Biographical Sketch of Dr. Stuart E. Lease / Bible Messages by Dr. Stuart E. Lease
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FATHER We want indeed that the Holy Spirit will open our hearts to receive Your Truth. We realize that it is possible to receive the Word without faith, and thus to have it profit us nothing. Were reminded that there were those of old, that the Word did not profit because it was not mixed with faith in them that heard. Give us the faith that we need to receive all that You have for us in Your precious Word tonight, I pray in Jesus Name. Amen.
Open with me first the Gospel of Matthew, Matthew chapter 6. My theme that Ive chosen this evening, and it was chosen a long time ago This One Thing I Do, or if you were expanding that at The Proper Place of Priorities, that is, we need priorities in our life and our spiritual vision needs to be focused. There is an interesting expression in here, in Matthew 6:22, The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single.... Now really what that means is properly focused. For quite a few years, I had no real problem with my eyes. I could see to drive a car, I could see to read, but when I went to school and majored in history [We had one consoling thing. They always told us that if we failed, we went down in history.] We had to do an awful lot of reading, and my eyes focused down to my reading, and I began to realize that when I was driving a car, the farther the cars ahead got away from me, the more I saw of them, I see two of them as they got a little farther away and my eyes got out of focused. They focused in on reading, but lost their focus for the farther distances. Consequently, I had to get glasses to focus my eyes, so that my vision would be single.
You know, thats what Im concerned about this evening, that we get a proper focus on what God has in mind for us. It involves concentration on a single object and seeing it clearly. I also know that people generally see what they look for. The thing I want us to do tonight is to focus, to see, what God wants us to see, whatever our condition might be. I want to approach it in three ways.
First, I want to approach it from what the sinner must focus on. If you are an unbeliever or if you know a sinner, what a sinner must focus on is salvation; that is, receiving Jesus Christ as his Savior. You see, when man was first brought into the world, he was not a sinner. He was an innocent person Adam and then his wife, Eve. But, as you know in reading the account in Genesis three, Adam deliberately partook of the forbidden fruit and thus with his wife entered into transgression against God; and thus man who could previously see, could not see any more the way he could before. In fact, he couldnt even hear very well either. His whole being: spirit, soul, and body was adversely affected by sin. I Corinthians 15:22 makes this very clear, For as in Adam [How many?] all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. Now, dont get confused with that. The first part is all sinners. The second part is all believers. Its not that everybody is eventually going to be saved, as Nell Sporee taught. [In fact, he taught that love was the fundamental and greatest attribute of God, and that Gods love is so great that eventually hell will be emptied, and even the Devil will be brought to heaven; because the love of God is so great.] Dont ever get that idea. Love is not the fundamental attribute of God. It is a tremendous attribute of God. What is the fundamental attribute of God? Holiness. Holiness is the fundamental attribute of God, and it is that which was violated when man disobeyed God, and everyone born into the world since Adam has been born spiritually dead. Romans 3:23, For [How many?] all have sinned, and [literally are] coming short of the glory of God. Thus, no matter how much you have in this life of things or prestige or position or power [In fact, as I thought of life, it seems that in life there is a kind of a sequence: When you are young, you look for fun; as you go on you try to acquire fortune, that is, you try to acquire things; as you get older, you want to be sure that you have reached some sort of fame fun, fortune, fame] but you know?.....none of these will do you any good for eternity. The only thing that we find in ourselves is that we are all lost, even the rich man that came to Jesus. What did Jesus say? One thing thou lackest. He laid his finger on the thing that was separating the rich man from Jesus. It was things!
Now, there are many different things that separate people from God, but the thing that separates everyone from God is sin. Remember the blind man who came to Jesus in John nine and his sight was restored? And they tried to say, Well, you know, this really didnt happen to you. He said, One thing I know: that whereas I was blind, now I see. And, a thing that a believer finds out is that he can see. The unsaved man and the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
For a number of years I tried to witness to a Jewish man here in Lancaster. He owned a store downtown in the heart of the city. Not only did I witness to him, but Dr. Heydt came and witnessed to him, Mr. Randolph, and others; in fact, I suppose that Ive had six or eight people beside myself try to impress upon him the claims of Christ. Do you know that he could quote probably as much of the New Testament as almost anybody present here tonight? He could quote John 3:16. He could quote Romans 3:23 and all the rest of these. He only, however, ever learned those verses to try to refute them. He never accepted them to himself, because he never saw his need. In fact, he told me about a month before he died, he said, You know, Stuart, if there is a heaven [and he didnt think there was one. He felt that when he died, you would just die and there would be nothing more]. He said, If there is a heaven, Ill get there because Im a Jew. I said, Well, thats not what gets you there. Well, he said, We believe in one God. And he said, If there is one, and I get there, Im going to tell God that you tried to get two other guys in there with Him, [meaning the Son and the Holy Spirit]. Now, he didnt like the Trinity teaching, of course. You know the thing, I thought, when the manager of the store called me and told me that he had died......he learned a lot....too late! I dont know whether on the way out, he might have believed on Christ; but he was blind to the things, even of the Word of God, even though he read and memorized, and he read his New Testament every day.....but the veil was over his spiritual eyes, so that he would not see.
Now, our focus is upon the Lord Jesus and He....is....our....life! Jesus Christ said, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man cometh unto the Father but by me. Romans 6:23, For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal [What?] life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I think that I told you, some years ago, about some friends who had visited a wax museum in Gettysburg, before we had one here in Lancaster, and they had a figure inside there and it was difficult to tell whether this was a figure acting like a person or a person acting like a wax figure; because it was rather dark and they couldnt tell too well. One of the ladies in the group was so exercised about this and wanted to know, but she didnt want to ask because she would have gotten a rote response; but she had with her, in her purse, a hatpin, and she put the figure to the test. And, as I got the story, it was a person acting like a wax figure, and they got a rise out of it.
Some years ago, a friend of mine who was an outstanding soul-winner asked me to go with him to visit a man that he had said that he led to Christ. I dealt with that man for about an hour, on every point that I sought to bring up about spiritual things he fended them off. If I talked about the stockmarket or something like that, he was immediately responsive. If I talked about current news, he was responsive. If I talked to him about anything spiritual, there was no response whatsoever! As we were driving back from that encounter, I said to my friend, I believe you decisioned him, and he never really obtained life. You know one thing about life, if its there, it will show; especially when you probe. And, if it doesnt show when you probe, chances are theres no life there.
I want to say to you tonight, there might even in this Conference, be someone who has come in and say, Well, Im not sure if I have life or not. Well, probe yourself, pinch yourself spiritually as it were. See whether there is any life there. Now I know that there are some in our area here, who believe that you can lose your spiritual life, and they teach that its not necessarily even works that continually save you, but that you have to keep on believing; and if at any point you fail to believe, then you lose your salvation. You know there is one verse that throws all that into a cocked hat, its Acts 16:31. It says, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. In the Greek, thats an aorist imperative, and the aorist is that which takes place in a point and in a moment of time and remains so. Im not saying that to promote license for sin. I dont believe that when you get saved, youre free to sin; but I do believe that when you receive life, you receive eternal life and it lasts just that long eternally! Now I also know that there are some who think that they did and didnt; and if you didnt, the most important thing for you tonight is to make sure that youve received that life. Thus, the sinner must focus on salvation.
The saint must focus on consecration. Consecration! Some years ago, we had Malcolm Cronk come to minister to our faculty and staff and students on campus at LBC, and we were having lunch with him and the faculty; and one of the faculty asked him, What do you think is the most important thing for a Christian? He said, Ill tell you in a word, its consecration! Consecration! He said, You know, in a Bible school, it doesnt depend on the birth rate how many students you get [and thats true]. It doesnt even depend on the new birth rate [and thats true], because there are a lot of newborn people that have no interest in studying the Bible. Unfortunately, he said, It depends upon the consecration rate. Now, what does consecrate mean? Its an interesting word, especially in the Old Testament. It means to open the hand. to open the hand! Years ago I heard a speaker say, Our lives, as believers, ought to be as on an open hand before the Lord for Him to move, to remove, to place or replace, as He sees fit. You know the symbol of the selfish person is the clenched fist. The symbol of the servant of God is the open hand; and thats what is involved in consecration. Romans 12:1-2, I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you [What?] present your bodies a living sacrifice [Its interesting folks that there, the word present is also an aorist imperative; and it means that it takes place in a point of time and remains so. I really wonder, how many who even come here to Central Manor, and I know many of you have, ....but I wonder how many of you may not have consecrated your lives to the Lord presented your body as a living sacrifice to the Lord, as of an open hand before Him? Consecration is an event. I believe in the actual giving of your body in a moment of time, just as when you get married. In a moment of time and it remains so. Im not talking about a second work of grace or anything like that, but I do believe that consecration begins with an act of dedication in which we give our bodies to the Lord. When we got saved, we gave our souls and spirits to the Lord. When we are consecrated, we give our bodies to the Lord. Its an event and also a process. I often said that getting saved is a lot like getting married....begins with an event, but it continues as a process; and youre just as married five minutes after the minister says, I now pronounce you, man and wife[as twenty-five years later]. But, you feel more like it twenty-five years later. May I say that just as you give your selves, one to another in marriage, so I believe that we need to give our bodies to the Lord for His service.
In my teen years, and I was eighteen at the time, when I presented my body to the Lord. It was something that was really stressed at that time; and there were many of us from that young peoples group at the York Gospel Center who are now serving the Lord Jesus Christ as servants of His in various parts of the world. We presented our bodies. (You know, I say that its like getting inducted into military service. What is expected from you? present your body!) But, you know, frankly, I dont hear much about that in these days as I did thirty years ago. I dont know why?....but its just as essential today, as it was thirty years ago, that we present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable [You know that word acceptable is really well-pleasing] unto God, which is your reasonable service. Remember what was said of the Lord Jesus, This is My Beloved Son, in Whom I am [What?] well-pleased. I talked even here, Im sure, on other occasions about motivations for service. You can motivate people to do something by force. Theyll do it, but theyll reject you; and if they get a chance again, they wont do it again. You can get people to do something through duty and say that you got to do it.
But, theres a higher motivation. I think that higher than motivation is love! The love of Christ constrains us, and thats what we need. You know, when I think through this, I think theres even something....and Ive struggled hard to find a word for something higher than love, but Im going to call it devotion. I think you can love someone and not be devoted to them. Love means that youll be pleasing, but devotion means that youll be well-pleasing; and well-pleasing means that youll not just do what youre told to do, but youll go beyond and do something extra! This is my Beloved Son, in Whom I am well-pleased! You know, Id like to be well-pleasing to the Lord! Wouldnt you? I hope you would, because thats the most important thing in all the world....to be pleasing and well-pleasing to Him.
Now thirdly, and very quickly. The sincere person, believer, will focus on graduation. The sinner must focus on salvation. The saint must focus on consecration. The sincere believer will focus on graduation, because this is the one thing where you will please the Lord. Theres an intensity of pursuit involved in study. In Philippians 3 beginning at verse 10, Paul had this kind of thing in mind. He said, That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death. [Most of us dont want to have that part of it, but its part of life] If by any means I might attain [or measure up] unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after [I press on], if that I may apprehend [or lay hold] that for which also I am apprehended [or laid hold] of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended. [By the way, if you think that you have already arrived, youll never get there; and Paul realized that he had not arrived.]: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth [literally, stretching forth] unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
I dont know why, but Ive always liked school....from day one until more than twenty years later. Why did I like school? Well, it was kind of a challenge to me. My older brothers and sisters had all gone before me in the country school, and everybody said, Well now, Stuarts the last. I wonder how hell do, you know, the left overs as it were. And my oldest brother, Paul had done well; George had done well; my sisters had done well. Hows Stuart going to do? Well, fortunately I liked school. I liked my teachers. I liked the subjects. But I had a brother who didnt like school. He wrote inside his books, In case of fire, throw this in. But I liked school; and as I continued on, I did well in school; and graduated with honors, even in grade school. Then in high school, I made it there, but not quite as well....got interested in young ladies, you know, towards the end of high school. College did OK, Bible School very well. But you know, the greatest thing, in fact, one of the happiest days of my life was when I graduated from college; because none of the others in my family were; and my mom and dad were present for that. The greatest joy for me in that graduation (You know what is was?)....a pleased father! [You know? Thats what we ought to be concerned about....a pleased Father!] My dad was there. He died just a few years later, but he was at my graduation! And you know, as I seek to please the Lord, in this intensity of pursuit, I want to be so that when I appear before Him, I may not be ashamed before Him....but will hear His Words, Well done! II Corinthians 5:10, For we must all [and that is all believers, by the way] appear before the judgment seat of Christ [Thats the evaluation seat, by the way.]; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. By the way, thats not good or bad in the sense of sin. Literally, it would be better translated, worthwhile or worthless; and one of the things thats going to be evident, at this evaluation seat, is the witness of our works what we have done, the worth of our works how good they were; and I believe with it, is the willingness of our works.....Did we really want to serve the Lord; and if we did, I think that He opens those opportunities to serve Him. Intensity of the Pursuit, the Intension of the Pursuit, the Intent of the Pursuit!
I Corinthians 4, and well conclude with this, Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found [What?] faithful. Years ago I heard a minister say, Life is hard by the yard; but by the inch, it is a cinch. And, thats true. To be faithful, a step at a time; and in that, you will continue on until you arrive at Gods destination for you. It Inspires Our Practice. It Improves Our Perspective [verse 3 through verse 5], But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of mans judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know [or discern] nothing of myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but He that judgeth me is [Whom?] the Lord. The Lord judges His children to discern whether they have done well or not so well; but ultimately, God is going to have a word of praise for everyone. Notice verse 5, Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, Who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall [and I like the revised reading of this] then shall each man have [his] praise of God. Every believer is going to have some word of praise from God!
Now, Im inclined to believe that every one who has believed on Jesus Christ is going to appear at the evaluation seat of Christ. I think that it is like graduation. I think that everybody who is there, has passed the course. But, Im also convinced that not everybody is going to get the same grade. I think that some are going to get As, some are going to get Bs, some are going to get Cs; and at our School, if you got a D, you could pass but that was it 0. You just made it! And you know Paul says in writing to the Corinthians in I Corinthians 4:15, Some will be saved; yet.....so...as...by fire. with nothing to give to their Lord.
Now, my message was three-fold tonight: First, Sinners Need to be Saved, and you need to know that you are saved for time and for eternity. Second, Believers Need to Present Their Bodies to the Lord as a living sacrifice. Third, Those who have Presented Their Bodies, Need to Persevere....need to keep on, not just get started but keep on going on in the Lord. Now I dont know what your need is tonight, but I know that God knows your heart even better than you know your heart. Therefore, let Him continue to speak to you! Shall we pray.
FATHER If perchance there is someone who has come into our service tonight, who does not know Jesus Christ as personal Savior, I pray that You will reveal to that individual that he is a sinner: lost, eternally separated from You for time and for eternity; but if he will simply believe on the Lord Jesus Christ....believe that he is a sinner, know that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that He was buried and rose again the third day believing that He finished the work of our redemption on the Cross O Lord, may some one who has that need tonight, believe!
And then, Father, for some who have believed and never presented their bodies, may they do it tonight by a deliberate act of the will, say, Lord Jesus, I present to You my body for You to use as You see fit.
And then, Father, for those of us who have done that....maybe some of us have gone AWOL and need to return....and report for duty and be involved again in Your work and Your will....whatever the heart-need is, I pray that by Your Spirit, You will minister to that need so that that individual say, This One Thing I Do I will believe on the Lord Jesus Christ if Im a sinner, I will give my body to the Lord Jesus (Ive been saved), and I will consecrate my self, I will open my hand for Him to use me as He sees fit day by day in His service. To this end, bless Your Word, and if we can be of help, Father, may people be free to come speak that we might help them (even further, personally), I pray.
Now, may Your grace, mercy, and peace rest and abide on each of us, now and for evermore. Amen.
This message was delivered at Central Manor Conference in 1984 by Dr. Stuart E. Lease.