Recorded at Glen Valley,
It was about the sixth hour and there was darkness over the earth until the ninth hour. The sun was darkened and the veil of the temple was rent in the in the midst. And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit; and having thus said, he gave up the ghost."
Same chapter that Shaun just gave about. I'm sure that all of us are aware tonight that, ah, this is the last convention in Canada. This is the last convention in British Columbia. This is the last meeting of our convention. This is the last hour of our convention. Almost half of the hour is gone. We only have about thirty minutes left of our conventions in Canada. Was mentioning it to somebody last night and they said, Well, you have the privilege of closing the door. I hope that none of us feel that just because we come to the close of a convention that the door is closed. The convention's opened to us a view that we've never had before and God has shown us the things that pertain to his kingdom, because the windows of heaven have been opened to us and we have been able to see Jesus again in all his beauty. If you folks are like I am, I just find it hard to [interpret?] the feeling in my own heart. But it - it's positive. I want to do this, I want to be this, I want to have that, I want to do this, and I'm grateful for this kind of inexpressible feeling that rises up in my own heart.
These are the last words that Jesus uttered this side of the grave, 'Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.' There's something very vital about the last words that people tell us before they enter into eternity. A few weeks ago Calvin and I had the privilege of going to a hospital. We visited a man who came to several of our meetings and little by little we saw that the spirit of God was changing that man's attitude and outlook. We'd like to tell you that he made an open confession of Christ, that he didn't, and we would just like to leave that in the hands of God. We came to the room that he was in and the poor man was on oxygen, and was panting for breath. And he - he motioned for me to come close to him and I thought he said these words, but I wasn't sure, so I got
close to his mouth and he said, 'Gordon, how are the Words of the Lord?' I was sho-, I was surprised at that man saying those words, 'How are the Words of the Lord?' And those were the last words that we heard that man utter this side of eternity. We had the privilege of having a little part in his service. We were glad to be able to tell those people that that man's heart was turned toward God. We took him out to the cemetery and after the little service, one of his relatives came to us and he said, 'I'm so surprised; I didn't know he was dabbling with the Lord.' 'Dabbling with the Lord!' Well, that's all it meant to that man. But when that man that afternoon, when he was panting for breath, he said, 'How is the Word of the Lord?:' it was - it was serious; it was serious.
There's something about this matter of death and the last part of life, and the life of Jesus and the last part of his life that's going to make all the difference in eternity for you and for me. In the example of Jesus, when he had finished the work that his Father had given him, he said, 'It is finished.' And the last words he uttered was, 'Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit. '
I wonder where our commitment is today. It's just so easy for us while we have health and strength and years on our side, and we're young and we're able and the future is great to us, that - well - maybe my commitment can be a little bit later, a little bit later. And, I've got so many plans and there's so much in the future. The old must die, but the young may die. One of the reasons why this little vital thought was so real to me was that one of the spirits that we faced a few months ago in our field: there's a particular person there that's come to the island. We appreciated their coming amongst us. We made arrangements for them to be at meetings. They missed meetings. They missed Gospel Meetings! We had a little visit with that particular person, and they said to us, 'We're just far too busy. We just have too many commitments with our work.' And he said [more than that?], 'I just don't have time for Wednesday night meeting either. ' And I must say that I just - I didn't have anything to say! 'I have too many other commitments,' he said, 'Never have time for Wednesday night meeting either.' So what do we say to a person who has made a choice like that? The next Sunday, one of our young Friends came to gospel meeting, and on his way out I shook his hand and I said, 'How do you have time to come to Gospel Meetings?' And he's up there getting courses in university and Wednesday night and Sunday morning, 'How do you have time to come to Wednesday night meetings?' And he looked me eye to eye and he said, 'Dedication.' That is all he said; he left with the rest of the Friends. But that was a wonderful expression of what that young man had in his heart. He had to face a course in university. He has lots of commitments as far as his education is concerned. But when it comes to Wednesday night meeting and Sunday morning meeting and the gospel meeting, he's there. Not because he has to be, but because of that simple little word that he said, 'Dedication.' That's where his commitment is, that's where his commitment is. And he's just a young man. He has lots of aspirations and lots of hopes and lots of plans for the future like everyone else has. But when it comes to this serious thing about the Bible, about eternal life and about death and the will of God, it's just one thing, and that's dedication.
I just appreciated thinking about a little verse that we read in - in the Acts of the Apostles. Do you remember about the time that ah Pau.... ah, Peter and John went up to the temple? They - they helped that ... that lame man? And ah they helped him to walk? And isn't it a strange thing that people didn't rejoice with them? But they wanted to find fault with these two men: Peter and John. And, ah, they thought they were unlearned and ignorant men. But they had to confess that these men had been with Jesus.
Twice this afternoon in prayer, ah, we heard that it would be wonderful if when we leave this convention, that people could see that we have been with Jesus. That's a wonderful thing. That there's something that is radiating from our lives. It's just like a - an influence that radiates from our lives that people see; we've been with Jesus. One of our older sisters; she's gone into eternity a number of years ago, Alice [Caulder?], when she came home to visit us a few years ago, she talked about a certain valley in Switzerland. And she said when people lived on - that people that lived on the other side of the valley and they came into the ... into the town, that they always knew what route they had taken. And she said when you went near those people you knew what valley they had come through; she said they came through the valley of roses because the smell of roses was on their clothes.
And wouldn't it be wonderful if when we leave this place this evening in just a few minutes, and wherever we go, whether it's to the work place or to school, or wherever it is, and just in the home life, if those who are near and dear to us, and those who don't know very much about us, they can see that we have been with Jesus?
Peter and John were - they were servants of God. They were preaching this wonderful gospel and some of us have the privilege of telling men and women about. And, ah, they weren't doing it because they had to; it wasn't because they were being paid for it, or because they had failed at business and they decided, well we better be preachers. There's something greater than that. And the reason that they were preaching this g ... glorious gospel was because God had called them into the ministry. And they were fully committed to the welfare of God's kingdom ... welfare of God's kingdom.
There are people - there are mothers and fathers who love their children and they love their bodies. They educate them. They clothe them. They feed them, and all these other things. But how many mothers and fathers love the souls of their children?
I told this story before, and if you old folks will forgive me, I'll tell it to you again. One of my relatives, an aunt of mine who we're grateful has passed into eternity and the last few years of her life were spent inside of God's kingdom, but for many years she - she idolized her children. She [informed?] them they were super children. She educated them very well. She dressed them well. They were talented children and they were just outstanding athletes. There wasn't anything they couldn't do. Their name was famous. They were in the headlines.
The oldest son [killed himself?]; second son, approached the army and advanced as he became an addict: drug addict. Got out of the army. Took to alcohol, and then life just became a ruin to him. And one day on his way home he stopped a certain place, and it wasn't for a Coke either. He came home and found his mother in the kitchen getting ready for supper, and he said to his mother, 'I'm going to kill you.' And of course his mother was absolutely in desperation. Here her son was holding a gun to her and said, 'I'm going to kill you.' And she said, 'Well, a-a-I educated you and, ah, I fed you and, ah, I did all these things for you; why do you want to do that?' Absolutely terrified. He couldn't speak very well because he had kind of a thick tongue, but he said, 'Yes, you educated us and you did all these things, but you didn't teach us about God.' 'You didn't tell us about God.'
It's a wonderful thing to see parents love their children to the extent where they - they care for their bodies. They're educating them; they're feeding them and they're dressing them, but O my, what's more important than the body is the soul side; it's the spirit. And that's what these two men, the servants of God were doing. They were out to help men and women and boys and girls to know the will of God for their own lives. They weren't just preaching this gospel and telling people now you do this and you do that, but the very life that they lived manifested that they were living with Jesus; that Jesus was with them. And they were doing the will of God.
Sometimes people think that what we're telling them is kind of far off; kind of off in left field and doesn't mean very much, and they can't quite understand it. And that's true, that's true. God's truth - when Jesus preached the gospel, he very often talked about - talked in parables. And he was kind of ah - kind of vague to people; talking about seed, and talking about making bread and ah - all these different things. And people would say, 'Well, what's that got to do with the price of tea in China, and (-) heaven?' They couldn't understand that, and they just listened and left. But there were some people who followed Jesus, and they said, "What does this mean anyway? What does this mean?" As much as to say, "Well, this story that you've been telling us and these words that you've been telling us, what connection is that with me, and salvation, and ... and creation and all these things? And then Jesus told them about these things.
In the second chapter of John's gospel, it tells about a - that Jesus went to a feast, and then he did some mir ... a miracle there. And people just said that they believed on him, but it says that Jesus did not commit himself to men because he knew what was in man. Wouldn't you think that at a time like that when Jesus had such a captivated a - audience, that he would tell them all the secrets of God's kingdom?; and allow them to make their choice; and they'd just all have eternal life? It would have been wonderful, but God's Way does not work like that. Words that years invented prove that's true. But God deals with us and speaks to us as individuals. And we enter God's kingdom as an individual. And we continue in God's kingdom as an individual. And I was going to tell you a little while ago, that if anyone is dedicated to the kingdom, and the leaders of God's kingdom, that's something that we must do ourselves. Nobody can dedicate my life for me, except myself. And the only way that - that I can commit myself into the hands of God, is when I do that myself. And that's the responsibility that God puts squarely on the shoulders of boys and girls and men and women who listen to this gospel.
God's kingdom - God's kingdom is a mystery, and God's kingdom is a secret - its a secret. Maybe some people will feel that God isn't really fair in hiding things like that, but God protects his kingdom - he protects his kingdom. And he only wants a certain class of people in his kingdom. If we're willing to become what God wants us to become, then we have a part in this wonderful kingdom of God. Do you remember one time that Jesus, when he prayed to his Father? He said, 'I thank thee Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and the prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes, for so it seemed good in thy sight. ' And that's the - that's the way that God planned it. And Jesus thanked his Father for doing this - for doing this!
That's why in every country, and every land, every race, from the beginning of time until the end of time, there's only going to be one class of people in the family of God. It's going to be men and women and boys and girls who in their heart become like a child.
I shouldn't tell this story on this poor man time and time again, but it seems to - it seems to kind of compound the thought. We had gospel meetings in a certain area one time, and, ah, we talked to this particular man, and he said, ahm, ahm, 'I don't like this idea of God's kingdom,' he said, 'God gave us brains so that we could use them.' And we said, 'Yes, God gave us brains so that we would become a little child.' He said, 'I don't want to become a little child.' It's just as simple as that, 'I don't want to become a little child.' And if we don't become like a child, then the windows of heaven are closed to us, and the door is closed; and when we look on, we think its just a complete mystery, and we don't know anything about it. And that's true - that's true.
Peter and John, when they were telling the gospel story, they were living the gospel first of all. They were men who like Jesus, had given up everything that they had given it to the poor, and had gone out as homeless, stranger preachers for the gospel's sake. And I just love to think of this - these basic truths that are so vital in our salvation, and have stayed the same from the beginning of time. There's no other way - there's no other way. In the end people had seen that they had been with Jesus. And they were ministers of the gospel, just like Jesus. The people could see that, they could see that. They didn't have a home of their own. Remember that Jesus said that 'the foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but I the Son of man have nowhere to lay my head. ' He was a homeless preacher for the gospel's sake.
And here Peter and John were following in the footsteps of Jesus, as preachers of the gospel. And God gave them the privilege and authority to tell this gospel that, 'is hidden from the wise and prudent, and revealed unto babes. ' This man that they helped that was at the temple gates, the poor man was lame from birth. And they took him - took him by their hand, - grabbed ahold of his hand and God did something to his ankle bones and the man walked for the first time in his life - first time in his life! That's what the gospel does. It helps men and women to walk in the way of Jesus. None of us, no man, no woman, no boy, no girl, in their own strength can follow the teachings of Jesus; it's utterly impossible. And if God doesn't put strength in our ankle bones spiritually we can't walk in the way of Jesus.
The reason for the gospel is not so that you and I would have a rosy life, or that we can just throw everything to the wind and say, 'Well, from now on I've got salvation.' We had the privilege of visiting with an older man over in Victoria just recently, and, ah, he wrote Calvin and I several pages of - of his ideas to prove that we were wrong. We didn't - we didn't argue with him. One day I visited him and he said, ahm, I just happened to say, 'Do you happen to feel that once saved always saved?' And he said, 'Of course I do,' he said, 'don't you?' I said, 'No I don't.' 'Well,' he said, 'Young man, you'd better get down on your knees and pray because once saved always saved.' No, that's not true - that's not true. There's no promise of that. Now this glorious gospel that Jesus was telling about, and the disciples were telling about, the purpose for the gospel was that the souls of men and women could be saved. That's the purpose of it, the soul, the spirit.
In Psalm 31 in about verse 5 - David, I believe, was the writer of the Psalm - he said, 'Into thy hands I commit my spirit, for thou hast redeemed me O Lord God of truth. ' And I just appreciated that verse when I found it today. Here was a man - David was a king, and he had lots of authority, that he could have cracked the whip just where-ever he wanted to. But, but David was a man that was basically honest before God, and his trust wasn't in men, and his trust wasn't in horses, but his trust was in God. And he said, 'Into thy hands I commit my spirit, for thou hast redeemed me O Lord God of truth. ' And that's a wonderful commitment, just to - to pour our whole spirit and our keeping into the hands of God.
Our elder brother, Ernie (--), when he was with us a few years ago at Duncan, he opened up his heart to us and -- and I just appreciated that very much, and he said to us -- he said, 'Every morning - every morning that I live, that I purpose in my heart to commit my body, and my soul, and my spirit into the keeping of God's hands.' There was a strong able bodied man with lots on his - on his side, but he said, 'Every morning I purpose to commit the keeping of my body and my soul and my spirit unto God.
Do you remember the time that, ah, in the Acts of the Apostles there's a man by the name of Stephen, or Steven, he was preaching the gospel and people hated him? And so they - they took some stones and they - they fired at him. And in the last words that he uttered he said, 'Father, receive my spirit, receive my spirit.' Then it says he cried with a loud voice and he said, 'Lay not this ch ... not this sin to their charge.' Those are the last words of that man who was stoned to death. And he was stoned to death because of the gospel. This man's fears; this man's hurts; they -- they prick me in my own soul because I wonder what I'd be like if I was faced like that. If I was faced with a mob and because we were preaching the gospel and they had threw stones at u ... at us ... at me. Could I really say that? Could I really say that; 'Father don't lay this sin to their charge, they don't understand what they are doing?' And then my last breath I would say - I would commit the keeping of my soul and my spirit unto God: 'Father, receive my spirit?'
And after all, that's the most important part of our being, it's our spirit.
Do you remember that little verse in, ah, Solomon's writings? And I think he talked about the silver cord that is broken and the cistern b ... the pitcher at the ... the pitcher by the cistern that's broken, and then he said, 'Then the dust shall return to the earth as it was and the spirit shall go back to God who gave it. ' And that's the last chapter; that's the last. All these opportunities, the silver cord is snapped, the pitcher a ... at the cistern is broken, and the wheels have stopped turning and then the dust returns to the earth. I don't think I ever really noticed that before! I thought it was the body returns to the earth, which m ... of course, means the same, but after all, we're just dust, that's what we are. And do you remember the words that in Isaiah that says, 'The people is grass. ' I used to think that - that the people are like grass, but it says 'the people is grass.' That's all we are, we're just grass. And then Solomon said 'The dust shall return to the earth as it was from the beginning, and the spirit shall return to God who gave it.' And that's - that's the last. I wonder if I'll be the same, really, when life comes to the end and all the possibilities are gone, hopes are gone, and possibilities are gone, and strength is gone, money doesn't mean anything, real estate doesn't mean anything, it's all gone, then will I be the same? Is the last words the same? Jesus said to his Father after he was after he had completed his purpose of being here as a wonderful example for us, so that we could have life and eternal life and we could have forgiveness and we get cleansing and in the last breath he said, 'Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit.' That's a wonderful thing. And I felt that when I thought of this convention and as it progressed, that's what I want in my own heart more than anything else.
Getting older is a wonderful experience in spite of aches and pains; in spite of them, because we see a little clearer the purpose of life. And all these things that seem to be so wonderful were only getting less in value; we're looking for something that's real.
The last words that my father uttered were in a hospital in Saskatoon; that's hundreds of miles away from [England?]. My mother said to him, ah, 'Dad, don't you want to go home?' And he said, 'No,' he said, 'I'm going home.' And that was the last words he ever said; just like the dust is going to the earth as it was, and the spirit goes back to God who gave it.
I hope that our convention, gathering together and listening to the Word of God, will touch our hearts, and we'll want to give God the very best. And when life's little day is done and we get to the end of the last chapter of our life, we can have the spirit that ... that Steven had towards others - we can commit the keeping of our soul to God; and we can, like Jesus said, 'Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit.
Would you like to turn to a hymn now in closing? Hymn two hundred and ninety. And when we get to the third verse would it be possible that there be some amongst us as they listened to the story of Jesus, and, ah, the gospel, and God has touched their heart, if they would like to express in their hearts just what this hymn says. There might be some amongst us who would like to - maybe they have had some difficulties in life and they would like to rededicate their life - rededicate their life. When we get to the third verse, and you've been singing the first verse and the second verse and in your heart this is the purpose of your heart, would you like to stand in the third verse to inform persons who are close to him, to give an expression to those around about y ... about you and to God himself that you want to give your spirit, you want to commit your body and your soul and your spirit into his keeping so that you can have eternal life, so that you can have forgiveness, so that you have cleansing, then you can have the promise of eternal life. We'll sing this hymn two-ninety together.
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