Hebrews 13: 13 14. Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp bearing His reproach. For here have we no continuing city but we seek one to come.
EXHORTATION, EXERCISE, EXPERIENCE AND EXPECTATION
May 31st, 1959
Hebrews 13: 13, 14. “Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.”
This is a word which was penned by the Apostle Paul long ago to the Church of Christ in Judea, which was made up of believing Jews, and that Church of Christ was passing through a very solemn testing time. Many in the Church there were being persecuted for righteousness’ sake; many of them were hard put to it to endure in the profession of Jesus’ Name which they had made. Some of them, alas, did not endure, and they became apostates, and turned their backs upon the profession which they had made and went back into the world, from which they had never come out aright. What I desire is that God will grant grace to you, and the preacher, too, that it might be said of us, what the Apostle Paul penned to this Church of Christ in Judea: “Now the just shall live by faith, but if any man draw back. My soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them which draw back unto perdition but of them which believe to the saving of the soul.” The Lord grant that may be the truth concerning you, dear friends, young and old, and the preacher too. The Apostle Paul was inspired of God to pen this Epistle to the Hebrews to encourage those in the Church of Christ in Judea to “hold fast their profession” and the word I have read for the subject (from which I hope grace will be given to preach to you) is a summing up of the truth which the Apostle Paul had been helped to set forth throughout the Epistle: “Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach. For here have we no continuing city but we seek one to come.” I want, as the Lord shall help me, to look at the subject from two viewpoints. First of all the Exhortation, and then the Exercise and the Experience set forth in the text, “bearing His reproach”. The exercise is the meaning of the word “bearing”. The experience is set forth in “His reproach”, and I might add a third viewpoint, and that could be termed the Expectation. “for
I have thought many times that it is wellnigh impossible for us to conceive in our minds how difficult it must have been for a believing Jew to hold fast his profession of the Name of Jesus. At this time, when this Epistle was pennedÂ—follow this line of thoughtÂ—Jerusalem as a city was doomed, and it would not be long al the longest ere the judgments of God would be poured out on Jerusalem and the unbelieving Jews therein in a terrible fulness beyond words to describe. And that gives a depth of meaning to the Apostle Paul’s injunction here: “For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come”. “A city which hath foundations and whose Builder and Maker is God.” Now following that line of thought about the difficulty for a believing Jew to follow on to know the Lord, and wear well in his profession, think of what it entailed as he entered upon it. A believing Jew, wrought upon by the Spirit of God, had to enter into an entirely new line of things in seeking to live the life of the righteous; and he had to realise that, although for hundreds of years throughout Old Testament history. God had ordained that the Jews as a nation should worship His Holy Majesty according to the ritual laid down in the Mosaic Law, when a Jew was made a believer in Jesus Christ, and followed Him as one of His disciples, he had to realise that all that was done throughout those long, long years in the worship of God in Old Testament times was now ended. All the things attended to therein were abrogated, and were no longer effectual, or to be attended to in connection with the worship of God. What had happened? A Man had been crucified on a cross, and that between two other crosses, and on each of those was crucified a thief. So the Man on the centre cross was numbered with transgressors, and because that Man on the centre cross had lived His life, and at the end of it was crucified upon it, all that had been attended to for hundreds of years, according to the ritual of the Mosaic Law, was no longer effectual, and it was abrogated. The unbelieving Jews still sought to carry on that worship because they said of Jesus Christ: “We will not have this Man to reign over us”, and they still tried to worship God, as they thought, according to the tenets of Judaism, although it was no longer to be regarded as to how God was to be worshipped. The Apostle Paul is aiming to make that line of things understandable in this Epistle to the Hebrews, and he tells us in the context, I will look at that a littleÂ—as the setting of the subjectÂ—”We have an altar whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle, for the bodies of those beasts whose blood is brought into the Sanctuary by the high priest for sins are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood suffered without the gate”. The Apostle Paul is referring to the sin offering which was offered on the Day of Atonement, and when that offering was made the blood was taken into the Holiest of all, and sprinkled on the Mercy-seat and before it, but the bodies of the beasts were carried without the camp and burned to ashes. That was a type, and so when Jesus Christ came to the end of
His wondrous mission in this world to save sinners. He was crucified without Jerusalem. Calvary’s Cross was set up outside it, and the Apostle Paul makes the beautiful comparison: “Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate”; what is that to teach us? All that had been done under the Mosaic Law, in Old Testament times, and what had been done for a long while in connection with the temple in Jerusalem itself, no longer had any meaning, any importance, and was unnecessary. The whole consummation of it was in Jesus Christ as He lived His life under the Law, and kept it in every jot and tittle, and then dying in the stead of poor sinners like you and me; and what do you see in Him there? “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” He was the blessed Sin-offering, and there is that tremendous word, one of the most outstanding words in the Word of God, “For He hath made Him to be sin for us Who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him”. Now that is the setting of the subject, and I want, as the Lord shall help me, to set forth a line of things which I hope might be helpful and instructive, and I judge to be seasonable and salutary. “Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach.” I told you that all that had been done hitherto in the Name of God in Jerusalem was now ended, no longer to be regarded. The worship of God was not to be conducted on that basis. There was to be a “looking unto Jesus”, and looking off all beside. “God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” The Apostle Paul desired to show these believing Jews in the Church of Christ in Judea that all the worship of olden time under the Mosaic Law was now consummated in Jesus Christ in all that He did in the life He lived, and the death He died, and that He was risen from the dead, and was now in heaven for sinners interceding. Then the dear Apostle seeks to encourage these believing Jews. “Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach”. I said at the outset that it was an exhortation. “Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp”. I judge this word is very desirable nowadays for poor sinners who want to live right, and die right, to contemplate, and it enjoins upon us separation from the world. What was done in the campÂ—sometimes the Apostle Paul refers to Jerusalem itself when he speaks of “Jesus also suffered without the gate”Â—but in the text I have read he goes back to Old Testament times when Israel were encamped in the wilderness, “Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach”. The thing I want to make plain is not easy to delineate, but as God shall help me I shall attempt it. First of all the meaning is this, that Jesus Christ must be the First and Last in your life, as you live it, and what you do you must do unto Him.
“This prayer and this ambition mine,
Living and dying to be Thine.”
I want to emphasise this aspect of the truth, that you cannot make a profession of Jesus’ Name and keep it as it must be kept to God’s glory, and to live the life of the righteous, and think that you can do it inside the camp. The thing is impossible. If you would endure in your profession of Jesus’ Name, you have got to do, as grace is given, what Moses was enabled to do, “choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season”. Mark the wording, it is not just the question of a creed, and accepting it, and receiving articles of faith, and signing your name thereto, and believing the same:
“Let us go forth therefore unto HIM”Â—”Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, and today and for ever”. What does it mean?
“Him in everything employ.”
The great evil of the church of Christ professingÂ—mark the wording, “the church of Christ professing”Â—nowadays is that those therein have just got a worldly religion, and they have tried to make a profession of the Name of Jesus, and remain within the camp. The thing is impossible, and all who remain within the camp, whatever they may profess to be, whether they have been sprinkled, baptized, or confirmed, it matters not one jot or tittle, one end alone will be theirs who make such a profession, and are part in the world, and part in the church professing: “Tekel” will be stamped upon itÂ—”weighed hi the balances, and found wanting”. A profession of the Name of Jesus entails that you “go forth unto Him without the camp”. Men may call you what they like, judge you to be narrowminded, bigoted, antiquated, oldfashioned, call you this or that; but, if you are indeed one who is taught of God, there is only one life for you to live. “Let us go forth therefore unto Him, bearing His reproach.”
“If on my face for Thy dear Name,
Shame and reproaches be,
All hail reproach, and welcome shame
If Thou remember me.”
I thought of an incident in Israel’s life in the wilderness as I pondered this subject, thinking to bring it before you. You will remember that there was a time when Moses was up in the Mount with the Lord his God, and Israel remained in the wilderness below;
and in that interim period Aaron was weak enough, and timid and cowardly enough, to accede to the demands of the Israelites to make a molten calf, and it was done in the name of the Lord; and then you read after that so-called worship that the people sat down to eat, and to drink, and rose up to play. Is not that just the kind of religion that the great majority of folks in the church of Christ professing would like to have nowadays, and then think to pass through the gates of pearl at the end of such a life? No, No; such a life you cannot live without being lost at the end of it; remember that. Here is the word of the Lord, “Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach”. I have lived long in the ministry, and journeyed about quite a bit, and in my ministerial
life I have lived to see great changes, and one change I have watched year in and year out, and that is so-called churches, irrespective of what denominational label they may be, have not only the church where they carry on whatever is their form of worship, but they have alongside a hall, or a building set apart for that which is nothing whatever to do with the worship of God. It is under the heading of the church, whatever the name of the church is, and sometimes in those buildings you can discern that in the weekday life they can have whist drives, dances, concerts, and such-like things, and then those engaged therein are found in the church proper on the Sabbath day in the attitude of worship. Dear friends, God will have none of it nor regard it as worship acceptable to His Holy Majesty. Do any of the young people say: “Does the preacher think then that we should be all just a lot of kill-joys?” No. What I think is that you should have a right understanding of what joy is, joy that will live for time and eternity too; but to help you dear young peopleÂ—for I desire to help you (nothing would give me greater joy than to know that you got a little help)Â—but what I want you dear young people to remember as you live your life among us, that the Church of Christ is spiritual in its nature, and you cannot add anything to it that people do while they remain within the camp. You cannot mix up worldly pleasures with a spiritual life, the thing is impossible, and therefore the Word of the Lord is, “Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach”; and says the Apostle Peter: “Ye also as lively stones are built up a spiritual house”, and that is the nature of the Church of Christ, “a spiritual house”. You must never look to see things that are pleasing to the world at large, earthly pleasures, introduced into the Church of Christ, because there is only one thing to be done in the Church of Christ, and that is to remember:
“God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth”. Now that is what is to be understood by “going forth unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach”.
Let us look a little at what His reproach will entail. Strictly speaking. His reproach means, first of all, suffering for Jesus’ sake, as well as your own, but especially for Jesus’ sake. You may have those among whom you live and move, in earning the bread which perisheth, that look on you, and just watch for an opportunity to criticise, and to condemn, and yet you are aiming to “go forth unto Him”, whose you desire to be, and whom you desire to serve, and you need grace to help in that time of need to endure every time of testing and strain that may be put upon you. It will help you to bear it if you remember that it is “His reproach”. You suffer like that for Jesus’ sake. If you could be in the world and of it, like those who find fault with you and condemn you, criticise you, you would have none of it, because you and the worldling would be going along “after the flesh, the things of the flesh”, and just like a dead fish floating down the current, and not swimming against it. “They that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh, but they that are after the spirit, the things of the spirit,” You
may have, then, suffering to endure for Jesus’ sake where you may labour to earn the bread which perisheth, and you need much grace to stand fast in the faith and, according to the light God has given you, to walk therein. “Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach.” His reproach sometimes may mean for you disappointment; you may hang up in your mind a pleasant picture, and it may look to be lawful and is. Sometimes two young people come together in the hope that they will journey on through life to the end of it, but it may prove, as that friendship opens up, that one, who is a believer, in going on with it, as it appears, is going to be yoked with an unbeliever, and the believer will have to “go forth unto Him who is without the camp, bearing His reproach”, and refuse to be joined together with one who does not desire to live the life of the righteous; remember that. It is His reproach, and it may be this: His reproach may mean that you have to forgo worldly advantage, what would be a benefit to you in this lifeÂ—you have to forgo it because you cannot with a good conscience proceed therein, and for Jesus’ sake you have to say:
“And so did not I because of the fear of God”. The worldling will look on and judge you to be a fool, but God will look on you as one who is made wise unto salvation and take pleasure in what you do in “bearing His reproach”. “Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach.” It also means this, you will be called to bear His reproach if you continue to worship among such a people as our people, specially as the world goes on. Our worship is very, very simple, and plain, and our people, wherever they are genuine, are just a poor and afflicted people, a plain people; and there is nothing whatever that is attractive, such as you may find in churches and cathedrals where there may be architectural beauty, and inside the worship is so arranged that it is very pleasing to one’s senses, but it still remains thatÂ—”God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth”. The Lord says of Israelites indeed. “And they shall not be reckoned among the nations”, and while the church of Christ professing is crying “Amalgamation”, “Amalgamation”, you who desire to be taught of God, and to bear the reproach of Jesus Christ as your Lord, your God, must ever remember that in your religion there must be “separation”. “Let us therefore go forth unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach.” And it means, I hint at that again, that you must forgo every advantage which might bring some blemish on your profession of Jesus’ Name, and have nothing whatever to do with that which might be a stumbling block to a weaker brother or sister, or those who are in life’s morning, looking on, and desiring to know wherein is the good and the right way that they might walk therein.
“So let your life and acts express
The holy Gospel you profess.”
“Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach.” What does it mean? I will look at that a little, “to
go forth unto Him”. Seeing who He is, verily God, verily Man. “Neither is there salvation in any other.” “There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” “Let us go forth therefore unto Him” that we may follow Him. Think of that Scripture: “These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth”. I would like you to think on that Scripture, as grace is given. “Let us go forth therefore unto Him” that we may live near Him, and may that feeling be ours:
“Nearer, nearer to Thee clinging,
Oh, may my helpless soul be found.”
“Let us go forth therefore unto Him” that we may follow His example, and the Word of the Lord is: “Hereunto were ye called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps”. “Let us go forth therefore unto Him” that we may be His witnesses. What a word that is in Isaiah’s prophecy; God is the speaker; saying to Israelites indeed; “Ye are My witnesses”. “As you live your lives on the earth, I look to you to show whose you are, and whom you serve.” “Ye are My witnesses.” Then, it will have this meaning: “Let us go forth therefore unto Him” standing fast by the written Word which tells us of Him who is the Incarnate Word. In these days of modernism, when error and evil abound everywhere, “let us go forth unto Him” and declare our allegiance unto Him as the Sum and Substance of the Written Word and to Him as the Incarnate Word.
“Should all the forms that men devise
Assail my soul in every part;
I’ll call them vanity and lies,
And bind the Gospel to my heart.”
So the hymnwriter said long ago. Let all the people say “Amen”. “Let us go forth therefore unto Him” in these perilous times in which you and I are living. Much might be said along that line of thought. Go back to that thought I spoke a little about as being witnesses. I have thought many times, looking round the world as it isÂ—and these are tremendous times in which you and I are livingÂ—the devil is working overtime doing all the mischief he can, while he can, and there may be dark days ahead of us yet, ere a better brighter day shall dawn in the church of Christ. Wonderful it will be if grace is given to us to stand fast in one mind and one spirit in the faith of the Gospel of Christ. I was going to say a word or two about what you read in the Book of Revelation. I will not take up time in going into what is the prophetical aspect of the truth, but there is an experimental side which I judge to be instructive. It speaks about the two witnesses of God being slain, and their dead bodies lying unburied in the street for so many days, and that will be fulfilled in God’s time (but I have no specific light on that prophetical truth), yet I do believe thisÂ—that there are two witnesses for God nowadays, who are like those dead bodies lying unburied in the street and regarded with contempt. One witness is connected with the house of prayer, and the other is the Word of God itself. One would never, never have dreamed
that it would ever be in England as a nation that it would be a matter of reproach to believe in the Word of God in its entirety, so that when people realise that you do believe it to be what it really is, the Holy Bible, Book Divine, they just ridicule you, and think you a fool, and go on their way to live their lives outside the covers of it, and unaware that they will be judged by what is recorded inside it. “He that rejecteth Me, and My words, hath One that judgeth him, the word that I have spoken, it shall judge him at the last day.” The other witness is this. Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy”. You read in Nehemiah: “Why is the house of prayer forsaken?” That question can be put nowadays all over England as a nation, and the answer is that the house of prayer, the Sabbath day, the Word of God, is treated by the great majority with contempt, and they have no heart to contemplate what blessings indeed these things are made to people who are taught of God. I believe that in the days ahead of us, it will be a real badge of being a disciple of Jesus Christ for those who accept the Word of God in its entirety as the Word of God, and that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God”, and that they desire to “Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy”. The people who are doing it will be bearing His reproach, and they will be going forth unto him without the camp of the world at large in doing it, and the camp of the so-called professing church too, whereby it is arranged that you can go to worship God in the morning hours, and then, if you will, sit down to eat and drink, and rise up to play all the rest of what is the holy Sabbath day. “Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach.” And it means this, “Let us go forth therefore unto Him” in worship. Our worship may be simple. My dear friends, young and old, we desire it to be real; and what is more. it is absolutely Scriptural. Remember, our people are according to the pattern of the original denomination; do not baulk at it, or argue about it, just believe it, for I believe it is true. “Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach.” “Let us go forth therefore unto Him” willingly. Follow Him with willing feet. “Let us go forth unto Him” loyally, not to be ashamed of Jesus. “Let us go forth unto Him” humbly. Much might be said along that line of thought, and I add this word: “Let us go forth therefore unto Him” obediently. I like to think of that word that Mary said at the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee, concerning Jesus Christ: “Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it”. When all is said and done, you must live like this, as grace is givenÂ—
“Hoard up His sacred Word,
And feed thereon and grow,
Go on to seek to know the Lord,
And practise what you know.”
The dear Apostle Paul summed up this line of things, although I can only say a word or two on it: “Here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come”. You dear young people remember what you now look upon will not continue. When you sit down at
home in all the happiness that home life affords you with father and mother there, and the family circle, let this thought be in your mind: “This is a pleasant picture to look upon; God help me prize it, and enjoy it while I can look upon it, but let me never forget, it will not continue”. I look around Union Chapel in my mind often, and I see very nearly a chapel full of people who have gone the way of all earth, all that is mortal of them is laid in the grave, awaiting the Resurrection Morn, and that is a comment of this text: “Here we have no continuing city”. Dear young people, think about it. Look round Union Chapel as you have known it, and say: “What the Pastor tells us is the truth. I remember that ‘So and so’ used to sit here, and ‘So and so used to sit there’ “. If you go on you will find quite a few “So and so’s” whose place, where they used to sit, knows them no more, but this is the mercy, “Here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come”. What your eyes look on beneath the sun will not continue. You have happy days in your life, and it is good that you should have happy days, but that happiness which you have, and that which makes you happy, will not continue. You look on a wonderful procession going along, but it passes, and it does not continue. Now life beneath the sun is like that.
“Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day,
Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see,
O Thou, who changest not, abide with me.”
Do remember thisÂ—you dear greyheads especiallyÂ—”For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come”. “A city which hath foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God.” May the hymnwriter’s lines be manifested in our everyday lives:
“We’ve no abiding city here;
Then let us live as pilgrims do;
Let not the world our rest appear,
But let us haste from all below.
“We’ve no abiding city here,
We seek a city out of sight;Â—
Zion its name; the Lord is there,
It shines with everlasting light.”
Oh that we might by living faith from time to time get a glimpse of it, and be favoured with new evidence that God is making us meet to dwell in it; and, as we are called to “go forth unto Him, bearing His reproach”, whatever persecution for righteousness sake may be laid on us, let us never forget:
“The city to which I am journeying
Will more than my sorrows repay;
And the toils of the road will seem nothing,
When I get to the end of the way.”