Unquestioning Obedience

By John Thiel, mp3

Scripture reading: Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. 19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: 20 But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken [it].

God’s word is the force, the power, that brings about obedience to all His laws. It is actually the creative word that produces the fulfilment of those laws in our lives. It was the creative word that brought the world into existence; God spoke and it was done. That is because this planet, in its empty state, was not rejecting God’s word. And for us to receive the benefit of the word, we need to be like that non-resistant clay, that empty space that was there, the water that needed to be brought under control. We need to place ourselves in the same position of absolute resignation. The word abandonment describes this perfectly. We need to be totally abandoned as Jesus was. He was our example. This subject that we have been pursuing is extremely important for us to grasp in the time in which we are living now. We need now to understand how imperative it is that we surrender, because God has to do a very quick work with us. We know that Jesus is coming very soon, and we need to engage in this preparation for the close of probation, which is actually the preparation for the coming of Jesus.

1 John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God,

Because we have been bought with the price of Jesus. By faith in Him we are the sons of God,

1 John 3:2 …and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

When Jesus comes, when probation closes, we are meant to be like Him. I ask you the question, Are you like Him at this present time? According to the following verse, we hope to be like Him:

1 John 3:3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

You can see then that, while God’s word will do its work, it depends upon us whether that work is going to be accomplished in us. We need to understand the processes by which we are to be purified. If we have the hope, then we will purify ourselves, even as He is pure. The question that poses itself is, How long must this purifying exercise take place before we reach the purity? If we are not yet satisfactorily there, if we are not like Him, if we still feel that we have these serious character defects that make us unworthy of a place with Him, that if probation were to close we would not be holy as He is holy, then we need some fast work. We need to get there fast because probation is very soon to close.

Those who have been before us have had their time to prepare. Where are we today? So close. While they have had such a long time in purifying exercises, we don’t have as much time.

The day is at hand. For the lessons to be learned, the work to be done, the transformation of character to be effected, the time remaining is but too brief a span. {Ed 184.2}

It takes time to be purified. Already in Sr. White’s time, probation was closing for them, and the time left was too short a time to develop a character. As we realise what we must be to meet Jesus, we hear the words which the angel spoke to Sr. White:

Said the angel, “Deny self; ye must step fast.” {EW 67.2}

That is the language of abandonment. Turn against self. Let self die.

Some of us have had time to get the truth and to advance step by step, and every step we have taken has given us strength to take the next. But now time is almost finished, {EW 67.2}

It is too short a time. We haven’t got time on our side.

…and what we have been years learning, they will have to learn in a few months. They will also have much to unlearn and much to learn again. {EW 67.2}

Much to unlearn and much to learn again, in a few short months. Why does it take so much time? The Spirit of Prophecy tells us that sanctification is the work of a lifetime. (COL 65.2). Why? Why does it take so long? We have the experience within ourselves. It takes a long time to get it into our brain, doesn’t it? Our skull is a little bit thick and hard. It is so hard to actually get these messages in. Why is this? What is so heavily upon us?

Jeremiah 17:1 The sin of Judah [is] written with a pen of iron, [and] with the point of a diamond: [it is] graven upon the table of their heart, and upon the horns of your altars;

Sin is so indelibly imprinted within us; it is graven upon the table of our heart, on the horns of our altars. It is in our system.

Jeremiah 13:23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? [then] may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.

The margin reads, “That are taught to do evil.” We have been taught that way from childhood up. It is entrenched in our being. It is like the skin of the Ethiopian; it cannot be changed to white. Neither can the leopard change his spots. So it is our condition. We are accustomed to do evil, accustomed to do something by force of habit. Sr. White actually says that habits form character (COL 366.2). And our character is that which has been developed over a long period of time, and it is a slow process to alter that long-entrenched condition. We don’t always understand what is behind God’s expectation, therefore we often say, Well, I don’t understand, so how can God judge me? or, I’m not convicted of it yet. That is what takes such a long time, to get it into our understanding what God is trying to say, to convict us. It is a slow process. But is there a quicker way possible? The time is nearly over. Time is not on our side. If we do not hasten the process of character change, we will be left on the road side when probation closes.

A Quicker Way to Change?

The following scripture is a statement very relevant for us who live in these closing moments of earth’s history:

Romans 9:27 Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved: 28 For he will finish the work, and cut [it] short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.

For those who are living at this time, while others have had years to learn, our learning process has to be cut short in righteousness. We haven’t the period of a lifetime when God cuts short His work of sanctification. How does He propose to do that? The scripture of Isaiah 1 holds the key to that rapid change. There God says, Your sinfulness will be as white as snow; though your sins be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. But what is the condition for this to happen?

Isaiah 1:19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:

Willing and Obedient

Don’t rebel. That is why we spend so much time in understanding abandonment. There is to be no resistance to anything that God says. Now that is hard because there is a resistance in us, with our sinfulness; but we must come to the point where we abandon ourselves totally, where we let God’s word stream into our being without a single note of resistance. If ye be willing and obedient – this is what is needed. Submission. There needs to be a submission to the One who will cut short His work in righteousness. We say, Yes, God can do it. Of course He can. But there is only one way He can do that, it is when there is no resistance on our part.

As we live in these times, the Lord knows that we have a little time, and He compares our character with His law. He has a perfect photograph of our character in heaven, and He is interested in hastening His work for us.

God has a perfect photograph of every man’s character, and this photograph He compares with His law. He reveals to man the defects that mar his life, and calls upon him to repent and turn from sin. {5BC 1085.4}

He is reasoning together with us. “Come now, and let us reason together.” This is what I love about God; He knows that we have a little time left, and yet He says, Come on, let us reason together. And when you reason with someone like Him, can you trust Him? He says, Can you trust Me? As the words of the hymn go:

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus

“Can you trust Me? Let us reason together. I want to cut short My work in you. It is taking you so long because the sin is entrenched in you like the leper’s spots. But I can hasten that work. However, I need to your cooperation. If you can trust Me, if you can place your whole dependence upon My word, and just do as My word says, just let it take its course, then I can hasten the process. Don’t worry about trying to understand. Don’t worry about trying to be convicted. Aren’t you convicted enough already that I can be trusted? So whatever I say is the direct word that is going to produce in you, if you don’t resist. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat of the good of the land.”

You know what it’s like with little children; they say, “But why, daddy?” “Just do as I say.” Isn’t that what we want to tell them? “Look, don’t waste any time; I haven’t got time to explain it to you, just do it.” A perfect illustration of that is the story of a missionary family in one of those equatorial countries where they have these great big snakes. This missionary family were going for a Sabbath afternoon walk, and they were going through this jungle-like forest, and the children were joyfully pouncing along in front of the parents. All of a sudden the father saw a big constrictor snake hanging on one of the branches over the children, and he just called out (they didn’t have time to say, Daddy, why?). He just said, Children, stop! Don’t move! They had to obey, and they did; so he could shoot the snake just before it pounced on them.

There is no time. The serpent has got the world. He wants to get us all. He is hanging over us; and God is saying to us, Trust Me, obey Me implicitly; don’t ask why, we can answer your questions afterwards. That is what is written; many questions will be answered in heaven one day. Here is this very concept – don’t ask questions, you will find out later:

John 7:17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or [whether] I speak of myself.

“If any man will do his will” – or, as the Spirit of Prophecy says, is “willing to do His will” – then he will understand. Don’t ask questions, just do it. And it is by doing it that the understanding will come to us. If any man will do His will, then he will know of the doctrine. The doctrine will be understood if we do His will. This is our responsibility, to just open the heart to the word and lay no resisting mentality, none whatsoever – to follow and obey God blindly.

Blind Obedience

This is a question and an alarm, isn’t it? “You don’t do anything blindly, do you? We should understand where we are going.” In the time that we have left here on earth, we must move without seeing – blindly. The Bible is full of that concept.

 2 Corinthians 5:7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

Faith is to trust and ask no questions, just believe. God is trustworthy. We are blindly to follow the instruction that is given. God is right; therefore His word must fall upon a heart that is like the empty earth that God created.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Blindly follow by faith. You don’t see it. “I want to see before I plunge.” No. I don’t know what is over the cliff, but I am told to jump. Trust Him. The things we do at this time, which are written for our time for us to put into action, may not make sense to our senses. To all appearances it looks like it is going to be a disaster. This is what we see in Jesus’ sacrifice. It looked like it was total failure what Jesus did in dying for us. It looked like that. Even as Jesus was there in Gethsemane, and the angel Gabriel had to help and strengthen Him, the feeling was, “If this cup can pass from me… Do I have to go through with this? O, this just doesn’t make sense. Yet not My will, but Thine be done.” This is the example.

If in the providence of God we are called upon to endure trials, let us accept the cross and drink the bitter cup, remembering that it is a Father’s hand that holds it to our lips. {5T 315.3}

This is our particular challenge today: to do what doesn’t make sense. It looks like it’s all darkness, but the Lord brings light out of darkness. So we do what God says, not what we think, because God’s word has been sent to achieve its end.

We Have Hold from Above!

To follow blindly is a very scary experience. We have the story of Sr. White in vision, where they were walking that narrow road, and it was getting narrower and narrower. They were afraid they should fall over the edge; and then there were these cords let down. Now as they were walking along, they were holding onto these cords, but they didn’t know who was holding them. Then it was sounded out along the line, We have hold from above! The test was, when they got to the end, there was big gap across to the other side, to the promised land; and there they had to place their whole dependence on those ropes, that had now widened to the width of a man so that they could hold on to them. They had to trust that those cords were not going to let them down. Can you see what we are studying here? This is our present experience: to hang on tight to heaven’s statements, to the word, as scary as it might be. We have hold from above (See Christian Experience and Teachings of Ellen G. White, pp. 179-184).

Who Are We Following?

Who is the one that is holding the reins? Who is the one that is communicating to us the word we are to trust on?

Jeremiah 32:18 Thou showest lovingkindness unto thousands, and recompensest the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them: the Great, the Mighty God, the LORD of hosts, [is] his name, 19 Great in counsel, and mighty in work: for thine eyes [are] open upon all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings:

It is the God who is in control of all this, the Great, the Mighty God, the Lord of hosts, great in counsel, and mighty in work; He is the one we are trusting. It is He whom we are relying upon, He whose word spoke the world into existence. We are following this Mighty God.

Psalm 33:8 Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. 9 For he spake, and it was [done]; he commanded, and it stood fast.

Can you see what Satan has done? People don’t believe anymore that God made the world in six days. Satan has conditioned the minds of people so that you can’t trust God to do it now, quickly; to change me now and cut short His work in righteousness. We don’t believe it, because we have been conditioned to think it all takes a long evolutionary time. God wants us to come to terms with this reality, to believe that God can speak a character change into our life, and that it can happen just like that.

Not only is He the one who spoke the world into existence, but He has given us confidence in that He has done so much for our salvation that we don’t need to doubt one little bit:

Romans 8:31 What shall we then say to these things? If God [be] for us, who [can be] against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

There was Jesus in the darkness; God did not spare Him from coming into the morass of this terrible darkness. Jesus came in the worst darkness that Satan had ever established on this planet, but God did not spare His Son. And as Jesus is played out in front of our mind’s eye, we can trust the Father because we have seen how Jesus trusted Him and implicitly relied on a “Thus saith the Lord.” He was willing and obedient, and therefore He never sinned. Can that happen to me? This is the God whose every word we are to rely upon without any resistance:

We are all under one or the other of two great captains. One, the Creator of man and of the world, is the greatest of all. All owe Him the allegiance of their whole being, the devotion of their entire affection. If the mind is given to His control, and if God has the molding and developing of the powers of the mind, new moral power will be received daily from the Source of all wisdom and all strength. {OHC 80.2}

What needs to develop fast? Our character. Our mind activities are to be moulded. And how will this take place? If we give the mind over to the control of God, the Greatest, the Creator, the One who has given us Jesus. He says, Look at what I have done for you, can you trust Me to mould and fashion you?

Moral blessings and divine beauties will reward the efforts of everyone whose mind is heaven bent. We may grasp revelations–heavenly beauties– that lie beyond the short vision of the worldling, that outshine the imagination of the greatest mind. {OHC 80.2}

We can grasp hold of things that are beyond our vision, and beyond the vision of the brightest mind. We can follow blindly, and doing so we will experience these revelations. Therefore, whatever darkness surrounds us, whether it is the family, the church, or my own personal shortcomings, my character defects; whatever it is, if God speaks, surrender, because He can be trusted. He is the Great God, great in counsel. He has created by the power of His word, He has recreated by the gift of His Son; and for me to be altered, I am required to blindly follow His directions.

Implicit, Unquestioning Obedience

That word obedience becomes more meaningful to us in the light of everything we have seen. To be obedient, in this fabric of understanding, is to surrender everything to the God who can be trusted. Unquestioning obedience – just to hear the word and say, So it is; and to surrender the whole being to that word. The messages of the three angels of Revelation 14 have been given so this may be achieved.

God has called His church in this day, as He called ancient Israel, to stand as a light in the earth. {5T 455.2}

In the gross darkness we are to stand as a light.

By the mighty cleaver of truth, the messages of the first, second, and third angels, He has separated them from the churches and from the world to bring them into a sacred nearness to Himself. {5T 455.2}

For what purpose has He given the truth under the three angels’ messages? To bring them into a sacred nearness to Himself.

He has made them the depositaries of His law and has committed to them the great truths of prophecy for this time. Like the holy oracles committed to ancient Israel, these are a sacred trust to be communicated to the world. … Christ declares to His followers: “Ye are the light of the world.” To every soul that accepts Jesus the cross of Calvary speaks: “Behold the worth of the soul: {5T 455.2}

All this has to do with the profound relationship with God. We, under the three angels’ message, have been brought into a sacred nearness to God; and that sacred nearness is there for the purpose that God can cut short His work in righteousness. The Lord is asking us today, “If ye be willing and obedient… I am not asking you to reason with Me about the standards of life, about the practices outlined for God’s people in these last days. I am asking you to be willing and obedient. That’s all.” Isn’t this the problem that we face? I want some good understanding before I can really do what I am told. But no, God says, If you be willing and obedient. He wants us to be in a sacred relationship with Him.

Items of Instructions

What follows now are just a few items in which we are confronted with God’s instruction and the human being says, Wait a minute, that’s going too far. In the Spirit of Prophecy Jesus is speaking to us for these last days. We have come into a sacred closeness to Him, and now He speaks to us. Those testimonies of the Spirit of Prophecy were not given for the world; they were given for His church, because they are in a sacred nearness to Him, and they are to stand as lights in the world.

God has given them instruction in regards to their health – what they should eat and what they should drink. And people say (and I used to say it myself), God gave them meat to eat in the past; why not now? But God says, Now I want you to be a vegetarian. Everything that we read in the Spirit of Prophecy in regards to health is what God is saying to us, and we want to say, “Yes, Lord.” Just do it. “But I can’t because my circumstances aren’t right.” Just do it, and I will give you the word, and the word will have its course.

Then comes our dress, our modesty – fashion and vanity is all around us, and modern people today will say, We are now living in modern times, we don’t go back to the 1800’s. Ministers have been telling me this. Is God old-fashioned? Yes, He is. Go and ask for the old paths, the Bible says. So when He says, I want you to dress in a certain way, you may say, “I am going to look stupid in this present world.” Of course. This was especially the case in the days when I was a youth; the miniskirts were around, and the woman that wore long dresses were seen as just too bizarrely different; so the dresses got shorter and shorter, just to keep up with that. This is just one example. It doesn’t make sense to human minds, but God said, This is it. We do what He says without reasoning.

Then come worldly pastimes – we get so conditioned to the world and its practices around us, but God says, Touch not the unclean thing; be separate. He gives us all the instruction in the Spirit of Prophecy as to what is worldly and what is not. Do it, without asking questions.

Then, how we relate with one another – the instructions in this regard are all written out specifically. You know how hard it is not to gossip, don’t you? He says, Don’t gossip. Stop gossiping then. Do it.

Be kind and courteous – it’s all written. “This person is really chafing me, I feel irritated.” No. God says, Be still, don’t say a word. All this is beautifully written, and we want to go in the detail of these things in the light of total trust.

If we are always questioning and asking the reasons why, there is a terrible consequence that comes with that – we never do it.

Many do not earnestly seek to understand the lessons found in God’s Word. They lay aside the Bible, and allow their minds to become engrossed with the cheap reading found in books of fiction, newspapers, and magazines. {OHC 275.2}

What does this mean? If we are in a questioning mode, we say, When I understand; but we wait for God to give us understanding without us carefully seeking God’s word as to what He is basically saying, which is, to obey. Now if I am on that slant, what will I do? I will not spend much time in searching the Bible. I will leave it for the minister. And after the minister has shown me what is written there, I will start reasoning around it. This is the problem of what we are facing in these last days; this is what the natural man will do. If he is questioning God, he will never come to the understanding, because he doesn’t do what God says and he wants to wait for some conviction, some understanding which he doesn’t pursue will all his heart.

Who Said It?

In all this there is only one thing to settle, it is this: who said it? If God said it, that settles it. God has spoken, and what He has spoken we are to act upon. We are not present a resistance to that spoken word.

Hebrews 2:2 For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; 3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard [him]; 4 God also bearing [them] witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?

In the Old Testament history the people who did not do what God said received a recompense. It was the angels that spoke; but now Jesus speaks to us personally in coming to this earth, in speaking to us from that time onwards through those who heard Him. How can we escape if we do not act on those words? It is God that spoke. The apostle Paul talks about this very point in the followings words. The children of Israel heard what God said, but did not mingle what He said with that faith that blindly follows.

Hebrews 3:15 While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. 16 For some, when they had heard, did provoke:

So God was grieved with them for forty years in the wilderness.

Hebrews 3:19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. 4:1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left [us] of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. 2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard [it].

Faith is the evidence of things unseen – blind faith. We want to be ready when probation closes; we don’t have time. We don’t have time to dilly dally. When God speaks, let us open hearts to it, and let it take its course irrespective of the senses that say, But, but, but.

May the Lord help us to truly engage in this, with the little time that we have left. We can quickly unlearn, and quickly learn again, by simply doing what our God tells us in His word. Thank God for this privilege, and may we be those people that are privileged like that.


Posted on 02/03/2017, in Divine Service Sermons, Restoring Old Paths and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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