Are You Measuring Up?

John Thiel, mp3

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

Will we have the wedding garment on, which means what we read in Ephesians in our scripture reading? Under the ministry of God’s appointment in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God we are to reach unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

These words are not comfortable to the hearers of today. Here the disciples came to Jesus as He sat upon the mount of Olives.

Matthew 24:3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what [shall be] the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

How does Jesus answer this question? Notice how He starts.

Matthew 24:4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.

An interesting way of starting the answer. Jesus is asked a question, what is the sign of His coming and of the end of the world? And Jesus answers, Be careful, take heed that no man deceive you.

Mathew 24:5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

That’s how He prefaces His answer to their question. Then passing through the different items that He shares with them, coming to the end of time, coming to the point where His coming is soon to take place, He says:

Matthew 24:11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

Jesus is helping His disciples and us today not just to get excited about the coming of Jesus, but the great danger that exists at the time of His coming. Iniquity shall abound and there needs to be an endurance test that we have to pass because there will be many false prophets.

But the gospel of the kingdom; it’s very important that we read this correctly to get the message clear with everything Jesus was prefacing His words. He says And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

Many people just read that to mean the gospel, but when it says this, when Jesus says this gospel of the kingdom what does that prepare your mind to think? It’s in harmony with what He was saying many false prophets shall arise and shall deceive many. Take heed that no man deceive you He had said. Then He said and this gospel of the kingdom shall be presented as a witness unto all nations, a witness. That doesn’t mean that they are necessarily going to be benefited by it, it’s simply a witness to them, because of the dangers that people meet.

Matthew 24:23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here [is] Christ, or there; believe [it] not. 24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if [it were] possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

To deceive the very elect is Christ’s warning. False Christs and false prophets, false Christs. The church of God is called the body of Christ. So when false Christs arise, they are bodies of Christ just like the church, the true church is a body of Christ. So they will say here is the truth, here is Christ. Christ is here with us. This is the true Christ. They will all say this is the true Christ. This is exactly what has been placed before me over all my life. How do you know your church is right? How do you know that is Christ because there are so many different Christs today, and so many different variations of teachings.

The many various gospels, gospel interpretations of today constitute multitudinous Christs, false gospels. Among them all only one, it’s called this gospel of the kingdom that Jesus referred to. The one Jesus delivered. Notice apostle Paul’s warning.

Galatians 1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any [man] preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

Are there other gospels? It’s called a gospel, and people say this is the gospel of Christ, but Jesus says be careful, because there will be false Christs and false prophets. Take heed that no man deceive you. Can you sense the solemnity of Christ’s words upon us today? Because our time is fraught with false messages.

This is our problem today. The reading of Ephesians chapter 4:11-13 gives people a sense of burden. Measuring up; I’ve got to measure up? They don’t like to hear that. So amongst the preaching as a witness of the true gospel they are listening with itching ears.

2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

Itching ears. I don’t like to hear that. I want something a bit more comfortable. The idea that is expressed here in Ephesians chapter 4 that we will be under a ministry that is going to measure us up into the stature of Christ to reach a purity. This what people feel uncomfortable with so they heap unto themselves teachers, wanting to hear smooth things. That’s another Scripture isn’t it?

Doctrines Of Devils

1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly,

Jesus said take heed. The Spirit speaketh expressly. These are things that should arouse us to think, we’ve got to pay attention.

1 Timothy 4:1 …that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith,

From this gospel.

1 Timothy 4:1 …giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

People say; I can’t see that the beautiful gospel that is being preached in my church is a doctrine of devils because they have a picture of the devil as somebody gruesome. The doctrines of devils is qualified for us.

2 Corinthians 11:13 For such [are] false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15 Therefore [it is] no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

Doctrines of devils? In the form of ministers of righteousness. In Ephesians chapter 4 God has given some apostles, some prophets, some pastors and teachers, etc. What for? What are they given for? So that they might perfect God’s people, make them pure and holy. What do you expect then that there would be false apostles, angels of light so called, ministers of righteousness transformed from devils?

They will teach you doctrines that are comforting, soothing, smooth and seducing to Christians so that if it were possible the very elect could be deceived. Can you see the picture ? These are the words of the Word of God that Jesus wants us to understand so that we will indeed take heed that we will not be deceived.

To be transformed. They will be transformed as ministers of righteousness. Righteousness? It sounds like its righteousness that is being proclaimed to us. To be clothed in the garments of Christ’s righteousness. They will preach Christ’s righteousness so called. But to be deceived by a ministry professing the way to righteousness. Can you see here some very serious ramifications? That if people are relying on ministers of righteousness, a way to righteousness that is actually a deceptive way, it’s the doctrines of devils. It’s been transferred into something different than what Jesus said this gospel.

What Is This Gospel?

For us to understand the pure gospel that Jesus proclaimed, He is the one who must set the compass in the right direction. How does He do it? What does He say we must have in reference to righteousness so that we can enter into the kingdom of heaven? How does He put it? Let Jesus direct the mind.

Matthew 19:16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?

Do you get the picture here? He’s being asked a question. Eternal life is what I want. Now Jesus is going to give him the answer of what he must do to have eternal life. Get it very clear.

Matthew 19:17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? [there is] none good but one, [that is], God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

And so the rich young ruler says onto Him:

Matthew 19:18 He saith unto him, Which?

Jesus refers him to what commandments? It’s a good question. Today people say what commandments? Well, it’s the ten commandments. Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,

Matthew 19:19 Honour thy father and [thy] mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Which part of the ten commandments was He pointing at? The last six.

Matthew 19:20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?

Mark Christ’s answer. He has already given the answer that the Ten Commandments is it. Now He points him to the last question. Do I still lack something even though I’ve kept the last six?

Matthew 19:21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go [and] sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come [and] follow me.

When the young man heard that he turned away sorrowful. Why? Because Jesus gave him the first four commandments in one stroke in saying to him come and follow me. I represent the Father to you. It’s your relationship with me that I want you to do what the other apostles have done to be my apostle, my disciple.

That’s part of gaining eternal life. It’s a relationship with Jesus where self is dismissed and it’s all for Jesus, all for God, and obeying all the ten commandments. This is what Jesus gave as part of the gospel. He makes it abundantly clear for the people living in these last days.

Matthew 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so,

Can you see what Jesus is saying here? Don’t be deceived; false prophets. There are those and false teachers, there are those who will teach you that some of the commandments are no longer for our time.

Matthew 5:19 …he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach [them], the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed [the righteousness] of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Can you see how Jesus presented the gospel in direct connection with the ten commandments? If we are going to measure up to the pure gospel, if you will be perfect, keep the commandments and follow Jesus. These are the words of Jesus, and to consolidate our understanding regarding our part in the gospel that He proclaimed lets follow here.

Luke 13:23 Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, 24 Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.

The marginal reading for strive says or strive as in agony. Agonise, agnóno/agonizesthai is the Greek word. Strive as in agonise. Smooth words is not part of this. Something that takes away the agony or agonising of reaching for righteousness is not comfortable for the majority of Christians. They just want to ride into heaven with the comforting thought that it’s all done for them. They don’t have to agonise. They don’t have to strive, but Jesus says keep the commandments, follow me. Strive to enter in. There is something for you and me to do. So what then is a deceptive doctrines of the devils, misleading gospel?

What Is A Deceptive Doctrine?

What is the deceptive doctrine here? A deceptive ministry? I was very careful not to give you my own personal answers here, because I am warned not to raise argumentative subjects. But what the Bible raises and what the Spirit of Prophecy raises is what I hide behind, that’s going to be our guideline here. Under the Spirit of Prophecy we can get the identification of doctrines of devils applicable to the subject of righteousness and salvation.

“Another argues that man is free from all obligation, because God does it all, both the willing and the doing.” OHC 91.3

It is an argument of theology today that God does it all. We do not need to burden ourselves with agonising for salvation. Jesus has given, it’s a free gift it is being taught. Of course it’s a free gift but is there nothing for me to do with the gift. Here is a false doctrine; that there’s nothing for me to do, Jesus does everything. That is a doctrine of the devil. Am I pretty straight here? Whoever says there’s nothing for me to do, but just to believe in Jesus, I don’t have to strive, I don’t have to agonise, it’s a free gift, I’ve got it. This is the doctrine of the devil. False ministry, deceitful workers. Seducing spirits to take away the stress out of your life.

Then there’s another doctrine akin to this.

“There are two errors against which the children of God–particularly those who have just come to trust in His grace–especially need to guard. The first, already dwelt upon, is that of looking to their own works, trusting to anything they can do, to bring themselves into harmony with God. He who is trying to become holy by his own works in keeping the law, is attempting an impossibility. All that man can do without Christ is polluted with selfishness and sin. It is the grace of Christ alone, through faith, that can make us holy.” SC 59.4

That can help us to measure up. But then there’s an opposite error.

“The opposite and no less dangerous error is that belief in Christ releases men from keeping the law of God; that since by faith alone we become partakers of the grace of Christ, our works have nothing to do with our redemption.” SC 60.1

That’s another doctrine of the devil. It’s no less dangerous than the one that says we’ve got to do what is right and we become legalistic and we do it all in the strength of our own conviction, of our own efforts alone. That is a doctrine of the devil as well.

Can you hear the doctrines of the devils of the different churches of today? The gospel of the kingdom as Jesus addressed it. Jesus presented and dispensed it to the apostles, and they had the right understanding. The idea that there is nothing that I have to do for my salvation that God will do everything. The other extreme is that I do it all in my own strength. Righteousness by faith is summarised by the apostle James and Jude who said that we must contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered to the saints. Here is the perfect platform of this gospel of Christ that is to be preached for a witness. James deals directly with faith and works:

James 2:14 What [doth it] profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be [ye] warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what [doth it] profit? 17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works. 19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? 22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? 23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. 24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. 25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent [them] out another way? 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

This is the gospel as it was proclaimed by the apostles straight from the hand of the Lord and Saviour. God had taken Jesus and He went back to heaven, He returned to heaven and left behind gifts. That’s what Ephesians 4 is about in verses 9, 10, and 11. This is the pure path which the pure ministry is going to deliver so that people will have righteousness by which they will be saved. We carefully identify this beautiful doctrine that Jesus laid out before us.

Ephesians 4:8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.

Jesus gave the gifts. What were the gifts for? To just say now Jesus has done everything. Wonderful. Praise the Lord. No, He has given gifts for work. What were the gifts?

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

What for? Why were these gifts given? So that they would exercise the perfecting of the saints.

Ephesians 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith,

The true faith that Jesus preached, the true gospel. In the unity of this gospel.

Ephesians 4:12 and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

We are to grow up. Did you notice verse 14?

Ephesians 4:14 That we [henceforth] be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, [and] cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, [even] Christ:

The whole body fitly joined together works together. Works in the motivation of true faith.

Here we stand as a little company today. Are you measuring up to the fullness of the stature of Christ? What lies behind the false doctrines is that this is a daunting mind exercise. Am I measuring up? So they want to hear smooth things and say don’t worry. If you don’t measure up to perfection you’ll be saved. Can you hear the devil speaking? You don’t have to measure up, Jesus has done it all for you.

At this time we want to escape from the agony of stress, stressful thought of measuring up. We’ve touched on it just before.

Two Ways To Get Rid Of The Stress In The Wrong Way

1 – There is nothing for you to do. God does it all. Just believe.

In every congregation in the land there are souls unsatisfied, hungering and thirsting for salvation. By day and by night the burden of their hearts is, What shall I do to be saved? They listen eagerly to popular discourses, hoping to learn how they may be justified before God. But too often they hear only a pleasing speech, an eloquent declamation. There are sad and disappointed hearts in every religious gathering. The minister tells his hearers that they cannot keep the law of God. “It is not binding upon man in our day,” he says. “You must believe in Christ; He will save you; only believe.” Thus he teaches them to make feeling their criterion and gives them no intelligent faith. That minister may profess to be very sincere, but he is seeking to quiet the troubled conscience with a false hope. FW 32.2

Am I measuring up? Oh dear, how do I measure up? A false hope is presented.

Many are led to think that they are on the road to heaven… FW 32.3

Isn’t it horrible? They are lead to think that they are on the road to heaven.

…because they profess to believe in Christ, while they reject the law of God. But they will find at last that they were on the way to perdition instead of heaven. Spiritual poison is sugarcoated with the doctrine of sanctification, and administered to the people. Thousands eagerly swallow it, feeling that if they are only honest in their belief they will be safe. But sincerity will not convert error to truth. A man may swallow poison, thinking it is food; but his sincerity will not save him from the effects of the dose. FW 32.3

In our stress and agony of wanting to measure up we hear a message that says no worries, it’s all right, just believe in Jesus. You can release your stress. Isn’t He wonderful? And people drink the poison that leads to perdition. Jesus said take heed that no man deceive you.

2 – A deception that particularly Jesus draws the attention of the church that is claiming to be His church, the last day church, the Laodicean church.

Here Jesus is speaking to His church, the angel, the ministry. That ministry has fallen into a desperate danger. He is speaking to the ministers.

Revelation 3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing;

I know the truth, I am preaching perfect truth. I have need of nothing.

Revelation 3:17 …and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

I am preaching pure truth, I’m all right. I’m not under deception. That’s the other side of it. I’m comforting myself with the fact that I have the knowledge of the truth. I can still be lost under a false understanding.

What is it that constitutes the wretchedness, the nakedness of those who feel rich and increased with goods?–It is the want of the righteousness of Christ. In their own righteousness they are represented as clothed with filthy rags, and yet in this condition they flatter themselves that they are clothed upon with Christ’s righteousness. TDG 228.2

These are people who don’t say the law isn’t important, they’ll say yes, the law is important. They know that they’re right. But while they preach and while they exercise themselves in being righteous, while they do that, keeping the law, they do not have the righteousness of Christ. They are in want of the righteousness of Christ because they have their own righteousness that they look to the law and try to keep without Christ in their life. That’s what the rich young ruler said, I’ve kept them all my life. Jesus said well then follow me. He didn’t have the righteousness of Christ. He had his own righteousness.

Could deception be greater? As is represented by the prophet, they may be crying, “The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are we” (see Jeremiah 7:4), while their hearts are filled with unholy traffic and unrighteous barter. TDG 228.2

What is that?

The courts of the soul-temple may be the haunt of envy, TDG 228.2

Their hearts are filled with unholy traffic, envious thoughts are harboured in the soul temple.

…pride, TDG 228.2

We are the temple of the Lord.

…passion, evil surmising, bitterness, and hollow formalism. TDG 228.2

The formalities of the church are kept, hollow formalism.

Christ looks mournfully upon His professed people who feel rich and increased in the knowledge of the truth, and who are yet destitute of the truth in life and character, TDG 228.3

Are we measuring up? Destitute in life and character.

…and unconscious of their destitute condition. In sin and unbelief, they lightly regard the warnings and counsels of His servants, and treat His ambassadors with scorn and contempt, while their words of reproof are regarded as idle tales. Discernment seems to have departed, and they have no power to discriminate between the light which God sends them and the darkness that comes from the enemy of their souls. TDG 228.3

There’s the doctrines of devils again.

This is the soothing of the stress either by believing that to just believe in Jesus is going to get me to heaven, or to believe that my righteousness that I am doing to keep the law is wonderful. I know the doctrine, I know it all and everything’s fine. And they are under the delusions of the devil.

What Will Be Our Experience?

If you are going to be among those who will measure up, if we are going to be part of that ministry that has the true gospel, one that makes the soul truly righteous, what will be our experience to measure up under this true gospel?

It is a gospel that makes the soul feel his true sinful condition. That is the true ministry. It makes you feel your true sinful condition as it is written in Romans chapter 7. I discover that I’ve got to reach for that and the good that I want to do, I keep on failing. The good I want to do, I don’t do. The evil which I don’t want to do, I do. This becomes vividly clear to us under that ministry. That is the true gospel. It makes you feel that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.

That which uplifts the true Saviour and the true gospel, can show you how to come out of that condition through Jesus Christ. In Romans chapter 8 is the true gospel of Jesus Christ, which in our weakness we have failed to succeed and we feel our wretchedness. In Romans chapter 8 is the gospel as it is applied intelligently.

Romans 8:1 [There is] therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

This is now freedom. How?

Romans 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

This is a summary of the uplifting of the Saviour in our life. We see our wretched condition in the pure gospel. As the pure gospel shows me continually what a wretch I am, I see Jesus who became wretched for me. As I see Him, as I lift my face up to Him, I see Him doing what? In the same sinful flesh that I am in, I see Him condemning the sin in His flesh, suffering with the agony of my sinfulness. He condemns the sin in His flesh, He dies with that sin. As I behold, that righteousness of the law becomes mine because I am following Christ’s example.

This is the pure gospel that Jesus says let no man deceive you. One that engages the soul in co-partnership with God is the true gospel. Co-partnership with God, not just striving on his own, but together with Jesus in partnership with the Father. He gains a perfect life and he begins to measure up. He grows. As is written in Ephesians, growing up to the full stature of Christ in this pure gospel.

Man is given the privilege of working with God in the saving of his own soul. He is to receive Christ as his personal Saviour and believe in him. Receiving and believing is his part of the contract. This means abiding in Christ, showing in him at all times and under all circumstances a faith that works by love and purifies the soul from all defilement. Christ is the author of this faith, and he demands that it be constantly exercised. RH, May 28, 1908 par. 10

This gospel of the kingdom is to be preached as a witness so that the people who are truly hungering and thirsting for justification and righteousness will get the pure, not poison; nourishment from heaven. The bread of life. Unadulterated, unpoisoned, not sugarcoated. It’s straight truth. Just as John the Baptist and Elijah presented straight truth. This is the straight truth, no sugarcoating.

To reach the full measure of Christ through this process we will never feel this side of eternity that I am now measuring up. I will always feel short of the mark. That is how I will feel under this gospel. It is a reality of measuring up that is not felt this side of eternity but it is seen in the great hereafter.

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, but recognized as such in the great hereafter. DA 679.2

To measure up means to keep focused on Jesus, on the pure gospel; interacting together in co-partnership with God. Being built up by the ministry that preaches pure truth, pure doctrine. Learning through the experiences of agonising and striving as Jesus said we must. Many people will not make it because they don’t think striving is something that is too much of a burden. No. It doesn’t become a burden when you see Jesus striving with you. It becomes a joy. It becomes an exercise of releasing my stresses in the precious comfort that Jesus is right beside me. I go and fail, and I look back to Him and He covers me. Instead of feeling guilty and condemned because I have failed.

There is no condemnation in a child that is learning to walk and falls over. I have seen a child that was wanting to walk and it fell over and it sat there waaahhh, crying because it fell over. I said to the child, come on, get up. So it gets up again. O, how much we have to learn. To trust our Lord and Saviour who knows that we are weak and sinful. He knows that we are failing and we have characteristics that are imperfect, but He says come, I will make you perfect. Follow me.

By God’s grace He will cut short His work in righteousness. We do not need to feel stressed out beyond hope. Trust Him. He will take us through a series of uninterrupted victories not seen to be such here. Praise the Lord for the pure gospel. Let us walk under it is my prayer.


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