Withhold Nothing

By John Thiel, mp3

As we live in this time of earth’s history, we are coming close to the moment when all that we possess will be lost, and according to the Scriptures, our wealth is worth nothing in the day of God’s wrath.

Houses and lands will be of no use to the saints in the time of trouble, for they will then have to flee before infuriated mobs, and at that time their possessions cannot be disposed of to advance the cause of present truth. I was shown that it is the will of God that the saints should cut loose from every encumbrance before the time of trouble comes, and make a covenant with God through sacrifice. If they have their property on the altar and earnestly inquire of God for duty, He will teach them when to dispose of these things. Then they will be free in the time of trouble and have no clogs to weigh them down. {EW 56.3}

As we see from this statement, we are in need of putting what we possess on the altar of sacrifice. Our last study brought us to grapple with our sense of self-possession, of self-management, of self-reliance, which we depend upon so heavily for our security—a sense of security that we have in regards to our possessions. We rely for security upon some visible assurance. This is human nature—I want to know that I have something I can fall back upon when my needs are extreme. If I haven’t got anything, I feel vulnerable. But we are called upon to understand that this material sense of security we are looking for becomes diminished as we come closer and closer to the end. We have a diminishing bank account, or none at all. And in this world we look for “social security”, as the government calls it, and we realise the day will come when that is not reliable at all any more, when we can’t buy and sell any more. We need to prepare our hearts to deal with the sense of vulnerability when all our supports are removed.

…I saw that a sacrifice did not increase, but it decreased and was consumed. {EW 57.1}

She is here talking about our possessions, the consuming bank account, and the consuming value of what we have in possession that is being spent in God’s cause. This creates within us a sense of grappling with our desire for security.

So I wish to uplift the consuming sacrifice of heaven. I want us to behold Jesus.

The Consuming Sacrifice of Heaven

…Christ gave his life for us, withholding nothing. {RH, June 24, 1902 par. 10}

This is our subject—withholding nothing; a consuming sacrifice. Christ gave everything; He withheld nothing. Examine this phenomenon with me. What did Jesus let go when He withheld nothing?

Philippians 2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

What are the thoughts to ascertain and ponder in these words?

He was God; He was in the form of God, self-possessed, self-contained, controlling everything in the universe. In the highest position of rulership that can be considered, He was King of kings, Lord of lords. But what in our meditation is here suggested? He thought it not robbery to be equal with God. In other words, He did not want to hold onto that; He wanted to let it go. Withhold nothing. He wasn’t going to withhold that position; He was going to let it go. He made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant. But now, finding Himself in the form of a servant in the likeness of men, in fashion as a man, did He stop there, did He withhold anything? Not at all; He humbled himselfand became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. The thoughts open up to us that Jesus indeed withheld nothing right down to the lowest position of human existence; Jesus withheld nothing. We could now spend hours in meditating on all the Bible texts that display this. But let the following suffice:

Such were the temptations that Satan pressed upon the Son of God, while legions of evil angels were all about Him, and the holy angels were not permitted to break their ranks, and engage in conflict with the reviling foe. Christ could not see through the portals of the tomb. {BEcho, September 15, 1892 par. 2}

Where did Jesus find Himself in the temptations that were identified? He was obedient even unto the death of the cross; He withheld nothing, not even the sense of being able to find His way through at the end. He couldn’t see. He had completely put Himself in a position where He had no sense of security by the things which He beheld. Christ could not see through the portals of the tomb.

Bright hope did not present to Him his coming forth from the grave a triumphant conqueror, or tell Him of the Father’s acceptance of his sacrifice. {Ibid.}

Let your mind dwell here. This is the purpose of this study, to dwell upon what it means to withhold nothing. Even the sense of His Father’s acceptance was not there anymore.

All He could realize during this time of amazing darkness was the heinousness of sin that was laid upon Him, and the horror of its penalty, death. He feared that sin was so offensive in the sight of his Father that their separation was eternal. {Ibid.}

Have you ever felt like that? I certainly have. And you know you have no hope; this is what Jesus came to.

The temptation that his own Father had forever left Him, caused that fearful cry from the cross, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”” {Ibid.}

But when, in his expiring agonies, despair pressed upon the soul of the Redeemer, {Ibid., par. 3}

What did He have to rely on? He had nothing, He had no sense of relying on anything; everything was totally given over.

He relied upon the evidences that had hitherto been given Him of his Father’s acceptance, and as He yielded up his precious life, by faith alone He rested in Him whom it had been his joy to obey. Though all was enshrouded in gloom, yet amid the awful darkness, which was felt even by sympathizing nature, the Redeemer drained the mysterious cup to the dregs. {Ibid.}

He withheld nothing—to the dregs.

Though He realizes but dimly that He shall triumph over death, {Ibid.}

How did He realise that? By faith alone. He had no evidence; it was totally His dependence upon the knowledge He had of how God had accepted Him in the past. This is all He had. And so realizing but dimly that He may triumph over death,

He cries with a loud voice [with that dim sense of assurance], “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” He is acquainted with the character of his Father; He understands his justice, his mercy, and his great love; in submission He commends Himself to God. Amid the convulsions of nature, the amazed spectators hear the dying words of the Man of Calvary, “It is finished!” {Ibid.}

Then He said, Into Thy hands I commend My spirit; and He died. Withholding nothing; what sort of an experience is that? We see it in Jesus; it was an experience of total loss of everything, even the sense of the Father’s acceptance. There was nothing left but a memory of God’s past mercy and love toward Him. Contemplate His total sense of vulnerability He ventured into for our redemption. “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.” These words are so easily rolled off the tongue. But what was His experience? We are trying to understand, why did He do that? Because that is where we will find ourselves sooner or later. I would rather have it sooner than later, because it is only those who have it with Jesus now who can come through. What a depth of such resignation and abandoning trust is displayed to our mind’s eye. What sort of trust? Total abandoning trust; the trust that says, My daddy is going to look after me.

The Father’s Response

When Jesus was in that position that you and I are in when it all dawns on us, with our sin that separates us from God,did the Father leave Him there all forsaken? Remember, He had placed Himself in that position, abandoning all and throwing Himself into the arms of His Father; with that sense, did the Father let Him down? Because He had done this and cast Himself so entirely into the arms of His Father, how did the Father respond to this total abandoning trust?

Philippians 2:9 Wherefore… [because of this] God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of [things] in heaven, and [things] in earth, and [things] under the earth;

We behold Jesus who withheld nothing, who went through the rigours of hopeless death, and cast Himself on one thing only, which at that time was very feebly felt; it was the faith in His Father. And as He cast Himself upon the mercy of God, from that moment, the Father showed Him His comfort, because His faith the Father responded to. And so it is with each and every single one of us. When we are confronted with total withholding of nothing, and we humble ourselves as Jesus did, what will the Father do?

James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse [your] hands, [ye] sinners; and purify [your] hearts, [ye] double minded. 9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and [your] joy to heaviness.

Is this where Jesus was? He permitted that to happen; He turned all His joy to heaviness; He surrendered everything; and here we are called to be in the same position.

James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, [as Jesus did, withholding nothing]

When Jesus did that, what did the Father do to Jesus? He lifted Him up.

James 4:10 …and he shall lift you up.

No matter how we feel, no matter how hopelessly we feel we are at the very bottom of the pit of experience; whatever it is, we cannot rely on any sense of support, there is nothing left. Heaven sacrificed all because that is where I am. As we do what Jesus did, the Father will do for us what He did for Jesus. He will lift you up. Where to? What may we enjoy in that total trust? After the combination of the two texts of Philippians 2:9 and James 4:10 belonging one to Jesus and one to us, we now read:

Ephesians 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

And what has He raised us and lifted us up to?

Ephesians 2:6 And hath raised [us] up together, and made [us] sit together in heavenly [places] in Christ Jesus:

Who is this real to? The only people who know this in reality are those who have withheld nothing. Because not until we surrender and submit all can we experience the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the uplifting of Jesus out of that deplorable experience.

What Is Required of Us?

How difficult is it for a proud sinner who is overwhelmed by his unworthiness to trust that he is forgiven? Do you have an easy time doing that? “I’m not worthy. I can’t believe it.” I have heard people tell me this. “How can I be accepted with God? I am too bad. I can’t.” Who is speaking? Proud me is speaking.

I will never forget those words that were said to me when I shared the beauty of Christ’s atonement with us to this one person many years ago. Just when I came home on the point of the atonement that Jesus was really there with me in every sense, in every temptation, this person just broke out and cried, Why would He want to do something like that for me?? And they never accepted it. It is strange, but it is normal. Proud me does not want to surrender, because this requires a total and unequivocal surrender; to actually believe that my sense of absolute hopelessness can be eradicated. I can’t believe it; I can’t surrender; this is the plight of a proud sinner who knows how sinful he is. He thinks he knows; but as it is shown to him, a struggle arises. What does it require to be able to come out of that plight? It requires what is written in Revelation about the third angel’s message. Here is what?

Revelation 14:12 Here is the patience of the saints: here [are] they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.

The faith of Jesus. “Though He realises but dimly that He shall triumph over death, He cries with a loud voice, Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.”—that is the faith of Jesus. Overwhelmed with the total depravity and hopelessness of my sinful life, Jesus has taken that into His own experience and exercises faith which we cannot generate of ourselves. It is the faith of Jesus that I look upon, and my heart is appealed to, Will you do what Jesus did? Will you do it? This is the plight that every individual, especially in these last days, is confronted by; will I follow in the footsteps of Jesus to withhold nothing? Why did He do it? He did it so that I might trust and believe, in following His example. This is the covenant that God wants to make with you and me. It is the covenant which is called the everlasting covenant, it is the covenant that comes into operation when we have made a covenant with God that we would keep those commandments, and we proudly say, like the Pharisees,and like the Jews in the wilderness at Mt Sinai, Yes, everything that the Lord has said we will do and be obedient. And we put our whole effort behind it, and we make a complete shambles of it. Haven’t we? So now God says, No matter what your sins are, I am making a covenant with you that is represented by Christ with you. People find it so difficult to get this deep appreciation of God’s saving grace into their practical experience, and this is why He makes a point of it here:

Isaiah 55:3 Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear…

Why does He say that? Here we are, we are in the Divine Service, we are listening; what is He trying to get across to me?

Isaiah 55:3 …hear and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, [even] the sure mercies of David.

Have you studied David’s life? I was woken up about 4 o’clock this morning and I was transported by the Lord as to this subject that I have been presenting before people all through my ministry. I was being attacked for preaching this in a previous church because it was not tolerated. But here lies an amazing story—that the depth of depravation that we may come to, and which David came to, God would meet. And maybe some of us have never come to that, that he would be in a position of such sin that he could say, My sin is constantly before me. He couldn’t get rid of the sin that he had committed in terms of sense.

What was God saying here? No matter how you feel, no matter how far you have gone, I will demonstrate to you the new covenant, the everlasting covenant, which are the sure mercies of David. We see Jesus more fully and clearly now because Jesus took David upon Himself, and He suffered the exact same depravation that David suffered. Whatever it is, can I trust this declaration? can I trust it? Can I really believe it? Brethren and sisters, can you? As your sin and your depravity and your condition and my condition and everybody else’s condition come up before us, don’t you feel like despairing? Jesus was there. And in His despairing position, He could hardly sense that there was any hope; it was only His faith. He said, Father, I am throwing myself at Your mercy.

Withholding Our Trust

Jesus sees the guilt of the past, and speaks pardon, and we must not dishonor Him by doubting His love. {9MR 305.3}

It’s easy to doubt His love, isn’t it? But that would be dishonouring to Him. Look what I have done, says the Father, I love you so much that I have taken your life and placed it into My own Son. Will you honour My love, or are you going to hang onto your depraved sense and not let go? Withhold nothing. What do we withhold? We withhold our trust. We must not dishonor Him by doubting His love.

This feeling of guiltiness must be laid at the foot of the cross of Calvary. {Ibid.}

Of course I have the feeling of guiltiness because I have done sins that are, to me, unpardonable. How strict a person are you, especially as a believer in rights and wrongs? Are you perfectionistic? And you can’t get past this perfectionistic guilt that you have failed in your expectations so deplorably that you can’t stand yourself, but you hang onto it, as though it is something dear to hang onto, when God says, Give it up?

This feeling of guiltiness must be laid at the foot of the cross of Calvary.There you can do it because Jesus did it, with you.

The sense of sinfulness has poisoned the springs of life and of true happiness. {Ibid.}

You can’t be happy when you go through those awful feelings within yourself. You can put on a smiling face, you can make lots of jokes to try and break the negativity; it doesn’t work, does it?

Now Jesus says, “Lay it all on Me. I will take your sins. I will give you peace. Banish no longer your self-respect, for I have bought you with the price of My own blood. You are mine. Your weakened will I will strengthen; your remorse for sin I will remove.” Then turn your grateful heart, trembling with uncertainty, to Him, and lay hold on the hope set before you. {Ibid.}

What is the faith of Jesus? No matter how dimly He sensed that there was victory after death, it says: Turn your grateful heart, trembling with uncertainty (just like Jesus), to Him, and lay hold on the hope set before you. That is what Jesus did—Father, it is finished, into Your hands I commend My spirit.

God accepts your broken, contrite heart, and extends to you free pardon. {Ibid.}

Rejoice in the Lord! Do rejoice; don’t hang onto this thing. It’s yours, it’s ours; it’s mine.

He offers to adopt you into His family, with His grace to help your weakness. And the dear Saviour will lead you on step by step, you placing your hand in His, and letting Him guide you. {Ibid.}

Letting Him. Don’t worry about guiding yourself anymore, you perfectionist, John Thiel. In our perfectionism we strive in our own strength and we will never find happiness; it is a fact. I know it to be true. You will always find something that displeases you. You will never find light through the darkness; but you can find it in Jesus Christ. To break through that barrier that holds me back, break through it by perfect utter faith.

Now you may cling to your righteousness, and you may think that you have tried to do about right, and that, after all, you will be saved in doing this. You cannot see that Christ does it all. “I must repent first,” some say. “I must go so far on my own without Christ, and then Christ meets me and accepts me.” {FW 72.3}

I have to first repent; and you can’t even do that, can you? Truly, can you repent, truly? I have to repent first, many say, and therefore they keep on going and going in a hopeless state because their repentance isn’t even acceptable in their own understanding, and therefore they say, I have no hope. But consider carefully the following:

You cannot have a thought without Christ. You cannot have an inclination to come to Him unless He sets in motion influences and impresses His Spirit upon the human mind. And if there is a man on the face of the earth who has any inclination toward God, {FW 73.1}

Where does it come from? It is not yours; it is not mine. When I was younger I thought, I have an inclination to God. I could actually come to God and say, I really love you, God; and I was proud of it. But it says that, if there is a man on the face of the earth who has any inclination toward God, it is because of the many influences that are set to work to bear upon his mind and heart.

Those influences call for the allegiance to God and an appreciation of the great work that God has done for him. {Ibid.}

Then don’t let us ever say that we can repent of ourselves, and then Christ will pardon. No, indeed. It is the favor of God that pardons. It is the favor of God that leads us by His power to repentance. Therefore, it is all of Jesus Christ, everything of Him, and you want to just give back glory to God. {FW 73.2}

What does it say? “Fear God, and give glory to Him” right here on this very point, “for the hour of His judgment is come.

Letting Go Of the Reins

Why don’t you respond more when you meet together in your meetings? {Ibid.}

Do you sometimes feel so guilty and so imperfect that you don’t even dare to open your mouth in the meeting? You haven’t found beautiful release yet. When the true release comes out, you cannot hold back, you will express it. Praise God for what I have found in Him! We need to break through that barrier, withholding nothing, just as Jesus did. Give over, just as Jesus did. Stop holding onto the reins.

Those who desire to find pardon for past transgressions must come to Christ just as they are, saying, “Lord, though I have been bought with a price, and am Thy property, I have in the past refused to give myself to Thee. {TDG 153.3}

“You have done it already, I know it; but I haven’t really given over totally, absolutely, withholding nothing. Lord, I haven’t done this.”

I now acknowledge that I am not my own, that I cannot do as I please with myself. Take me as I am, a poor, sinful creature, and cleanse and purify me from all sin by taking my sin Thine own dear self. {Ibid.}

What is this saying? It is saying my sin became His. His own dear self took my sin.

I do not deserve this, but Thou art the only one who can save me. Take away my sin and give me Thy righteousness. I do not want to remain in sin one more day. Impart to me Thy righteousness, and keep me from all transgression of Thy holy law.” {Ibid.}

Those who desire to find pardon for their past transgressions must come to Christ just as they are, saying that. When this is truly done, when this is in reality our deliberate commitment, withholding nothing, throwing myself as Jesus did in the arms of the Lord; when this is done and I recognise I am not my own, what do we receive?

As the Head of the church Christ is authoritatively calling upon every person who claims to believe on Him to follow His example of self-denial and self-sacrifice. {TMK 81.5}

We usually read that statement to mean simply that we are to sacrifice everything to give to Him. Of course, that is what it means; but we only go that far that I have to give Him all my wealth and all my possessions. But what did we just learn? My self-denial and self-sacrifice is to let go of everything, as Jesus did in my sinful condition. I am going to give that, surrender, instead of holding on.

They are called [authoritatively] upon to rally without delay under the blood-stained banner of Christ Jesus. Withholding nothing, they are to make an entire offering for the attainment of eternal, measureless results–the salvation of souls. {Ibid.}

Can you see this interesting twist now? Because I have taken hold of God’s mercy as Jesus did, I sacrifice myself entirely, withholding nothing, making an entire offering of myself for what? The attainment of eternal, measureless results—the salvation of souls. This is what David said in Psalm 51. That I may go and tell others what has been done for me. When I truly have given over, God can use me, because I am withholding nothing. This is the important fine detail that the Father in heaven and Jesus in the sanctuary are waiting for, for us to lay all on the altar. Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid? That was the theme song of our conference, do you remember?

To everyone who offers himself to the Lord for service, withholding nothing, is given power for the attainment of measureless results. {AG 157.4}

Isn’t it measureless? Lifted together with Jesus to the throne room—measureless results. It depends on offering myself and withholding nothing.

The Lord God is bound by an eternal pledge to supply power and grace to everyone who is sanctified through obedience to the truth. {Ibid.}

That is what He did for Jesus, and that is what He will do for all who follow the example of Jesus, totally withholding nothing, in total abandonment of sense into the arms of the Lord. Once this is done and retained the measureless results are the riches of heaven.

Those who consecrate their all to God will not be left unmolested by the enemy of souls. {AU Gleaner, July 12, 1905 par. 3}

So what will happen when you do this? The enemy of souls will continue to molest you.

Satan will come to them with his specious temptations, designing to allure them from their loyalty to God. He will present to them his bribe, as he did to Christ in the wilderness of temptation, saying, “All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” {Ibid.}

We are talking about the worldly wealth and possessions. Satan says to us, as he said to Jesus, You just follow your impressions from me, and I will give you wealth and you will have a sense of security in your wealth.

But what should be the answer of the Christian to all the temptations of the evil one? He should say, “I will not lend my influence in any way to the advancement of anything save the cause of Christ. I am not my own; I have been bought with a price. I am not to live to please myself; for I have been purchased, ransomed by the blood of Christ. It is not possible for me to give to Christ more than that which belongs to him; for every moment of my life belongs to him. {Ibid.}

How much? Every moment of my life belongs to Him. I can’t give Him any less than that. Withholding nothing.

I am his possession, a servant employed to do the will of my Master.” This is the only position it is safe for us to occupy; and if the individual members of the church felt in this way, what a power would the church exert to draw and win souls to Christ. {Ibid.}

Can you see? This is the outpouring of the latter rain, and this is the loud cry; because when people have totally, withholding nothing, moved forward, the Lord can finish His work. How much longer do we want to wait? I do not do as I please with my goods. Why? Because I have made an experience with Jesus. He has withheld nothing and He wants me to withhold nothing. Our total break-through is only generated by my focus on God’s great love in Jesus, as we have explored here.

This is where the following scripture declares the amazing connection of our wealth with the covenant we have been contemplating.

Deuteronomy 8:18 But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for [it is] he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as [it is] this day.

The covenant, even the sure mercies of David, which we have been exploring in deep meditation, is being established by us receiving the wealth to expend on this wonderful work of Jesus Christ in saving souls.

Those who work for God are to be self-sacrificing. Christ gave his life for us, withholding nothing. Let those who work for him show a spirit of self-sacrifice and an earnest desire to carry the work forward with expedition, realizing that it is a work which must be done as speedily as possible. Let consecrated, zealous efforts be made. Let those who believe the truth represent Christ by working for him with willingness and love. {RH, June 24, 1902 par. 10}

He withheld nothing; and because He did that, He is inviting me to surrender my sinful guilt to Him and everything else that goes with it. May we be among that people who have broken through those barriers and withhold nothing.

Amen.

Posted on May 26, 2013, in Divine Service Sermons and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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