Fulfilment

By John Thiel, Audio: mp3

Scripture reading: Isaiah 49:4 Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: [yet] surely my judgment [is] with the LORD, and my work with my God. 5 And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb [to be] his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength.

This subject comes through an experience of mine over the years of labouring in the Lord’s vineyard. Quite a few years ago I was working in New Zealand and there was a very dysfunctional church with which over the eight years that I was there, by God’s grace, we were able to progress and gain the hopes of establishing a church building again and worshipping together in a place that had been desired for a long time. There was a certain milestone found in our experience which everybody was rejoicing about. There was satisfaction. I pondered about this at that time, and the Lord spoke to me. Although we had finally found success after at least six years of labour, there was a sense of fulfilment, of achievement, of completion, a sense of purpose. What we had been labouring for had been gained.

It is ever the motive of mankind to find fulfilment. All the activity of mankind is a goal-centered activity. We want to reach that all-important end so that we might finally provide for ourselves a sense of fulfilment. There are many Christian leaders who are called empire-builders. They are building something up so that they can have a sense of fulfilment. Humanity in general is forever pursuing that kind of a path. The child grows up, When I grow up I’m going to be such and such. They arrive at youth and say, Now I want to have a successful marriage, I want to prepare myself for a career that is going to be fulfilling to me, I reach for a stable life, security, and finally a retirement, and when we get old enough we can settle back and reach a sense of fulfilment at the end of the years of our life.

Therefore humanity is preoccupied with such a quest. Christianity doesn’t fall short of this anticipated hope. The same attitude seems to affect Christianity. We want to reach a certain point where we will find fulfilment in our Christian walk. We want to find the right church and once we have found the church, we can now settle down, and everything will be sweet. The old fairy tale way, “And they lived happily ever after”. Professed Christianity has got the same kind of anticipated hope. However, as we look through history, we see that this anticipated hope is short-lived. Prophecy has revealed that everything that man wants to see fulfilled on this planet is destined to perish. Even the very church that I was instrumental in establishing, I have moved away from that denomination, and to all appearances it seems like, What did I do that for? Why was all that effort put there for? For my purpose?

Real lasting fulfilment is never found here.

1 Corinthians 7:29 But this I say, brethren, the time [is] short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; 30 And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; 31 And they that use this world, as not abusing [it]: for the fashion of this world passeth away.

The fashion of this world passes away. Everything that we look for fulfilment in in this world is going to elude us. It’s going to pass away. Fulfilment, whether it be fulfilment in marriage, whether it be fulfilment in purchasing things like a house, we are to buy as though we possessed not. We will not find the things in this world lasting. Our senses in this world will never find fulfilment for the things that are visibly around us.

2 Corinthians 2:18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen [are] temporal; but the things which are not seen [are] eternal.

What you sense with your eyes, what you sense with your ears, with touch, etc., will not be satisfied in complete fulfilment because it is temporal. The things which are not seen are those things which are to be reached out for for fulfilment. The things which are seen are temporal. The Apostle John reminds the believers not to fasten their love, their sense of fulfilment, upon the things that are in this world:

1 John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

The will of God is the eternal element. Anything that is not within the will of God is not eternal, it is temporal. Doing the will of God does not always reveal itself to our senses. It is simply recognising the voice of God in His word. That which you are commissioned to fasten your fulfilment upon is something you don’t actually see with your eyes. The world passeth away, and the lust thereof. But there is something that does not pass away.

1 Peter 1:24 For all flesh [is] as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: 25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

What endureth for ever? This world is temporal, it passes away. Everything that we see with our eyes and hear with our ears, that which we can touch and handle in physical reality, passes away. But what does not pass away? The word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

1 Peter 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

This is not temporal. God’s word is eternal. It liveth and abideth forever. To help us to appreciate the contrast of fulfilment in the things which we see versus fulfilment in the things which we do not see, the best illustration that I can find outside of Jesus is Moses.

Moses was pulled out the water and adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter. He had everything going for him in regards to fulfilment of an earthly nature. From the age of twelve he was in Pharaoh’s court, learning the culture of Egypt. Everything was available for him to reach the highest sense of fulfilment. For forty years he was there. He was to be in line for the throne of Egypt. That would have been a fulfilment worth working for in everything. The throne was to be for him.

Hebrews 11: 24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; 25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; 26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. 27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.

I love the story of Moses and the faith that he was given as an example of. You could not have found a clearer illustration of somebody who could have found fulfilment on earth. But he relinquished that sense of fulfilment. He chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. He esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt. He endured, as seeing him who is invisible. Fulfilment in something that is invisible, in contrast to fulfilment in something that was there spread out in front of his mind as something to depend upon here on earth.

If Moses would not have chosen the invisible, where would he be now? He would be a mummy found in the pyramids of Egypt. But where is he now? He is roaming the universe. He has an experience that is not what he saw when he was here on earth. But what was his experience when he chose to suffer affliction with the people of God, when he endured, and esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt?

Observe Moses. Did he find fulfilment in following the choice with the Hebrews? All the way through as he was traveling with the Hebrews through the wilderness he was suffering affliction, he was observing shortfall of what he would have liked to have seen. When he arrived of the borders of Canaan first of all, they had to turn back for forty years. No fulfilment for Moses. Then when after the forty years, he was called upon to speak to the rock, and he struck it instead, did he find fulfilment in getting into Canaan? With all the good moments that were manifested in his life, with all the satisfying moments in his life with God, it turned to a bitter end for his senses. The true follower of God among the people of God today, is destined to the same path: affliction, a lack of present sense of fulfilment; just like Moses.

If we are looking for a sense of fulfilment like, We are there, we have now found everything we want, the church is wonderful, everything is wonderful, it will melt away into disappointed hopes. When this happened to us once again after I had left one church for the other, I was never devastated because of the message that I had shared in 1988, this very message that you are reading. This was the message that kept me going no matter what. I’m still here today because I do not look for fulfilment in any other place than God wants me to look for it. Fulfilment in the kingdom of heaven, fulfilment in the word, fulfilment in doing God’s will, a fulfilment that is not found through things that are seen within human sense. Jesus was the model Man. He is the one who is the foremost example for us to gain our direction from.

He was on this earth, and there were many cases of great success that He could look upon and feel, Wow, that’s fulfilling. He could have filled His life with unprecedented glory. He had great success. He healed the sick. Many people wanted to follow Him and many people did. They came to hear Him preach. He could have found fulfilment in those kinds of things, but He knew better than to rely on fulfilment in the things which He saw. The crowds that followed Him and sang, Hosanna in the highest, in His triumphal entrance into Jerusalem, that very crowd next cried, Crucify Him! His closest follower denied Him, and the rest of them forsook Him and fled. His chosen nation rejected Him. Those He came to redeem rejected Him.

Are we picking up what it means to be a follower of Jesus? to be in the footsteps of our forefathers? Just reflect a little further upon the early Christian church, they were building a church across the world, and they came up to a point where the headquarters of the church was Rome. It was beginning to give them a sense of, We’re getting somewhere! Then what happened? If you were living at that time, would you have been tempted to give up because everything that looked so wonderful crushed down around you and you were being persecuted? People you were looking up to, the ministers, were being burnt at the stake, the others had to run for the mountains, the Waldenses, the Huguenots, blood flowed. Is this fulfilment? Jesus lost everything to sense and fulfilment.

The following scripture gives the description of the sense that Jesus experienced in contrast to fulfilment. Do you have a hope of fulfilment that there will be a great revival, that there will be the loud cry? We have this anticipated hope of fulfilment that we are going to be among the people that are going to give the loud cry and it’s going to be such a gratifying experience! Sorry brethren. If we’ve got that sense of fulfilment, we will be bitterly disappointed. Jesus Himself was our example in His great work that He did.

Isaiah 49:4 Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: [yet] surely my judgment [is] with the LORD, and my work with my God. 5 And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb [to be] his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength.

Can you see where true fulfilment lies? The fulfilment is found in doing God’s will and God saying, I am happy with you. That’s all. That’s where Jesus was. Though Israel be not gathered, though it appears that I have laboured in vain. I have spent my strength. These words are so precious to me. I have spent my strength over many things that have melted away into apparent nothings. That is what Jesus expressed. Yet, what?

Isaiah 49:4 … [yet] surely my judgment [is] with the LORD, and my work with my God. 5 … yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength.

This is the only fulfilment that God’s people are to centre their focus upon. If you are looking for any other fulfilment, you are looking at fulfilment in the peripheries which will melt away. Everything we do to succeed will melt away like it did with Jesus. Don’t be disappointed when it happens.

As the world’s Redeemer, Christ was constantly confronted with apparent failure. He, the messenger of mercy to our world, seemed to do little of the work He longed to do in uplifting and saving. {DA 678.3}

He didn’t succeed.

Satanic influences were constantly working to oppose His way. But He would not be discouraged. {DA 678.3}

I want to testify that these are tremendous sources of strength to my soul. No matter what happens, though the heavens fall, never to be discouraged but to move on with a buoyancy that comes from the words of Jesus, Though it all fails, yet I will be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and My God shall be My strength. He was not discouraged.

Through the prophecy of Isaiah He declares, “I have labored in vain, I have spent My strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely My judgment is with the Lord, and My work with My God. . . . Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and My God shall be My strength.” It is to Christ that the promise is given, “Thus saith the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, and His Holy One, to Him whom man despiseth, to Him whom the nation abhorreth; . . . thus saith the Lord: . . . I will preserve Thee, and give Thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages; that Thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves. . . . They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for He that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall He guide them.” Isaiah 49:4, 5, 7-10. {DA 678.3}

Upon this word Jesus rested, and He gave Satan no advantage. When the last steps of Christ’s humiliation were to be taken, when the deepest sorrow was closing about His soul, He said to His disciples, “The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me.” “The prince of this world is judged.” Now shall he be cast out. John 14:30; 16:11; 12:31. With prophetic eye Christ traced the scenes to take place in His last great conflict. He knew that when He should exclaim, “It is finished,” all heaven would triumph. His ear caught the distant music and the shouts of victory in the heavenly courts. He knew that the knell of Satan’s empire would then be sounded, and the name of Christ would be heralded from world to world throughout the universe. {DA 679.1}

What was He looking at? The invisible. This gave Him the sense of fulfilment while everything here on earth was hopelessly shattered. Our sense of fulfilment is being tested likewise. We live today in such a time as this:

I dare not hold my peace in this time of peril. It is a time of temptation, of despondency. {5T 388.1}

Is that not what we have experienced? A time of temptation and despondency. I promise you, it’s not going to get any better.

Everyone is beset by the wiles of Satan, and we should press together to resist his power. {5T 388.1}

Is it easy to press together when we see people with negative senses all around them? We should press together.

We should be of one mind, speaking the same things, and with one mouth glorifying God. Then may we successfully enlarge our plans and by vigilant missionary effort take advantage of every talent we can use in the various departments of the work. {5T 388.1}

Do we look for the joy of seeing God’s work going forward? Well, we’ve seen it, we’ve wanted it, and we’ve seen wonderful things happen in the past, and then it all fell down.

We want to see success in the missionary effort. We need to press together against all odds in this terrible discouraging time. We are to take courage from our Lord who never became discouraged. He came through the darkness and launched out His church that was to follow in His footsteps. He had the invisible vision before Him, as did Moses.

The season of distress and anguish before us will require a faith that can endure weariness, delay, and hunger–a faith that will not faint though severely tried. The period of probation is granted to all to prepare for that time. Jacob prevailed because he was persevering and determined. His victory is an evidence of the power of importunate prayer. All who will lay hold of God’s promises, as he did, and be as earnest and persevering as he was, will succeed as he succeeded. {GC 621.2}

Do we want success? Do we want fulfilment? This is how we need to gain it. Success in the kingdom of heaven that is invisible, conquering against all odds.

Those who are unwilling to deny self, to agonize before God, to pray long and earnestly for His blessing, will not obtain it. Wrestling with God–how few know what it is! How few have ever had their souls drawn out after God with intensity of desire until every power is on the stretch. When waves of despair which no language can express sweep over the suppliant, how few cling with unyielding faith to the promises of God. {GC 621.2}

What is the sense of fulfilment? Zero. When waves of despair which no language can express sweep over the suppliant: this is going to happen, and has happened to many already. It’s happened to me and it gets worse, but I get stronger to meet it. Our sense of fulfilment is not to be found in visual success. If you are looking for it, you will be in more despair. You will not see any purpose for living. But we are meeting these experiences so that we may be prepared for worse to come and succeed as Jacob did, in Jacob’s trouble. Our present experiences are already rapidly unfolding into Jacob’s trouble. It’s been very severe, but we may conquer.

In this experience that I am here trying to play out before our mind’s eye, you will not have a sense of fulfilment in the things that you would like to see around you.

This love, manifested in the church, will surely stir the wrath of Satan. Christ did not mark out for His disciples an easy path. “If the world hate you,” He said, “ye know that it hated Me before it hated you. {DA 678.2}

What was the world that Jesus was pointing out here that hated Him and the disciples? It was the world in the church. It was the Hebrews, the Pharisees. They hated Jesus and they hated the disciples too. So it has been all the way through.

If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for My name’s sake, because they know not Him that sent Me.” {DA 678.2}

They know not Him that sent Me. The fulfilment is to know Him who sent Jesus.

The gospel is to be carried forward by aggressive warfare, in the midst of opposition, peril, loss, and suffering. But those who do this work are only following in their Master’s steps. {DA 678.2}

Is there a sense of fulfilment? No. Aggressive warfare in the midst of opposition, peril and loss. No sense of success. That’s how we are to continue the warfare.

Christ rejoiced that He could do more for His followers than they could ask or think. He spoke with assurance, knowing that an almighty decree had been given before the world was made. He knew that truth, armed with the omnipotence of the Holy Spirit, would conquer in the contest with evil; and that the bloodstained banner would wave triumphantly over His followers. He knew that the life of His trusting disciples would be like His, a series of uninterrupted victories, not seen to be such here, {DA 679.2}

Uninterrupted victories, but no sense of fulfilment here.

…not seen to be such here, but recognized as such in the great hereafter. {DA 679.2}

That is the anticipated fulfilment that we are still pursuing. It is not seen here. Jesus pursued it. Moses pursued it. All of God’s faithful people in the past pursued it.

If you are seeking and expecting a sense of fulfilment by what you see and feel, your sense of fulfilment will be short-lived, it will fail you and shatter in front of you. But if you will seek fulfilment only in the word and in the will of God, you will have gained fulfilment for eternity.

Here is your sense of fulfilment:

Jeremiah 9:23 Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise [man] glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty [man] glory in his might, let not the rich [man] glory in his riches: 24 But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I [am] the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these [things] I delight, saith the LORD.

To glory means to have fulfilment. He says, Don’t rely on the things you feel, the things you can see you have achieved. Rely on one thing only, that you know and understand God, and everything that prophecy foreshadows that cannot be seen fulfilling around you, a series of uninterrupted victories, though it is not seen to be such here, it shall be seen as such in the great hereafter.

May God help us to grasp hold of this sense of fulfilment and to press together under it.

Amen.

Posted on November 14, 2014, in Divine Service Sermons and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. God is good.

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