Alleviating the Sense of Vulnerability

By John Thiel, mp3

Scripture reading: Psalm 30:6 And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved. 7 LORD, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face, [and] I was troubled.

As we live in this time of earth’s history in which we are receiving the messages of the three angels, in the study of these messages we discover that they call for a total surrender.

The first angel is flying “in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach” to the earth; and this everlasting gospel brings to the attention of all that they, through the gospel, are called upon to obey and follow God’s directions in their life. This same angel then says:

Revelation 14:7 …Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come:

He tells us to give glory to God by a life of total surrender to Him, because in the gospel conclusion we are being examined in the judgment hour whether we are totally submissive to God or not. Then comes the second angel, and he says:

Revelation 14:8 …Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. 

The fallen churches of Christianity today, which are Babylon, have fallen under the influence of the papal Babylon.

Revelation 14:9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive [his] mark in his forehead, or in his hand, 14:10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: … 12 Here is the patience of the saints: here [are] they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.

It is a call for those who would be listening to the sermons of these angels, to abandon the world, because the whole world is following after the beast. They are called upon to abandon friendship with the ways of the world, to abandon the entanglements and the lifestyle that surrounds the people in these last days, to abandon the entrenched habits that have taken place in the lives of people at this time.

This call is more severe and intense compared to the call that Jesus gave to the disciples, and even to that of the three worthies who would not bow to the image on the plain of Dura. Those calls were milder than the one that is now given to those who are living under the three angels’ messages. To understand the entirety of this call we need to hear the words of Jesus where He speaks to those who are being called to follow Him:

Matthew 19:27 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?

“Are we going to get a benefit from this?”

Matthew 19:28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

This is the call, and especially intensely so for us under the three angels’ messages. If we are going to be the people who will keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, this is no halfway measure in a world that is geared against it all. Jesus’ words are very descriptive of what it means to follow God’s way under the three angels’ messages. We may have to forsake houses, brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for the sake of this call. Yet we may be comforted in His words, You shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

We have just such an example of someone who truly gave up everything that had been of support to him in the past:

Philippians 3:7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things [but] loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them [but] dung, that I may win Christ,

What he was talking about here is revealed by what he said beforehand. Before he could say that, he felt that he could have confidence in certain things that he relied on:

Philippians 3:5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, [of] the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; 6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

It’s easy to read these words, but place yourself into his experience for a moment. He was a Hebrew of the Hebrews, a top man; he was one of the leaders of his church, and he depended upon that for his security. It’s just like a minister who is being supported by the church by tithe and all of a sudden he has to give that up; what is he going to do now? Apostle Paul gave everything up for the wonderful excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus. He counted all these things as dung, that he might win Christ,

Philippians 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

That is a big step. The entirety of this surrender is amplified many times in the Spirit of Prophecy.

“When you give up your own will, your own wisdom, and learn of Christ, you will find admittance into the kingdom of God. He requires entire, unreserved surrender. Give up your life for Him to order, mold, and fashion. {1SM 110.2}

It means change in our life for Him to mold and fashion us according to His way.

Take upon your neck His yoke. Submit to be led and taught by Him. Learn that unless you become as a little child, you can never enter the kingdom of heaven. {Ibid.}

What this surrender is is what people run away from today. They don’t mind accepting a gospel that gives them the wonderful feeling that they are forgiven for their sins; but a gospel that calls for a continuation of walking with God and making a change in their life to live in an entire, unreserved surrender, a life given to God for Him to order, mould, and fashion, submitting to be led and taught by Him, they do not want. But that is what surrender means.

Surrender

How many times in our issues of life certain things have come upon our consciousness that we were to surrender aspects of our life to God? You heard the knocking of Jesus upon your heart’s door, you sensed the conviction that came upon your mind, but because it was just a bit uncomfortable, the knocking on the door is shelved. Or we might make one tentative step towards Jesus, but then we think of the consequences of going all the way with God, and we stop. If we are in such a condition, of being nearly there but not quite surrendered perfectly, let us consider the following words:

If we are weighted with the treasures of eternal truth we shall proclaim to a world perishing in sin what it signifies to have the sanctifying, redeeming love of Christ in the soul. If we are verily and truly united in Christ, it is because truth has taken possession of the soul temple. . . . {TMK 129.4}

What has truth done? It has taken possession. Truth will now mould and control me.

The heart that has opened its doors to Jesus will love pure, cleansing, transforming truth, and will zealously contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. {TMK 129.5}

Truth that will change me. I will love that if my heart is opened fully to the knocking of Jesus.

Let no man stop short of entire, unreserved surrender to God. {Ibid.}

Don’t stop short. Don’t give Him some of your heart and still hold back a little bit else. Don’t stop short of unreserved surrender.

Begin the work in the heart. Look away from the course of action pursued by others to Christ. {Ibid.}

This is a typical thing that we often do. “If somebody like him doesn’t do it, why should I?” When we see that there are only few people in these last days that really surrender everything, and the rest of them make a profession but don’t actually go all the way, we should look away from the course of action pursued by others. Look to Christ.

You have a soul to save or a soul to lose, and this is too important a question to be regarded indifferently. {Ibid.}

This is our problem today. We are surrounded by a “take it or leave it” attitude – indifference. But in a world that is headed for destruction with the great majority going that way, there is a terrible pall on the mind that says, Ohh… maybe, maybe not. Whatever God requires of us there is always this struggle.

As we are confronted with this necessity of entire surrender under the three angels’ messages, having to let the world go in all its various forms, there is this nagging sense inside of us. The disciples were called by Jesus, and what did they do?

So it was with the disciples previously called. When Jesus bade Peter and his companions follow Him, immediately they left their boats and nets. Some of these disciples had friends dependent on them for support; but when they received the Saviour’s invitation they did not hesitate and inquire, “How shall I live and sustain my family?” {MH 480.1} 

That is a vulnerability, isn’t it?

They were obedient to the call; and when afterward Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye anything?” they could answer, “Nothing.” Luke 22:35. {Ibid.}

Today the Saviour calls us, as He called Matthew and John and Peter, to His work. If our hearts are touched by His love, the question of compensation will not be uppermost in our minds. {MH 480.2}

“What are we going to get from that?” That is what Peter said. But that question of compensation will be far from us.

We shall rejoice to be co-workers with Christ, and we shall not fear to trust His care. If we make God our strength we shall have clear perceptions of duty, unselfish aspirations; our life will be actuated by a noble purpose which will raise us above sordid motives. {Ibid.}

Many who profess to be Christ’s followers have an anxious, troubled heart because they are afraid to trust themselves with God. {MH 480.3} 

Because if you are going to surrender all you are going to have to trust that God will take care of you.

They do not make a complete surrender to Him, for they shrink from the consequences that such a surrender may involve. Unless they do make this surrender they cannot find peace. {Ibid.}

There are many whose hearts are aching under a load of care because they seek to reach the world’s standard. {MH 481.1}

This is the sense of vulnerability that comes with the call to surrender all. “People are depending on me, what if I lose my income? What if I follow God all the way? I’m going to suffer the loss of my security.” It is a real sense of vulnerability that we meet, not taking thought of the consequences, letting go and letting God.

Does this indeed arouse in us the intense sense of the consequences of letting God take over? To just do what God says, no matter what I feel like, even if it cuts right across my very sense of security or self-worth? It is a sense of vulnerability because you do not hold the reins of control over your own life.

There are many who believe and profess to claim the Lord’s promise; they talk about Christ and about the Holy Spirit, yet receive no benefit. They do not surrender the soul to be guided and controlled by the divine agencies. {DA 672.1}

Take it into practice. The Lord says, I want your tithe; and then I look at my money and I think, Oh dear, if I give my tithe I’m going to be running short. Can you see the sense of vulnerability? But the Lord wants me to give to Him a tithe. This is but one example.

When it comes to all these other situations there is always something that causes me to look at the consequences and shield myself from going all the way, and causes me to stop short. But it says that the soul is to surrender to the control of the divine agencies.

I had that situation very heavily placed upon me some years ago. I had already given my heart to Jesus and I was now serving as an elder in the church, but then I discovered, after a good 17 years of being supported by that ministry, that I would either have to give up my belief on the nature of Christ to continue to be supported, or else lose my income and find myself in a very vulnerable position to still be able to feed my family, etc. That was a vulnerable sense, but to me the message of the truth was more important than my security.

Our characters are by nature warped and perverted. Through the lack of proper development they are wanting in symmetry. With some excellent qualities are united objectionable traits, and through long indulgence wrong tendencies become second nature, and many persons cling tenaciously to their peculiarities. Even after they profess to accept the truth, to yield themselves to Christ, {RH, April 12, 1892 par. 2}

We shield ourselves from this sense because this is too close to the bone. It’s so close to me. And they are often peculiarities that I have developed over the years, and I rely on those ways of thinking. So although I give myself partially and accept and profess the truth and I profess to yield myself to Christ, yet,

…the same old habits are indulged, the same self-esteem is manifested, the same false notions entertained. {Ibid.}

A notion is something which is real to me; but it’s not, it’s only a notion really. But I still hold onto it, instead of giving it up entirely to what is revealed to me in God’s word. I see this very much among people who have established a false notion on their health ideas. It becomes a notion, but they think it is reality.

Although such ones claim to be converted, it is evident that they have not yielded themselves to the transforming power of the truth. {Ibid.}

“This is too close to the bone! It’s part of me!” I have dealt with this in terms of people who had mental diseases. The condition of a mental disease is that you really believe that something is a reality, when in all reality it is not. But it’s so real to that person’s mind. And to help that person out of his mental condition is like pulling out hen’s teeth. It’s impossible. We are mentally deranged because of sin, and God comes to us and show us the reality of eternal dimension and we think, Huh huh, this is not right for me. But God says, Believe Me, this is truth; I will heal you of your mental disease.

We need to deal with this sense of vulnerability. I can’t let go because it feels like all that I’m standing on is going to be pulled out from underneath me. My mind cannot comprehend this because of the sense of my vulnerability. So whatever God says to us, which in obeying renders us vulnerable, it requires a trust and a firm reliance upon Him. You feel that nothing is supporting, so you have to learn to let Him whom you don’t see support you. It is a faith, a dependence upon someone who is the God of the universe and is trustworthy.

The sense of vulnerability was very much illustrated in the experience of Apostle Peter.

Matthew 14:25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. 27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. 28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.

Have you ever walked on water before? You can see the nature of Peter’s words, Lord, I trust You; if it’s You, then bid me to come and walk on the water.

Matthew 14:29 And he said, Come.

This is exactly what Jesus said in His calling to the disciples, Come and follow Me. “Come and walk on the water. Trust Me.”

Matthew 14:29 …And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.

For a little moment he was walking on the water. I trust Jesus, it’s wonderful! But then he began to feel vulnerable. He looked over his shoulder to see the disciples and he started to feel vulnerable. Just put yourself in his position. Walking on water? And now what happened?

Matthew 14:30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. 31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth [his] hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

What a playing out of the sense of vulnerability that can get in the way of our perfect trust in what we have already discovered of God. We begin to doubt, especially when the storm blows and the waves are high around you. And besides, you’ve lost sight of the face of Jesus. The wave got in between and Peter couldn’t see Jesus anymore, so down he went.

In the Psalms we have a manifestation of what Peter was experiencing:

Psalm 30:6 And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved.

Peter was prosperous; he was walking on the water. “That’s good! Jesus is with me. Wonderful! I will never be moved.”

Psalm 30:7 LORD, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong:

As we walk with God we get established on certain issues, but then what can happen?

Psalm 30:7 …thou didst hide thy face, [and] I was troubled.

When Peter lost the sight of Jesus’ face he was troubled, and down he went. In our walk with God we are sometimes walking, as it were, on water; we are secure, nothing can move us. But let something come in between and I discover where I’m actually standing, and the sense of fear takes hold of me and I become vulnerable and fall.

In reality we are really vulnerable when we fail to surrender all. We lose our peace when we don’t keep very close to that surrender. The true vulnerability is when we fail to totally surrender and trust the God who is trustworthy. If I want to have a sense of security, to be freed from the sense of vulnerability, I can only have it when I really and entirely cast myself on the Lord.

How to Alleviate the Sense of Vulnerability

1 John 2:17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

Only the person who will make an entire surrender to God, who will entirely obey what God is saying, living by every word that proceeds out of His mouth, and doing the will of God, will abide forever, while everything else that you see and that you rely on is going to pass away. Where is our security? To conquer that sense of vulnerability we have to remember that whatever is the will of God will abide forever. But when we hold on to that which we see with our bare eyes and we depend upon our creature comforts and our sense of responsibility and of having to meet the consequences, we are not secure at all. To do the will of God, to live by every word proceeding out of God’s mouth, that is our security. But it doesn’t feel like it. Unless we remind ourselves of the great God, and if we look at the circumstances, like Peter did on the water (and it didn’t feel like he was secure), we will feel vulnerable.

It was because of this feeling, this sense of vulnerability, that Jesus came to this earth. What did Jesus do in the sense of vulnerability that He placed Himself in as a fellow human being with us? See how Jesus met this sense but conquered it:

John 6:38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.

Jesus came to earth to demonstrate. He came down, not to do His own will, but the will of Him that sent Him. He demonstrated the kind of vulnerability He had to deal with:

John 5:30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

We are digging deep into the principle of Christ’s example for us in living activity and in practical reality. Jesus says, “I am vulnerable. Whatever I would do of Myself, it’s not secure. I can of Mine own self do nothing. I am here to do the Father’s will, and of Myself I am vulnerable. But if I do what God says I can be sure that My judgment is just, because I am not seeking My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. I trust in the one who sent Me, in the one who I agreed with in the distant past of eternity to take on this experience with man and make Myself feel vulnerable, as man is.” Here I am going through with this exercise, and from my memory of God’s word I know that this is what God wants me to do, but it doesn’t feel secure, apart from my trust in Him.

Jesus said, My peace I give unto you. What is this peace? When He was on the boat during the storm in Galilee, while they were all scared trying to bail out the water, He was asleep, because He trusted totally that God would take care of Him. He conquered the sense of vulnerability because He trusted. And as He arrived at the final storm of His experience with vulnerable man, what did He say? He described His sense of vulnerability in these words, Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me. This is too much. A sense of vulnerability? But what did He say then? Nevertheless not My will, but Thine, be done.

Scared to Do God’s Will

As Jesus was going through this, there were two of His disciples who thought they were smart enough to actually help Jesus. He was going to go through something that they didn’t want Him to go through and they could see Him vulnerable. Judas was a smart man, and very astute, and he thought, Jesus is too humble, I’m going to put Him in a position where He’s going to get Himself out of this difficulty. He thought He could help Jesus.

Judas was the one who led the rabble of the Pharisees to Jesus in Gethsemane, and he thought to himself, Now Jesus is going to look after Himself.

John 18:2 And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples. 3 Judas then, having received a band [of men] and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4 Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye?

Here came Judas with his band, and he really expected Jesus to display His power. And He did for a moment, when He let His light shine out and they all fell to the ground; but then they recovered themselves and He gave Himself over to the multitude. He decided not to do His will but the will of the Father. As Judas discovered that Jesus was not going to save Himself, Peter then decided to save Jesus.

John 18:10 Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. … 11 Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?

“I will do what the Father wants Me to do. Don’t try to save Me, Peter. He who uses the sword shall perish by the sword.” You can see the human nature is ever trying to shield itself from things that are the consequences of doing God’s will. Poor Judas went along and hung himself, and the disciples ran for their lives. It’s scary to the human nature to do God’s will.

Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” {CTr 268.4}

At this saying terror seized upon the disciples. They were now all together again, surrounding their Lord; but at the proposition of Peter, they “all . . . forsook him, and fled.” {CTr 268.5}

“He’s not going to save Himself, He’s not going to save us, let’s go, flee.” Vulnerability… Can you see? But Jesus did the Father’s will; and what security was Christ’s?

Jesus’ Security

He was obedient to God, no matter how fearful the consequences were. This is the lesson for us.

Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation,

Is that a sense of vulnerability when your reputation is gone? He made Himself of no reputation,

Philippians 2:7 …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.

This is the security. By following what God said, what did God then do for Him?

Philippians 2:9 Wherefore 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; 11 And [that] every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ [is] Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Security. Every time we feel vulnerable because there is an item of God’s will that is uncomfortable, to decide to do exactly what God wants me to do I need to look to this story of Jesus; because it is as we look at this detail that we have the sense of our vulnerability alleviated. It departs. I know that God is going to look after me. It looks very dark now, I don’t know whether I’m going to come through this; but that’s fine, God has said I should stand firm. And if I stand firm and surrender all to Him, it may look like everything is going down the tube, but it doesn’t. To the disciples everything that they were feeling would be good, left them vulnerable, because Jesus wasn’t doing what they expected Him to do. They expected that they would conquer the Romans and would be set free from the Roman yoke, and now this whole expectation wasn’t happening and they were feeling vulnerable. They ran for their lives. This is the story of God’s people all through history. Will we respond to the call and surrender all? Look to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. Take the plunge, leave the consequences with God in these last days, and you will find true peace and tranquillity. You will be still and know that He is God. You will be able to walk on the troubled ocean of this present world and not sink.

God grant us to follow this example of Jesus, to do whatever God says, be the cost what it may at the moment. We are secure at length. And only as we look to Jesus can that sense of vulnerability be eradicated. God grant us this at every turn that we make in following the truth in these last days.

Amen.

Posted on March 9, 2017, in Divine Service Sermons, Sermons by John Thiel and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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