to which He was committed.
We know also that the Saviour's commitment to His Father was such that the Father
was completely committed to His Son!

The Lord Jesus Christ refused to be committed to the parochial needs of His own day and generation.
He was not committed to the political situation in Palestine, or to the emancipation of the Jewish nation
from the yoke of the Romans.
He was not committed to the pressing social problems of His time, nor to one faction as opposed to another,
anymore than today that He is committed to the West against the East,
or to the Republicans against the Democrats.
Christ was not even committed to the needs of of perishing world.
He was neither unmindful or unmoved by all these issues,
but as Perfect Man He was committed to His Father,
and for that only to which His Father was committed in Him – exclusively!

"Then said Jesus unto them.
When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he,
and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father have taught me, I speak these things.
And he that sent me is with me: The Father had not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him
."
(John 8:28, 29)

The basis of His commitment to the Father is the basis upon which the Lord Jesus Christ claims
our commitment to Him.
We are committed to Him for all that to which He is committed in you – exclusively!

You are not committed to a church, or to a denomination, or to an organization;
as a missionary you are not committed to a Mission Board nor even to a "field,"
and least of all are you committed to a "need"!

You are committed to Christ!
And for all that to which Christ is committed in you, and again I say – exclusively!
Jesus Christ is our example of doing things God's way!

Some people live in a manner in which they do things their own, and the only time
they even consider God is during a tragedy or an emergency.

Years ago I read the story of a farmer who had three sons: Jim, John, and Sam.
No one in the family ever attended church or had time for God.
The pastor and the others in the church tried for years to interest the family
in the things of God to no avail.

Then one day, Sam was bitten by a rattlesnake.
The doctor was called, and he did all he could to help Sam, but the outlook for Sam's recovery
was very dim indeed.

The three men decided now would be good time to call in the minister to pray.
The pastor was a man who did not mind speaking the truth.
He came and laid hands on Sam and began to pray,
" Lord we thank you that in your wisdom, you sent a rattlesnake to bite Sam.
He has never been inside the church, and it is unlikely that He ever prayed
or acknowledged your claim on His life.

We pray that this experience will be a valuable lesson to him and lead him to genuine repentance.
And now, oh God, will You please send another rattlesnake to bite Jim and John,
and another really big one to bite the old man.
For years we have done everything we know how to get them to turn to You, but it all failed.

It seems that what our combined efforts could not do, this rattlesnake has done.
So Lord, keep sending this family bigger and better rattle snakes
. Amen. "

There is a lot of Jim, John, Sam and old man in us.
We do not even consider doing things God's way, until some rattlesnake comes,
and gives us a good bite and we can't handle it by ourselves.

The Bible says, there is a way that seems right to a person.
Just because it seems right, doesn't mean it's okay.

God told Moses to speak to the rock and water would come out.
It seemed all right to Moses to strike the rock and water came out.
But God told Him, "Because of that Moses, you will never enter the promised land."

God told King Saul, to wait for Samuel to offer the sacrifice on the altar.
It seemed all right to the King to offer the sacrifice himself, since Samuel was late.

So, he offered it.
But God told him, "I have now rejected you from being King over my people."

Many people seem to say, "I will serve God in my own way."
There is a way that seems right, but the Bible says at the end of every way is death.

What seems right to us is not going to count for much.
The question is -- what is it that God requires of us?

Moses mistook the "need": for the "call," and moved with compassion to murder an Egyptian
in defense of his brethren, and became useless to God and man for 40 years.
He lived in the backside of the desert, herding a handful of sheep!

Abraham committed himself to the will of God, instead of to God, whose will it was,
and in his misguided ,zeal tried to do God's work, man's way!
He felt that it was up to him and to Sarai to help God out of His predicament,
for Sarai was old and had never borne a child – she was barren – so they had a committee meeting.

After all, God had said that Abraham was to have a son, and if this was God's will,
and he was committed to God's will – he must have a son at any price.

It was a heavy price that Abraham paid as Hager, Sarai's maid, was summoned,
and ill-begotten Ishmael was born and become the father of the Arabs!
The Jews in Palestine today surrounded by hostile Arab nations reap the bitter harvest
of what was sown in Abraham's self-effort, those many centuries before.
Ishmael was the bi-product of a false commitment; conceived in sincerity.
He was the devil's reasonable alternative to faith!

When Isaac was born in God's perfect timing, 15 years later, Ishmael mocked him
– and he has been mocking him ever since!
"… as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now."
(Galatians 4:29)
"O that Ishmael might live before thee!" (Genesis 17:18) is still the cry of those
who in our own day is a generation that has yet to learn that
"… The son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the free woman." (Galatians 4: 30)

This is saying that there is absolutely no substitute as far as God is concerned,
for God's work done God's way!

When God tested Abraham, and told him to offer up Isaac for a burnt offering, He said,
"Take now thy son, thine only son, whom God lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah" (Genesis 22:2),
and Abraham might have argued with God and said, "But I have two sons!
What about Ishmael? Isaac is not my only son
!"

Then God would have replied, "So far as I am concerned, only Isaac is your son.
I do not recognize Ishmael – he should never have been born
!"

The church of Jesus Christ today is plagued with Ishmaels clamoring to be recognized
– but God will only honor Isaac, and Isaac's Greater Son!
Nothing infuriates the "flesh" more than failure to be recognized – and preaching that exposes it
for the wicked counterfeit it is inevitably the object of its venom and its wrath!

"Too subjective! Unrealistic! Other-worldly! Over-simplified! Mere passivity! Pantheistic mysticism!"
These are some of the epithets with which "Ishmael" still mocks "Isaac";
with which the "flesh" resists the Spirit!

At God's command, Abraham took Isaac, bound him, laid him on the altar he had built,
and took his knife to slay him, and with actions far more eloquent than words, said to God what he did,
"You promised me Isaac! I did not see how You could do it,
and in my unbelief and in my folly, I produced my Ishmael!
I committed myself to Your will, and thought I was more competent than God.
Now You tell me to slay him, my only son Isaac, in whom You have promised
that all the families of the earth shall be blessed!

O God, if I slay him, I do not see how You can do it – but now I am committed to You – exclusively,
and to all that for which You are committed in me!
If slay him I must, then slay him I will – even if You have to raise him from the dead
!"
(Hebrews 11:17-19)

And in so many words God said to Abraham, "Thank you, Abraham!
That is all I wanted to know – now you can throw your knife away
!"

"Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him:
for now I know that thou fearest God.
By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing,
and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:
That in blessing, I will bless thee, and in multiplying, I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven,
and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;
because thou hast obeyed my voice."
(Genesis 22:12, 16-18)

Abraham had learned the secret of true commitment, and became "the Friend of God." (James 2:23)
This is reality – and this is discipleship!

It is commiting all that you are – nothing, to all that He is – everything,
you are committed to the Lord Jesus Christ exclusively, for all that to which He is committed in you;
and you may be supremely confident that He who dwells in you as the Father dwelt in Him,
is gloriously adequate for all that to which He is committed.

Are you prepared for this to be the quality of your commitment to Christ!
If so, then every lesser issue has been comprehended in the greater.
It is now no longer necessary for me to ask you whether you are prepared to go the mission field!
It is no longer necessary for me to ask you whether you are prepared to put your bank account
at Christ's disposal, or your time, or your home, or face you with any other issue I can think of!

You would say to me at once, "These issues now have all been settled – finally, once and for all!
If Christ is committed in me to go to the mission field, I am already committed to Him for this.
If He is committed in me to use the very last dollar I possess, and every other dollar I shall ever earn,
I am already committed to Him for this, and for everything and anything else
to which He may be committed in me!

There are no more issues for me to face – only His instructions to obey.
I also know that for HIS will, I have all that He is … And this is all I need to know
!"

Indeed it is! … For you cannot have more!
And you need never have less.

"You have longed for sweet peace,
And for faith to increase,
And have earnestly, fervently prayed;
But you cannot have rest,
Or be perfectly blest,
Until all on the altar is laid.

Refrain:
Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid?
Your heart does the Spirit control?
You can only be blest,
And have peace and sweet rest,
As you yield Him your body and soul.

Would you walk with the Lord,
In the light of His word,
And have peace and contentment alway?
You must do His sweet will,
To be free from all ill,
On the altar your all you must lay.

Oh, we never can know
What the Lord will bestow
Of the blessings for which we have prayed,
Till our body and soul
He doth fully control,
And our all on the altar is laid.

Who can tell all the love
He will send from above,
And how happy our hearts will be made;
Of the fellowship sweet
We shall share at His feet,
When our all on the altar is laid."
-- Elisha A. Hoffman


Sermon adapted from several sources by Dr. Harold L. White