“Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines.
For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace.”
“But the God of all grace, who hath called us
unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus,
after that ye have suffered a while,
make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”
The Lord showed us through Sister Sandy a few years ago that man’s thinking is backwards, and the Lord reminded me recently of just how backwards man’s thinking is. Not long ago, the saints who gather here had the opportunity to interact with a large number of other saints, and non-believers as well. Among those whom we met was a pastor named James. After he had gotten to know the people here, he made the comment to someone that he wished he could get his congregation to the place where we are. Brother James meant this sincerely, and we all pray for him as he continues to try to do good for the souls over whom God has appointed him. But as I thought on his comment, the Lord showed me how backward from the mind of Christ that kind of thinking really is.
The truth is that we, as a body of believers, have not “gotten anywhere” since we got into Christ. That is what makes God’s obedient children seem to be so different. The truth is that when we were brought into the family of God by the Spirit, we just didn’t go anywhere else. People in this world are always trying “to get somewhere”. But Paul said, “As you have received the Lord Jesus, so walk ye in him.” In other words, just live in the Spirit once you have received it. Don’t go anywhere.
People who backslide from Christ are always those who “go somewhere” after they have entered into the kingdom of God. Mentally, they go somewhere without Christ leading; spiritually, they get carried off with some “wind of doctrine”, either “doctrines of demons” or some “good idea” of men. Jesus said, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you” (Jn. 15:7). In other words, don’t worry about “getting somewhere” once you are in Christ. Just abide in him. Once you get there, just abide in him. Don’t go anywhere. Let him travel. If you’re abiding in him, you’ll go with him. He’ll take you wherever he wants you to go. But don’t you go anywhere.
As your pastor, I’m not trying to get you anywhere. I’m trying to teach you to “be still and know that He is God”; I’m trying to teach you to be “content with godliness” and rest in Christ. Abide in Him! That’s where the joy is; that’s where the peace is; that’s where the truth is; that’s where the light is; that’s where salvation is and will be. Let’s don’t go anywhere.
Now, if you get to where you really are satisfied with God and don’t want to go anywhere, and will not go anywhere, regardless of the attitude of those around you, then you are what the Bible calls “established” and “rooted”. If you are rooted, you’re not going anywhere. Winds can blow, rains can come, and you will stay right there and abide in him. That’s what the truth about Christ does for the soul. It gets you to where you don’t go anywhere. As a matter of fact, you get so full of truth, there is nowhere to go.
So, what our dear Brother James was really wanting for the sheep of God was to get them content with the life that God first gave them when He brought them into His kingdom, and to help them abandon the false doctrines and the Christian ceremonies which moved them from the “simplicity which is in Christ.” It is my obligation to exhort you not to be beguiled by and attracted to vain imaginations and vain dreams of “getting somewhere”, and to help you get rooted in Christ so that you are not moved by any earthly thing away from the will of God.
Near the end of his life, Paul said that in every city through which he passed on his way to Jerusalem, the Spirit prophesied through various believers of great persecution that was awaiting him when he reached the holy city. “But,” he said, “none of these things move me.” Paul wasn’t going anywhere. He was being carried by Jesus wherever he went, and that’s where we want to be. That’s being “rooted and grounded” when we, of ourselves, don’t go anywhere, and Jesus does all the traveling. That’s being “led by the Spirit”. You are not being led by the Spirit unless you are carried by the Spirit in every situation you face. That’s the only way the Spirit leads. It moves and you are carried to wherever you go. You don’t go anywhere.
We here are not trying to get anywhere. We’ve already been taken by Christ to where we want to be. Paul said we are “complete in him”, and spiritual growth is nothing more than growing in the knowledge of how complete we are, once we are in him. Christ has taught us simply to live, and to resist the winds that blow through the vineyard of God, the fads and fashions that come and go, the styles and spiritual traditions that have started and that move people away from Christ.
It’s been that way from the beginning. In the 1960's and 70's, the “charismatic movement” came and went. Some of us were young in the Lord, but we watched the whole thing and were not carried off by it because we were instructed by those who were established and had no desire “to get somewhere”. They were simply happy in Jesus. And, if you are really happy in Jesus, where is there that you want to go? What is there that you want to become, other than what he has made you? Walking in the light with Jesus is like one of the poets said: “Trailing clouds of glory do we come from God, who is our home.” If you come from God, you’re in God. And when you come from God, you haven’t gone anywhere. You’re still in Him.
“There was a man sent from God whose name was John.” This John the Baptist was from God and in God. When he came preaching to Israel, he had gone nowhere from God because God sent him and God was with him. If you’re sent from Him, you’re in Him. And He’s right there. He’s carried you to wherever you are. And, He has carried us to where we are. And, until He moves again, we’re going to sit right here. I don’t have any ambition. No ambitions. No dreams of the future. Right now is pleasant enough. Jesus is good enough. What he really does is better than anything I’ve ever dreamed, anyway.
I had an incredible dream several years ago. I was in a battle, on the main line, and the enemy had come against us. Somehow, we ended up in hand- to- hand combat, and an enemy soldier had me on the ground and was choking me to death. I was struggling against him with all my strength, and then, I opened my eyes – and it was Jesus! I realized immediately that my real struggle was not against him but against my own fleshly will. I knew that if I wanted to live forever, I would have to force my body not to resist Jesus in his attempt to kill me; that is, to kill my old sinful nature. Jesus wasn’t really my enemy. He was trying to put my real enemy to death, the evil nature that is in my flesh. He was trying to get me out of the way, so that he could give me his kind of life!
The men in the New Testament who began to teach that the Spirit did not confess when Christ came into the flesh were described by John. And do you know what John said about them? He said that they went somewhere. He said, “They went out from us.” Those men “got somewhere” in this world, and in time, they persuaded almost all of God’s children in the world to go somewhere with them. But when they did, they left Christ behind and invented a religion of their own, the abomination called “Christianity”.
One of the biggest criticisms my father ever got concerning me was that he was keeping me from “getting somewhere.” People would tell him all the time, “You’re ruining John. He could have a great career as a pastor somewhere. He could get somewhere.” But they did not understand that I already was somewhere because I was in Christ. They did not esteem where Christ had put them enough to realize that they were somewhere too, somewhere good, and holy, and eternal. My father taught me and the rest of his flock to be content with godliness, to live in the Spirit, and to wait on God. Why would I want to go somewhere else? What was wrong with what God had done? What was incomplete about the work of Christ in me? There was already so much spiritual food being given to me that I could not eat it all. All I had to do was to eat, and grow in Christ, and be satisfied. What Christ was giving me would satisfy my soul completely if only I ate enough of it. When you stop eating is when you get hungry. Then, you begin to feel discontent and you start wanting to “get somewhere”.
When John described the men who began to teach false doctrine among the saints, he not only said, “They went out from us”; he also said, “They were not of us, for if they had been of us, they would have stayed with us.” In other words, those men would have stayed where John stayed spiritually. They would have stayed where he was in Christ. They would have continued to walk in peace with John and the other apostles in the Spirit. This whole world is pushing you to “get somewhere”, to “be somebody”, because the whole world is miserable. And it is miserable because it refuses to eat the spiritual food Jesus is offering. Many of God’s saints are swept up in that ungodly attitude. The whole world lies in wickedness and is dissatisfied, but Jesus will satisfy you. He will satisfy your soul if you will only open your mouth and eat the spiritual food he is offering you.
Let’s stay where Christ has put us. Let’s blossom in the place where he has planted us. Let’s be content and thankful and grow in the knowledge of who and where we are. If we do that, we will not succumb to the pressure of the flesh to strive to “get somewhere” and “be somebody” because we will realize that who and where we already are in Christ is all we will ever need.