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The Review and Herald Articles
for the Year 1891
(Vol. 68, #1)
While there is an awakening among our people in regard to foreign missions, there should also be much more interest than is now shown in home missions. This zeal for foreign work should kindle zeal for home work also. Some who have long professed to be Christians, and yet have felt no responsibility for the souls of those who are perishing right around them, within the shadow of their own homes, may feel a burden to go to foreign lands, to take hold of a work far off; but where is the evidence of their fitness for such a work? Wherein have they manifested a burden for souls? Let such begin the work at home, in their own household, in their own neighborhood, among their own friends. Here they will find a favorable missionary field. This home missionary work is a test, revealing their ability or inability for service in a wider field.
This is the work that the Lord is constantly keeping before me. Who is carrying this burden? Who is doing this kind of missionary work? It is left undone. Children of Sabbathkeepers are not brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Those who feel no real burden for the souls in their own houses, who cannot educate and discipline their children, in the kindness, patience, and forbearance of Christ, have no work to do in larger missions. Let them do their homework in the fear and love of God, showing their tact and wisdom by presenting to the church and the world a well-ordered, well-disciplined family. Such a family will indeed be a power for good; its influence will be far-reaching.
Fathers and mothers should awake to their God-given responsibilities, and so order their families that they may present to Him who hath loved us and died for us, the results of their painstaking labor. In educating their children, they themselves are gaining precious knowledge, learning how to keep the way of the Lord, to do justice, and to love mercy, to be patient, to be true and faithful to their Heavenly Father, as they would have their children be obedient to them. Those who do not feel the responsibilities of their home missionary work, are not fitted to be missionaries in the neighborhood, in the church, or in foreign countries. Let parents and churches awake from the delusion that Satan has cast upon them. Let them not allow their children to do as they please, and then complain of God because these children are impenitent, wayward, and irreligious. This state of things reveals a neglect on their part toward the lambs of the flock. They have been absorbed in things of minor importance, and their homework has been negligently done. When you have come up to the point of faithfully performing the work in your own homes, there is a work for you to do in the neighborhood, in the church, in the town where you live.
In the case of Philip and Nathanael, we have an example of true home missionary work. Philip had seen Jesus, and was convinced that he was the Messiah. The knowledge he had received was so blessed to him that he wished his friends, also, to know the good news. He was desirous that the light and truth which had brought him such comfort and joy, should be shared by Nathanael. True grace in the heart will always reveal its existence by diffusing itself. Philip went in search of Nathanael, and as he called, Nathanael answered from his place of prayer under the fig tree. Nathanael had not had the privilege of listening to the words of Jesus, but he was being drawn toward him in spirit. He longed for light and truth, and was at that moment sincerely praying for them. Philip with joy exclaimed, "We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth." This is the way light is to be communicated,--by private, personal effort. In the home circle, at your neighbor's fireside, at the bedside of the sick, in a quiet way you may read the Scriptures, and speak a word for Jesus and the truth. Precious seed may thus be sown, that will spring up and bring forth fruit after many days.
When God reveals the light of his love and truth to one person, it is not to be confined or hidden in that one; he is to let the light shine forth, by making personal efforts for the salvation of those who are in darkness. We need not live an aimless life. Everyone who has a knowledge of the truth, a realization of what Jesus is to him, is made a depositary of eternal truth, to impart to others. One truly converted soul may become a channel of light to the whole family, the whole neighborhood; and the more one makes known to others the riches of the grace of Christ, the more will his own light and grace increase. There is that scattereth and yet increaseth, and there is a withholding that tendeth to poverty.
When the worker goes forth with the message of truth, he will meet obstacles, but these will only drive him closer to the self-denying Redeemer. As he meets unbelief, and as objections come up to what he has believed, and as objections come up to what he has believed and advanced, he is led to see the necessity of searching the Scriptures more thoroughly. The true, earnest worker who trusts in Jesus, will combine simplicity and meekness with a firmness and solidity of character that will lead him to speak with certainty, yet without boasting or self-exaltation. His fitness to work for the uplifting of the world, as Christ and the angels are working, will depend largely upon the distinctness of the line of demarkation which separates him from the spirit and customs of the world. He is to be a laborer together with God, to lead upward to a pure and holy standard.
Men are selfish by nature. They act from impulse, without reference to the will of God. Their own will is their criterion. He who would lead souls away from the world, must have great wisdom. His lessons must be given by example as well as by precept; he must possess the same self-denying spirit that was in Christ. If he cherishes the spirit that the world has, he will give evidence of it by seeking his own ease and pleasure and honor; he will be indolent, doing his work negligently, loving luxuries, living like the world. To those who have this spirit, God speaks, "Come out from among them, and be ye separate." Our work for the salvation of souls will not be done without a conflict. We shall have to practice self-denial, overcome inclination, relinquish the spirit and passions of the world, and be ready to sacrifice even life itself, if need be, for Christ's sake.
The spirit and works of Christ's disciples stand out in vivid contrast to the selfishness of the world. His followers give evidence that they are controlled by a will-power that is higher than any human will. In order to succeed in our labors, we must work with God, be moved by his Spirit. Then he will work with us. "Without me ye can do nothing;" with Christ we can do all things. There must be a coming out from the world,--a separation in interest, in spirit, in language, in hopes, in aims. "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory."
The cross of Christ lies directly in our pathway, and must be lifted if we would follow Jesus. It is a perpetual reminder of Christ, our intercessor before God, and it points us to a nobler world. Through Christ we have constant communication with the Father. Through this open door we may view the glories of the celestial world, and may estimate the superiority of heavenly attractions as compared with earthly. Then with a heart all aglow with the love of Jesus, we may reveal to others what we have seen and learned.
In social intercourse, Christians have altogether too little to say in regard to the things that belong to the kingdom of God. Those who have an indwelling Saviour will have something to say of his love and grace. And "it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you." The truth is often spoken from a theoretical knowledge, but he whose heart is all aglow with it, because he has realized its saving, uplifting power, will be much more successful in giving light to others than is he who only knows the truth theoretically. To him who has felt the sanctifying power of the grace of Christ in his own heart, the truth is a living principle, and he can speak with an assurance that carries conviction to the heart of the unbeliever. He teaches as Christ taught, of whom his hearers said, "Never man spake like this man." John, in the assurance of a living experience, said: "That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ." Christ, through his Spirit, is working to draw men to himself; and we, the human agents, are to cooperate with Christ; it is his power that gives efficiency to our labors.
But there is a sad lack of personal union with Christ, and hence there is a lack of sympathy and cooperation with him in his work. Home missionary work is strangely neglected. How many young men and women, youth and children, are without hope and without God in the world! and yet church members look on as indifferently as though there were no souls to save, none for whom they should have any special interest. These souls whom you have neglected to instruct, neglected to lead to the light, are regarded by Heaven with pity.
Our Redeemer is to see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied; how is it with those who profess to be his followers? Will they be satisfied when they see the fruit of their labors? What are the members of the church doing, to be designated "laborers together with God"? Where do we see travail of soul? Where do we see the members of the church absorbed in religious themes, self-surrendered to the work and will of God? Where do we see Christians feeling their responsibility to make the church prosperous, a wide-awake, light-giving people? Where are those who do not stint or measure their loving labor for the Master? Who are striving to quell every dissension in the church, being peacemakers in Christ's name? Who are seeking to answer the prayer of Christ, "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; . . . I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me"? Could our Lord speak these words, so gracious, so full of meaning, of the churches in their present state of feeble love, of dissension and petty trial,--churches that are calling ministers from important work to settle their little manufactured difficulties, thus showing that they have no connection with God?--No. The members of the church must come into unity; and in order to do this, they must have less of self, and more of Jesus. They must learn of Christ. They must be meek and lowly of heart. Their selfish pride must die. Then their mountains of difficulty will be reduced to molehills. They will heed the exhortation of Paul, "Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves." "Do all things without murmurings and disputings: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain."
Jesus, your Redeemer, and all the holy angels are grieved at your hardness of heart. Jesus came to our world, and gave his own life to save these souls; and yet you who know the truth make so little effort to impart the blessings of his grace to those for whom he died. Such indifference and neglect of duty is an amazement to the angels. In the judgment you must meet the souls you have neglected.
We see large churches gathered in different localities. Their members have a knowledge of the truth; but they are content to hear and partake of the word of life themselves, and do not seek to impart light to those who are without. Because of these neglected opportunities, this abuse of privileges, they themselves are not growing "in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." Thus the members of our churches are weak in faith, deficient in knowledge, and children in experience. They are not rooted and grounded in the truth. If they remain thus, the many delusions of the last days will surely deceive them; for they will have no spiritual eyesight to discern truth from error.
The end is near! God calls upon the church to set in order the things that remain. "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee." Workers together with God, you are empowered by the Lord to take others with you into the kingdom. You are to be God's living agents, channels of light to the world, and round about you are angels of heaven, with their commission from Christ to sustain, strengthen, and uphold you in working for the salvation of souls.
I appeal to the churches in every Conference: Stand out separate and distinct from the world,--in the world, but not of it,--reflecting the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness, being pure, holy, and undefiled, and in faith carrying light into all the highways and byways of the earth. To his church God has committed the work of diffusing light and bearing the message of his love. Our work is not to condemn, not to denounce, but to beseech men to be reconciled to God. We are to encourage souls, to attract them, and thus win them to Jesus.
Brethren who labor in the ministry, pray as you never before prayed. "If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." There is a readiness to talk, but not always to the purpose. In reclaiming the sinner, there will need to be earnest, heartfelt importuning of God. "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
Christ is saying to his people, "Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal." The churches in every Conference should enlarge their field of labor. They should reach out farther and still farther, to adjoining cities and towns, carrying the light to thousands of souls who are hungering and thirsting, weeping and praying, for light. These poor souls now feel that they are shut up in darkness, and they long for light; and if each one who has the light would do his best to enlighten others, how many might be brought to a knowledge of the truth! If all the members of the church were imbued with the spirit of Jesus, and would go to work for kindred, friends, and neighbors, for all with whom they come in contact, what a work might be accomplished! Some would not accept their labors, but others would receive the light, and would with rejoicing enter the path that leads to everlasting life. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 68, #2)
With us all, and especially with the young, great importance attaches to the present. We should consider, moment by moment, that this time which is now the present will soon become the past, and that it will have its influence upon the future. Each day, as it passes, enters into our life history, and goes to make up our record in heaven,--that record by which we are to be judged; it also tends to shape our character and future life, and thus exerts a more powerful influence upon our destiny.
The results of each day's work are influenced by the days that have preceded it. Defeat today prepares the way for still greater defeat tomorrow; victory today insures an easier victory tomorrow. And God will hold us accountable, not only for our words and deeds, in themselves, and in their effect upon others, but for their effect upon our own character and life. For all these he will bring us into judgment.
Let the youth remember that all their opportunities and privileges, all the blessings bestowed upon them in innumerable ways, as these have been improved or perverted, are molding the character and forming habits for good or for evil; and in the great day an account must be rendered up for all the advantages received, and for the use made of the gifts of God. All is recorded in heaven. Page after page the history of our life experience is written, with the motives that prompted us to action. All will appear as a real life-picture, showing how much of our life was given to pleasing self, how much to blessing others, how much to honoring God, how much to answering the purpose of God in our creation. The talents intrusted to us must be accounted for, with all the improvement that might have been made on them, if time and influence and means had not been squandered on sinful pleasures.
Would that the curtain might be rolled back, so that we could see the solemn and awful position in which we stand in regard to our responsibility to God and to our fellowmen! We would then understand why God will require the past.
Take one day of your life, and faithfully record its history. Estimate the time trifled away; the tenor of your conversation; your words of vanity; your influence over others, and theirs over you; the evil resulting from carrying out the suggestions of those whose lives were unholy, and whom you might have avoided in your associations, but whom you have confirmed in their wrong course. Is not this day a sample of many days?
O! how sad it is to see young men and women acting as though all they were in the world for was to amuse themselves, to get the greatest amount of pleasure in this life! Not one moment can they give to learning how to form character for the future world: murdering time, abusing the mercies and privileges granted them by God, neglecting opportunities for doing good, wasting health and strength, squandering money on sinful indulgences, gathering about them influences which tend to make them forget their Creator, forget that they are accountable to God for their life and all its possibilities for good, for his grace that they refuse to accept. How will their conduct day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year, appear to them when God shall require the past?
Every man's life will be examined by the great standard of character, the law of Jehovah. There will be a reckoning up of the blessings provided by God at infinite sacrifice to himself, in the death of his beloved Son; for all this sacrifice was made in order that man might possess the riches of his grace, the abundant righteousness of Christ. But if man has neglected the great salvation, if he has chosen his own way rather than God's way, if the blessings purchased at such immense cost are unimproved, if the things of greatest value are regarded as of no consequence, terrible will be the loss, for it will be eternal. If God's plans are set aside for the working out of plans laid by finite beings, if one regulates his conduct by principles opposed to those laid down by God, his destiny will be in accordance with the course he has taken.
When death comes to us, nothing can be done to set right the errors of the past. Not a line of our record can be blotted out, not a sentence corrected. What is written, is written. If the one probation has been misused, if Jesus has been neglected, if darkness has been preferred to light, there stands the record: They did not choose the Lord; they would none of his counsel, and they despised his reproofs. No second probation will be granted; for if the first has not been improved, no better use would be made of a second.
If the Spirit of God is received into the heart, it will mold the character into forms of beauty; it will give a loveliness of disposition that will identify the receiver with Jesus. The young may be fashioned after the similitude of the character of Christ, if, with full purpose of heart, they will put their will on Christ's side. There is nothing that can hinder this full surrender to Christ except one's own choice to accept Satan's rule instead of Christ's.
Our Heavenly Father presents before us no impossibilities. He requires at our hands nothing which we cannot perform. He has not set before his Church a standard to which they cannot attain. We give the lie to the truth, and glorify Satan, when we walk in sadness and gloom because we think more is required of us in the Christian life than we can perform. Your Redeemer loves you, and he presents to you eternal joys in a life of obedience. There is no one who has ever tasted the joy of full and willing submission to God, who has not felt peace, happiness, and assurance in his love.
I appeal to you, my young friends. How anxious are you to remove the record of the past, to have your wrongdoings blotted out? What depths of iniquity are open to God's sight, that are hidden from all mortal view! Every secret thing shall be brought into judgment, whether it be good or evil. Past sins, unrepented of and unforgiven, will be brought up then, only to condemn us, and appoint our portion with the lost. But the promises of God are full of encouragement for us. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." "I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin." "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy." "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile." "Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."
We have the precious promise that every sin, if sincerely repented of, will be forgiven. To turn to God with contrition of soul, claiming the merits of the blood of Christ, will bring to us light, pardon, and peace. But we must turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, with a decision to be doers of the words of Christ. Our past sins will sometimes come to mind, and cast a shadow over our faith, so that we can see nothing but merited punishment in store for us. But at such times, while we feel sorrow for sin, we should look to Jesus, and believe that he has pardoned our transgressions. "Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God." To those who, though they have repented, are troubled over their past sins, who are tempted to think that perhaps they are not forgiven, Christ says, "Go, and sin no more." You have found peace with God; through his grace you have entered upon a new life; "by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God." Then allow no unbelief to come in. Commit the keeping of your souls unto God as to a faithful Creator; he will keep that which is committed to his trust against that day. Instead of looking inward with regret and despair, look outward and upward in faith. Unless you are constantly fighting the fight of faith, the past will press its shadow over the present.
Every Christian will have a hard battle to fight with wrong habits. He must overcome his unbelief, his deformity of character, his inclination to self-indulgence. His long resistance of light, warnings, and appeals has left its mark upon his life; and although God has forgiven him, he feels that he cannot forgive himself. He often thinks of what he might have been in physical and moral strength if it were not for that sinful past. But to him I say, "Look and live." The Lord declares, "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways." "As the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him." His promise is, "I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."
Learn lessons of patience, of meekness and lowliness, of kindness and forbearance toward those in fault, of forgiveness, of faith which, though tried, is ever triumphant. Say to your soul, "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him who is the health of my countenance, and my God." Cherish every ray of light. Search the Bible. Feed on the promises. Draw nearer and still nearer to God, inquiring at every step, "Is this the way of the Lord?" Your lessons, well learned, will be an everlasting possession to you, filling your heart with gladness and love to God because he has forgiven so much.
Then make the very best use of your talents. Use them to the honor and glory of God. Many have such meager ideas of what they may become, that they will ever remain dwarfed and narrowed, when, if they would improve the powers that God has given them, they might develop a noble character, and exert an influence that would win souls to Christ. Do not rest short of a perfect union with Christ. Here is your source of strength.
Whatever your past life may have been, if you seek in humble penitence the forgiveness of Jesus, and live to his glory, your life will be hid with Christ in God, and you will be more than a conqueror through him who hath loved you. The song will flow from your lips, "Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, . . . and hast made us unto our God kings and priests; and we shall reign on the earth."
May the Lord help the youth who claim to be Christians, to see that they need the subduing grace of God, which will make them conscientious, modest, God-fearing, unselfish. A life spent in resisting temptation, in self-denial, in diligence in good works, in gaining victories over sin, will shine forth amid the darkness of the world, and will glorify God. "Thou will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 68, #3)
In company with Bro. George Amadon, and Bro. Sanford Rogers and his wife, I left Battle Creek, Sept. 27, 1890, to attend meetings at Ceresco, Mich. We were agreeably surprised to see so many assembled as were present. Several had come from Battle Creek, among them Elder Sands Lane, who assisted in conducting the meetings.
The Spirit of God touched my heart as I looked upon this little flock, and I had perfect freedom in presenting before them the many evidences of God's love for man, and the duty of cooperating with God in the work of saving souls for whom Christ died. The people responded to the message, and I thanked God for the privilege of speaking to those who appreciated his truth. We had a precious social meeting, in which all united, giving heartfelt testimonies.
It would be an encouragement to the smaller churches if members of the large church at Battle Creek would oftener visit their less privileged brethren. Those who would engage in this good work of strengthening their brethren, would find their own souls refreshed. If those who desire to move to Battle Creek, would go into some of these neighborhoods where there are small churches, instead of coming to swell the membership of a church already larger than it should be, they would be blessed themselves, and would be a blessing to others. I cannot think that it is in God's order for so many to move from smaller churches to Battle Creek. The weaker churches need help; and in the church at Battle Creek, these who could be a blessing in their forsaken fields, are practically lost to the work; for they do not feel any special burden to labor for others. Their testimony is seldom heard in the house of God. Would it not be well for those who think of moving to Battle Creek, to inquire, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? Can I do as much good in Battle Creek as I can in this little church where the brethren need all the help they can get?" Brethren, I hope you will seek counsel of God in regard to coming to Battle Creek. If you are coming in order to lay off your responsibilities, to have an easier time, it is at your peril. Do not follow selfish inclination; for in so doing, you may place yourselves in the way of temptations which you will not be prepared to resist.
If you want to move, why not go to some place where your influence and ability will tell in the advancement of God's work? Why not bring self-denial into your life-experience? Suppose that residence in the country or in a village is not as favorable for obtaining a livelihood, not as conducive to advancement in temporal things; would not God honor your trust in him? and would not self-denial for Christ's sake make your lot a blessed one? The truth must be communicated to those who are in the darkness of error, and these are questions that believers in present truth should carefully weigh before leaving their home fields if there is need of labor there, or before settling down in comfort if another field is destitute.
We all have something to do in the vineyard of the Lord, and no one can sit down in idleness, and be spiritually strong. Christ has given to every man his work, and it is an evidence that you have lost your connection with Christ, if you feel no burden to be a co-laborer with God. Jesus was a worker, and he is the Christian's example. Christ did not fail nor become discouraged, neither will his followers if they have his spirit. The Lord has made you partakers of his grace, he has given you his truth, and now you are to diffuse the light; and as you do this, it will increase. You are to keep in exercise the ability God has given you, that you may convey to the world the blessed treasures of knowledge concerning Christ and his love. He would have you spare no effort, withhold no sacrifice, but do all in your power to give the truth of God to the world. He says, "I have given my life for the world, I have given it for you. I have purchased you for my service, and I give you to the world, as God has given me to the world; you are to be my representative, as I was the representative of the Father."
I am at a loss to understand the attitude of those who claim to have great light, who claim to believe in the soon-coming of Christ, when they have so little interest in his appearing. It was necessary that the Son of the infinite God should come to be the light of the world, to be the fountain of healing mercy to a lost race. Everyone engaged in the service of Christ should have the heart filled with mercy and tenderness, that he may be able to reveal Christ to the world. We cannot be justified in withholding from him our highest, noblest service, and giving our ability to self-service. Those to whom God has revealed the treasures of his love and grace, are to be representatives of his mercy; and he has commissioned his angels to be ministers unto them, that they may be co-laborers with himself. When Jesus was about to leave his disciples, he said to them, "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." "It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you." And what is the special work of the Comforter? "And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you."
Would it not be well for the members of the churches to devote some time to earnest prayer, and to the study of the words of Christ concerning the Comforter? Christ sent the Comforter upon his disciples when they were earnestly praying for it, and were as one in their desires and petitions. "When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."
After the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, thousands were converted. Angels of God that excel in strength, clothed with the brightness of heaven, came to the help of the church, and swept back the forces of Satan. The work of the Holy Spirit was not limited to apostolic days; it is not confined to any church, large or small: the field of his ministration is the world. "He will convince the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment." But the instrumentalities through which the Holy Spirit works are the members of Christ's body, those who believe in his name. It is through these light-bearers that the gospel is to be carried to all the nations of the earth. By Mrs. E. G. White. (Concluded next week.)
(Vol. 68, #4)
Those who are sanctified through the truth, should with pen and voice testify what is truth, what Christ is to them. There are many branches of the work. Home missionaries and foreign missionaries are needed, and there cannot be too large a number. Everything we do should be done with reference to the salvation of souls, the glory of God.
There should be no extravagance, in building fine homes, in buying costly furniture, in indulging in worldly dress, or in providing luxurious food; but in everything let us think of the souls for whom Christ has died. Let selfishness and pride die. Let none continue to expend means to multiply pictures to be sent to their friends. Let us save every dollar that can be saved, that the matchless charms of Christ may be presented before the souls of the perishing. Satan will suggest many ways in which you may expend money. But if is spent for self-gratification,--for unnecessary things, no matter how trifling their cost,--it is not spent for the glory of God. Let us look well to this matter, and see if we are denying ourselves as we should. Are we making sacrifices, that we may send the light of truth to the lost?
How do we employ our time, fraught with eternal interests? What are we doing through personal efforts to let our light shine? We shall have to face these questions in the judgment. Have we been faithful stewards of the grace of God? Can the Lord say to us, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant? How many have been converted through our instrumentality?
To what degree have you taxed your resources to answer the claims of God upon you? There should be but one interest in the church; one desire should control all, and that is the desire to conform to the image of Christ. Each one should strive to do for Jesus all that it is possible for him to do, by personal effort, by gifts, by sacrifices. There should be meat in the house of the Lord, and that means a full treasury, that responses may be made to Macedonian cries coming from every land. How pitiful it is that we are obliged to say to these who cry for help, "We cannot send you men or money. We have an empty treasury." Let all the pennies, dimes, and dollars that are lost to the cause through selfish love of pleasure, through desire to meet the world's standard, through love of ease, be turned into the channel that flows to God's treasury. It is the rills flowing into one that finally make the river. Let us be conscientious Christians, be laborers together with God.
Why is it that there is so little genuine love for Christ in the church?--It is because the love of self has taken the place of love for Him who died on Calvary's cross for the sins of the world. Let us be of one heart, of one mind, and let us draw near to God, that he may draw near to us, and fill us with his intense love for perishing souls. Let every heart beat in unison, in interest for the cause of Christ. New fields of work must be opened, souls are to be added to the faith, new names will appear on the church records,--names that will appear in the immortal records in heaven. O that we might realize what might be done with the money expended for the gratification of self!
Christ declared that the Holy Spirit should not speak of himself, but that "he shall testify of me." The Holy Spirit was to glorify the Redeemer of the world, who came to demonstrate the love of the Father by a life of suffering and humiliation, and by a death of shame. The Holy Spirit glorifies Christ by manifesting in the members of the church the self-denial, the self-sacrifice, the devotion of those who truly follow the great Exemplar. They shed a heavenly influence, and reveal in their characters the loveliness of Christ, working in harmony with the Holy Spirit. They can be silent concerning their own finite selves, but can extol the greatness of Christ, wakening an interest in others by the revealing of his marvelous love. They are able to show forth the praises of Him who hath called them out of darkness into his marvelous light.
O, let the tongue be silent concerning the pictures of self! let there be shame that the money expended in this way has not gone into the treasury to reproduce the likeness of Christ, to set forth his matchless charms. Jesus alone should engage the attention. Those who have attracted attention to self should change this course of action, and turn the minds of men to Him who is deserving of the whole heart's love. They should see the sinfulness of aiding the enemy of God and man by placing objects before the mind to divert the attention from Christ and heaven.
This work of selfishness grieves the Holy Spirit of God. Did not Christ have travail of soul that the redemption of a lost world might be made sure? Then shall not the followers of Christ, those whom he has left as his representatives, be moved with soul anguish, and travail in spirit that souls may be brought to Christ? "We are laborers together with God." Christ worked unceasingly for the souls of men, and why are the members of the church standing all the day idle? Go, work in the Master's vineyard. Repent with tears and humiliation that you have wasted so much time upon unimportant matters when souls were perishing.
As stewards of God's grace, have you not a personal interest in the work of saving your fellowmen? Shall Christ have died in vain for them because he does not have the cooperation of his professed followers? God requires that you shall be filled with the Holy Spirit. The work of Christ is sacred, and the command is, "Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord." He requires perfection of character in his agents. The influence of his church must all tend toward the building up of his cause in the earth.
Each member must cooperate with the Holy Spirit in his office work. Let no one feel that he must engage in a warfare at his own charges. To neglect a single means which God has provided, is to exclude the rays of light that should shine forth to the world, and to rob the souls for whom Christ died, of the light of life. Human effort must be combined with divine power.
Stumblingblocks are placed before those who are looking for light, because the professed followers of Christ are devoid of the power of the Holy Spirit.
The professed people of God do not study the life of Christ as they should. Satan has filled their minds with interest in things of minor importance, and the eternal realities are set aside. It is this that makes so great a dearth of laborers; this is why the sowers and reapers are so few. The fields already white unto the harvest, call for workers from every walk in life. There is so much, O, so much undone that should be done for the benefit of humanity! The widows, the fatherless, the poor, the helpless, are all around us; and we can expend money in selfish thoughtlessness when so much needs to be done? Christ will give us grace to do the work next to us; he will help us to use our time with wisdom, to give our means to unselfish projects. But he declares, "He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad." The absence of the heartfelt religion, the love that purifies the soul, places the professed followers of Christ with his enemies.
When Christ gave his final commission to his disciples, he said, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." This commission is for us; then let us work in the Spirit of Christ for our fellowmen. In great cities and smaller cities, in highways and byways, let us go forth to hold up Jesus as the one able to cleanse from sin. Every member of the church may be a working member, if he can do no more than say, "Come." For the word declares, "The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 68, #5)
In company with Elder Rousseau and his wife, I left Battle Creek, Oct. 3, 1890, to attend meetings at Otsego, Mich. We went by private conveyance, and as we passed through the different towns on our way, we had many serious thoughts in regard to the work to be done in spreading the light of truth in these small villages. Are there not in Battle Creek church persons who are free from responsibilities in connection with our institutions there, who could enter Harmonia, Augusta, Gull Lake, Richmond, and other places near Battle Creek? Have the members of the Battle Creek church have the true missionary spirit? Are they following the example of Christ? He did not remain in the pleasant courts of heaven, and leave a world to perish. Where are our home missionaries? May the Lord awaken an interest in the hearts of those who could do this work, that the light may shine into darkened places. Those who are content to sit under the clear light of truth Sabbath after Sabbath, and do nothing to diffuse this light, will lose the light themselves. If we would keep the light, we must be constantly giving it out. Jesus did not neglect the villages. The record declares, "He went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him, and certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, and Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance." Not only Christ, but his disciples also, labored in the cities and villages; and those who had been in the truth longer than the new converts, ministered unto him of their substance.
Jesus left his glorious home, and went without the camp, bearing reproach; and shall those who have received the sacred treasures of truth, crowd together into large communities, and leave the work committed to them undone? Mark the example of the divine Teacher: "The people sought him, and came unto him, and stayed with him, that he should not depart from them. And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent." "In the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. And Simon and they that were with him followed after him. And when they had found him, they said unto him. All men seek for thee. And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also; for therefore came I forth. And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils."
No one who professes to be a follower of Christ is left without some burden of responsibility. He is to let his light shine forth to the world. All heaven is interested for the salvation of souls. The angels that excel in strength have their commission to work for the perishing souls of men. Thousands and tens of thousands are engaged in active warfare, seeking to repulse the hosts of darkness, setting captives free from the power of the enemy. If angels are thus engaged, shall we be indifferent? God means that we shall all be laborers together with him. The least of all saints is to keep himself in the love of God, that he may not be a burden to others, but be able to lift with the active workers. Satan and his agents are working to destroy the Church of Christ, and it is necessary that every soul should be on the alert, helping on the great mission of the Redeemer.
Seven discourses were given at Otsego, five by Bro. Rousseau, and two by myself. I longed for physical strength that I might engage still more actively in the work. I had freedom in speaking to the people on Sabbath, but the social meeting that followed the discourse was not marked by the promptness, zeal, and earnestness that characterize the meetings where the people have on the whole armor of God. We long to see those who profess the truth for this time, show works corresponding to its importance and value. We are to be living witnesses for God. Those who have received the truth into the heart and life cannot withhold a living testimony of gratitude, showing forth the praises of Him who has called them out of darkness into his marvelous light.
On Sunday Bro. Rousseau spoke in the forenoon, and I in the afternoon. As I spoke in feebleness, I realized that power was given me of God; my faith was strengthened, and I knew that God would be with me as I went to fill various appointments in different States. I realized my great physical weakness, and was prepared to appreciate the help and strength that had been imparted to me by Him who has said to his workers, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." I believed the promise of God, and was able to say, "I will go forth trusting that the Lord will do the work that humanity alone cannot do." "Without me," said Christ, "ye can do nothing." But with Christ we can do all things.
I spoke to the people of Otsego from the fourth and fifth verses of the second chapter of Revelation: "I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent." The people to whom these words are addressed have many excellent qualities, which are recognized by the True Witness; "nevertheless," he says, "I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love." Here is a want that will have to be supplied. All the other graces fail to make the deficiency. The church is counseled to "remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. . . . He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; to him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God."
In these words are warnings, reproofs, threatenings, promises, from the True Witness, he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand. "The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches; and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches."
When this church is weighed in the balance of the sanctuary, it is found wanting, having left its first love. The True Witness declares, "I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles and are not, and hast found them liars: and hast borne, and has patience, and for my name's sake hast labored, and hast not fainted." Notwithstanding all this, the church is found wanting. What is the fatal deficiency?--"Thou hast left thy first love." Is not this our case? Our doctrines may be correct; we may hate false doctrine, and may not receive those who are not true to principle; we may labor with untiring energy; but even this is not sufficient. What is our motive? Why are we called upon to repent?--"Thou hast left thy first love." Let each member of the church study this important warning and reproof. Let each one see if in contending for the truth, if in debating on the theory, he has not lost the tender love of Christ. Has not Christ been left out of the sermons, and out of the heart? Is there not danger that many are going forward with a profession of the truth, doing missionary work, while the love of Christ has not been woven into the labor? This solemn warning from the True Witness means much; it demands that you shall remember from whence you are fallen, and repent, and do the first works; "or else," says the True Witness, "I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent." O that the church might realize its need of its first ardor of love! When this is wanting, all other excellences are insufficient. The call to repentance is one that cannot be disregarded without peril. A belief in the theory of the truth is not enough. To present this theory to unbelievers does not constitute you a witness for Christ. The light that gladdened your heart when you first understood the message for this time, is an essential element in your experience and labors, and this has been lost out of your heart and life. Christ beholds your lack of zeal, and declares that you have fallen, and are in a perilous position.
In presenting the binding claims of the law, many have failed to portray the infinite love of Christ. Those who have so great truths, so weighty reforms to present to the people, have not had a realization of the value of the atoning Sacrifice as an expression of God's great love to man. Love for Jesus, and Jesus' love for sinners, have been dropped out of the religious experience of those who have been commissioned to preach the gospel, and self has been exalted instead of the Redeemer of mankind. The law is to be presented to its transgressors, not as something apart from God, but rather as an exponent of his mind and character. As the sunlight cannot be separated from the sun, so God's law cannot be rightly presented to man apart from the divine Author. The messenger should be able to say, "In the law is God's will; come, see for yourselves that the law is what Paul declared it to be,--'holy and just and good.'" It reproves sin, it condemns the sinner, but it shows him his need of Christ, with whom is plenteous mercy and goodness and truth. Though the law cannot remit the penalty for sin, but charges the sinner with all his debt, Christ has promised abundant pardon to all who repent, and believe in his mercy. The love of God is extended in abundance to the repenting, believing soul. The brand of sin upon the soul can be effaced only through the blood of the atoning Sacrifice. No less an offering was required than the sacrifice of Him who was equal with the Father. The work of Christ--his life, humiliation, death, and intercession for the lost man--magnifies the law, and makes it honorable.
Many sermons preached upon the claims of the law have been without Christ, and this lack has made the truth inefficient in converting souls. Without the grace of Christ it is impossible to take one step in obedience to the law of God. Then how necessary that the sinner hear of the love and power of his Redeemer and Friend! While the ambassador for Christ should plainly declare the claims of the law, he should make it understood that none can be justified without the atoning sacrifice of Christ. Without Christ there can be only condemnation and a fearful looking for of fiery indignation, and final separation from the presence of God. But he whose eyes have been opened to see the love of Christ, will behold the character of God as full of love and compassion. God will not appear as a tyrannical, relentless being, but as a father longing to embrace his repenting son. The sinner will cry with the psalmist, "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him." All despair is swept from the soul when Christ is seen in his true character. By Mrs. E. G. White. (Concluded next week.)
(Vol. 68, #6)
Satan has cast his shadow athwart the pathway of every human being, in order that he may misrepresent God to the world. He has clothed the character of God with attributes that are satanic, and wholly at variance with the truth. He has pictured him as a being full of revenge, as a lawgiver whose law is beyond the power of man to keep, and he has implanted enmity in the heart of the sinner, so that man unregenerated is in rebellion against God. This is the impression that Satan has made upon the human mind. Those who present the law of God as a transcript of the divine character will blend with their teaching that which belongs with the subject, and will present the love of the Father and the Son. When this is done, the shadow of the evil one will be removed from the hearts of men, and the clear light of Christ's love, illuminating the understanding, will reveal the character of God as of one who is infinite in mercy. Sinners will behold Christ as one able and willing to cleanse from all sin. They will behold God not in his wrath, but in the sunshine of his love. His love will be seen as beyond all human love, and without a parallel.
There are but two classes in the world,--the class that know God, and the class that know him not. The spiritual man belongs to the first class, the natural man to the other; and it is according to our estimate of the character of the Father and the Son that our class is determined. It is natural for the man whose soul is flooded with the love of Jesus, to see in God his father and his friend. He can and will teach others in harmony with the light which shines into the chambers of his heart. He will teach men the one way from sin to righteousness, revealing to the world the character of Him who is the way, the truth, and the life. Through the plan of redemption, a way has been provided whereby the sinner may be led from the depths of ruin upward to the paradise of God. This provision has been wrought out through an infinite sacrifice on the part of the Father and the Son. The love of God is expressed to man in the priceless gift of his Son; but Christ was given to a lost world, that we might be saved, not in our sins, but from our sins.
Sinners cannot be saved by their good works; for all the powers of man belong to God, and in whatever we offer to God, we must say with David, "Of thine own have we given thee." The language of the truly repentant heart is,--"In my hand no price I bring. Simply to Thy cross I cling."
Jesus alone has power to save from sin, to free from the power of evil; and to doubt him who has laid down his life for us, is to grieve and insult the Father, who has in one gift poured out all heaven to a lost world. "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?" Unbelief is an offense to God. A plan has been provided so broad, so perfect, that every sinner may find forgiveness and redemption. However great may be the sin, the sinner has no excuse for remaining away from Christ; for Jesus draws every soul, and all may respond to the infinite love of God. The sinner may put his will on the side of God's will, and may become a laborer together with God. All who truly accept of Christ will go forth to gather with him, and their sins will be left in the broad road, abandoned for the sake of Christ, and through his power. The path to heaven is a path of holiness; and he who walks in it, walks in the light as Christ is in the light. In following Christ, the light of the world, he will not fail nor be discouraged; for divine strength will be given that he may walk circumspectly, firmly, making advancement in the divine life. The follower of Christ will become one with him, he will look to Christ as the author and finisher of his faith, and the Father will be revealed to his soul as "the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort."
We are not saved as a sect; no denominational name has any virtue to bring us into favor with God. We are saved individually as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. And "by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God." We may have our names recorded on the books of the most spiritual of the churches, and yet we may not belong to Christ, and our names may not be written on the Lamb's book of life. Christ said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." If we could reach heaven through our own merits and efforts, then Christ need not have come to the world, to endure suffering, reproach, and shame, to be subjected to humiliation, mockery, insult, and death. He made an infinite sacrifice, because it was the only way whereby man could be saved. Those who believe in Christ will reveal it in their life and character. By beholding Christ they will be changed into his image, and Christ will be represented to the world by his followers. If we are branches of the True Vine, precious clusters of rich fruit will appear in the life as the natural result. Practical faith in Christ will result in the doing of his words; the believer in Jesus will work the works of God. "We are laborers together with God." "Without me," says Christ, "ye can do nothing." In and through the grace of Christ we can do all things.
How many complain of the straitness of the way, of the trials and conflicts of the Christian life, and say it is hard to leave sin, and practice righteousness. They talk of the power of Satan, instead of magnifying the grace of Christ. This is the baleful fruit of unbelief. It places Satan before Christ, and we dishonor God by glorifying the evil one. When you talk of your trials and conflicts, and feel that they are unbearable, you are giving evidence that you have left your first love. Christ no longer appears to you as the chief among ten thousand and the one altogether lovely. To you are the words of my text addressed, "Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent."
We find a sad state of affairs existing among those who claim to believe in Jesus. There is no evidence in their character and life that they have a saving knowledge of Christ. The union existing between the branch and the vine typifies the union which the soul should have with Jesus, but there is no evidence that such is the relation between many a professed follower and his Lord. A hard, unsympathetic spirit, wholly unlike the spirit of Christ, characterizes the experience of many who claim to believe the truth. Little Christlike tenderness is manifested toward the unfortunate. Many lavish tenderness upon themselves, and upon their favorites, but the souls who most need attention, sympathy, and unselfish labor, are neglected. "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."
How much a work of transformation is needed among all the churches and in all the world! The tender, pitying love of Jesus has been excluded from the heart, and self and its interests have closed the ears against the appeals of the widow and the orphan. As a result of this lack of service to the needy and unfortunate, many are lifted up in pride, and are full of self-esteem and Phariseeism. They are cold, hard, unimpressible. Jesus died to save sinners, and his professed followers should be laborers together with him. But instead of doing this, they wrap the garment of their own righteousness about them, and by their daily life prove themselves destitute of the grace of God. They are unapproachable, because they are bound about with selfishness and self-importance. They have no home religion, they have no neighborhood religion, they have no church religion. Their lives should be fragrant with deeds of love and mercy, a savor of life unto life; but instead of this, they are as destitute of loveliness as were the hills of Gilboa of dew and rain. Many of this class are placed in positions of trust, and they know not the Father nor the Son. They may be zealous in certain things, and have some characteristics essential to the positions they occupy; but Christ, who weighs actions in the balances of the sanctuary, says, "I know thy works." "I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly in a time and way least expected by them, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent."
What has Christ not done that fallen humanity might be restored to uprightness, and be reconciled to God? Jesus is the great restorer. In consequence of sin, earth was separated from heaven; but Jesus bridged the impassable gulf, united the fallen world with heaven, linked finite man with the infinite God; upon the mystic ladder, Christ, every lost one may gain heaven. Through the plan of God, every soul who has an experimental knowledge of Christ is to be a co-laborer with him in the saving of other souls. You should ask yourself, "What am I doing for the salvation of those for whom Christ died? Wherein am I a laborer together with God?" The ransom for your soul was paid on Calvary's cross; such love Christ had for you, and now wherein do you manifest love for perishing souls? Do you love others as Christ has loved you? There are lost sheep to be brought to the fold. There are prodigals to be received with love and joy, and brought back to the Father's house. Where are the unselfish, disinterested efforts put forth for the uplifting of the lost, for the healing of the erring, for the nourishing of the weak?
It is possible for men to make changes in their life, to put away this or that indulgence in sin, and apparently to become Christians, while yet at heart they are as destitute of the love of Christ as is the veriest sinner. There is but one way to heaven, and it requires the consecration of all the powers of the mind, of all the affection of the soul, to Christ, by whom we have peace with God. It is not enough to be conscientious in your belief and practice: a man may be conscientious in bending his footsteps in a path that does not lead to heaven. That he is sincere does not prove that he is right. The sincere motives of his heart will not serve to change error into truth. Paul was conscientious in his persecution of the early Christians; but his conscientious zeal in a bad cause did not sanctify his actions, and bring him into favor with God. He believed that he was doing God service. But "he that trusteth in his own heart is a fool." We must test our conscience by the word of God. I tell you in fear and love, We must obey God's words, and work the works of God, having the mind of Christ, if we would be approved workers before him.
Let us not flatter ourselves that we are the children of God, when our lack of Christ's love is made manifest by our indifference to the souls for whom he died. "In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the Devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. . . .We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth."
A spirit of careless indifference toward our brethren has been coming into our churches, and the religion of many has become cold, selfish, loveless Phariseeism. The True Counselor has spoken words of the utmost importance to all our souls,--"Thou hast left thy first love." What a loss is this! "Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works." O, how many have failed to grow up into Christ, their living head! Instead of growing up into Christ, they have grown away from Christ, and have nourished the elements of character that have been like those of Satan. These characteristics of evil excluded Satan from the royal courts above, and they will exclude you from the family of God, "except thou repent." Your heart must be softened and made susceptible to the influence of the Spirit of God, that you may grow up into a spiritual temple in Christ. The saints on earth must love as Christ loved, or they will not be saints in heaven. If your sympathies have become dried up, turn to God, humble your proud heart before him, fall on the Rock and be broken, and then Christ will mold you after his own similitude, and make you a vessel unto honor.
Those who do not represent Christ, are like signboards that cannot be read; and many who are in prominent positions are pointing the wrong way, or giving no light as to which is the road to the kingdom of God. Let the signboard be ever so rough, the letters ever so plain, if they can be read, the traveller may find the right way. Let everyone in our ranks, professing the name of Christ, see to it that he is not misguiding souls. Many are becoming confused, and losing all confidence in Christ, because those who claim to be Christians are not following the light of the word, but rather are swayed by their impulses, and guided by their own notions. The souls of many are hungering and thirsting to know the way to heaven. Let it be made plain through a representation of the character of Christ. Your cold hardheartedness is misleading souls, and turning their steps into the way of ruin. Put on Christ, and walk in love as dear children. "Learn of me," says the Great Teacher; "for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.": We should guide the souls of men, not in our way, but in the new and living way which Christ consecrated with his own blood. In this way we may "run, and not be weary;" "walk, and not faint;" we may go on from strength to strength, from light to greater light, till the beams of the Sun of Righteousness illuminate all the chambers of the mind and heart. As the light is diffused, given to others, greater light will come. The reason why the churches sit in darkness and have no light, is that they have not given light, they have not been as a city set upon a hill, that cannot be hid. O that all would cultivate love for souls, and deny inclination! Then the love of Christ would burn in the heart, and souls for whom he died would rejoice in the revealed mercy of God. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 68, #7)
God does not commend or confirm men in impenitence, for this condition of the human heart does not glorify him, nor work good for humanity. God sheds light upon the souls of men, he grants them opportunities and privileges, and if these are not improved, if the precious moments of probation are neglected, the measure of the light given will be the measure of the guilt incurred through this inexcusable neglect of the gifts of God. The Saviour said, "If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!" We are told that the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart. The repeated refusals of the king to hear the word of the Lord, called forth more direct, more urgent and forcible messages. At each rejection of light, the Lord manifested a more marked display of his power; but the king's obstinacy increased with every new evidence of the power and majesty of the God of heaven, until the last arrow of mercy was exhausted from the divine quiver. Then the man was utterly hardened by his own persistent resistance. Pharaoh sowed obstinacy, and he reaped a harvest of the same in his character. The Lord could do nothing more to convince him, for he was barricaded in obstinacy and prejudice, where the Holy Spirit could not find access to his heart. Pharaoh was given up to his own unbelief and hardness of heart. Infidelity produced infidelity. When Pharaoh hardened his heart on the first exhibition of God's power, he made himself more capable of a second rejection of God's power. Pride and stubbornness held him in bondage, and hindered him from acknowledging the warnings of God. It was contrary to the nature of Pharaoh to change after once having given expression to his purpose not to believe.
What Pharaoh has done, will be done again and again by men until the close of probation. God destroys no man; but when a man stifles conviction, when he turns from evidence, he is sowing unbelief, and will reap as he has sown. As it was with Pharaoh, so it will be with him; when clearer light shines upon the truth, he will meet it with increased resistance, and the work of hardening the heart will go on with each rejection of the increasing light of heaven. In simplicity and truth we would speak to the impenitent in regard to the way in which men destroy their own souls. You are not to say that God is to blame, that he has made a decree against you. No, he is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to the knowledge of the truth, and to the haven of eternal bliss. No soul is ever finally deserted of God, given up to his own ways, so long as there is any hope of his salvation. God follows men with appeals and warnings and assurances of compassion, until further opportunities and privileges would be wholly in vain. The responsibility rests upon the sinner. By resisting the Spirit of God today, he prepares the way for a second resistance of light when it comes with mightier power; and thus he will pass from one stage of indifference to another, until, at last, the light will fail to impress him, and he will cease to respond in any measure to the Spirit of God.
Those who claim to be Christians are in continual need of a power outside of, and beyond, themselves. They need to watch unto prayer, and to place themselves under the guardianship of God, else they will be overcome by the enemy. The Christian must look to God, as a servant to his master, as a handmaid to her mistress, saying, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" The servant of God must use his ability in such a way that it will bring glory to God. When he yields himself to the control of the Spirit of God, he will be renewed, transformed into the image of Christ. He will give his affections to God, he will be enlightened, strengthened, and sanctified, and will become a channel of light to the world.
But the sinner who refuses to give himself to God, is under the control of another power, listening to another voice, whose suggestions are of an entirely different character. Passion controls him, his judgment is blinded, reason is dethroned, and impetuous desires sway him, now here, now there. The truth will have but little influence over him, for there is in human nature, when separated from the Source of truth, a continual opposition to God's will and ways. The physical, mental, and moral being are all under the control of rash impulses. The affections are depraved, and every faculty intrusted to man for wise improvement is demoralized. The man is dead in trespasses and sins. Inclination moves, passion holds the control, and his appetites are under the sway of a power of which he is not aware. He talks of liberty, of freedom of action, while he is in most abject slavery. He is not his own. He is not allowed to see the beauty of the truth; for the carnal mind is enmity against God, and not subject to his law. He views truth as falsehood, and falsehood as truth. The mind controlled by Satan is weak in moral power. Can such a one without change be taken into a holy heaven?--Oh, no; it would be no mercy to the impenitent sinner to place him in the society of the angels.
When the wicked dead are raised from the grave, they come up with the tastes, habits, and characters that they formed in the time of probation. A sinner is not raised a saint, neither is a saint raised a sinner. The sinner could not be happy in the companionship of the saints in light, with Jesus, with the Lord of hosts; for on every side will be heard the song of praise and thanksgiving; and honor will be ascribed to the Father and the Son. A song will be raised that the unsanctified, unholy ones have never learned, and it will be out of harmony with their depraved tastes and desires. It will be unbearable to them. The apostle John heard this song. He says, "I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honor, and power, unto the Lord our God: for true and righteous are his judgments;. . . And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready." It is impossible for the sinner to enjoy the bliss of heaven. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 68, #8)
"Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." Every moment of our probationary time is precious; for it is our time for character building. We should give most diligent heed to the culture of our spiritual nature. We should watch our hearts, guarding our thoughts lest impurity tarnish the soul. We should seek to keep every faculty of the mind in the very best condition, that we serve God to the extent of our ability. Nothing should be permitted to interrupt our communion with God. If corrupt thoughts are entertained, they will lead to corrupt actions. O may the angels of purity guard us, that no stain of immorality may be found upon us! Every worker for God should be pure in thought. The grandest themes, the noblest impulses, the purest conceptions, should be his, for he is the Son of God.
We have a work to do in this world, and we must not allow ourselves to become self-absorbed, and so forget the claims of God and humanity upon us. If we seek God with earnestness, he will impress us by his Holy Spirit. He knows what we need, for he is acquainted with our every weakness, and he would have us work away from self, that we may become kind in thought and word and deed. We must cease to think and talk of self, making our needs and wants the sole object of our thoughts. God would have us cultivate the attributes of Heaven. To be a Christian is to be Christlike. If we would be successful in winning souls, we must be full of the tact that is born of kindness and sympathy and love. There are some who have a desire to benefit others, but they fail because of their defective manners. They do not realize the fact that before seeking the reformation of others, they themselves need to reform. Those who would work for others, should remember that they are working for Christ's little ones, the members of his body.
We should carefully consider what is our relation to God and to one another. We are continually sinning against God, but his mercy still follows us; in love he bears with our perversities, our neglect, our ingratitude, our disobedience. He never becomes impatient with us. We insult his mercy, grieve his Holy Spirit, and do him dishonor before men and angels, and yet his compassions fail not. The thought of God's longsuffering to us should make us forbearing to one another. How patiently should we bear with the faults and errors of our brethren, when we remember how great are our own failings in the sight of God. How can we pray to our Heavenly Father, "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors," if we are denunciatory, resentful, exacting in our treatment of others? God would have us more kind, more loving and lovable, less critical and suspicious. O that we all might have the Spirit of Christ, and know how to deal with our brethren and neighbors!
We should manifest great tact in dealing with one who errs. In the spirit of love and meekness, we should seek to restore him to the fold of Christ; but instead of sympathy toward the wanderer, too frequently a censorious spirit is manifested. Those who have not made the mistake which they condemn in another, stand off in an unapproachable attitude, as if they felt themselves secure from making such a blunder. But let him who thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. If those who condemn another, loved as Christ has loved a lost race of rebels, they would by every means possible, seek to recover the erring one. They would not take delight in publishing his case, in making his fault appear in the worst light possible, but they would heed the injunction of the Scripture, "Ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness." If you do this, you will probably succeed in bringing your erring brother into fellowship with the church without publishing his errors to the church, or making his fault known to another in any way.
There are too many among those who profess to be followers of Christ, who seek to excuse their own defects, by magnifying the errors of others. The highest evidence of nobility in a Christian is self-control. We should copy the example of Jesus; for when he was reviled, he reviled not again, but committed himself to Him that judgeth righteously. Our Redeemer met insult and mockery with uncomplaining silence. All the cruel taunts of the murderous throng who exulted in his humiliation and trial in the judgment hall, could not bring from him one look or word of resentment or impatience. He was the Majesty of heaven, and in his pure breast there dwelt no room for the spirit of retaliation, but only for pity and love. There is a time when silence is golden. We should always copy the life of Jesus; for we are to be like him. He loves us notwithstanding our defects and shortcomings. Let us not think that one of the graces of Christ is portrayed with no lesson to us in its portrayal. Pure love thinketh no evil. When we constantly imagine that we are not appreciated, and watch for slights, we do ourselves and others great harm. We must forget self in loving service for others.
If you think your brother has injured you, go to him in kindness and love, and you may come to an understanding and to reconciliation. When you deal with the erring, you should always keep in mind the fact that you are dealing with Christ in the person of his saints. Go to your brother whom you think in the wrong, and lovingly talk with him alone; if you succeed in settling the trouble, you have gained your brother without exposing his frailties, and the settlement between you has been the covering of a multitude of sins, from the observation of others. Others will not need to know of your difficulty, and thus be put on the alert to watch with suspicion everything the one you think at fault may do, and put a wrong construction on his motives.
"There is more joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, than over ninety and nine just persons that need no repentance." If the sinner repents because of your kind and loving admonition, work has been done for eternity. There is great need of carrying out the instruction of Christ in a definite manner, acting up to the word of our Master. This is living the law of God. In thus dealing with our brethren, we may make an impression on others that will never fade from their minds. We may not remember some act of kindness which we do, it may fade from our memory; but eternity will bring out in all its brightness, every act done for the salvation of souls, every word spoken for the comfort of God's children; and these deeds done for Christ's sake will be a part of our joy through all eternity. When we pursue toward our brethren any course save that of kindness and courtesy, we pursue an unchristian course. We should manifest courtesy at home, in the church, and in our intercourse with all men. But especially we should manifest compassion and respect for those who are giving their lives to the cause of God. We should exercise that precious love that suffereth long and is kind; that envieth not, that vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not its own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil. God would have his servants always appear at their best, both at home and in society; and where Jesus reigns in the heart, there will be sweet love, and we shall be tender and true to one another. It takes special watchfulness to keep the affections alive, and our hearts in a condition where we shall be sensible of the good that exists in the hearts of others. If we do not watch on this point, Satan will put his jealousy into our souls; he will put his glasses before our eyes, that we may see the actions of our brethren in a distorted light. Instead of looking critically upon our brethren, we should turn our eyes within, and be ready to discover the objectionable traits of our own character. As we have a proper realization of our own mistakes and failures, the mistakes of others will sink into insignificance.
Satan is an accuser of the brethren. He is on the watch for every error, no matter how small, that he may have something on which to found an accusation. Keep off from Satan's side. It is true that you should give no occasion for faultfinding. A moment's petulance, a single gruff answer, the want of Christian politeness and courtesy in some small matter, may result in the loss of friends, in the loss of influence. God would have you appear at your best under all circumstances--in the presence of those who are inferior to you, as well as in the presence of equals and superiors. We are to be followers of Christ at all times, seeking his honor, seeking to rightly represent him in every way, that we may be lights in the world, showing forth the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light. We are not to exalt our own opinions above those of others. If our ideas are superior to those of others, it will be made manifest without special effort on our part. People of discernment will not fail to realize and appreciate the fact, and we shall receive the credit to which we are entitled. God bids us come to him for wisdom, that we may shed the quickening influence of the Holy Spirit upon others, not the influence of our own high opinion of ourselves. We are to come to God for his grace, that we may magnify and honor him, not praise ourselves, but be able to impart new and noble impulses to those around us. God is taking account of all we do and say in seeking to educate men to lift their hearts to him in gratitude and praise. Let self drop out of sight, and let Jesus appear as the One altogether lovely. We should seek to live for his glory alone, not that men may praise us. We should seek to do the work of God in all humility, in meekness and lowliness of heart, working as Christ worked, and angels will watch over us, and carry the tidings of our faithfulness to God and man, even to the courts of light. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 68, #10)
The more earnestly we apply our minds to the investigation of truth, the clearer will the evidences of truth appear; and the more closely we relate ourselves to the God of all wisdom, coming into communion with him who has created all things, the richer will be our knowledge, the more fully shall we comprehend divine truth. God has graciously endowed men with intellectual powers, and these powers are to be wisely improved, that men may have ability to search into and understand rich depths of knowledge in the character, word, and works of God. God will open the treasures of his love to the willing and obedient; he that willeth to do the will of God shall know of the doctrine. By communion with God we become refined, broadened, and elevated. To him who desires the knowledge of divine things, God will open hidden wonders, that are beyond the comprehension of those who are unenlightened by the Spirit of God. Those who hear the wonderful things opened to the Christian will be impressed with that which God can give to the consecrated and earnest soul.
Christ, the way, the truth, and the life, gave himself for a fallen world, and in him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. No greater gift can be bestowed upon man than that which is comprehended in Christ. And yet men wait, refusing to give to God the allegiance of the heart. But let the impenitent look to the plan of redemption, and ask themselves, "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?" It is perilous to neglect to render to God the full consecration of all our powers, for he has given them to man in trust. Will you not ask yourself, "How is it with my soul?" The great gift of salvation has been placed within our reach at an infinite cost to the Father and the Son. To neglect salvation, is to neglect the knowledge of the Father and of the Son whom God hath sent in order that man might become a partaker of the divine nature, and thus, with Christ, an heir of all things. A neglect to lay hold of the priceless treasure of salvation, means the eternal ruin of your soul. The peril of indifference to God and neglect of his gift, is measured by the greatness of salvation. God has done to the uttermost of his almighty power. The resources of infinite love have been exhausted in devising and executing the plan of redemption for man. God has revealed his character in the goodness, the mercy, compassion, and love manifested to save a race of guilty rebels. What could be done that has not been done in the provisions of the plan of salvation? If the sinner remains indifferent to the manifestation of the goodness of God, if he neglects so great a salvation, rejects the overtures of divine mercy, refuses the gift of life purchased by the precious blood of Christ, what could be done to touch his hard heart? If the wonderful achievement wrought out by our Creator and Redeemer, into which he threw all his power and love, does not move the proud human heart, when man sees that his soul was thought of such value that the Son of the infinite God, the Majesty of heaven, was willing to lay down his life in order that we might be saved, then there is nothing that will move him. Christ left the royal courts, and accepted a life of shame, reproach, and suffering, and did not shrink even from the death of the cross, in order that he might unite humanity with divinity. Are you so infatuated with the love of self, with the suggestions of Satan, that these considerations do not move you to a life of humility, and of submission to God? Will not the love and compassion of him who gave in one gift all that heaven afforded, awaken a response in your heart? "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?"
Those who do neglect the great gift of salvation, will have no second probation provided for them, but will be left without hope. The Son of the infinite God was the author of our salvation. He covenanted from the first to be man's substitute, and he became man that he might take upon himself the wrath which sin had provoked. The plan of redemption called forth the amazement of the heavenly hosts. The angels looked with wonder to see the mystery wrought out before them in the life of the Son of God. They saw the Redeemer take step after step down the path of humiliation. They saw him rejected, denied, insulted, abused, and crucified, and yet it was something beyond all finite intelligence to comprehend the full mystery of redemption.
The only way in which salvation could be provided for man was through the union of divinity with humanity. Christ in human flesh alone could bridge the gulf that sin had made. With his humanity he was prepared to touch humanity. The greatness, the breadth, of the plan of salvation invests it with incomparable grandeur; but it can only be spiritually discerned, and it increases in greatness as we contemplate it. Looking to Jesus dying upon the cross, and knowing that it was our sin that placed the innocent Sufferer there, we are bowed down before him in wonder and love. The greatness of this salvation proves the peril of its neglect.
Satan constantly seeks to make of none effect the great work of redemption. What importance, what magnitude, it gives to the theme of redemption, that he who has undertaken the salvation of man was the brightness of the Father's glory, the express image of his person. How, then, can heaven regard those who neglect so great a salvation, wrought out for man at such infinite cost? To neglect to lay hold on the rich blessings of heaven, is to refuse, to set at naught, him who was equal with the Father, the only one who could save fallen man. O, shall we through neglect of Christ throw away our one chance for eternal life? Shall we scorn divine mercy, and trample underfoot the Son of God, and count the blood of the covenant an unholy thing?
The divine Author of salvation left nothing incomplete in the plan; every phase of it is perfect. The sin of the whole world was laid upon Jesus, and divinity gave its highest value to the suffering of humanity in Jesus, that the whole world might be pardoned through faith in the Substitute. The most guilty need have no fear but that God will pardon, for because of the efficacy of the divine sacrifice the penalty of the law will be remitted. Through Christ the sinner may return to allegiance to God. How wonderful is the plan of redemption in its simplicity and fullness. It not only provides for the full pardon of the sinner, but also for the restoration of the transgressor, making a way whereby he may be accepted as a son of God. Through obedience he may be the possessor of love and peace and joy. His faith may unite him in his weakness to Christ, the source of divine strength; and through the merits of Christ he may find the approval of God, because Christ has satisfied the demands of the law, and he imputes his righteousness to the penitent, believing soul. The spotless robe woven in the loom of heaven, covers the contrite one, and he wills to be obedient, taking the yoke of Christ, suffering as Christ suffered when he walked a man among men.
What love, what wonderful love, was displayed by the Son of God. The death we deserved was suffered to come upon him, that immortality might be given to us, who could never merit such a reward. Is not salvation great in its simplicity, and wonderful in its comprehensiveness? Christ takes the sinner from the lowest degradation, and purifies, refines, and ennobles him. By beholding Jesus as he is, the sinner is transformed, and elevated to the very summit of dignity, even to a seat with Christ upon his throne. Contemplating the fullness of the provision that God has made, whereby every son and daughter of Adam may be saved, we are led to exclaim with John, "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God." The angels are amazed at the manifestation of divine love for the fallen race. The fact that angels look with wonder upon the marvelous display of love on the part of God for man, shows how terrible a thing it is to neglect the salvation he has provided. The plan of redemption provides for every emergency, and for every want of the soul. If it were deficient in any way, the sinner might find some excuse to plead for neglect of its terms; but the infinite God had a knowledge of every human necessity, and ample provision has been made to supply every need. Thereby our sin can be pardoned, and eternal life secured; for the righteousness of Christ may be imputed unto us, to bear the test and meet the approval of a holy God. What, then, can the sinner say in the great day of final judgment, as to why he refused to give attention, the most thorough and earnest, to the salvation proffered him? By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 68, #11)
Jesus said in his prayer for his disciples, "Those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition." The betrayer of Christ might have had eternal life if he had been a doer of the words of Christ and not a hearer only. Judas had the same opportunities, the same privileges, as had the other disciples. He listened to the same precious lessons, but he failed to practice the principles laid down by our Lord, and would not yield his opinions and ideas to receive the teaching of Heaven. The practice of the truth, which Christ required, was at variance with the purposes and desires of Judas.
The disciples were not chosen because they were imperfect, but in spite of their imperfections, that through the knowledge and practice of the truth, through the divine grace of Christ, they might become transformed into his image. Christ brought them into his school, and they had the privilege of listening to the instructions of the greatest educator the world ever knew. Judas was brought under the influence of the divine Teacher, and how tenderly did the Saviour deal with him who was to be his betrayer. Jesus knew the dark phases of his character, knew that if his evil traits were not overcome, he would betray his Lord. Jesus presented principles of love and benevolence that struck at the root of covetousness. He pictured before the covetous Judas the heinous character of greed, and many a time Judas realized that his character had been portrayed, his sin pointed out; but he still cherished his evil, and would not confess and forsake his unrighteousness. He was self-sufficient, and instead of resisting temptation, he followed his fraudulent practices, and this in the light of the teaching and life of Christ. Christ was before him, a living example of what he must become if he reaped the full benefit of the divine mediation and ministry. Lesson after lesson fell unheeded on the ears of Judas. How many today follow in his steps. In the light of God's law, selfish men see their evil characters, but fail to make the required reformation, and go on from one state of sin to another.
The lessons of Christ are applicable to our own time and generation. He said, "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word." The same testimony is brought to us in these last days as was brought to Judas. The same lessons which he failed to make practical in his life come to men who hear, and yet make a like failure, because they do not put away their sin. But all who finally have a seat with Christ upon his throne will be those who have overcome. All selfishness must be rooted from the heart. The apostle says, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
The world's Redeemer has given himself our sacrifice, and he has left us also an unerring pattern. We cannot excuse our defects of character on the ground that others are defective, for we are to see Jesus only. We are not only to assent to the truth, but we are to yield joyful obedience to its requirements. With the cross of Calvary before us, can we harbor pride, selfishness, and rebellion, as did Judas? Christ took step after step down the path of humiliation and self-denial, that we might become the sons and daughters of God. What returns are we making for all this manifestation of infinite love? How cold, how indifferent we are! How little we give to Jesus, when he has given all for us! He died the death of lowest shame for us, and yet how feeble is our service, how reluctant our hearts to yield all to him!
Who of us are copying the pattern? Through the grace of Christ are we mastering pride of heart? have we uprooted selfishness? have we opened wide the door of the heart to let in the precious love of Jesus? Or are we cherishing sins that will ruin us at last? We cannot meet Christ in peace with one sin unrepented of, unconfessed, and unforsaken. But John writes, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."
Jesus bore long with the perversity of Judas, and he bears long with our perversity. Although we have before us the example of Judas, how many dare to do as he did! But in our case, as in the case of Judas, there will come a time when the boundary line of God's mercy and forbearance will be reached. We shall either heed the sayings of our Lord, and carry out their instruction in our lives, or we shall be hearers and not doers, and fall under condemnation. We shall either overcome our evil traits of character, and become like Christ, or we shall cherish our defects, and fail of the divine standard. In the latter course we set up our will in opposition to the will of Christ, and enter into conflict with him who has given us the most unmistakable evidences of his love. O that we may not reject him and choose our own deficiencies! From his heart flow forth waves of blessing to every heart open to receive his love. We have only to love him, to trust him, to obey him, and he has pledged his immutable word that we shall have the riches of his glory. We have only to come to him in childlike simplicity and meekness, and he will make us one with himself, and we shall be the sons and the daughters of God. It is our place to learn the lessons that Judas might have learned from the lips of the divine Teacher, and we shall become Christlike in character.
Let us not be in the position of those for whom the Saviour has died in vain. In Christ there is sufficient grace to overcome all our evil traits of character, and strength is found alone in him. He bears long with us. If he had been like many, he would have sharply rebuked Judas for his covetousness; but what divine patience he manifested toward this erring man, even while he gave him evidence that he read his heart as an open book. He presented before him the highest incentives for right-doing, and if Judas rejected the light of heaven, he would be found guilty and without excuse.
Those who profess to be the followers of Christ are in danger of taking a course similar to that of Judas. If they do not hourly make Christ their strength, and through his grace become overcomers, their unlikeness to Christ is strengthening; their evil habits are confirming. Those who are spiritually proud, selfish, and stubborn, may now make diligent work in repentance, and their sins may be blotted out when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. The precious light shining upon us, shone upon the disciples; for it came through them to us, and it is of the same value today as in the early days of Christianity. Christ did not compel Judas to receive the light; neither will he compel us to receive it. The Lord sends his servants to open the treasures of truth to the understanding of all who will accept evidence; but if men choose to cherish their own notions, and resist the truth, refusing to be sanctified through it, their hearts will become hard and unimpressible. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 68, #12)
"Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: but as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot."
I feel a deep interest in those who profess to be the children of God, that they may be the light of the world. If they respond to the requirements of God, there will be need of much greater watchfulness, much more untiring diligence. The responsibility of representing Christ to the world does not rest alone upon those who are ordained as ministers of the gospel. Each member of the church should be a living epistle, known and read of all men. A working church will be a living church. Those who are elected as elders and deacons should ever be on the alert that plans may be made and executed which will give every member of the church a share in active work for the salvation of souls. This is the only way in which the church can be preserved in a healthy, thriving condition.
How earnestly we should search the word of God; for it is our only safe guide, our only safeguard. The gospel of God is able to make us wise unto salvation. It is not incomprehensible, and placed above us, but its plain, inspired utterances can simplify the perplexing problems of this life, and enlighten each single-hearted believer with the bright beams of heavenly wisdom. As so great a reward attends the earnest searching of the word of God, should we not with more painstaking effort seek to enter into God's plans, and strive to fulfill his designs in diffusing the light of truth? Paul writes to Timothy, "Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." This is God's plan for diffusing light. Those who are called to preach the gospel, are not simply to be preachers, but they are to be teachers, to be educators. They are to look deeper than the surface, they are to realize the responsibility which rests upon them as instruments through which God would accomplish his great designs in the salvation of the lost. The servants of God have a most solemn work to do, and they should seek to comprehend the conditions upon which they are accepted to serve a crucified Redeemer.
We are nearing the close of this world's history, and it is essential that every laborer in the cause of God should closely examine his heart, and strive to understand the importance of the work to which he is called. The servant of God should ever seek for higher and higher attainments, both intellectual and moral. The laborers together with God may occupy positions of influence, if God is their dependence and support. They cannot afford to be indolent, for the result will be manifest in the defects and deformity of their character, and they will leave the baleful stamp of their deficient character upon those with whom they associate. God has made it possible for his children to grow to the full stature of men and women in Christ; none need be dwarfed.
If the minister is growing in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus, he will be able to devise plans for the advancement of the work of God, and will bring every member of the church into that place of responsibility for which he is best fitted. Young men and women should be educated for service in the cause of God. The Lord chooses the young because they are strong in body and vigorous in mind; and if the youth are rightly instructed, they will be earnest workers for the Master. God will be the counselor of the young if they put their trust in him; he will accept them, and exalt them to be co-laborers with himself, if they will yield themselves in submission to his will.
A great mistake has been committed in permitting the youth to drift hither and thither with no purpose in life but that of self-gratification, when they should have been interested in the service of Christ. The young place themselves in the way of temptation, because they desire to follow inclination, and those who have had experience do not take hold of them in the right way; they do not, in pitying love, in Christlike tenderness, seek to show them their danger. The members of the church should not be content to rest until the feet of the young are directed into the path that leads to eternal life. Let those who have the love of Christ in their hearts, who have heavenly wisdom, make it their special business to see that the youth are brought under a saving influence. Let the youth be drawn to him who died for them; let them be invited into the service of the Master.
Very much has been lost to the cause of God because of inattention to the young. Ministers of the gospel should form a happy acquaintance with the youth of their congregations. There is a great reluctance on the part of many to become acquainted with the youth, but it is accounted of Heaven a neglect of duty, a sin against souls for whom Christ died. The youth are objects of Satan's special attacks; and the manifestation of kindness, courtesy, tender sympathy, and love, will often work the salvation of those who are under the temptations of the evil one. The love of Jesus will win you an entrance into the hearts of the young; and when you have obtained the confidence of the youth, they will listen to your words and take your counsel. You should bind them to your heart by the cords of love, and then instruct them how to labor in the cause of God. The youth may labor for their young companions in a quiet, unpretending way. This branch of God's work must not be neglected. Our churches are not doing what they might do for the youth. There seems to be no burden for souls for whom Christ died. Why should this labor for the youth in our borders not be thought the highest of missionary work? Why do the ministers leave the young without endeavoring to win them to Christ? Why do they not urge the young to give their hearts to God? This work will require the most delicate tact, the most thoughtful consideration, the most earnest prayer that heavenly wisdom may be imparted; for connected with the church are those who are not ignorant of our faith, yet whose hearts have never been touched by the power of divine grace. Can we who claim to love God pass on day after day, and week after week, indifferent to those who are out of Christ? If they should die in their sins, unwarned, their blood would be required at the unfaithful watchman's hands. Why is it that personal efforts are not put forth that they may be drawn to Christ by the strong cords of love? There is work for each and all to do, and will anyone shrink from sacred responsibility? Shall souls be left to perish because of your unfaithfulness? Jesus has said, "Ye are the light of the world." "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify our Father which is in heaven." Let your light shine in clear, steady rays, that you may represent Him who has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
The church has been appointed as the medium through which divine light is to shine into the moral darkness of this world, and the peace-giving beams of the Sun of righteousness fall upon the hearts of men. Personal labor with individuals and with families constitutes a part of the work to be done in God's moral vineyard. The meekness, the patience, the forbearance, the love of Christ must be revealed in the homes of the land. The church must arise and shine. Radiant with the spirit and power of the truth, the people of God must go forth to a world lying in darkness, to make manifest the light of the glory of God. God has given to men noble powers of mind to be employed to his honor; and in the missionary work these powers of mind are called into active exercise. Wise improvement and development of the gifts of God will be seen in his servants. Day by day there will be growth in the knowledge of Christ. He who once spake as never man spake, who wore the garb of humanity, is still the Great Teacher. As you follow in his footsteps, seeking the lost, angels will draw near, and through the illumination of the Spirit of God, greater knowledge will be obtained as to the best ways and means for accomplishing the work committed to your hands.
While Christ would lead his servants out into the highways, into the homes of men, to seek and save the lost, Satan is employing his agents to lead souls to ruin. His most effective agents for this work are those whose names are on the church records, but fail of a record in "the Lamb's book of life." There are many who are blind leaders of the blind, and leaders and those who are led will come to destruction at last. Satan is ever on the alert that he may lead men into idolatry, that those who profess to love Christ may bow down to rivals of the Lord of heaven. The success which Satan has achieved in leading the religious world into idolatry, has made him bold, and much of what the world calls, "advanced thought" is simply progress into error and darkness.
In order that we may meet the ranks of the adversary with success, there is earnest work to be done. We must study the word of God, we must pray in secret, we must assemble and agree as to the explicit things that we would have God do for us and for his cause. We must counsel together, and open every plan to those with whom we are connected, that every method may be critically examined, and the very best chosen. We should pray that God will direct in all our plans, that no mistake may be made. There should be a decided advance seen in our work; growing efficiency should be manifested in every department. We now see more doors open for usefulness than we can find laborers to enter; for many to whom God has intrusted ability do not employ the means within their reach for the improvement of their talents.
Those who should have been the light of the world have shed forth but feeble and sickly beams. What is light?--It is piety, goodness, truth, mercy, love; it is the revealing of the truth in the character and life. The gospel is dependent on the personal piety of its believers for its aggressive power, and God has made provision through the death of his beloved Son, that every soul may be thoroughly furnished unto every good work. Every soul is to be a bright and shining light, showing forth the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. "Ye are laborers together with God," yes, laborers; that means doing earnest service in the vineyard of the Lord. There are souls to be saved,--souls in our churches, in our Sabbath schools, and in our neighborhoods.
We do not so much need the grand church edifice, the worshipers adorned in costly array to harmonize with the church; this will not move one soul toward the kingdom of heaven. Display will not awaken the tender sympathies whereby soul meets soul. We need faith, obedience, genuine love for God and for humanity. This alone will exert the heaven-born influence that will move the hearts of men. There are moral icebergs in our churches. There are plenty of formalists who can make an imposing display, but cannot shine as lights in the world. God looks with pitying tenderness upon a church whose worshipers, although poor and ignorant, are sincere. They may be scorned and neglected by the world, but they are beloved of God. The glory of the church of God is in the piety of its members; for there is the hiding of Christ's power. The influence of the sincere children of God may be esteemed as of little worth, but it will be felt throughout time, and rightly revealed in the day of reward. The light of a true Christian, shining forth in steadfast piety, in unwavering faith, will prove to the world the power of a living Saviour. In his followers Christ will be revealed as a well of water, springing up into everlasting life. Although scarcely known to the world, they are acknowledged as God's peculiar people, his chosen vessels of salvation, his channels whereby light is to come to the world. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 68, #13)
If we would have our children pure and elevated in character, we must see that their daily associates are what they should be. If children have companions who are noble and true, in most cases they themselves will become noble and true. They should have companions who will not ridicule what is pure and worthy, but will rather advocate what is right. The fear of ridicule leads many a youth to yield to temptation, and to walk in the way of the ungodly. Mothers may do much by example as well as by precept to show their children how to be upright amid scorn and ridicule. But too often mothers show a morbid sensitiveness as to what others may think of their habits, dress, and opinions, and, to a great extent, they are slaves to the thought of how others may regard them. Is it not a sad thing that judgment-bound creatures should be controlled more by the thought of what their neighbors will think of them than by the thought of their obligation to God? We too often sacrifice the truth in order to be in harmony with custom, that we may avoid ridicule. We do not carry all our burdens to the Lord, but craving human sympathy, we lean on broken reeds, seek to drink from broken cisterns that can hold no water.
A mother cannot afford to be in bondage to opinion; for she is to train her children for this life and for the life to come. In dress, mothers should not seek to make a display by needless ornamentation. The fringes, ribbons, laces, and ornaments are not necessary, and in the purchase of these things the money God has intrusted to us is turned away from its proper channel; for it should flow into the treasury to supply the wants of God's cause.
We should see that our children have advantages for gaining an education, that they have a pleasant home, furnished simply, and providing convenient, tasteful arrangements. These are legitimate channels in which our means may flow, and in denying self, the gratification of pride, we lose nothing; for we are comfortable in a pleasant home, and are provided with neat, plain garments. Mothers, by not following the practices of the world, you may set before your children an example of faithfulness to God, and so teach them to say no. Teach your children the meaning of the precept, "If sinners entice thee, consent thou not." But if you would have your children able to say no to temptation, you yourself must be able to say no. It is as needful for the man to say no, as for the child.
With the sacred responsibilities of motherhood, how can a woman give herself to the frivolous fashions of the world, and so teach her children to conform to the world's standard? Demoralizing extravagance prevails everywhere, and souls are going to ruin because of their love of dress and display. The life of nine tenths of those who are devotees of fashion is a living lie. Deception, fraud, is in their daily practices; for they wish to appear that which they are not.
Nobility of soul, gentleness, generosity, are bartered away to gratify the lust after evil things. Thousands sell their virtue that they may have means for following the fashions of the world. Such madness concerning the changing fashions of the world should call forth an army of reformers who would take their position for simple and plain attire. Satan is ever inventing fashions that cannot be followed except through the sacrifice of money, time, and health.
Having before us the picture of the world's demoralization upon the point of fashion, how dare professed Christians follow in the path of the worldling? Shall we appear to sanction these demoralizing fashions by adopting them? Many do adopt the fashions of the world, but it is because Christ is not formed within them, the hope of glory. Luxurious living, extravagant dressing, is carried to such an extent as to constitute one of the signs of the last days.
Pride and vanity are manifested everywhere; but those who are inclined to look into the mirror to admire themselves, will have little inclination to look into the law of God, the great moral mirror. This idolatry of dress destroys all that is humble, meek, and lovely in character. It consumes the precious hours that should be devoted to meditation, to searching the heart, to the prayerful study of God's word. In the word of God, inspiration has recorded lessons especially for our instruction. Paul writes, "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works." No Christian can conform to the demoralizing fashions of the world without imperiling his soul's salvation.
Devotion to dress takes from the means intrusted for works of mercy and benevolence, and this extravagant outlay is robbery toward God. Our means has not been given to us for the gratification of pride and love of display. We are to be wise stewards, and clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and give our means to advance the cause of God. If we want adornment, the graces of meekness, humility, modesty, prudence, are suited to every person, in every rank and condition of life.
Shall we not take our stand as faithful sentinels, and by precept and example frown down indulgence in the dissipation and extravagance of this degenerate age? Shall we not set a right example to our youth, and whether we eat or drink, or whatsoever we do, do all to the glory of God? By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 68, #14)
Although Peter and John were chosen disciples of Christ, and were counted among the twelve, they were still imperfect in character. Peter was of a zealous, ardent temperament, and ever manifested great earnestness in the cause of Christ. At one time the disciples were on the sea, and the record declares that the ship was in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves, for the wind was contrary; "and in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?"
This incident illustrates much of the character of impulsive Peter. Faith and unbelief were blended in his words and actions. He said, "Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water." The Lord had assured the disciples, "It is I; be not afraid." And when Peter saw the waves around him, saw the boisterous winds, he forgot the power of his Lord, and began to sink; but at his cry of weakness, Jesus was at his side to grasp his outstretched hand, and lift him from the billows.
When the Lord sought to prepare the minds of his disciples for their last great trial in his betrayal and crucifixion, Peter felt that he could not bear to have the words of the Lord fulfilled; and stirred with indignation at the thought of the injustice so soon to come upon Christ and his followers, he exclaimed, "Be it far from thee, Lord; this shall not be unto thee." The impression which Christ desired to make upon the minds of his followers was one directly opposed to the impression that Peter's words would make, and he rebuked his disciple with the sternest rebuke that ever fell from his lips. He said, "Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offense unto me; for thou savorest not the things that be of God; but those that be of men."
Although Peter had been long with the Master, he had a very imperfect conception of the plan of salvation. He did not desire to see the cross in the work of Christ; but it was through the cross that life and hope were to come to dying men.
When Jesus had spoken of his death, declaring that all his disciples would be offended because of him, Peter had said, "Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended." He assured his Lord that he would go with him both to prison and to death; but Jesus knew Peter much better than the disciple knew himself, and he said to him, "Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice."
At the very first trial, Peter failed. When Jesus bowed in agony in the garden of Gethsemane, Peter was sleeping with the other disciples, and could not watch with his suffering Lord one hour. The thrice-repeated prayer was uttered that the bitter cup of woe might pass from the Saviour. Borne down with superhuman agony, Jesus staggered to his disciples, longing for human sympathy; but he found that instead of watching they were sleeping. From his quivering lips came the mild rebuke to Peter, "What, could ye not watch with me one hour?" Then he framed this tender excuse: "The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."
Jesus had said many things concerning the hour of trial that was to come upon his disciples when he should be made the object of mockery and reproach. He had told them, "All ye shall be offended because of me." But the disciples could not believe that they would manifest such unfaithfulness, and Peter especially had assured the Master that he would never leave him, but would be true to him even if it should lead him to prison and to death. When Jesus was actually in the hands of the armed men, where were the boastful disciples?--They had fled. Even Peter was in the rear, far from his suffering Lord. When the cruel trial began in the judgment hall, had Jesus a defender in the ardent Peter? Was he then by the side of his deserted Lord?--No, but with those who were mocking and reviling. It is true that Peter had a deep interest in the trial, and he did desire to be at the side of his Lord; but he could not endure the scorn, the reproach, that would fall upon him if he should take his place as a disciple of Christ. When one of the women of the palace said to Peter, "Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee," he denied before all the company, saying, "I know not what thou sayest." He who had made so confident a statement of his fidelity to Christ, now denied his Lord at the question of a maid in the palace. Did he now move nearer to his Lord?--No, he pushed his way out to the porch, seeking to escape the prying eyes of the enemies of his Lord; but again he was recognized, and another said to him, "This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth." And again he denied with an oath, "I do not know the man." Peter was irritated that he could not find an escape from the eyes of his enemies; he returned again to the hall, where he could better view the trial, but he stood among the mockers and revilers of Christ, and the third time he was recognized, and they said to him, "Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech betrayeth thee." Peter had been ready to take up arms in defense of Christ, but to acknowledge the Lord when he was the object of scorn and derision, was more than he had courage to do. He was a moral coward, and with curses and oaths he denied that he knew his Master.
Peter had been warned of this temptation; but he did not realize his danger, and therefore had not prepared himself for the trial. He had been filled with self-confidence, and deemed that he was able to withstand any temptation, assuring the Lord that though all others should be offended, he would be ready to go with him to prison and to death. When he took his stand with the revilers of Christ, he placed himself on the enemy's ground, and he fell. At his third denial of his Lord the cock crew, and Jesus turned his eyes upon Peter with a look of peculiar sadness, and the words that Christ had spoken to him came quickly to his mind. All through his life the memory of that look was with Peter. His sinful boasting, his Lord's warning, his denial of the Saviour, all came to him like a flash of lightning; and casting one pitiful look upon his suffering, insulted Lord, he hurried away from the sound of false accusation and reproach, rushed from the palace, plunged into the darkness, and weeping bitterly, hurried to Gethsemane. He began to see himself as he really was. Memory was alive, and his sins were pictured before him in all their heinous light. Peter threw himself on the spot where a few hours before, Jesus had prayed and wept in agony, and there the disciple prayed as he never before had prayed. With deep repentance and terrible remorse he pleaded for forgiveness, and he rose a converted man; but he felt that although Jesus would forgive him, he could never forgive himself.
Jesus knew all the sorrow and remorse of his erring disciple, and when the heavenly messengers appeared to the women at the sepulcher, they told them of Christ's resurrection, and bade them tell the disciples and Peter, that he went before them into Galilee. How eagerly did Peter receive this word of love and compassion! He knew that his Lord still thought of him, still loved him, and he took this message as a sign of forgiveness.
After his resurrection, Jesus showed himself to his disciples at the sea of Tiberias; "and on this wise showed he himself. There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore; but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea." When the disciples came to land, they found that Jesus had prepared them fish and bread. "So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep."
In the answers that Peter gave to the Lord's thrice-repeated question, a different spirit is manifested from what we find in the boastful assurances before the crucifixion of Christ. Peter was a converted man, and showed in his life that transforming grace had taken possession of his heart. As firm as a rock, he ever after stood boldly up to witness for Christ. Jesus had said to Peter, "Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not; and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." Peter had severe trials to pass through, but although he was called to go to prison and to death for Christ's sake, never again did he waver from his allegiance. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 68, #15)
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you; for him hath God the Father sealed. Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?" This is a very important question to us all; many an anxious one has come to me inquiring, "What shall I do, that I may work the works of God?" I suppose there are many before me with this question in their hearts. This is the answer that Jesus gave to the inquiry: "This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent."
There are many who would answer. "We do believe on Christ, but feel that we fail to work the works of God." I am not so sure that you have the faith which Jesus spoke of when he said, "This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." The faith Jesus spoke of was more than a nominal assent to the truth that Christ is the Son of God. You are to believe that he is your Saviour, your Redeemer. You are to believe that you are his child, that it is your right to claim the promises of his word, your privilege to represent him to the world. This genuine faith in Christ will manifest itself in your daily life, in your character and works, and will prove to the world that there is transforming power in the Christian's religion. Your faith will be manifest to the world as a faith that lifts the soul above the low things of earth, that elevates the thoughts, and fastens the affections upon things above.
But when Jesus had answered them concerning what was meant by the works of God, they were still filled with doubt, and queried, "What sign showest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? What dost thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst."
From these words you may understand the character of real faith in Christ; it is a faith that lays hold upon his divine merits. It is the faith spoken of as "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." The people whom he addressed did not have this faith, but insisted on seeing some mighty miracle as a sign of his messiahship. Had they not seen a sign in the very lesson he had given them? And he said unto them, "Ye also have seen me, and believe not. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that everyone which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day."
Jesus has promised that he will in no wise cast out those who come to him. We are to come with the faith that works by love and purifies the soul. What has the Father given the Son? He has given him everyone who has genuine faith in Christ; for this faith will enable its possessor to endure unto the end, and he will be raised up at the last day.
"The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then he saith, I came down from heaven? Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves. No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life." Christ did not speak of temporal bread, but of the bread of life, of which if a man eat, he shall have the life that measures with the life of God.
Jesus continued: "I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. . . . Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is a hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not."
How is it with those who are here today? Are there not some who believe not, who have no real foundation for their faith? Are there not some who would find in the hour of temptation that their hope was but sliding sand? We should seek to know the character of our title to the heavenly treasure. God knows who among us will turn aside and give heed to seducing spirits. He knows those who are cherishing defects of character, and permitting these defects to have an overcoming power upon them, until they shall be led, as was Judas, to betray their Lord.
The words that Jesus uttered proved the hearts of many who professed to be his followers, and "from that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God."
Christ brought a testing truth to bear upon his disciples at that time, and had they borne the test, they would have manifested the faith that makes the soul a partaker of the divine nature; but the test found their faith an empty profession, and at the suggestion of the enemy they were turned against their Lord. The difficulties, the self-denials, seemed more than they could surmount, and they walked no more with him.
We shall all be tested by trial and temptation, and we shall be able to endure only by having genuine faith, by having root in ourselves. It will not do for us to depend upon others. We must know that we have a hold from above. May God help us to realize the importance of examining our hearts to see whether or not we are in the faith. There are many who will fail because they do not gather every ray of light emanating from the word of life; they do not cherish the divine precepts, and dwell upon the precious promises of God. If they did this, fruits of righteousness would appear in their life, and every day they would be growing stronger and stronger, and more and more like Christ.
Our bodies are composed of what we eat; and by partaking of nourishing food, we have good blood, firm muscles, and vigorous health. So in our spiritual nature, we are composed of what we dwell upon. If we take the lessons which Christ has given us, and make them practical, living out his instructions, we are then eating the flesh and drinking the blood of our Saviour, and becoming more and more like him in life and character. In this way we come to know that his going forth is prepared as the morning. How is that? When the day dawns, the light is faint and subdued; but as the sun rises, its light increases and strengthens, until its rays reach the perfect day. This is the way in which the Christian's light is to increase. We are to know more of Christ today than we knew yesterday; we are to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour; we are to trust him more in trial and difficulty, looking to him as the author and finisher of our faith. In sorrow and temptation we are to realize that he is touched with the feeling of our infirmities; that he was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; that he was wounded for our transgressions, and by his stripes we are healed.
Christ has promised, "Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." He will hear and answer our prayers, and faith appropriates the rich promises of God, believing they are for us. As we accept the promises of God, we grow stronger in faith, and find the word of the Lord fulfilled as he has spoken it. We may feel our weakness and unworthiness, and because of this, realize our dependence upon God. Every one of us can have a rich experience in the things of God if we will utterly forsake our sin and submit ourselves to God. O, how can we cherish impurity in the soul when Christ has died for us, that we may become partakers of the divine nature, and escape the corruption that is in the world through lust? We are to be sanctified through the truth, and this sanctification is not the work of a moment, but of a lifetime. We must all learn to lean upon Jesus; for the time will come when we shall be scattered, and we cannot lean upon one another. Christ is ready to give us the help we need. The Bible is full of precious treasure, but we must dig for it as did the man who purchased the field of treasure. In this way we shall learn what it is to have living faith. Many are enfeebling the mind by the reading of stories and novels, and are losing their relish for the word of God. They are becoming mental inebriates, and will be unable to look at the solemn questions of life and destiny in the right light, unless they put away this practice. Search the Scriptures, and know what is truth. Lean upon God, and know what is living faith, and live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. By Mrs. E. G. White. (Concluded next week.)
(Vol. 68, #16)
When Philip had found Jesus, he was not content to keep the knowledge of the Messiah to himself. "Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see." This is the best way to test the truth. With softened and subdued hearts, with the Holy Spirit resting upon you, come to the oracles of truth; see for yourselves what is truth. We do not ask you to believe because we present truth to you, but believe because you have proved for yourself that it is truth.
"Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. Nathanael had been praying to God, and Christ beheld his devotions. How many of us have been offering prayer to Heaven? God sees us wherever we are, and he knows the intents and purposes of our hearts; nothing escapes his notice. Do we believe in Christ? Do we believe that he laid aside his glory, his majesty, his high command, his royal robes, to become a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief? Then how can we sin against him? How can we grieve the Holy Spirit of God? How can we bruise Jesus, and put him to an open shame? If you were eating of his flesh and drinking of his blood, you would not do this. Christ has presented before us eternal life, but we can have it only by thorough identification with Christ, by showing that Christ's life is woven into our experience, that we have passed from death unto life. If we are eating Christ's flesh and drinking his blood, his life will be in us, and we shall bear the same relation to him as the branch does to the vine. The branch receives nutriment from the parent stock, and those united with Christ receive nourishment from him. The branch bears fruit of the same kind as that of the vine. If you are a part of Christ, and identified with him, you are eating his flesh and drinking his blood, and through this living experience you become sons and daughters of God.
But the children of God need not think to reach heaven without suffering, for we are to be partakers of Christ's sufferings. Christ says, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." There is work to be done for those around you, that cannot be neglected. Your children are to be educated in the truth. Parents should talk to their little ones of Jesus, and of the plan of salvation. They should weave precious lessons of the life and character of Christ into their children's minds that they may become the followers of Christ and heirs of eternal life. There is much talk of foreign missionary work, but the home work is neglected. The greatest mission field is right at your fireside, and the great need is that of fathers and mothers in Israel. When parents begin to realize the great responsibility that rests upon them, they will take up this home missionary work, and train their children for heaven. They will give their little ones line upon line, and precept upon precept. "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." It is in this way that parents are to keep ever before themselves and their children the great standard of righteousness. If they are condemned in their course of action, if the defects of their character are pointed out to them, they are to cleanse themselves, to overcome by the blood of the Lamb.
The professed people of God should pray more, and talk less; for we are altogether too earthly. Our minds dwell too much on earthly things. We are to be as pilgrims and strangers on the earth, passing on to a better country. We are to be in earnest in our efforts for gaining eternal life. The blessed Saviour has a crown waiting for us. It is to be decided by us whether or not we shall have that crown. Christ must be revealed in your daily life. There must be no angry words spoken in the home, no seeds of coarse, common talk sown in your children's hearts, or they will have no confidence in you when you speak in meeting. God help us to have the peace of Christ in our hearts, that we may teach our children the way of life and peace! We may have a little heaven to go to heaven in, if Christ breathes upon us his Holy Spirit. His love will be with us, and we shall be acquainted with him, and can bring him into our families.
We should abstain from all evil-speaking and evil-surmising. Our children will be in danger of losing all respect for religion if we indulge in criticism of others. Let us talk of the love of Christ, of the commandments of God. Teach your children to be kind and courteous to all, and especially to respect the old. If you do all that God has given you to do, you will have no time to criticise your neighbors. You have your own little plat of ground to work upon; the unsightly weeds must be removed from your own dooryard. You must teach your children the way of life, and educate them to bear burdens at home. In this way they will be educated to bear burdens in the church, and will become lightbearers for God. You have a work to do to see that Satan does not sow his poisonous seeds in the hearts of your children. You may not have time for adorning your houses, but if the characters of your children are made beautiful, you will meet the approval of God. You will not have time to put ruffles and unnecessary ornaments upon your garments, for you will realize that you have a great work to do for Christ. If parents desire their children to have noble characters, they must guard against light and trifling talk, and give them line upon line, and precept upon precept of truth. May God help you to take hold of the work intelligently; for if there is not a work to be done in this direction, then God has never spoken by me.
Instead of indulging in jesting and joking, suppose you begin to exalt Jesus, talking of his wonderful charms. Make your children acquainted with the divine Redeemer of mankind; for they do not know him. If you had good home religion, you would be a bright and shining light, and represent Christ to a lost world. Let no murmuring escape your lips, but talk of the love of God. Christ is soon coming, and is it not time that we were getting ready for his glorious appearing?
Enoch walked with God 300 years, and we can walk with God from day to day. He had in his heart the living principles of the law of God, and the Holy Spirit rested upon him. He looked forward to the coming of Christ, and prophesied of the appearing of our Lord that is now so near at hand. If we believe that Christ is soon coming, we shall talk of our hope. Jesus said, "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that were I am, there ye may be also." Christ has warned us to watch and pray that we may be ready for his coming; and shall we not watch and be patient? Shall we be deceived by the powers of darkness? May God help us that our lamps may be found trimmed and burning!
In the parable of the virgins, five were found wise, and five foolish. Can it be possible that half of us will be found without the oil of grace in our lamps? Shall we come to the marriage feast too late? We have slept too long; shall we sleep on, and be lost at last? Are there those here who have been sinning and repenting, sinning and repenting, and will they continue to do so till Christ shall come? May God help us that we may be truly united to Christ, the living vine, and bear fruit to the glory of God! Many feel rich, and regard themselves as in need of nothing; but may such confess their sins, and let the Spirit of God into their hearts. O, let us fear to go on in our evil, unrepenting state, lest we become like Judas, and finally betray our blessed Lord!
Shall we not break off our sins by righteousness, and have our conversation in heaven, whence we look for our Saviour? Shall we not talk of our Saviour until it becomes natural for us to do so? If we do not order our conversation aright, we shall not see the salvation of God. Satan will take possession of the heart, and we shall become low and sensual. Let us elevate the thoughts, and take hold upon things that are of real value, gaining an education here that will be of value in the world to come. Shall we not seek the Lord with earnestness, repent of our backslidings, mourn that we have neglected his word, that we do not know the truth better, and turn to him with all the heart, that he may heal us, and love us freely? Today let us take a step toward heaven. Christian character is not achieved in an instant, but day after day we are to add to our faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance patience, and to patience brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity. It is in the way that we are to be made ready for the coming of Christ. If we do not advance in the light, we shall be among that company who sit in darkness, for whom no place is found in heaven.
John says, "I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. . . . And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
"And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." This is the company with whom we desire to stand. Then let us show it by our works, and remove from our hearts everything that will shut out Jesus. The latter rain is to fall upon the people of God. A mighty angel is to come down from heaven, and the whole earth is to be lighted with his glory. Are we ready to take part in the glorious work of the third angel? Are our vessels ready to receive the heavenly dew? Have we defilement and sin in the heart? If so, let us cleanse the soul temple, and prepare for the showers of the latter rain. The refreshing from the presence of the Lord will never come to hearts filled with impurity. May God help us to die to self, that Christ, the hope of glory, may be formed within! I must have the Spirit of God in my heart. I can never go forward to do the great work of God, unless the Holy Spirit rests upon my soul. "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God." The day of judgment is upon us. O that we may wash our robes of character, and make them white in the blood of the Lamb! By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 68, #17)
Sin-burdened, struggling souls, Jesus in his glorified humanity has ascended into the heavens to make intercession for us. "For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace." We should be continually looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; for by beholding him we shall be changed into his image, our character will be made like his. We should rejoice that all judgment is given to the Son, because in his humanity he has become acquainted with all the difficulties that beset humanity.
To be sanctified is to become a partaker of the divine nature, catching the spirit and mind of Jesus, ever learning in the school of Christ. "But we all with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as of the Lord the Spirit." It is impossible for any of us by our power or our own efforts to work this change in ourselves. It is the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, which Jesus said he would send into the world, that changes our character into the image of Christ; and when this is accomplished, we reflect, as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord. That is, the character of the one who thus beholds Christ is so like his, that one looking at his sees Christ's own character shining out as from a mirror. Imperceptibly to ourselves, we are changed day by day from our own ways and will into the ways and will of Christ, into the loveliness of his character. Thus we grow up into Christ, and unconsciously reflect his image.
Professed Christians keep altogether too near the lowlands of earth. Their eyes are trained to see only commonplace things, and their minds dwell upon the things their eyes behold. Their religious experience is often shallow and unsatisfying, and their words are light and valueless. How can such reflect the image of Christ? How can they send forth the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness into all the dark places of the earth? To be a Christian is to be Christlike.
Enoch kept the Lord ever before him, and the inspired word says that he "walked with God." He made Christ his constant companion. He was in the world, and performed his duties to the world; but he was ever under the influence of Jesus. He reflected Christ's character, exhibiting the same qualities in goodness, mercy, tender compassion, sympathy, forbearance, meekness, humility, and love. His association with Christ day by day transformed him into the image of him with whom he was so intimately connected. Day by day he was growing away from his own way into Christ's way, the heavenly, the divine, in his thoughts and feelings. He was constantly inquiring. "Is this the way of the Lord?" His was a constant growth, and he had fellowship with the Father and the Son. This is genuine sanctification.
Many who claim to be sanctified become boisterous, passionate, and wholly unlike Christ in words and deportment, if their will is crossed. These show that they are not what they claim to be. The more closely one views Christ, the less disposed will he be to make high claims to holiness He will have a humble opinion of himself and of his own goodness, but Christ will be revealed in his character.
Christ said, "It is expedient for you that I go away." No one could then have any preference because of his location or personal contact with Christ. The Saviour would be accessible to all alike, spiritually, and in this sense he would be nearer to us all than if he had not ascended on high. Now all may be equally favored by beholding him and reflecting his character. The eye of faith sees him ever present, in all his goodness, grace, forbearance, courtesy, and love, those spiritual and divine attributes. And as we behold, we are changed into his likeness.
Christ is soon coming in the clouds of heaven, and we must be prepared to meet him, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing. We are now to accept the invitation of Christ. He says, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls." The words of Christ to Nicodemus are of practical value to us today: "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is everyone that is born of the Spirit."
The converting power of God must be upon our hearts. We must study the life of Christ, and imitate the divine Pattern. We must dwell upon the perfection of his character, and be changed into his image. No one will enter the kingdom of God unless his passions are subdued, unless his will is brought into captivity to the will of Christ.
Heaven is free from all sin, from all defilement and impurity; and if we would live in its atmosphere, if we would behold the glory of Christ, we must be pure in heart, perfect in character through his grace and righteousness. We must not be taken up with pleasure and amusement, but be fitting up for the glorious mansions Christ has gone to prepare for us. If we are faithful, seeking to bless others, patient in well-doing, at his coming Christ will crown us with glory, honor, and immortality.
Prophecy reveals the fact that we are nearing the end of all things, and the people of God are to be the light of the world. In character and life we are to make manifest the requirement of God in humanity; and in order to do this, we must gather up the rays of divine light from the Bible, and let them shine forth to those who are in darkness. Christ must abide in our hearts by faith, that we may know and teach the way to heaven. "And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars forever and ever."
Christ is soon coming in glory, and when his majesty is revealed, the world will wish that they had his favor. At that time we shall all desire a place in the mansions of heaven; but those who do not confess Christ now in word, in life, in character, cannot expect that he will confess them then before his Father and the holy angels. By those who have denied him, the cry will be raised, even to the mountains, "Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?" O, how happy will those be who have made themselves ready for the marriage supper of the Lamb, who are robed in the righteousness of Christ, and reflect his lovely image! They will have on the pure white linen which is the righteousness of the saints, and Christ will lead them by the side of living waters; God will wipe away all tears from their eyes, and they will have the life that runs parallel with the life of God. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 68, #18)
"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting."
We are assured that God is acquainted with all our works. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked." Our lives are all open before him with whom we have to do, and "he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption." What is it to sow to the flesh?--It is to follow the desires and inclinations of our own natural hearts. Whatever may be our profession, if we are serving self instead of God, we are sowing to the flesh. The Christian life is a life of self-denial and cross-bearing. We are to endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ. Have we enlisted in the service of the Lord, and are we indeed his soldiers? If we are the soldiers of Christ, it is our business to follow his directions, to obey orders implicitly. We are not our own, and we cannot plan for selfish gratification and pleasure. We cannot inquire, What is for our convenience, but only, What are our orders? No one looks upon the life of a soldier as a life of self-pleasing and gratification.
We are on the battlefield today, and two great forces are ever contending for the mastery. The word of God declares, "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other." Ever since his rebellion and expulsion from heaven, Satan has been seeking to wrest souls from Christ. It would be well for everyone of us who profess to be children of God, to inquire, In which army am I serving? Am I under the bloodstained banner of Prince Emmanuel, or under the black banner of the prince of darkness?
My text declares that God is not mocked. God understands whether he has the whole heart's service, or whether we are simply professors of religion. The truth of God must be enshrined in the heart, and we must be determined to fight the battles of the Lord, if we would come off conquerors with the final triumph of the truth; for the truth will triumph gloriously. What are you sowing in your daily life? Are you sowing to your flesh? Are you thinking only of your pleasure, your convenience? sowing to pride and vanity and ambition? "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." If you are sowing faith, rendering obedience to Christ, you will reap faith and power for future obedience. If you are seeking to be a blessing to others, God will bless you. We should bring all the good possible into our lives, that we may glorify God, and be a blessing to humanity. The Lord has made it possible for us to have a righteous character in this life, that we may reflect the image of Christ to the world, and bring hope and joy to others. The joy we give to others will be reflected upon us again; for as we sow, we shall reap. But if we educate our souls in the line of doubt, we shall reap doubt at a time when faith and confidence are most essential, and shall be powerless to hope and believe. If we talk doubt, and question the dealings of God, we shall have an abundant harvest of doubt and questioning to reap. We shall be sowing to the flesh, and of the flesh shall reap corruption.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts." Abundant provision has been made that all who desire to live a godly life may have grace and strength through Jesus, our divine Redeemer. The Christian's life is not to be one of burdens and cares, although the cross must be lifted and the burdens borne; for the servants of God are to draw peace and strength from the Source of their strength, and in so doing they will find life full of happiness and peace.
He who seeks to serve God and mammon at the same time, will find only unrest and trouble; for a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. When you have an eye single to the glory of God, it will be easy to serve your Lord, easy to walk in the path to heaven. The whole being must be consecrated to God; for our precious Saviour never shares a divided heart. Our inclinations and desires must be under the control of the Spirit of God, and then we shall be strengthened to fight the good fight of faith. We should daily ask, What are the Captain's orders?
We are to be representatives of Jesus in this world. Are we fulfilling this solemn obligation, or are we misrepresenting our precious Lord, because of our unconsecrated lives? It is our privilege and duty to walk even as Christ walked; for "he that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked." Jesus said of his people, "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
How many instead of glorifying God, instead of influencing others in the path of right, are swayed themselves by the evil influences that surround them. The lack of devotion in others, the pride, the hardness of heart, all lead these halfhearted Christians to take a position of indifference and infidelity, and they fail to realize that they are to be representatives of Christ, that they are to prove to the world by a life of godliness, that they are the true followers of Christ. Those who desire to be the disciples of the Lord must fix their eye upon the Author and Finisher of their faith. They need not be in a state of uncertainty and unhappiness; for if they give themselves wholly to the Lord, they may have confidence in God. The religion of Christ is not a religion of mere emotion. You cannot depend upon your feelings for an evidence of acceptance with God; for feelings are variable. You must plant your feet on the promises of God's word, you must walk after the example of Jesus, and learn to live by faith. Satan may pour in his temptations upon you; but you have the promise of God, that "when the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him." We should be faithful in the performance of our vows before God.
We are to cultivate the loveliness of Christian character, and to seek the inward adorning that we may show forth the praises of him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvelous light. But how many seem to think only of the outward adorning, and they make it evident that they are not in Christ, by the apparel in which they deck themselves. They live to gratify self, to please the world, and have not an eye single to the glory of God. The Christian is not to live to please the world. "Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall by my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." Shall we not comply with this condition, when it involves so great a blessing and reward?
The religion of Christ never degrades the receiver; it ennobles and elevates. Upon certain conditions we are assured that we may become members of the royal family, children of the heavenly King. Is not this exaltation something worth seeking for? Through faith in Christ, and obedience to the requirements of his law, we are offered a life that shall run parallel with the life of God. And in that immortal life there shall be no sorrow, no sighing, no pain, no sin, no death. O that we might be more heavenly minded, and bring more of heaven into our life and conversation! But with all the rich promises of God, how many seem wholly absorbed in the things of earth. They are all taken up with the thought of what shall we eat, what shall we drink, and wherewithal shall we be clothed? God would not have us center our minds upon the things of this world. We are not to seek for our selfish gratification, but to center the mind upon Christ. Are you separating yourself from everything that will separate you from God? If you are in close connection with God, you will talk of him, you will have an abundance in your heart of the things of heaven. Shall we not change the order of things, and sow to the Spirit? Why do you not appreciate your Redeemer more? Why do you not think of him, and talk of him to others? The Lord is waiting to do great things for his children who trust in him. Do we expect to dwell with Christ in the eternal world? Then we must dwell with him here, that he may help us in every time of trial and temptation, and make us ready for his coming in the clouds of heaven. He will reward every man according to his works, and every secret thing will be brought into judgment. We shall find then that only those who have lived by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God will be saved. We must plant our feet on the word, the solid rock of truth. We must search carefully throughout the Scriptures to see if we are indeed working the works of God. The beauty and grace of Christ must be woven into our characters. We cannot keep Christ so apart from our lives as we do, and yet be fitted for his companionship in heaven. He is to be the all in all of heaven, and must be our all in all upon earth.
If we are acquainted with Christ here, we shall be kind and courteous, tenderhearted, forbearing, patient. I entreat you to sow to the Spirit. Every temptation resisted, will give you power to sow to the Spirit in another time of trial. But I ask, How do your conflicts result now? Are you without a vital connection with Christ? If so, you will be overcome by the flesh, and the warfare between the flesh and the Spirit will terminate in defeat to the Spirit. You will lean to self-indulgence, to self-gratification. O, take hold of Christ's strength, and make peace with him! Then you will be enabled to practice self-denial, and to sow to the Spirit. I point you to the cross of Calvary. The path from the manger to Calvary is marked with the footprints of self-denial. Who of you are willing to become partakers with Christ of his sufferings? "If we suffer, we shall also reign with him." "For your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich." We should be just as willing to bear shame, reproach, and suffering for the Majesty of heaven, as he was to endure the cross for us.
Christ says, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." O, remove everything that obstructs the entrance to your heart, and let the Saviour in. Humble your hearts before God, that he may give you his Holy Spirit. Christ has said, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." You cannot follow Christ unless you are willing to bear the cross at every step. "The friendship of the world is enmity with God." We must take our journey through the world as pilgrims and strangers, clinging by living faith to the cross of Calvary. The blessing of God will rest upon every soul that makes a full consecration to him. When we seek for God with all the heart, we shall find him. God is in earnest with us, and he wants us to make thorough work for eternity. He has poured out all heaven in one gift, and there is no reason why we should doubt his love. Look to Calvary. Christ died for you, and what greater evidence of God's love could you ask than that which has been given in the life and death and intercession of Jesus?
God asks you to give him your heart. Your powers, your talents, your affections, should all be surrendered to him, that he may work in you to will and to do of his good pleasure, and fit you for eternal life. Accept the invitation of Christ. He bids you, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." O that we might press toward the mark for the prize of our high calling in Christ Jesus! What more can God do than he has done? Let us empty our souls of all enmity, all foolishness, and by living faith connect with Jesus. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Christ will pardon your transgressions, and receive you graciously.
--There is just as much self-denial required today as there was in the starting of the message.-- Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 68, #20)
The people of God have allowed many things to come in between their souls and God, and their thoughts of God have been far below what it is their privilege to have. They are not on the high vantage ground where God would have them, and they should realize this keenly, that they may repent and turn to God with all the heart. It is sad to think that though they have professed the truth for these many years, many have failed to understand how to take God at his word, that they may be strengthened in the time of temptation.
Temptation will come upon all the children of God. James writes: "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." The word does not say that we are to count it all joy when we fall under temptation, but when we fall into temptation. It is not necessary to fall under temptation; for temptation comes upon us for the trying of our faith. And the trying of our faith worketh patience, not fretfulness and murmuring. If we put our trust in Jesus, he will keep us at all times, and will be our strength and shield. We are to learn valuable lessons from our trials. Paul says, "We glory in tribulations also; knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."
Many seem to think that it is impossible not to fall under temptation, that they have no power to overcome; and they sin against God with their lips, talking discouragement and doubt, instead of faith and courage. Christ was tempted in all points like we are, yet without sin. He said, "The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me." What does this mean?--It means that the prince of evil could find no vantage ground in Christ for his temptation; and so it may be with us. "For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."
As a people, we are looking for the coming of the Lord in the clouds of heaven; and how carefully should we examine our hearts that we may know whether or not we are in the faith. There seems to be a mist before the eyes of many, for they fail to discern spiritual things, and do not recognize the workings of Satan to entrap their souls. Christians are not to be the slaves of passion; they are to be controlled by the Spirit of God. But many become the sport of the enemy, because when temptations comes, they do not rest in Jesus, but worry themselves out of his arms, and in perplexity lose all their faith and courage. They do not remember that Jesus has helped them out of difficulties in the past, that his grace is sufficient for the daily trials, and that he can help in the present trouble. We make failures in our little, daily difficulties, and allow them to irritate and vex us; we fall under them, and so make stumblingblocks for ourselves and others. But blessings of the greatest importance are to result from the patient endurance of these daily vexations; for we are to gain strength to bear greater difficulties. Satan will press upon us the most severe temptations, and we must learn to come to God in any and every emergency, as a child would come to its parents.
We profess to be Bible Christians, and we are not left in the dark to take step after step in uncertainty. We are to know where we are going. We cannot be in darkness if we are following Christ as our leader; for he says, "He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." When the way seems beset with difficulty, and clouded with darkness, we must believe that there is light ahead, and not turn to the right or left, but press forward, notwithstanding all our trials and temptations.
Take courage, tempted soul; for the Lord knoweth them that are his. "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." Keep talking faith, and the victory is yours; for "this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." Jesus has said we should not walk in darkness, but should have the light of life, and we believe it. We are to keep talking of the light, to keep praying and believing, and the light will break upon us when our faith has been tried and patience has had its perfect work.
We are not to be like the man who said, "I have prayed and prayed, but I do not receive." A companion said to him, "Let us pray together then, and claim the promise of God." So they bowed in prayer; but when they rose from their knees, the man said, " I don't feel any different, and I didn't expect I should." This is the way that many present themselves before God; they would be surprised if God should answer their prayers. They do not expect the Lord to answer their prayers, or think that the Lord will hear them, and their petitions are in vain; for they go away as they came.
We must have faith in God. "He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." Our faith is to be tried by trials and temptations, that patience may have her perfect work, and we may be perfect, wanting nothing. We know nothing about the strength of our faith until it is tried. You may not understand the way in which God is leading you, you may not be filled with joy, but may be in heaviness because of temptation; but in all this it is your privilege to say, "I believe the Lord will give me the things I have asked for. I can and will trust God." When you have done this, be thankful, knowing that the trying of your faith worketh patience. Do not become restless, full of faultfinding, under the test and proving of God. Do not fret and talk discouragement and grieve the Holy Spirit of God from you. That which you sow, you will reap; and you will not find that a harvest of doubt is a pleasant thing to reap. You must be careful what kind of seed you sow; for it will bear a harvest after its kind. Talk light and faith and hope, and educate yourself to see light when God reveals it to you.
"But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." If you feel that you lack wisdom in this, plead the promise of God. He says, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering." Come to God with all your needs. Don't go to others with your trials and temptations; God alone can help you. If you fulfill the conditions of God's promises, the promises will be fulfilled to you. If your mind is stayed upon God, you will not go from a state of ecstasy to the valley of despondency when trial and temptation come upon you. You will not talk doubt and gloom to others. You will not say, "I do not know about this or that. I do not feel happy. I am not sure that we have the truth." You will not do this, for you will have an anchor to the soul both sure and steadfast. When we talk discouragement and gloom, Satan listens with fiendish joy; for it pleases him to know that he has brought you into his bondage. Satan cannot read our thoughts, but he can see our actions, hear our words; and from his long knowledge of human family, he can shape his temptations to take advantage of our weak points of character. And how often do we let him into the secret of how he may obtain the victory over us. O that we might control our words and actions! How strong we would become if our words were of such an order that we would not be ashamed to meet the record of them in the day of judgment. How different will they appear in the day of God from what they seem when we utter them.
What harm is wrought in the family circle by the utterance of impatient words; for the impatient utterance of one leads another to retort in the same spirit and manner. Then come words of retaliation, words of self-justification, and it is by such words that a heavy, galling yoke is manufactured for your neck; for all these bitter words will come back in a baleful harvest to your soul. Those who indulge in such language will experience shame, loss of self-respect,loss of self-confidence, and will have bitter remorse and regret that they allowed themselves to lose self-control and speak in this way. How much better would it be if words of this character were never spoken! How much better to have the oil of grace in the heart, to be able to pass by all provocation, and bear all things with Christlike meekness and forbearance.
Home religion is greatly needed, and our words in the home should be of a right character, or our testimonies in church will amount to nothing. Unless you manifest meekness, kindness, courtesy, in your home, your religion will be in vain. If there was more genuine home religion, there would be more power in the church. We may have a great deal more faith than we now have, by living up to the light God has given. Says the apostle, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." As you would believe in a friend, so you are to trust God. If your friend has never denied your requests, you will not doubt his promise to favor you in some new desire. You are to believe that Jesus knows just what you need, and will supply all your wants; so you can go on in faith, saying "I have laid my burden upon the Lord, and I will not lay it upon any human being. God will hear and answer my prayers." Satan may say, "You do not feel any better, you are just as miserable as ever." But tell him you believe that God will do just as he said, and rest your whole weight on his promise.
We must have a practical faith, a faith which works by love and purifies the soul. This genuine faith has a purifying, refining influence upon the Christian's character. Those who have this faith will not be careless and rough in word or deportment. They will realize that they are of value in the sight of God, his sons and daughters, and they will be circumspect in deportment, careful in habits and dress. They will realize that they are a spectacle unto men and angels, and will feel the necessity of having a pure mind, of speaking choice words, of acting in a refined manner. They will keep before them the fact that they are preparing for the society of the heavenly angels.
Brethren and sisters, do not let everyone know your thoughts and emotions. Do not manifest impatience, keep yourself under control, master yourself. Satan will take advantage if you give him the least chance. You must fight the good fight of faith, and lay hold on eternal life. You may gain one victory, but this is not enough; you must gain victory after victory, going from strength to strength. We are to occupy some place in the Lord's spiritual temple, and the important question is not as to whether you are a large or a small stone, but whether you have submitted yourself to God that he may polish you, and make you emit light for his glory. If you are in the Lord's temple, we must emit light. Are we permitting the heavenly Builder to hew and square and polish us? Have we faith to rest in him?
We must have a faith that is not dwarfed and sickly, but one in keeping with the great truth committed to us. O, let us come up to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty! We have truth that will sanctify the soul, if we will only allow it to work in us and make us holy. Shall we be sanctified through the truth? May God help us to let his grace and light into our souls. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 68, #21)
In the days of Elijah there was great apostasy in Israel. Ahab, the king, had connected with himself men and women who had departed from the living God, and turned to the service of idols. The king should have been loyal to God, one who by both influence and example would have bound his people to God; but instead of this, he joined with apostates, and led the people into idolatry. Leading men are endowed with great influence for good or evil, and their responsibility is very great. Ahab had used his influence to propagate evil, and Israel sank deeper and deeper into sin.
Elijah was a worshiper of the living God, and his soul was stirred within him as he saw apostasy prevail, and the people of God follow the customs of the nations around them. He was a man of prayer, and he sent up fervent petitions that God would arrest the tide of evil that seemed about to sweep Israel into perdition. God regarded his prayer, and he was commissioned to announce to Israel, in the presence of the king, that God would bring chastisement upon his people. They had dishonored God in the sight of the nations, and as a result, darkness as a thick cloud enveloped them, and abominations accumulated within their borders. In every direction they had reared the temple of idolatry, the altar of profanity, before which prophets and loyal men, servants of the God of heaven, had poured out their blood. Satan swayed his scepter over Israel, and the moral atmosphere was clouded with the smoke of national idolatry.
In this time of great depravity, Elijah made his way to Ahab, the leader of the apostasy. In his presence he reached forth his hand to heaven, and declared, "As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word." In making such an announcement it might seem that Elijah was taking great risk. If dew or rain had come with no command from Elijah, the king would have represented him as a false prophet, and the priests of Baal would have attributed the blessing to a deliverance wrought by their idol, and would have exalted Baal as triumphant over Jehovah.
The judgment threatened was so unexpected, so terrible, so sudden, that Ahab seemed paralyzed, and he did not realize that the prophet had left his presence unrebuked, until the man of God had gone beyond recall. Then the king roused his servants, and called for the man who had declared that heaven was shut up according to his word. But Elijah was not to be found, and neither dew nor rain fell upon the land of Israel for three years and a half.
The object of this affliction was to arouse Israel to a realization of their sin, to bring them to repentance, and turn them to God, that they might honor Jehovah as the only true and living God. After three years and a half of drought, the Lord said to Elijah, "Go, show thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth." "And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father's house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim. Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel's table." The king obeys this command as though he were the servant, and Elijah the king. Then Elijah orders them to bring two bullocks, one for the prophets of Baal, and one for himself, and he bids the prophets dress their bullock and put it on the altar, and call upon Baal for fire. He says, "Call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well."
The priests of Baal called aloud, and cut themselves, even unto the going down of the sun, but there was no response from their idol; for "there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded. And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down. And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the Lord came, saying, Israel shall be thy name: and with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord." Then he had the people pour on twelve barrels of water. "And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again. Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God."
Before the sacrifice, Elijah had said, "How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him." After the destruction of the prophets of Baal, Elijah said to Ahab, "Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain." After the king's departure, Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; "and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees." When he had bidden Ahab go up and eat and drink, did he have an evidence that the showers were about to fall? Did he see the clouds in the heavens? Did he see the rain, or hear the thunder?--No; he spoke these words because the Spirit of the Lord moved upon his mind, and led him to believe that his prayer would be heard. He had done all that was possible to make manifest his faith, and now he began to pray for the outpouring of the abundance of rain.
He "said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times." The servant watched while Elijah prayed. Six times he returned from the watch, saying, There is nothing, no cloud, no sign of rain. But the prophet did not give up in discouragement. He kept reviewing his life, to see where he had failed to honor God, he confessed his sins, and thus continued to afflict his soul before God, while watching for a token that his prayer was answered. As he searched his heart, he seemed to be less and less, both in his own estimation and in the sight of God. It seemed to him that he was nothing, and that God was everything; and when he reached the point of renouncing self, while he clung to the Saviour as his only strength and righteousness, the answer came. The servant appeared, and said, "Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man's hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not. And it came to pass in the meanwhile, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel. And the hand of the Lord was upon Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel."
There are many lessons to be drawn from the experience of Israel and of the prophet of God. We are living in a time of apostasy similar to the time of which we have read; for there is great religious declension in the churches, among the professed people of God. The children of God should have a realization of their accountability, and should direct their hearts toward God, seeking for strength and grace with an earnestness which they have never before manifested. There never was a more solemn time in the history of the world than the time in which we are now living. Our eternal interests are at stake, and we should arouse to the importance of making our calling and election sure. We dare not risk our eternal interests on mere probabilities. We must be in earnest. What we are, what we are doing, what is to be our course of action in the future, are all questions of untold moment, and we cannot afford to be listless, indifferent, unconcerned. It becomes each one of us to inquire, "What is eternity to me?" Are our feet in the path that leads to heaven, or in the broad road that leads to perdition?
All around us the world is manifesting intense activity. There is a feeling of apprehension among all people; they are looking for some great event, but know not what it is to be. The state of affairs in Europe excites men's fears, and all are looking for those things that shall come upon the earth, and their hearts are failing them for fear. The nations are filled with anxiety, and there is a spirit of unrest and tumult on every hand. If ever there was a time when men should know their position, it is now. No man can afford to go on blindfolded, not knowing in what road he is traveling, but careless and hoping to come out right in the end; for great and disastrous will be his awakening. Those who do not appreciate eternal life enough to work diligently for it, will never obtain it. Those who are seeking earthly pleasure, worldly gain and honor, will never make a success of winning eternal life, unless they repent, and turn to God with all the heart.
How many seek their pleasure in the gaming-table, in attending the theater, while thoughts of God and eternity are put far from their minds! They think more of what they shall eat, what they shall drink, and wherewithal they shall be clothed, than of the salvation of their souls; and can these expect to gain heaven when they neglect the great salvation purchased for them at infinite cost? They give no proof that they love God, no proof that they love the atmosphere of heaven. By the characters they develop they say distinctly that they are in the broad road that leads to ruin.
Those who make a success of the Christian life will count all things as loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ. Only those who are abiding in Christ, can know what true life is. They realize the value of true religion. They have brought their talents of influence and means and ability to the altar of consecration, seeking only to know and do the will of him who has died to redeem them. They know that the path they must travel is strait and narrow, and that they will have to meet many obstacles and temptations, as they resist the enticements of the broader road that leads to ruin; but they will discern the footsteps of Jesus, and press onward toward the mark for the prize of the high calling in their Lord and Saviour. They will choose the royal way that leads to heaven, although it is strait and narrow; for they have respect unto the recompense of the reward. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 68, #22)
As Christians, God has claims upon us, and we should continually seek to realize that we are not our own, but have been purchased at an infinite price, even with the life of God's dear Son. As the purchase of the blood of Christ, as his representatives on earth, we sustain important relations both to the church and to the world. We are commissioned to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. We are under obligation to do all in our power to save souls for whom Christ has died. Christ has made an infinite sacrifice in our behalf, and we should show that we appreciate this sacrifice by doing all in our power to forward the work of salvation.
In his sermon at Nazareth, Jesus declared that he had come to fulfill the word of the Lord by the prophet Isaiah. He read, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised." This was the mission of Christ to our world, and he is our example in all things. Through the power of his grace we are to take up the work where he left it, and carry it forward to completion. We are to relieve the miseries of our fellowmen as far as we can, and to pray that our pitying Redeemer will comfort and help where we cannot. We all have a work to do for the Master. We are to break the bands of oppression, to proclaim deliverance to those who are bound in the fetters of vicious habits. By precept and example we are to aid our fellowmen, that they may reach a higher and nobler life, aiding them to the utmost of our ability to enlarge their capacity, to increase their happiness, and to obtain a moral fitness for the life to come.
There are hundreds professing to believe the truth, who are doing nothing except to serve themselves, who should be engaged in most earnest work for the Master. They should yield their hearts to God, purify their souls by obedience to the truth, and let the love of Christ enlarge their natures, so that they may come into sympathy with their fellow-beings who need the aid of Christian love and unselfish effort. If all who profess to be followers of Christ would follow him in deed and in truth, many souls would be rescued from the snare of the enemy. The language of those who would be laborers together with God, would be, "Jesus, my Master, died for a ruined world, leaving me an example that I should follow in his steps. I must do for others as Christ has done for me." Selfishness and indifference must be put far from the children of God; for a great work waits to be done for the world.
We cannot all preach, but we can all act some humble part in the work of God. We cannot all go forth as did Luther and other noble reformers, but we can fill some humble place, and be laborers together with God. But many who have ability to work for God fail to accomplish anything in his service. They choose to follow plans for their own selfish pleasure, while souls are perishing whose blood will be required at their hands. Brethren and sisters, we must put on the whole armor of God, and work while it is called today. Many are doing nothing who could do much for God, if they would give themselves wholly to him. Their minds are now crippled with selfish thoughts and desires, and they are kept from the work of God by engaging in needless labor for themselves. Many are employing their time in conforming to the world, while souls are left to perish in darkness. Much that might be done by sisters is left undone, because they fail to cultivate their God-given ability in the right direction. Although they profess to be followers of Christ, the Saviour does not abide in their hearts by faith.
If half the time devoted to dress and display were devoted to the study of the Scriptures and to prayer, the minds of many of my sisters would be enlarged and enriched, strengthened and disciplined, and they would be fitted to bless and help souls that are perishing for the bread of life. Painstaking, determined effort would result in blessing to those who labor and those who are perishing. Do you feel better prepared to search the Scriptures, to engage in secret prayer, to bear testimony in social meeting, after devoting hours to the needless ornamentation of your clothing? There is a class of women in the world who appear very fair to the eye, but within they are full of corruption. Is this the class you are seeking to imitate? Are you neglecting the inner adornment, and devoting probationary time to the decoration of your apparel? In this way you make it manifest that you do not appreciate the inward adorning of a meek and quiet spirit, which is of great price in the sight of God. Shall not those who believe present truth, cease from idolatry? Put away your idols, and humble your hearts before God.
Will not those who profess to be followers of the meek and lowly Jesus clothe themselves in modest apparel, adorning themselves with good works, as becometh women professing godliness? Do not say, "After I have worn out this garment, I will make the next plainer." What zeal, what earnest effort, what skill, what patience, you manifested in fashioning that garment according to the prevailing style; and can you not now manifest just as much zeal in refashioning it to meet the approval of God? Can you not work as hard to conform to God's order as you did to conform to the order of fashion? You could afford time, effort, and money to place yourself in harmony with the world, and can you not now manifest zeal in seeking to stand upon the Bible platform?
The apostle says, "Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. Peter writes concerning the apparel of women, saying, "Whose adorning, let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves." And Paul writes, "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works."
Great neglect has been shown in the matter of bringing our church members up to the standard of the Bible in this matter. After admonition, after time for Bible study and reflection, those who are walking contrary to the Scriptures, and will not reform, should be suspended from the church. The church is weakened, her power is enfeebled, her influence is limited, because church members fail to live in accordance with the directions of the Bible. The example of those who follow the fashions of the world has a disastrous effect upon other members of the church. Many seek to imitate the dress of those who go into extravagance on this matter. Those who cannot afford to make the display, feel that the contrast between their simplicity and the fashion of their sisters is too sharply defined. In seeking to make the contrast less striking, they conform to the world, and expend their little all on dress. They give time and effort to make an appearance which they consider more respectable, and often sacrifice health, happiness, and the favor of God for the sake of dressing as do others who are not following the directions of the word of God. Some of our sisters have been so sensitive over the contrast between their appearance and that of their more dressy sisters, that they have refused to come to church on the Sabbath day.
My sisters, let us face the mirror of God's holy law, and test our spirit and character by the first four and last six commandments. The first four commandments require that we should love God will all our heart, might, mind, and strength; and anything that tends to draw the mind away from God, assumes the form of an idol, occupying the thought, and consuming the time, and crowding out of the soul temple the spirit of Christ. O, how much means that should go to the cause and work of God is laid upon the altar of idols! Unless God is enthroned in the heart, the commandments are violated; for we have other gods before the Lord of hosts. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart." "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Examine your thoughts and actions in the light of God's law, and see if you have not failed in your duty to your fellowmen. Can a true follower of Christ so forget the sacrifice made in behalf of fallen man, that he will become careless of the time and means intrusted to him of Heaven to do good to others? The means we have is ours only to relieve the necessities of ourselves and others. The money expended for the gratification of selfish desires in dress or in any other way, is money lost to the cause of God.
Shall not the glory of God and the good of others be our first object in life? Many seem to think that dress is of no importance in the eyes of the Lord. The matter of dress, separated from everything else, may not be of so great consequence, but the evils resulting from extravagant dress are by no means few or unimportant, since they endanger the spirituality of the church. Time that should be devoted to the improvement of the mind, and to the benefiting of souls that are perishing, is given to needless work, that the dress may be made attractive. Meditation and prayer are neglected, while the mind is filled with methods of conforming to the world. Those who give much time and thought to dress, fail to bring themselves into connection with God by the study of the Scriptures, by meditation on his ways and work. Intemperance in dress is increasing. Now one fashion and then another takes the attention, and souls are drawn away by fashion from the things that pertain to their eternal interest. None can afford the outlay necessary for dressing in the height of style, for it involves robbery toward God, nor can any afford the loss of spirituality that is sure to follow. They will become bankrupt in the things of God.
Let those who have been expending means and time and thought on needless decoration of themselves, face the mirror of God's law and behold their real defects. Do not make excuses, but pray as did David, "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law." If the money used in multiplying pictures of yourselves were devoted to the cause of God, if means expended for mere selfish gratification were turned into the channel that flows to the treasury, our missionaries would be well supplied with the necessaries of life, our publishing houses would not be burdened with debt, and the treasury would be full and running over. Complaints would not be heard concerning our inability to extend our missionary operations.
Let all who profess to be members of Christ's body, look at the facts candidly and carefully, and put the question to their souls, "Am I living in obedience to the first four commandments? Do I love God supremely?" We should be jealous of ourselves with a godly jealousy, and be more critical over the condition of our own souls than over the condition of the souls of our neighbors. We should criticise our motives, test our thoughts. Is God the subject of our meditation? Do we love the Bible? Do we love the hour of prayer? Or will we neglect it in order to adorn ourselves to attract attention to self? Do you devote your time to dress instead of to the study of God's precious word, which would broaden your understanding and make your heart glow with truth that you could communicate to others? Are you reluctant in your attendance at social meeting? Do you feel no zeal, no pleasure, in speaking of the love of Christ? If this is the case, you are cherishing some idol.
Have you compared your life and character with the last six commandments? Do you love your neighbor as yourself? There is missionary work to be done. The skill, taste, patience, that is used in decorating your dress, should be devoted to Christ. I have felt sad as I have heard some of our sisters excusing themselves from the work of God on the plea that they had no ability. They declared they did not know how to be laborers together with God. O, it is time that all the professed servants of God knew how to work with Christ for the salvation of precious souls for whom he died. Christ can give you wisdom, experience, and spiritual knowledge, so that you may be workers with him. The same tact, perseverance, energy, employed in trimming your dresses, would be available in the work of God, if it were directed under his guidance to teaching others the way of truth, and to building up the spiritual interests of his cause. Many who make these excuses show by their dress that they know how to endure perplexity, how to work energetically; and these very qualities given to Christ would be made of use in saving the souls of men.
My sisters, my brethren, shall we not all put away idolatry? Let us leave the fashions, let us leave all forms of self-gratification, to those who have no time for, nor interest in, the salvation of their own souls or the souls of others. Let us make it our one great interest to work for God and humanity, to win heaven ourselves, and to direct the feet of others into the path that leads to eternal life. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 68, #23)
"Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit." Important lessons are presented to us in the experience of Elijah. When upon Mount Carmel he offered the prayer for rain, his faith was tested, but he persevered in making known his request unto God. Six times he prayed earnestly, and yet there was no sign that his petition was granted, but with strong faith he urged his plea to the throne of grace. Had he given up in discouragement at the sixth time, his prayer would not have been answered, but he persevered till the answer came. We have a God whose ear is not closed to our petitions; and if we prove his word, he will honor our faith. He wants us to have all our interests interwoven with his interests, and then he can safely bless us; for we shall not then take glory to self when the blessing is ours, but shall render all the praise to God. God does not always answer our prayers the first time we call upon him; for should he do this, we might take it for granted that we had a right to all the blessings and favors he bestowed upon us. Instead of searching our hearts to see if any evil was entertained by us, any sin indulged, we would become careless, and fail to realize our dependence upon him, and our need of his help.
Elijah humbled himself until he was in a condition where he would not take the glory to himself. This is the condition upon which the Lord hears prayer, for then we shall give the praise to him. The custom of offering praise to men is one that results in great evil. One praises another, and thus men are led to feel that glory and honor belong to them. They begin to feel as did Nebuchadnezzar when he walked around the palaces of his kingdom, exclaiming, "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty?" God had warned the king of his danger in thus taking the glory to himself, but he did not heed the warning, and God sent his threatened judgment upon him, and Nebuchadnezzar was humbled. After he had learned his lesson, and had given honor to God, he was restored to his kingly state and power. Giving praise to men lifts them up in their own estimation, and they forget that their ability is of God, an intrusted capital put in their charge to be used for the glory of the Giver. Men are tested in the use of this earthly capital to see if they may be intrusted with the heavenly riches. When we are in a right condition before God, we shall realize that a great sacrifice has been made in our behalf, and we shall see our own human frailty and weakness, and offer praise to God, instead of to man. All the praise belongs to God. When great men are called upon to speak, it is too often the case that their words do not carry with them a solemn weight of conviction; for much of their address is given to win the applause of the people. They render praise to men, and fail to realize that all power and ability are from God, to whom all the glory belongs. When you exalt man, you lay a snare for his soul, and do just as Satan would have you. You should praise God with all your heart, soul, might, mind, and strength; for God alone is worthy to be glorified. If we should realize that our salvation cost the infinite price of the life of the Son of God, we should have more humble views of self. Our Saviour knew that there was no hope of redemption for us except through him, and he came to the world to be wounded for our transgression, to be bruised for our iniquities, to bear our chastisement, that through his stripes we might be healed.
In order to exalt the Lord as we should, we must have genuine faith, that will lead us to render obedience to the law of God. There are many who claim to have faith in God, but it is a faith that does not work, and the apostle says, "Faith without works is dead." It is of like character with the faith possessed by the evil angels, for they "believe and tremble." We must have the faith of the Bible,--the faith that works by love, and purifies the soul.
How are we to know that we have faith in God, that we are his children and have love for him? Is it by our profession? I once visited at the home of a minister who prided himself on his family government. His children made great outward demonstrations of affection, but when he asked them to do some errand for him, or perform some task, they paid no attention to his wants, and did not regard his request. I asked him how he could think that his children really loved him, when they paid no attention to his desires. He replied that he knew they loved him, because they showed such fondness for him; they clung to his neck and kissed him, and seemed eager to manifest their love. But without obedience, all outward profession of affection is a mere mockery. When we see children spring to obey the command of father or mother, manifesting cheerful love in their service, we know that they really love their parents. How do we know that we love our Heavenly Father? If a child loves his parents, he will obey their commands. If we love God, we shall keep his commandments. The apostle says, "This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments; and his commandments are not grievous."
We must place our will on the side of God's will. It makes all the difference there is between the servant of God and the servant of the evil one, where the will is placed. If our will is on the side of self and Satan, we shall be transgressors of the Law of God; if our will is on the side of God, we shall be his obedient children. Jesus declared, "I have kept my Father's commandments," and he bids us follow in his steps. John writes, "He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked." The keeping of the commandments of God involves a cross. The Sabbath of the fourth commandment lies in the pathway of all those who would be faithful, obedient children of the Lord. Many excuse themselves from obedience to this holy precept, saying, "It is not convenient for me to keep this commandment. It will interfere with my business." Does God ask you if it is convenient for you to keep his commandments? You think that it is a great crime to be dishonest with your fellowmen, but how much worse is it to commit robbery toward God! We should act like men and women of intelligence. God has commanded that the Sabbath day should be kept as a memorial of his creative power and work, and there is no power on earth that can change the precept of Jehovah. Jesus declared, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
God has given us in his word a standard by which our love is to be tested, and we should inquire, What saith the Scriptures? Jesus says, "He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." If we follow him in humble obedience, we may claim the promises of God. But if the Lord does not immediately answer our petitions, shall we sink down in discouragement?--No; God has given us his word, and if we fulfill the conditions, he will make good his promise. We are to believe the word of God whether we have any manifestation of feeling or not. I used to ask God for a flight of feeling, but I do not do this now. I come to God with the naked promise, and say, "Lord, I believe thy word." Like Elijah, again and again I press my petition to the throne of grace; and when the Lord sees that I realize my inefficiency and weakness, the blessing comes.
My soul has been hungering and thirsting for God, and I have been relying upon him. He lets his blessing rest upon me, not because I have any great wisdom, but because I believe his promises, and he honors my faith. My heart is humble before him, my soul is melted in grateful love as his light shines upon me. The child of God has to walk by faith, and thus he obtains a rich and deep experience in the things of God. When the enemy comes in with his temptations, the Christian can point to his experience, and boldly declare that the Lord has been his helper, and that he will still triumph through the grace of Christ. I have committed the keeping of my soul unto God as unto a faithful Creator, and I know that he will keep that which I have committed to him until that day. If we had living faith in God, our lips would be filled with his praise continually. How often we speak of our troubles, how seldom of the goodness and mercy of God! Christ says, "Ye are the light of the world." O that we might be as a city set upon a hill, that cannot be hid! Jesus lives; he is not in Joseph's new tomb: he is risen, and pleads for us on high. We have a living Saviour. Let us praise him with heart and soul and voice. If any have lost faith, let them seek God today. The Lord has promised that if we seek him with the whole heart, he will be found of us. Turn unto him today; for he will abundantly pardon. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 68, #24)
"Young men likewise exhort to be sober-minded." Young men are not to be lovers of pleasure, seekers for amusement, ready to squander time and money and influence in selfish gratification; but they are to cultivate sobriety and godliness. They should seek each day to realize that they are now in the sowing time, and that the harvest reaped will be according to the seed sown. Young men should form their plans of life with thoughtful deliberation, and subject their conduct to criticism, as they seek for integrity of heart and action that will stand the test of the judgment. They should be willing to receive counsel from those of experience, that they may be fortified to stand in the perils that will beset their pathway. They will be exposed to influences which will lead them away from fidelity to God, unless they ever keep a realization of their responsibilities.
God wants the youth to become men of earnest mind, to be prepared for action in his noble work, and fitted to bear responsibilities. God calls for young men with hearts uncorrupted, strong and brave, and determined to fight manfully in the struggle before them, that they may glorify God, and bless humanity. If the youth would but make the Bible their study, would but calm their impetuous desires, and listen to the voice of their Creator and Redeemer, they would not only be at peace with God, but would find themselves ennobled and elevated. It will be for your eternal interest, my young friend, to give heed to the instructions in the word of God, for they are of inestimable importance to you.
I entreat you to be wise, and consider what will be the result of leading a wild life, uncontrolled by the Spirit of God. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption." For your soul's sake, for Christ's sake, who gave himself to save you from ruin, pause on the threshold of your life, and weigh well your responsibilities, your opportunities, your possibilities. God has given you an opportunity to fill a high destiny. Your influence may tell for the truth of God; you may be a co-laborer with God in the great work of human redemption.
John says, "I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever." O that young men might appreciate the high destiny to which they are called! Ponder well the paths of your feet. Begin your work with high and holy purpose, and be determined that through the power of the grace of God, you will not diverge from the path of rectitude. If you begin to go in a wrong direction, every step will be fraught with peril and disaster, and you will go on straying from the path of truth, safety, and success. You need your intellect strengthened, your moral energies quickened, by divine power. The cause of God demands the highest powers of the being, and there is urgent need in many fields for young men of literary qualifications. There is need of men who can be trusted to labor in extensive fields that are now white to the harvest. Young men of ordinary ability, who give themselves wholly to God, who are uncorrupted by vice and impurity, will be successful, and will be enabled to do a great work for God. Let young men heed the admonition, and be sober-minded.
How many youth have wasted their God-given strength in folly and dissipation! How many painful histories rise before me of youth who have become mere wrecks of humanity, mentally, morally, physically, because of indulgence in vicious habits! Their constitutions are ruined, their life usefulness greatly impaired, because of indulgence in unlawful pleasures. I entreat of you, careless, reckless youth of today, be converted, and become laborers together with God. Let it be the study of your life to bless and save others. If you seek help from God, his power working in you will bring to naught all opposing powers, and you will become sanctified through the truth. Sin is alarmingly prevalent among the youth of today, but let it be your purpose to do what you can to rescue souls from the power of Satan. Carry light wherever you go; show that you have strength of purpose, that you are not a person of indecision, easily swayed by the persuasions of evil associates. Do not yield a ready assent to the suggestions of those who dishonor God, but rather seek to reform, reclaim, and rescue souls from evil. Resort to prayer, persuade in meekness and lowliness of spirit those who oppose themselves. One soul saved from error, and brought under the banner of Christ, will cause joy in heaven, and place a star in your crown of rejoicing. A soul saved will, through his godly influence, bring other souls to a knowledge of salvation, and thus the work will multiply, and only the revealings of the day of judgment will make manifest the extent of the work. Do not hesitate to work for the Lord because you think you can do but little. Do your little with fidelity; for God will work with your efforts. He will write your name in the book of life as one worthy to enter into the joy of the Lord. Let us earnestly entreat the Lord that laborers may be raised up, for the fields are white to the harvest; the harvest is great, and the laborers are few.
Our churches are languishing for the want of wholehearted, self-denying workers. Our smaller churches are losing their vitality because their members do not seek to work for those around them. God can work with few as well as with many, but personal responsibility does not seem to be comprehended as it should be by the members of our churches. Can God bless the church that is indolent and selfish? O rouse, my brethren and sisters, and come to Christ, and he will give you life. God has given to each one his work, and hours are as precious jewels to be treasured and improved for the glory of God. Although we should not move rashly, we must not stand in idleness, but go forward as lightbearers for Christ. God would have his followers men and women of undaunted determination and resolution. They are to be as lights in the world, making those with whom they come in contact wiser, purer, happier.
Young men should have broad ideas, wise plans, that they may make the most of their opportunities, catch the inspiration and courage that animated the apostles. John says, "I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one." An elevated standard is presented before the youth, and God is inviting them to come into real service for him. Truehearted young men who delight to be learners in the school of Christ, can do a great work for the Master if they will only give heed to the command of the Captain as it sounds down along the lines to our time, "Quit you like men, be strong." You are to be men who will walk humbly with God, who will stand before him in your God-given manhood, free from impurity, free from all contamination from the sensuality that is corrupting this age. You must be men who will despise all falsity and wickedness, who will dare to be true and brave, holding aloft the bloodstained banner of Prince Emmanuel. Your talents will increase as you use them for the Master, and they will be esteemed precious by Him who has bought them with an infinite price. Do not sit down and neglect to do anything, simply because you cannot do some great thing, but do whatever your hands find to do, with thoroughness and energy.
We each have some power of influence. Men are led to change their plans in temporal matters by the influence of others who approach them in a judicious manner, presenting reasons for such a change. Men lead others to confide in them, to trust their judgment, and to shape their course of action in a different way from that they would otherwise do, simply because of personal influence. Why not use this power of influence to persuade them in matters that pertain to their eternal interests? Use your influence in persuading men to believe the truths of the Bible. Work for God as earnestly in this matter as in things that concern this life; as you exercised your power in society in earthly things, now exercise your power to stay the tide of corruption that is flooding the world. You can save your fellowmen from leading a life of sin and unhappiness. Do not wait for better opportunities; work now, while it is called today. Just where you are, take hold of your opportunities. Those who have a heart to work will find openings all around them; for such will be praying and watching for opportunities, and when these appear, they will seize upon them, and make the most of them. The faithful improvement of small openings will prepare the way for a larger work.
Christ is calling for volunteers to enlist under his standard, and bear the banner of the cross before the world. The church is languishing for the help of young men who will bear a courageous testimony, who will with their ardent zeal stir up the sluggish energies of God's people, and so increase the power of the Church in the world. Young men are wanted who will resist the tide of worldliness, and lift a voice of warning against taking the first steps in immorality and vice.
But first the young men who would serve God, and give themselves to his work, must cleanse the soul temple of all impurity, and enthrone Christ in the heart; then they will be enabled to put energy into their Christian effort, and will manifest enthusiastic zeal in persuading men to be reconciled to Christ. Will not our young men respond to the invitation of Christ, and answer, "Here am I; send me"? Young men, press to the front, and identify yourselves as laborers together with Christ, taking up the work where he left it, to carry it on to its completion.
We have a most solemn message to bear to the world, and how circumspect should be our conduct, how unblamable our example. If through our influence souls are led astray, the loss will be placed to our account. We shall not only suffer because of our own rejection of Christ, but because our impenitence encouraged others to continue in transgression. The Lord will help all who feel their need of help, who seek him earnestly for strength and divine guidance. Those who will purify their hearts by obeying the truth, will be used of God in accomplishing great good. Those who have the love of God in the heart will show it by corresponding works; for they will let their light shine forth in deeds of truth and goodness. "A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid." I appeal to you, my brethren and sisters, have root in yourselves. Let your souls be riveted to the eternal Rock. God is not mocked; he knows those that are his. Our profession of truth will not save us; we must be sanctified through the truth. Christ said, "Thy word is truth." We must study the Bible, comparing scripture with scripture. A mere reading through of the Bible will not be sufficient. The heart must be opened to understand what saith the Scriptures in regard to duty. We must have a calm, steady faith, and that moral courage which Jesus alone can impart to us, that we may be strengthened for trial, and prepared for duty. We need living faith, that we may be closely united with God; for only in this way shall we be able to make a success of the Christian life and be a blessing to others. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 68, #25)
Our campmeetings are not conducted in a way that will result in the greatest benefit to the largest number of those who attend, and the reason for this is that spiritual interests do not have the prominence which they should have in meetings of this character. Many and varied business meetings divide the attention, and meetings for the education of workers in different departments of missionary work, claim the services of those who should devote themselves to feeding the flock of God. All these different interests are of great importance; but when they have been attended to at campmeeting, only a small margin of time and effort remains in which to treat of the practical relation of truth to the soul. Those who come for enlightenment and strength, return to their homes little better fitted to work in their families and churches than they were before they came to the meeting.
Many meetings are conducted in which the larger number of the people have little interest, and if they could attend all the meetings, they would go away wearied, instead of refreshed and benefited. The special branches of the work should receive attention; but they should not be allowed to monopolize the time and talent of those who are called of God to look after the spiritual interests of the people, and if they are diverted from this work of building up the children of God in the most holy faith, the campmeeting does not meet the end for which it has been appointed. The specific object of the campmeeting is to lead the people to discern what they must do to inherit eternal life. If the time is given up largely to the education of canvassers and workers, the spiritual standard is not elevated before the people. Many are disappointed over the failure of their expectations in gaining help from the campmeetings, but think that the order of things cannot be changed, and that they must submit to the existing state of affairs; but decided reforms are possible and essential. Methods must be discovered, plans must be carried out, whereby the standard shall be uplifted, the people taught how they may be purified from all iniquity, and may be elevated by adherence to pure and exalted principles.
Those who labor at campmeeting should have an appreciation of the importance and solemnity of their work. They should not imagine that a display of oratory, a discourse made up of flashy rhetoric, spoken in a loud voice, is something essential to the salvation of souls. The minister should learn to speak in a clear, low voice, using the vocal organs in such a way that the throat and lungs will not be taxed or injured. He should cultivate a pleasing manner, and give discourses short and to the point. In this way neither minister nor people will be wearied. Some of our ministers have worn themselves out by loud speaking and long sermons, and they have been looked upon as martyrs to the cause, when they were victims of unwise habits. Brethren, your voice is a talent given you of God, by which you are to glorify you Creator. It can be put to the highest use, or perverted and abused. You can use it in such a way that the vital organs will be enfeebled and injured. Every power God has given should be used with discretion, that physical vigor may be preserved. The minister must have strength for work in the pulpit, and in the homes of those who are interested or in need of personal effort.
The conversion of souls does not depend on the loud tone or the long discourse, but on the conviction which attends the word spoken, on the inculcation of ideas that are of vital importance in obtaining eternal life. How much better truth is appreciated when spoken in a calm, unexcited way. Ministers should feel the importance of the theme of redemption, and realizing that they are speaking to judgment-bound souls, their voices should be filled with pathos and melody, and the words of eternal life should be spoken with distinctness and impressiveness, that the people may realize the value of the truth. To preach in a hard, strained voice, pitched on a high key, is suicidal, and those who have practiced this way of speaking should cease to do it, and learn of the divine Teacher. Several of our ministers might have been alive today if they had observed the simple rules that apply to the use of the voice. Let loud speaking and long discourses cease from among us.
Do not immediately follow one discourse with another, but let a period of rest intervene, that the truth may be fastened in the mind, and that opportunity for meditation and prayer may be given for both minister and people. In this way there will be growth in religious knowledge and experience. Bible readings should be given, and believers and unbelievers should have an opportunity to ask questions on points not fully understood. Those who profess to be advocates of truth, should ask questions that will bring forth answers that will shed light upon the present truth. If any ask questions that serve to confuse the mind, and to sow doubt and questioning, they should be advised to abstain from such questioning, that others may be brought to Christ. We must learn when to speak and when to keep silent, and learn to sow seeds of faith, to reflect light and not darkness. Special meetings should be appointed for those who are interested in the truth, and who need instruction.
Christ is the ministers's model. How directly to the point, how well adapted to the purpose and circumstances, are Christ's words! How clear and forcible are his illustrations! His style is characterized by simplicity and solemnity. Throughout the teachings of Christ, there is nothing to justify the minister in the relation of humorous anecdotes in the pulpit. The lessons of Christ should be carefully studied, and the subjects, manner, and form of discourses should be modeled after the divine pattern. Oratorical display, flashy rhetoric, and fine gestures do not constitute a fine discourse. Many are deceived by these things, and call a man a good minister who does not deserve the name. If the simplicity of the gospel of Christ is lacking in a discourse, there is a great need that the minister learn lessons of the divine Teacher, that he may become truly wise. The minister must have his heart melted by the love of Christ, and his words must be full of divine power. He must lift up Jesus, making him the center of attraction, the source of all power. The truth as it is in Jesus will be efficacious in converting souls to God. The holy truth is always to be presented in its true simplicity; for in this time, when the end of all things is at hand, the way of the Lord is to be prepared, the third angel's message is to lighten the earth with its glory.
The greatest Teacher the world ever knew, educated those who came to him in the simplest way. Sometimes he taught them, sitting among them on the mountain side; sometimes walking with them by the sea or way, he revealed to them the mysteries of the kingdom of God. He did not sermonize as men do today. In intensely earnest tones he assured them of the truths of the life to come, of the way of salvation. The Jews did not expect the Messiah to come as a teacher, but as a temporal king, to sit upon the throne of David; and if they had spoken the unbelief of their hearts, they would have scoffed at the idea of his Messiahship. And yet some believed on him, even among the chiefs and rulers. Nicodemus voiced the sentiments of many when he said, "Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God; for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him."
If the man who feels himself called of God to be a minister will abase himself and learn of Christ, he will become a true teacher. This is what we need in our campmeetings,--a ministry vivified with the Holy Ghost. There must be less sermonizing, and more tact to educate the people in practical religion. The people must be impressed with the fact that Jesus is salvation to all who believe in him. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." There are grand themes on which the gospel minister may dwell. Jesus has said, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life."
If the minister's lips are touched with a coal from off the altar, he will lift up Jesus as the sinner's only hope. When the heart of the speaker is sanctified through the truth, his words will be living realities to himself and to others; for those who hear him will know that he has been with God, and drawn near to him in fervent, effectual prayer. The Holy Spirit has fallen upon him, and his soul has felt the vital, heavenly fire, and he will be able to compare spiritual things with spiritual, and to tear down the strongholds of the enemy. Hearts will be broken by his presentation of the love of God, and many will inquire, "What must I do to be saved?"
The minister who is ready to engage in frivolous conversation, ready to jest and laugh, does not realize the sacred obligations resting upon him, and if goes from such an exercise to the pulpit, the Lord cannot stand by his side to bless him. The Lord cannot be a hammer to break the flinty rock in pieces; the man stands alone. If the people are in any way affected, it is not due to the efforts of the ministers, but in answer to their own prayers. If they have felt their need, if they have besought God for a blessing, by drawing nigh to him, then God has fulfilled his word and drawn nigh to them. If the people have friends for whom they have carried a burden, and these friends turn to God in true contrition of heart, the credit does not belong to the Christless discourse; for God has set other influences at work to change the heart and convert the soul. O that all our ministers might be indeed the ambassadors of Christ!
Flowery discourses will not be sufficient to feed the soul of the famishing child of God. The following desire will give a voice to the longing of many a heart that is fed on what are called "smart sermons." An intelligent man remarked, "O that my pastor would give me something besides pretty flowers, and brilliant periods, and intellectual treats! My soul is famishing for the bread of life. I long for something simple and nourishing and scriptural." Daniel Webster gave utterance to these forcible words: "If clergymen in our day would return to the simplicity of gospel truth, and preach more to individuals and less to the crowd, there would not be so much complaint of the decline of true religion. Many of the ministers of the present day take their text from St. Paul, and preach from the newspapers. When they do so, I prefer to enjoy my own thoughts, rather than listen. I want my pastor to come to me in the Spirit of the gospel, saying, 'You are mortal. Your probation is brief, your work must be done speedily. . . You are hastening to the bar of God. The Judge standeth before the door.'" By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 68, #26)
In giving Timothy instruction, Paul exhorted him to "preach the word." He said, "Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." The apostle presented before Timothy certain principles which he was to observe and teach, and then he declared, "Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
The various points of truth are not all equally appropriate to be presented to a congregation at any one time. Even Jesus said to his disciples, who had been with him for three years, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now." We must endeavor to present the truth as the people are prepared to hear it and to appreciate its value. The Spirit of God is working upon the minds and hearts of men, and we are to work in harmony with it. Of some truths they already have a knowledge; there are some in which they are interested, of which they are ready to learn more. Show them the deep significance of these truths, and their relation to others which they do not understand. Thus you will arouse a desire for greater light. This was Paul's manner of labor. It is "rightly dividing the word of truth."
"Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient; in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the Devil, who are taken captive by him at his will."
The words addressed to Timothy are addressed to all ministers; and would it not be well if they would become doers of these words? Paul says, "The things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." The instruction given to Timothy was deemed of great importance, and not to be lost, but was to be communicated to faithful men who would disseminate the light, and spread abroad a knowledge of the principles of truth. My ministering brethren, you are to learn the same lessons, for these are the words of Christ through Paul, given for your instruction and admonition. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." "I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort will all longsuffering and doctrine." No part of the minister's duty is to be neglected. He is to preach the word, not the opinions of men. He is to labor with individuals, to visit families, not simply to talk of the commonplace happenings, but of things of eternal interest, praying with them, and teaching in all simplicity the truth of God.
The State campmeetings are not as efficient as they should be in bringing about spiritual advancement, because many matters pertaining to temporal earthly things are brought in to occupy the mind. That which relates to business should be reserved to be attended to by those who are appointed to give attention to these matters. And as far as possible these business matters should be brought before the churches at some other time.
Instruction in regard to conducting the Sabbath school should to a large degree be given in the home churches; for the labor can be made more direct and the results will be more permanent if instruction is given at home. This work does not require the services of the ministers; they should be free to attend to the spiritual interests of the people. They are to teach others what to do. They must instruct the people as to how to come to the Lord, and how to lead others to him. There must be time for heart-searching, for soul-culture. When the mind is occupied with all these matters of business, there must necessarily be a dearth of spiritual power. Personal piety, true faith, and heart holiness are not kept before the mind until the people realize their importance. We must have the power of God with us in our campmeetings, or we shall not be able to prevail against the enemy of souls. Christ says, "Without me ye can do nothing." Those who gather at campmeetings must be impressed with the fact that the object of our meetings is to attain to a higher Christian experience, to advance in the knowledge of God, to become strengthened with spiritual vigor; and unless we realize this, the meetings will be fruitless to us.
The ministers need to humble their souls before God, and cleanse the soul temple of every moral and spiritual defilement, that they may attain unto the likeness of Christ in spirit and character, and know how to watch for souls. This they can never do without the impartation of the divine nature and Spirit. Love must be the abiding principle of the soul that would win others to Christ. But how little love is there for God, or for man formed in his image.
When man is a partaker of the divine nature, the love of Jesus will be an abiding principle in the soul, and self and its peculiarities will not be exhibited. But it is sad to see those who should be vessels unto honor, indulging in the gratification of the lower nature, and walking in paths that conscience condemns. The corruption within unites with the corruption without, and men professing to be followers of Christ, fall to a low level, always mourning over their shortcomings, but never overcoming, and bruising Satan under their feet. Guilt and condemnation constantly enshroud the soul, and the cry of such might well be, "O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Through indulgence in sin, self-respect is destroyed; and when that is gone, respect for others is lessened, because we are under the impression that others are as unrighteous as we are ourselves.
At our yearly convocations these things should be set before the people, and they should be encouraged to hope in the Lord, for he says, "When ye shall search for me with all your heart," "I will be found of you." The standard should be elevated, and the preaching should be of a more spiritual character, that the people may see the reason of their weakness and unhappiness. Many are unhappy because they are unholy. Purity of heart, innocence of mind, only can be truly blessed of God. When sin is cherished in the heart, there can be nothing but unhappiness in the end; and the sin which leads to the most unhappy results is pride of heart, the lack of Christlike sympathy and love.
Many are satisfied with business activity in the cause of God, while their hearts are destitute of love and compassion one for another. They know nothing of the tender sympathy that dwelt in the bosom of Jesus, and unless their characters are transformed, unless the heart is made tender, and they become partakers of the divine nature, they will make grave blunders, and fail to become inhabitants of heaven. Those who are holding responsible positions need to drink deep at the fountain of Christ's love, that their hearts may be made kind and their actions considerate. By his word, by the testimonies of his Spirit, God is appealing to his people both early and late, urging them to the attainment of the divine ideal. It was for this end that Christ took human nature upon himself. The elevation of man is the object of the plan of salvation. This elevation of character is to be reached through the merit and grace of Christ. We are continually to behold him, to meditate on the grace of his character, to contemplate his love; and by beholding, we shall become changed.
When Moses besought God to show him his glory, the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, "The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty." It grieves the heart of God, as our Father, to let justice smite. He "suffereth long and is kind." While men are hardhearted, condemnatory, and willing to abandon the one who needs help that his soul may be saved from death, the Father, with heart filled with love for the sinner, opens his arms, and says, "Child, come back to me." If the Lord were not full of mercy and abundant in goodness, we should not be the subjects of his grace and love today. He pardons abundantly. He entreats the sinner to confess his sin, to come to him and accept forgiveness.
And yet, with the lessons of Christ's life before them, how many who claim to be his followers, fail to be tenderhearted, forgiving, and full of love and compassion. In the hardness of their own hearts, in the ironlike stubbornness of their own will, they wound and bruise the souls for whom Christ has died. If they think a brother has erred, they are severe toward him, not remembering that they themselves are in constant need of God's mercy. They pass lightly over things in themselves that are grievous in the sight of God, but censure without mercy those whom they think blamable. How differently does God deal with the sinner; he forgives transgression and sin. He loved us, and gave himself for us. What does it mean that such hardness of heart is manifested among the professed children of God? It is an offense to God; for it misrepresents his character.
"God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." It was the love of God that gave Christ to the world, that he might draw all men unto himself. It is for this end that the Spirit is striving with human hearts, that their hardness may be melted away, that they may be purified, ennobled, refined. God would have us of the same mind as was Christ, that we may be fitted for eternal life, and be the sons and daughters of God. When men in connection with the work of God manifest severity, hardness of heart, showing a lack of sympathy and love, they make it evident that Satan is molding them after his own order. The leaven of unrighteousness is working in them, and the loss of souls will result from their unchristian course. My brethren, all this coldness, this hardness of heart, must be put away. When the gold of love is sought for, when the divine nature is imparted to you, men will see a love which is impartial, pure, elevated, and fervent, and the fruits of pure and undefiled religion will appear. To manifest affection in kindly words, in acts of tender consideration, will not then be looked upon as weak and unmanly, but brethren will press together, and bear testimony to the world that the religion of Christ is of divine origin. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 68, #27)
The things most essential to be taught at our campmeetings are those that will most tend to the spiritual advancement of the people. The order that has come in, and has almost imperceptibly molded the character of the meetings, giving them more of a business influence than a spiritual influence, must be changed. The important truths of practical godliness must be presented. The people must be made to realize that faith and love must be brought into the soul; for it is the exercise of these graces that will give the proper training to the soul. Christ must be formed within, the hope of glory. These things must be taught, line upon line, and precept upon precept, here a little and there a little. The holiness and consecration which Christ requires of his followers, must ever be kept before the mind.
The greater the simplicity of our faith, and the more earnest and loving our trust, the more constant will be our peace in Christ. We shall have to fight the good fight of faith again and again; for we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, "against wicked spirits in high places." We must put away all slothfulness in the work, and strive to run the Christian race, that we may win the prize, the immortal crown of glory. We must come to the Lord in faith, that he may fulfill his promises to us; for the clean heart, the unselfish spirit, are the gracious gifts of God; it is his Spirit that makes us new creatures in Christ Jesus. The word of God leaves the responsibility of our ruin at our own door; everything depends upon our obedience or disobedience.
We must have all of Christ, and none of self; then the promises will be fully ours, and the heavenly inspiration will enter and take possession of the soul. The soul temple will then be fully cleansed from its defilement. Pure and undefiled religion will then be found in the heart; this is the life of God in the soul, and it will be made manifest by good works. The condition upon which we shall receive an increase of grace is that we improve upon that already bestowed; for faith and works go together. There must be no resisting of the Spirit of God, as there has been in the past, but we must lay hold of eternal realities. The forgiveness of sins is promised to him who repents; but if those who have resisted the Spirit of God, who have given wrong impressions of the character of God, do not repent, their names will be blotted out of the book of life.
The hand of God is stretched out to save his people from sinking into the formal, Christless state into which the Jewish nation sank; to slight the means which God has ordained for this purpose, is to slight Jesus. The soul that would be saved must cooperate with God in the work of salvation; the human and the divine must unite in faith and practice. If we would have pardon, we must confess our sins, and believe in the mercy of God. What should our Christian life and character be, since God has given us such wonderful light, illuminating the way to heaven. What constant zeal, what prayerful watchfulness, should mark our Christian course. Jesus says, "Strive to enter in at the strait gate; for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able." But though the way is so strait, there is no need of despair, if we listen to the voice of God, and obey him instead of our own unsanctified impulses. Christ has said, "My grace is sufficient for thee." His strength is made perfect in weakness.
There has been marked presumption manifested by those who claim to be the children of God. O, how much better to pass the time of our sojourning here in fear,--not in fear that the power of God is not sufficient for us, not that one of his good promises may fail; but in fear of our own sinful hearts. "Fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it." We must lift the standard higher, and still higher, and in and through the grace of Christ we must attain unto it. We must regard the Bible as addressed to us personally; and as we take heed to the words of God, they will be a safeguard to us against the enemy.
The religion of many is altogether too comfortable, too easy. They seem to think that if they copy the life of their neighbors, they will be safe. I tell you, we are not safe in copying anyone but Jesus. Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. Thank God, probation is not ended, and we are prisoners of hope. There is need of a daily self-examination, daily humiliation, daily learning at the foot of the cross. It is essential that we feel our need, our shortcomings, our failures, and trust fully in Christ. Then we shall be able to show forth the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.
We must take every justifiable means of bringing the light of truth before the people. The press must be utilized, and every advertising medium employed that will call attention to our work. Let not this be regarded as unessential. On every corner you may see placards and notices calling the minds of the people to various things that are going on, some of them of the most objectionable nature; and shall those who have the light of life fail to place it where men can have access to it? Shall we hide the light under a bushel? To as great an extent as possible let the important discourses given at our campmeetings be published in the papers; for in this way precious light may be shed on the pathway of many who sit in darkness.
Many regard us as the unbelieving Jews regarded Paul,--as trying to press our views upon the attention of others. But can we be too urgent in bringing the light of life before perishing men? If we have the most solemn truth ever given to the world, why should we not be in earnest? Why should we not use every endeavor to persuade men to lift the cross, to bear the reproach for Christ's sake, that they may have eternal life?
Put your light on a candlestick, that it may give light to all that are in the house. Many are praying, and asking the Lord to show them what is truth. If the truth has been revealed to us, we are to make it so plain to others that the honest in heart may recognize it and rejoice in its bright rays. Nathanael prayed that he might know whether or not the man announced by John the Baptist as the Messiah was indeed the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. While he was laying his perplexities before God, and asking for light, Philip called him, and in earnest, joyful tones exclaimed, "We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." But Nathanael was prejudiced against the Nazarenes; through the influence of false teaching, unbelief arose in his heart, and he asked, "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" Philip did not try to combat his prejudice and unbelief. He said, "Come and see." Philip was wise, for as soon as Nathanael saw Jesus, he was convinced that Philip was right. His unbelief was swept away, and faith, firm, strong, and abiding, took possession of his soul. Jesus commended the trusting faith of Nathanael.
There are many in the same position as was Nathanael. They are prejudiced and unbelieving because they have never come in contact with the truth or the people who hold it, and it will need but an attendance on a meeting full of the Spirit of Christ to sweep away their unbelief. No matter what we have to meet, what opposition, what efforts to turn souls away from the truth of heavenly origin, we must give publicity to our faith, that honest souls may see and hear and be convinced for themselves. Our work is to say as did Philip, "Come and see." We must not put our light under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that it may give light to all that are in the house. We hold no doctrine that we wish to hide. To those have been educated to keep the first day of the week as a sacred day, the most objectionable feature of our faith is the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. But does not God's word declare that the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God? and although it is not an easy matter to make the required change from the first to the seventh day, this change must be made. It involves a cross; it clashes with the precepts and practices of men. Learned men have taught the people till they are full of unbelief and prejudice; and yet we must say to these people, "Come and see." God requires us to proclaim the truth, and let it discover error.
The third angel is represented as following the first and second angels, and crying with a loud voice, "If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation. . . . Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." Shall not we who read these threatenings, and who believe the word of God, give the warning to a world lying in darkness? The angels are represented as flying in the midst of heaven, uttering a solemn proclamation. Their voices are not heard by the inhabitants of earth, save through the people who carry forward the work as the messengers of God. Those who search the Scriptures understand the messages given by the angels, and take up the cry, proclaiming the warning to the world. The three messages for this time are of most solemn import, and it is of the greatest consequence to those who hear whether or not they act upon the light given.
God calls upon his faithful watchmen who see the danger, to lift up the cry, "The morning cometh, and also the night." It is the work of every soul who understands Bible truth for this time, to unite, his voice with the messengers in proclaiming the message, in pushing the triumphs of the cross. The truth must be presented in its simplicity, and laid out in clear lines. We are in no case to hide our light under a bushel, as if ashamed of it. We have nothing of which to be ashamed; the commandments of God are to be honored above the traditions and commandments of men.
Then, brethren, use wisely the precious light that God has given, presenting it to the people in the meekness and gentleness of Christ. Meet the prejudice of the people with an invitation such as Philip gave Nathanael,--"Come and see." Say, "If Seventh-day Adventists have the truth, and can prove it so from the oracles of God, you do not wish to be found fighting against God." We are to be bodies of light, proclaiming Christ and his love to the people, and presenting all our doctrines in their true relation to this important theme.
We must expect to meet opposition and unbelief. The truth has always had to meet these elements. In the days of Christ, the scribes and Pharisees were filled with opposition to his work. When it was declared that "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life," they were as full of criticism and prejudice at this statement as are the people today when they hear the doctrines held by the Seventh-day Adventists. We shall have to meet people as full of hatred to our work as were the priests and rulers in the days of Christ to his work.
It is our duty, however, to diffuse light in every direction, and lay out in clear lines what the sinner must do in order to obtain eternal life. The words of Christ jarred upon the prejudices of Nicodemus. He had been educated to believe that the Jews were the people to whom, as the descendants of Abraham, came the exclusive privileges of the gospel. All outside the Jewish nation were the subjects of wrath and condemnation. He had acknowledged that Christ was a teacher from God, but to be told that God's love was toward all men, that the mercy of God was for all who believed in Christ, was to him a new revelation. O that men could understand that long years of custom and tradition do not convert error into truth! Salvation is for all who believe, and there is no respect of persons or nations with God. The truth must be made to appear before men, whether they will hear or whether they will forbear. We must preach Christ and him crucified, and return to the old paths, and lead others in the good way. We must lift up Jesus and let self sink out of sight, that Christ may draw to himself the souls for whom he has died. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 68, #28)
In the sermon on the mount, Christ said to his disciples, "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." If our campmeetings are conducted as they should be, they will indeed be a light in the world. It is not wisdom to locate them in some far-away place, difficult of access. As I have come upon campgrounds located several miles from a city, I have been pained at heart, and have said to myself, "A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house."
The campmeetings should be moved from place to place, and not located at the same city or town more than twice or three times. They should be conducted in such a way that much good may be accomplished, and the truth properly presented and represented by those who believe it. Whatever manifests the Lord Jesus Christ to the world is light. There are many honest souls who are in darkness; they have confused ideas as to what the Scriptures teach; and if the lessons of Christ, the truths of the Bible, in their simplicity, are placed before them, they will recognize the light and rejoice in it. Their perplexities will vanish before the light of the truth as dew before the morning sun. Their conceptions of Bible truth will be expanded, and the revelation of God in Christ will come to them, showing them the depth, breadth, and height of divine and spiritual mystery that they did not discern before, that cannot be explained, but only exemplified in Christlike character. The world in its wisdom knows not God; for the wisdom among men is not drawn from the great Source of all light and wisdom. The world cannot see the beauty, the loveliness, goodness, and holiness, of divine truth. And in order that men may understand it, there must be a channel through which it shall come to the world. The Saviour has constituted the church that channel; for he has said, "Ye are the light of the world." The professed follower of Christ is under the most solemn obligation to let his light shine that Jesus may be made manifest to the world. Christ has revealed himself to us that we may reveal him to others.
The presidents of Conferences, the ministers of the churches, should give themselves to the spiritual interests of the people, and should be excused from the mechanical labor attendant on the campmeeting. The ministers should not be wearied out, but should feel refreshed and be in a cheerful frame of mind; for this is essential to the best good of the meetings. They should be able to speak words of cheer and courage, and drop seeds of spiritual truth into the soil of honest hearts, to spring up and bear precious fruit. The Lord has let his light shine upon us that we may impart it to others. Ye are laborers together with God. There are men and women who are following the Saviour according to the best light they have, and the light of advanced truth will be brought before these honest souls. Some will turn their feet away from the Sabbath, and maintain their loyalty to God.
Those who labor at campmeeting should frequently engage in prayer and counsel together, that they may labor intelligently. The practical lessons of Christ are to be often repeated. Christ and his righteousness are to be so blended with the third angel's message that the whole world may be lightened with his glory. All should have a personal, experimental knowledge of what Jesus may be to them, or they cannot proclaim the truth as it is in Jesus. Personal faith in the efficacy of the blood of Christ in our own behalf, gives "peace and assurance forever." In the time of trouble and test, we shall fear no evil; for who can lay anything to the charge of God's elect? The Lord justifies them for the sake of Christ, who gave his precious blood for their redemption.
We must walk and act in obedience to God, in harmony with his plan for the salvation of the world. No soul can be saved in disobedience. There is great danger of losing our interest in one another, losing our love for those for whom Christ died, because we do not live in the light of the Sun of righteousness. Brethren, shall we manifest cold indifference toward those whom we know to be in ignorance of the truth that is to make them wise unto salvation? If our own hearts were touched with his divine love, hearts would be melted with the love of Christ, but it is impossible to communicate to others that of which we have no experimental knowledge. This hardheartedness is of Satan. There are many ways in which he works. He seeks to make men who claim to believe the truth, faithless, loveless, proud, selfish, haughty, tyrannical. He well knows that those who possess such characteristics can never be a savor of life unto life. They exert no fragrant influence, but rather wound and bruise the souls of those whom they might relieve and comfort.
God would have every soul copy the pattern; as he was in the world, so are his followers to be. It is not in the order of God that men should be harsh, unsympathetic, without the grace of love and patience, without true affection for others. Paul says, "Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ." Said Job, "Did not I weep for him that was in trouble? Was not my soul grieved for the poor?" We only can let our light shine to the glory of God when we manifest the goodness and mercy of Christ, not only toward those who please us, but toward those who are faulty and erring and sinful. Let all our works be wrought in God, and if we have unamiable traits of character, let us overcome these unsavory representatives, and cease to dishonor God and bring the truth into disrepute.
Our ministers and teachers should seek to represent the love of Christ to a fallen world. The discourses at our campmeetings should not be of an oratorical character altogether, for they will be then as the offering of Cain, without the blood of Christ to make them acceptable to Heaven. They should show how God has manifested his hatred of sin and his love for the sinner. Is there any love in the whole world that bears comparison with the love that God has manifested to a lost world? God has commended his love toward us in that he has given all heaven in one gift, even in the gift of his only begotten and well-beloved Son. The love of God is to be brought before the people. With hearts melted into tenderness, let the words of God be spoken to the people. Let the messages of truth go to all the highways and byways of the earth, and let those who are in error be treated with the gentleness of Christ. If those with whom you are laboring do not immediately and readily grasp the truth, do not censure, do not criticise and condemn, but ever remember that you are to represent Christ in his meekness and gentleness and love. Then you will be indeed a laborer together with God, teaching the truth as it is in Jesus; and every soul won to Christ will be a star in the crown of your rejoicing.
Though you should meet with the bitterest opposition, do not denounce your opponents. They may think as did Paul, that they are doing God service, and to such we must manifest patience, meekness, longsuffering. This is the only way in which we can be a savor of life unto life. Let us not feel that we have heavy trials to bear, severe conflicts to endure, in representing unpopular truth. Think of Jesus and what he has suffered for you, and be silent. Make no complaint, speak no word of murmuring, let no thought of reproach or discontent enter your mind, even when abused and falsely accused. Take a straightforward course, "having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may be your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation." "Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts; and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear."
You should conduct yourself with meekness to those who are in error, for were you not recently in blindness in your sins? and because of the patience of Christ should you not be tender and patient to others? The apostle exhorts us to "be pitiful, be courteous." God has given us many admonitions to manifest great kindness toward those who oppose us, lest we balance a soul in the wrong direction. Our life must be hid with Christ in God, we must know Christ personally; for this is eternal life, to know God and Jesus Christ; then only can we rightly represent him to the world. Let the prayer constantly ascend, "Lord, teach me how to do as Jesus would do, were he in my place." Wherever we are, we must let our light shine forth to the glory of God in good works. This is the great, important interest of our life.
Those who keep in a prayerful frame of mind, will be able to speak a word in season to those who are brought within the sphere of their influence; for God will give wisdom whereby they may serve the Lord Jesus. "When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee." You will open your mouth with wisdom, and in your tongue will be the law of kindness. If those who claim to be Christians will heed the words of Christ, all who come in contact with them will acknowledge that they have been with Jesus and have learned of him. They will represent Christ, and eternal things will be the theme of thought and conversation. The realities of eternity will be brought near. They will watch for souls as they that must give an account. To watch for souls means more than many seem to think; it means to go out and search for the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Simple faith in the atoning blood can save my soul; and with John, I must call the attention of all to the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. Jesus has saved me, though I had nothing to present to him, and could only say,--"In my hand no price I bring, Simply to thy cross I cling."
Never did a sinner seek the Savior with the whole heart, but that the Saviour was found of him. Every soul who trusts in Jesus can say,--"Jesus as I am, Thou wilt receive, Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve; Because thy promise I believe, O Lamb of God, I come, I come."
We may claim the blessed assurance, "I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions." Thy "sins, which are many, are forgiven." O, how precious, how refreshing, is the sunlight of God's love! The sinner may look upon his sin-stained life, and say, "Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died." "When sin abounded, grace did much more abound." Christ, the Restorer, plants a new principle of life in the soul, and that plant grows and produces fruit. The grace of Christ purifies while it pardons, and fits men for a holy heaven. We are to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, until we reach the full stature of men and women in Christ.
O that we might all reach the high standard which God has set before us, and no longer remain dwarfs in the religious life! What beams of light would be reflected to the world in good works, if we should become lightbearers such as God would have us! How many would respond to the light, and in their turn become channels of light to others. In place of standing still, go forward. Instead of complaining, rejoice that Christ has made ample provision for your salvation. It is always hard to do the work of God when you leave Christ out of your experience. Jesus says, "Without me ye can do nothing:" but through Christ who strengtheneth us, we can do all things.
I appeal to the presidents of Conferences and to ministers and workers in the cause, to arise by faith and be diligent, valiant workers with God. Every believer must be energized by the Spirit of Christ, and reach the people through the power of God. The Saviour is not in Joseph's new tomb; he has risen from the sepulcher, and has ascended into heaven to be our surety, to plead the merits of his blood in our behalf. We have a living Saviour to carry forward his own work upon the earth. We are not to work alone. The ministers of God must not only preach in the pulpit, but must come in personal contact with the people. Personal labor must be put forth, that souls may be rescued from the snare of the enemy. Then let us work in all earnestness and faith, and we shall reap a blessed harvest. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 68, #29)
In response to an urgent call from the brethren who had been laboring in Willis, Mich., I left Battle Creek April 3, in company with sister E. S. Lane, for that place. The Lord had opened the hearts of a goodly number to receive and obey the truth. A church of forty-seven members had been organized, and a neat house of worship built, which is nearly free from debt. This is, I think, the first meetinghouse erected in that place. Since this was begun, the Methodists have begun a house of worship for themselves.
I was pleased to meet for the first time those who had newly come to the faith here. On Sabbath, at eleven o'clock, I spoke from John 14; and while seeking to feed the flock of God, my own soul was blessed. In the afternoon, Elder Van Horn gave a short discourse, followed by a social meeting. Forty-five testimonies were borne, and the freedom of God's Spirit was with us. Men and women recently brought to the truth were there as cheerful witnesses for Christ. They are henceforth to be servants of Christ, laborers for God, working with him for others, and fighting the good fight of faith in their own lives.
My heart was rejoiced to see among the converts so many young men and women, with hearts softened and subdued by the love of Jesus, acknowledging the good work wrought by God for their souls. It was indeed a precious season. "With the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." God forbid that these souls should ever lose the ardor of their first love, that a strange coldness, through pride and love of the world, should take possession of their minds and hearts.
It is essential that these who have newly come to the faith should have a sense of their obligation to God, who has called them to a knowledge of the truth, and filled their hearts with his sacred peace, that they may exert a sanctifying influence over all with whom they associate. "Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord." To everyone God has committed a work, to make known his salvation to the world. In true religion there is nothing selfish or exclusive. The gospel of Christ is diffusive and aggressive. It is described as the salt of the earth, the transforming leaven, the light which shineth in darkness. It is impossible for one to retain the favor and love of God, and enjoy communion with him, and still feel no responsibility for the souls for whom Christ died, who are in error and darkness, perishing in their sins. If those who profess to be followers of Christ neglect to shine as lights in the world, the vital power will leave them, and they will become cold and Christless. The spell of indifference will be upon them, a deathlike sluggishness of soul, which will make them bodies of death instead of living representatives of Jesus. Everyone must lift the cross, and in modesty, meekness, and lowliness of mind, take up his God-given duties, engaging in personal effort for those around him who need help and light. All who accept these duties will have a rich and varied experience, their own hearts will glow with fervor, and they will be strengthened and stimulated to renewed, persevering efforts to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, because it is God that worketh in them both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
On Sunday, at 10 A.M., the house was filled to its utmost capacity, and all listened with the deepest interest to the dedicatory address given by Elder Van Horn. At 3 P.M. I spoke with much freedom upon the perfect harmony of the law and the gospel. My text was Luke 10:25-28. Elder Van Horn spoke again in the evening to a full house.
Several here are deeply moved by the Spirit of God. Will they follow the Master, who says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life"? Will they be doers of the word, and not hearers only? Will they accept the invitation of Christ? "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." "Everyone 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 a hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life." "Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will show you to whom he is like: he is like a man which built a house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it; for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built a house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great."
No one can safely remain in a neutral position. "Ye are not your own," "ye are bought with a price." You belong to God. Jesus has paid the purchase money for your redemption, and he requires of you wholehearted service. He has a right to your service, even to the full extent of your capabilities, for his own honor and glory. There is a cross lying directly in your pathway, and you must lift it if you would follow Jesus and be indeed his disciples. Pride must be uprooted, self must die, every wrong must be made right. Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, through his boundless mercy and love, manifested in the sacrifice of his own precious life! O! let no one plead for self-indulgence.
Fathers and mothers who are convinced of the precious truth revealed in the oracles of God, hesitate not for a moment, but decide to obey God, even if it be at the sacrifice of every idol. Let your children and your neighbors see that you consider nothing too dear to give up for the truth. Do not in a single instance encourage selfishness and pride in your children. Let the work of reformation go on in your own hearts, and by precept and example educate your children to give all to Jesus, to die to pride, to overcome, day by day, every temptation. Let all who are convicted by the light of the truth, cherish every ray of light which comes from the Source of all light. Do not hesitate to decide from the weight of evidence. Do not enlist on the side of error, but wholly and entirely on the side of truth. "Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." Who will comply with the conditions? Who in Willis will become indeed members of the royal family, children of the Heavenly King?
The grand edifices and magnificent churches that are multiplying in the world, are only making more distinct the line of demarkation between the rich and the poor. There is God-dishonoring pride and selfishness in the members of the fashionable churches. They demand a religion that is more "refined," more pleasing to the worldly element, than the humble precepts of the lowly Nazarene. There is no place in these costly edifices for the poor, the oppressed, no chance for them to obtain the relief that Jesus came from heaven to bring. Above the portals of these extravagant churches might be written, "For display. There is no place for God's poor here." The spirit of piety and humble religion is unable to survive in these display churches; for the people do not want to have their sins of pride and dishonesty set before them. They have no ears to hear the truth while their hearts are opposed to it. They are moral icebergs. How much better it would be for all classes if there were a general increase of humble, spiritual religion, a lifting up of Jesus instead of self, in all these churches!
The prevailing desire manifested by most professed Christians is in the line of worldly ambition,--to excel in display rather than in piety, to outdo their neighbors in church edifices, and to dress to correspond to their extravagant surroundings. When I look at this, I think of Jesus, who left the courts of heaven, laid aside his royal robe, took off his kingly crown, and clothing his divinity with humanity, came to a world all seared and marred by the curse of sin. He humbled himself that he might meet fallen men where they were, and through the influence of a sanctified humanity, educate them, and reveal to them himself as the "only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." He was the reservoir of all power and truth, noble, courteous, full of sympathy and pitying tenderness, ever touched with human woes. He was the way, the truth, the life. Words of truth were ever flowing from his lips. His presence in any community made a decided change in the ideas of men. Wherever he went, he created an atmosphere of heavenly purity. Whatever he did, he did to make men like himself,--pure, spotless, undefiled. And he was ever engaged in helping the poor, in preaching the gospel to them.
I have often thought how much more abundantly we should be blessed if in the larger churches there was a well-organized band of workers, who would become missionaries to cities and towns, teaching others the precious lessons they have learned, of truth, of righteousness, of a judgment to come. All should be learners, but not ever learning and never coming to a knowledge of the truth. Be diligent students, and all the time practice what you learn. This will give you an experience which will be of the highest value to yourselves, and will surely benefit others. God has given us light, which he has commanded us to let shine; and if some souls embrace the truth in a locality, organize them into a church as soon as it can be wisely done, and let them do what they can to build a humble house of worship, as they have done in Willis, which they can dedicate to God, and where they can invite his presence to be with them. He says, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Then let the larger churches which are free from debt, come to the help of their sister churches, and give of their intrusted means toward these smaller places of worship, that the small churches may not be oppressed and discouraged under a load of debt. Let us not like the priest and the Levite, pass by on the other side. What blessings would be meted out to the churches that help in this way, and what love on the part of the poorer churches, as they realized that they were watched over for good! And with this help freely and cheerfully rendered, would come enlarged views of Christian helpfulness and duty. A bond of brotherhood, and love strong and tender, would be created between the members of the churches, large and small; and all petty jealousies and envies would be burned out by the love so substantially expressed.
When the disciples of John came to Jesus, saying, "John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?" Jesus continued his work of healing the sick and relieving the afflicted, and then he said to the messengers, "Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me."
The attributes most prized by Jesus are unselfish love and purity. "Everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God." "If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us." "God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him." The entire law is fulfilled in him who loves God supremely and his neighbor as himself. This is the revelation of God through Jesus Christ to the world. It is Christianity--glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill to men. The work Christianity is designed to achieve in the world is not to depreciate the law of God, not to detract from its sacred dignity in the slightest degree, but it is to write that law in the mind and heart. When the law of God is thus implanted in the soul of the believer, he is approaching eternal life through the merits of Jesus. "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." "I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it; that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them." The object of the gospel is met when this great end is achieved. Its work from age to age is to unite the hearts of his followers in a spirit of universal brotherhood, through belief of the truth, and thus establish heaven's system of order and harmony in the family of God on earth, that they may be accounted worthy to become members of the royal family above. God, in his wisdom and mercy, tests men and women here, to see if they will obey his voice and respect his law, or rebel as Satan did. If they choose the side of Satan, putting his way above God's, it would not be safe to admit them into heaven; for they would cause another revolt against the government of God in the heavenly courts. He who fulfills the law in every respect, demonstrates that perfect obedience is possible.
The law allows for no injustice, no lack of reverence for God. The voice of an enemy will not be mistaken for the voice of the Infinite One. There will be no degrading of the soul to lustful practices; but a high degree of intellectual culture of mind and heart, a refinement of manners and sentiment, genuine Christian politeness, will be the sure result of supreme love to God and love to our fellowmen. God's object in giving the law to the fallen race was that man might, through Jesus, rise from his low estate to be one with God, that the greatest moral changes might be manifested in his nature and character. This moral transformation must take place, or man would not be a safe subject in the kingdom of God; for he would raise a revolt.
In John 14 Jesus said, "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him." "If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me."
Here in this life is the testing, trying time. The angels of God are watching the development of character, and weighing moral worth. The whole question is settled in this, Is he obedient or disobedient to the commandments of God? has the sinner been transformed in this world, through the merits of Christ, to an obedient servant, so that he is fitted to join the heavenly society and be accepted as a joint heir with Christ? If this happy work has been wrought in us, then we may sing the praises of Him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvelous light. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 68, #30)
In the lack of pure, unselfish love among Sabbath-keepers is manifested the working of Satan's corrupting influence. The constant tendency of the world is to crowd out the mercy and love that God would implant in the hearts of his children. Even among those who occupy important positions in the sacred work of God, the sentiment is uttered that "business is business;" implying that religion is to be kept apart from matters of business. Men may be very exact in their accounts, very rigorous in their religious observances; but all this is as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal, if the love of God is not manifested in the daily life. Christ spoke words of rebuke to the scribes and Pharisees, because they failed in their duty to their fellowmen in this regard. He said, "Ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith; these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone."
The influence of the world leads those who engage in business activities, even in the work of God, to be content with a low level. Under the exercise of faithfulness to the cause of God, they gratify selfish ambition and unholy desires, thus enfeebling conscience and perverting religion. The Lord does not accept this kind of faithfulness. Look well to this matter. God is working that he may lift us up to a high standard of character; but as long as there is so little realization of the great need of his Holy Spirit in the transaction of business, in councils and board meetings, there will be continual deterioration in spiritual life, while at the same time there may be great activity in setting agencies at work for the advancement of the knowledge of the truth. But if the truth is not brought into the life, to sanctify the soul, those who engage in these activities will become stumblingblocks to others. In the fear of God I tell you that these things have been repeated to me many times. We are far from being spiritual in character. The natural tendencies of the human heart must be subdued by the grace of God. They cannot be kept under our own control, but must be put under the control of the Spirit of God. Unless we do submit ourselves to God, we cannot work according to his will. Self, self, self, is mingled with the sacred work of God, and it stains and mars that which is most holy.
Men in important positions glorify themselves instead of God. They little realize how self works in their most solemn councils, and the working of self is the result of their failure to become partakers of the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world through lust. This lust is not to be understood as referring simply to licentiousness, but to all unlawful desires, to ambition, grasping for power, desire for the praise of men. It comprehends all the desires of the selfish heart. It is revealed when men wish to make others recognize their power over them, showing them that they can put those they dislike into hard places. There are many, many ways in which a man can be hard and cruel, and yet term his actions works of justice, faithfulness to the cause. This spirit of exaction will increase in all the business of the cause unless men shall humble themselves and put their will on the side of God's will. When the professed servants of God surrender themselves fully to him, they will become teachable, considerate of others, full of love and tenderness. Their consciences will become tender, and they will represent not the attributes of Satan, but the attributes of God, exhibiting the working of the principles of love and truth. They will drink from the Fountain from which only flow the pure streams of salvation, and will manifest in their lives the love and sympathy that characterized the life of Christ. They will send forth pure streams that will be as living water to the world.
Men are connected with the work of God who are destitute of the pitying, tender love of Jesus; but the work of the Lord needs not to be done in a harsh, denunciatory way. Christ ever made mercy his delight; in kindness and love he melted his way into the hard, obdurate heart. The driving process is not according to the order of God. Jesus invites men to come to him. He says, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink." "Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out." O, what mercy, what tender compassion was ever manifested by the world's Redeemer for the fallen children of men! And yet there are men who profess to be the followers of Christ, who cannot be depended upon to love mercy, and deal justly, to be pitiful and courteous. They cultivate a harsh, coarse spirit, and move in accordance with their feelings.
If anything happens to disturb them, woe be to him who shall go to them to ask a favor; for they will treat him with a denunciatory spirit, wholly unlike the spirit of Christ. When opportunity comes where they might be a blessing in speaking kindly words, in doing kindly deeds, they speak and act in a way that stirs up the worst passions of the human heart, and become agents of Satan in opening doors of temptation to those with whom they are associated. Those who are in connection with them are led to doubt the truth of Christianity. Men in responsible office give decisions in councils when they are in no fit state of mind to think unselfishly; for they have not the spirit of Christ, because something has happened to stir up their feelings, and they have yielded to the control of the evil one.
Moses was successful in leading Israel because he felt his own inefficiency. He cherished the spirit of meekness, and God could talk with him, and guide him in right ways. "And Moses said unto the Lord, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight. Now, therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, show me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people. And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? So shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth. And the Lord said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name."
After the Lord had given Moses all these gracious assurances, did he rest in satisfaction, and settle down in content?--No; he still desired something of the Lord; he prayed, "I beseech thee, show me thy glory. And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy." The glory of God was revealed to Moses, and it will be revealed to those who seek for it as earnestly as did Moses. Those who have taken the solemn vows of the ministry upon them, should reveal the glory of God. They should live with singleness of purpose to glorify their Redeemer. Self must die. "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry."
Ministers should hunger and thirst after God. They should plead as did Moses, that they may have clear conceptions of God. They should pray that they may have clear conceptions of their own weakness, and of the necessity of the power and presence of God. Like Moses, they should say, "I cannot do this solemn work without thy presence." They should feel that they cannot possibly fulfill the purpose of God unless his Spirit and power is with them in their ministry. The minister must drink at the Fountain of life, or he cannot refresh others. But "blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled."
As the wax takes and retains the impression of the seal, so should the soul take and retain the image of God. We should be "filled with all the fullness of God." The character, the Spirit of God, is to be revealed in finite man. When the truth is received into the soul, a great work begins, that sanctifies the man; "for he that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure." Those who are united with Christ become laborers together with God. The grace of God that bringeth salvation, teaches us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we must live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, looking for and hasting unto the day of God. Man must cooperate with God. No radical change will be wrought in life and character, unless we depend upon the grace of Christ every hour. Many have altogether too low an idea of that which constitutes religion, and the standard must be raised, or they will perish in their sins, and drag others to perdition with them.
Religion is not a mere theory, a sentiment; it is an earnest working out of our salvation with fear and trembling; for it is "God that worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure." Faith and love are precious plants, but they need careful cultivation and care, that they may flourish in the life and bear fruit to the glory of God. Those who enter the mansions which Christ has gone to prepare will be those who love God and keep his commandments. They must have the gold tried in the fire, the gold of faith and love. Those who hold high positions in the cause of God need to seek for this gold; they need the transforming grace of Christ. The crucifixion of self must take place, or their names will be blotted out of the book of life. God can make them pillars in his work; he can make them faithful servants by his grace. Then let them seek God while still it is called today. Now is the time when the Lord is testing character, weighing moral worth in the balances of the sanctuary. O, let us seek the gold tried in the fire, let us seek the white raiment of Christ's righteousness, that the shame of our nakedness do not appear, and anoint our eyes with the heavenly eyesalve, that we may discern the working of God, and not be found groping our way in blindness. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 68, #31)
True Christians will be Christlike. The Redeemer clothed his divinity with humanity, and came to our world--a world seared and marred by the curse of sin, a vale of darkness and woe--to accomplish a great work, as he announced in the synagogue of Nazareth: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord." Each church member is to be a representative of the character and spirit of Christ. By precept and example the essential elements of a true, healthy, influential Christianity are to be revealed. Christ should be constantly set forth as the fountain of life, mercy, and love.
Brethren, have we any truth in advance of others? Is its influence on our character of any worth to us? When we bring that truth into our hearts, weave it into our character, carry out its sanctifying principles in our daily life, we show that we believe it to be worth defending, and that we will individually contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. We shall look to Jesus, and catch his spirit. In this age, the mind is inclined to lose sight of Jesus, and what is the result?--The tenderness of Christ is not cherished, and hearts are hard and unfeeling. Were Christ on earth today, his solemn rebuke would be upon many who profess to be Christians, who have entered into church fellowship, because they do not have the mind of Jesus, are not meek and lowly of heart. When self is exalted, there cannot be a ready sympathy with the poor and lowly and oppressed.
By beholding, we become changed. Through close study and earnest contemplation of the character of Christ, his image is reflected in our own lives, and a higher tone is imparted to the spirituality of the church. If the truth of God has not transformed our character into the likeness of Christ, all our professed knowledge of him and the truth is but as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal.
"Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand to tread my courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you; yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Wash ye, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. 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. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it."
Let all who claim to keep the commandments of God, look well to this matter, and see if there are not reasons why they do not have more of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. How many have lifted up their souls unto vanity! They think themselves exalted in the favor of God, but they neglect the needy, they turn a deaf ear to the calls of the oppressed, and speak sharp, cutting words to those who need altogether different treatment. Thus they offend God daily by their hardness of heart. These afflicted ones have claims upon the sympathies and the interest of their fellowmen. They have a right to expect help, comfort, and Christlike love. But this is not what they receive. Every neglect of God's suffering ones is written in the books of heaven as if shown to Christ himself. Let every member of the church closely examine his heart, and investigate his course of action, to see if these are in harmony with the spirit and work of Jesus; for if not, what can he say when he stands before the Judge of all the earth? Can the Lord say to him, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world?"
Christ has identified his interest with that of suffering humanity; and while he is neglected in the person of his afflicted ones, all our assemblies, all our appointed meetings, all the machinery that is set in operation to advance the cause of God, will be of little avail. "This ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone." "Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting."
All who are to be saints in heaven will first be saints upon the earth. They will not follow the sparks of their own kindling, they will not work for praise, nor speak words of vanity, nor put forth the finger in condemnation and oppression; but they will follow the Light of life, diffuse light, comfort, hope, and courage to the very ones who need help, and not censure and reproach.
Has the truth of God been committed to us? Then let us seek to advance it in every way possible. More is expected of us than we have done; our works should correspond to the light which God has given us; they should advance accordingly. The rich, clear light that has been shining upon our pathway, has placed us on vantage ground; and we should improve every opportunity to do good. Christ came from the royal courts of heaven to seek and save the lost, and this is to be our work. The zeal which we manifest in this direction will show the measure of our love for Jesus and our fellowmen, of our efficiency and missionary spirit.
To every member of the church is committed a work, and his sanctification will be seen in the efficiency, the unselfishness, the zeal and purity and intelligence, with which he does the work. The cause of humanity and religion must not retrograde. Progress is expected of those who have received great light, and have many advantages.
The church must be a working church if it would be a living church. It should not be content merely to hold its own ground against the opposing forces of sin and error, not be content to advance with dilatory step, but it should bear the yoke of Christ, and keep step with the Leader, gaining new recruits along the way.
When we are truly Christ's, our hearts will be full of meekness, gentleness, and kindness, because Jesus has forgiven our sins. As obedient children we shall receive and cherish the precepts he has given, and shall attend to the ordinances he has instituted. We shall be seeking constantly to obtain a knowledge of him. His example will be our rule of life. Those who are Christ's disciples will take the work where he left it, and carry it forward in his name. They will copy the words, the spirit, the practices, of none but him. Their eye is upon the Captain of their salvation. His will is their law. And as they advance, they catch more and clearer views of his countenance, of his character, of his glory. They do not cling to self, but hold fast his word, which is spirit and life. "If ye continue in my word, then ye are my disciples indeed, and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." They reduce their knowledge of his will to practice. They hear and do the things that Jesus teaches.
In the church is work for all who love God and keep his commandments. The profession one may make is not certain evidence that he is a Christian. The words he may speak give no surety that he is a converted man. Hear the words of Christ: "Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I say?" Unless the daily life conforms to the will and works of Christ, no one can establish a claim to be a child of God, an heir of heaven. There is a legal religion, which the Pharisees had, but such religion does not give to the world a Christlike example; it does not represent Christ's character. Those who have Christ abiding in the heart will work the works of Christ. Such are entitled to all the promises of his word. Becoming one with Christ, they do the will of God, and exhibit the riches of his grace. "Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am." O, precious promise! "And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: and the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not." In marked contrast to the murmuring and complaining of the wicked, the servants of God will sing, "I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto thee. I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name. In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul. All the kings of the earth shall praise thee, O Lord, when they hear the words of thy mouth. Yea, they shall sing in the ways of the Lord: for great is the glory of the Lord. Though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off." Then let not a semblance of pride or self-importance be cherished, for it will crowd Jesus out of the heart, and the vacuum will be filled with the attributes of Satan. "O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles. Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God." "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 68, #32)
I wish I could impress on every mind the grievous sinfulness of wasting the Lord's money on fancied wants. The expenditure of sums that look small, may start a train of circumstances that will reach into eternity. When the Judgment shall sit, and the books are opened, the losing side will be presented to your view--the good that you might have done with the accumulated mites and the larger sums that were used for wholly selfish purposes. And what will it reveal?--Just that deficiency in the bank of heaven,--robbery toward God, some destitute bodies not clothed, some poor souls praying for light and knowledge robbed of the bread of life. Your money went to gratify perverted appetite, or to indulge vanity. O, what shame and grief will come to your souls as you see how much you have lost! Look about you, and see if there is not a work which the Lord has given you. The 58th chapter of Isaiah presents before you a work that has been neglected.
There are many professors of religion in our world, but few who follow Jesus with pure and holy purposes. The Bible means just what it says. The blessings are distinctly apportioned to those who are Christlike, whose hearts are touched with human woe, and who realize that they are trading with their Lord's money. Such will not feel at liberty to use the money in their hands for purchasing unnecessary articles to please their vanity, to gratify pride and love of display; but they will look at it as the Lord's. There is a place for every penny that you do not actually need for comfortable food and clothing. The empty treasury in different States calls out against every needless expenditure. If you have money, do not spend it for extra ribbons or trimmings or articles of adornment, but let the rivulets flow into the treasury of God, to be registered to your account in the books of heaven. To fashion the garments after the world's standard, requires much more means than to make them after the divine directions given in the word of God.
The unfallen universe looks with amazement upon the church members who are not lively stones in the spiritual building. They see the covetousness which leads men to use God's intrusted means for their own gratification and enjoyment. They see the Lord's goods diverted from the true channel to please fancy, to gratify selfishness, because it is in the user's power to do it. If professed Christians lived by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God, they would study the living oracles diligently, to know what is the will of God, to be doers of that will, irrespective of the world's standard. I am pained as I go into the homes of church members, and see a multitude of pictures of themselves and their friends. How must the holy angels look upon these pictures adorning tables and mantelpieces--pictures, pictures, everywhere? All these things cost money, sums taken from the treasury of God, from the capital which the Lord has given us to be used for his glory. But many have used it to please themselves. That money which they expended, whether it was a trifle or a large sum, was the Lord's money; for they themselves are Christ's purchased possession, and hence all they have belongs to him. All the means they have which is not necessary for their own comfort, should be put into the treasury of God, where it may be used to help the needy, to clothe the naked, and to assist in the various departments of the cause.
Many church members are idle, thus losing precious opportunities for doing good. In this they are grievously sinning against God, who gave his only begotten Son to a life of humiliation, self-denial, and self-sacrifice, and a shameful death, that they might not perish, but have everlasting life. There is need that everyone should do what he can. The Master calleth for you. You are his servant, to do his will. Pray much in your closet, that you may have divine enlightenment, clear spiritual eyesight, to discern the work the Lord has left for you to do; for he has given to every man his work. All who have faith in Jesus will put on Christ, and work after his example, improving not only their time, but feeling the worth of the pence, the shillings, and the dollars that come into their hands.
To everyone are committed talents to improve. Even if you have but one talent, God expects you to put that one to use, to improve it, and thus gain other talents. There is abundance of work for each and all, according to their ability. Begin by giving yourselves to Jesus, and then ever bear in mind that you do not live to please self; for Christ, the world's Redeemer, pleased not himself. He was quick to catch the first intimation that help was needed by poor, depressed souls. You must individually be laborers together with God. You cannot do this, and close the door of the heart to human woe and human necessities.
The God of heaven has revealed his self-denying, self-sacrificing love in giving "his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life." We are to be representatives of Jesus, in the family, in the workshop, in our place of business, in social gatherings,--everywhere on every occasion. How shall we do this?--By ever keeping the way of the Lord, by subordinating our will, our mind, our soul, our body, our intrusted capital, to him. He has purchased us with his own blood, and we are required to cooperate with him in the working out of the great plan of redemption. Said Christ, "Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." Jesus does not require of man any real sacrifice; for whatever we are asked to surrender is only that which we are better off without. We are only letting go the lesser, the more worthless, for the greater, the more valuable. Every earthly, temporal consideration must be subordinate to the higher. But abundant blessings are promised to sincere faith and obedience. "Everyone that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for many name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life."
Young men, do not think that because you are not preachers you have nothing to do in saving the souls for whom Christ has given his own precious life. Whatever may be your business, whatever your ability, however high your station, the words of Christ are addressed to you: "Without me ye can do nothing." When you feel no burden to win souls to Christ, you are not cooperating with him in doing the work which he requires of you. You are not connected with Jesus. Solemn thought! The day of trust is now, in this life. There is not a member of the church but has some trust committed to him for which he is responsible. God's whole family are either workers or idlers in his vineyard. If one cannot trade upon pounds, he can upon pence. To every man is given his work, and God will excuse none. He requires returns corresponding to the gifts bestowed, and the fidelity of every soul is tested by the way he uses his Lord's goods.
Let young women also see the many places which it is perfectly proper and consistent for them to fill, where they may do good. Let them stand no longer idle, when the Master's vineyard is in need of workers. My young sisters, you may be wholly unconscious of your power, because you do not believe you have ability to do great service; but lay hold of the duties lying directly in your pathway, trade on the talents already intrusted to you, and you will be doing the work God wants you to do. Do not fold your one talent in a napkin and bury it, and think you should be commended for your humility; for the Lord will surely require of you its improvement. In putting out to the exchangers that one talent, you may weave into your work modesty, caution, and delicacy of feeling; in your great need you may lay hold upon the efficiency that is in Jesus, to help you to do your work with fidelity and thoroughness.
When will the members of our churches take up the work left for them to do? Where is the self-denial? Where is the self-sacrifice? Does not plea of unfitness, whereby many are shirking responsibilities, stand registered against many as a great sin? It may well be said to such, If you are unfit now, with all your opportunities for becoming what God would have you be, you must be dwarfs in religious life, you cannot be growing up unto the full stature of men and women in Christ. The flimsy excuses you are making for your do-nothing position, you will be ashamed to make before the Judge of all the earth.
In the parable of the man who buried his one talent in the earth, the Lord has faithfully pointed out your duty. It shows to everyone, high or low, rich or poor, educated or uneducated, that he has a personal responsibility. You must arouse from your lethargy, your carnal security, and go to work to make use of every talent, every power, given you by God. You may reason that because your talent is small, it is no matter whether you use it or not; but it matters just as much to you as it did to that man in the parable. Your life is bound up with the lives of others. If you feel no care to be a blessing to others, if you are not laboring together with God here, right here in this life, you will have no place in the mansions above. You do not know how successfully God can use you if you will put your whole heart, your whole mind and soul and might, into his service. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 68, #33)
The faith essential for salvation is not mere nominal faith, but an abiding principle, deriving vital power from Christ. It will lead the soul to feel the love of Christ to such a degree that the character will be refined, purified, ennobled. This faith in Christ is not merely an impulse, but a power that works by love and purifies the soul. It accomplishes something, bringing the soul under discipline, elevating it from defilement, and bringing it into connection with Christ, till it appropriates his virtue to the soul's need. This is saving faith.
There are many who claim to have faith, but how shall we know that it is genuine? The Lord has given us a test by which we may prove our profession and the profession of others. The prophet says, "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." John declares, "He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." This test applies to those who have been enlightened in regard to the claims of God's law. The principles of the Bible must be brought into everyday life, to enlighten conscience, and regulate the conduct.
If heavenly light is welcomed by the soul, grace will be given to adorn the character, to dignify the nature, and to fit man for the society of the angels of heaven. Every temptation may be conquered through the strength of Christ. God desires us to have pure characters; purity is power, but sin is weakness and ruin.
Christ has said, "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love." Christ came to our world, and for our sake he became a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He suffered reproach, he was despised and rejected of men. He died a shameful death upon the cross, that we might have eternal life; and shall we dare to flatter ourselves that we may follow a course of sin, choosing our own way, shunning the cross, avoiding reproach and self-denial, and yet have a home in the kingdom of heaven?--No; through faith in Christ we must render obedience to all the requirements of God; through his merits we may be elevated to keep God's commandments.
Exceeding great and precious promises have been given unto us, whereby we may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruptions that are in the world through lust. We must appropriate these promises to ourselves, that we may overcome unbelief, and get the victory over every besetment, perfecting a character that will meet the approval of Heaven. We are very anxious to appear well in the sight of men, but of how much greater importance is it that we stand approved in the presence of God.
Day by day we are to fight the good fight of faith. Day by day God will give us our work; and though we cannot see the end from the beginning, we are to examine ourselves daily to see if we are in the path of righteousness. We must strive to overcome, looking unto Jesus; for in every temptation he will be at our side to give us the victory. Every day should come to us as the last day in which we may be privileged to work for God, and much of it must be given to prayer that we may work in the strength of Christ. This is the way in which Enoch walked with God, warning and condemning the world by manifesting before them a righteous character.
We profess to believe that Christ is soon coming to the earth, and a solemn responsibility rests upon us; for a lost world is to be warned of the hastening judgment. We must not lay off our responsibility; we must carry the burden of the work. Self must be out of sight, and Christ must appear; as faithful, obedient children, we must follow the light, and reflect its precious rays to others. We must be living epistles, known and read of all men. If we are to be cleansed, both soul and body, we cannot afford to be slothful and negligent. Christ is coming, the third angel's message must be proclaimed to the world; for it brings light upon the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. O, could we realize how all heaven is interested in the salvation of the world, we should rouse up with holy zeal to be followers of Jesus.
When Christ left the world, he gave to his disciples the work of carrying the gospel. The professed followers of Christ are held responsible for the warning of the world. How are we doing this solemn work committed to us? We must humble ourselves before God, and not follow the ideas of men. We must come before the world, speaking the words of God, that the world may know that God has sent us, and that Heaven's mold is upon the work. O, we must grow up into a glorious temple in the Lord. The enemy will come in, and try to draw our minds away from the important work to be done for this time. He will seek to keep us engaged on trivial matters, make us think that it is our province to criticise and condemn others; but our work is to deal faithfully with our own souls. We must search our hearts and see if we are right in the sight of God. Peter said to Christ in regard to John, "Lord, what shall this man do?" But the Lord answered him, "What is that to thee? follow thou me." We each have a work to do for ourselves, and while we are criticising others, we are neglecting the most important work of all.
The great crisis is before us, and everyone is to act as though his own soul was at stake. The most important question of all is, How shall I save my soul, for which Christ died? How shall I be holy, as he is holy? It is time to be seeking for the forgiveness of your sins, for the assurance that your names are written in the Lamb's book of life. Let everyone realize that he is not his own, but has been bought with a price, even with the blood of the Son of God.
Live by the day for Christ. Seek to be a victor just for this one day; for you do not know that you have another day to live. Confess your sins today. You have the promises of pardon.
The Lord says, "Let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me." God is in earnest with us. He has borne long and patiently with us, and the light that has shone upon us from the throne of his glory will not lessen our responsibility, but, if we fail to improve it, will leave us without excuse. God will not be trifled with. You may ask, What shall I do to advance the light of truth? I answer, Work humbly for God; do not exalt yourself, but remember that you are standing upon holy ground. We are living in the last days, and the great question is, How shall I stand before God? Everyone is responsible for the light he has received. What have you done with the light of heaven? Have you put it under a bushel?
There is a great work to be done; for we are to reach the people with the divine light of truth, not in our own way, but through the power and Spirit of God. God will use us as instruments in his hand, if we will yield ourselves to him. O that all may make the effort essential to win eternal life! Every soul is precious in the sight of God. He declares by the prophet, "I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir." This preciousness will be wrought in the soul that is connected with Christ; but our own ways must be abandoned, our own thoughts must be put away.
Jesus says, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." O, shall Jesus plead in vain for an entrance into your heart? Clear away the rubbish from the door, and let him in, and you will know what is the comfort and peace of his blessing. I present before you the Man of Calvary. He can save unto the uttermost all that come unto God by him. The more you have of Jesus, the more you will desire a closer connection with him, and your soul will be hid with Christ in God, and thus be prepared when he shall come with power and great glory.
"And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." Not in self-confidence, not in self-exaltation, are we to pass the time of our sojourning, but in fear working with Christ for the salvation of others. We are to live as on holy ground, and when the Master shall appear in glory, we can say, "This is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 68, #34)
Our trials are often such that they seem almost unbearable, and indeed without help from God we could not bear them. Unless we rely upon him, we shall sink under the burden of responsibility that brings only sadness and grief. But if we make Christ our dependence, we shall not sink under trial. When all seems dark and unexplainable, we are to trust in his love; we must repeat the words of Christ, "What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter."
When souls are converted, their salvation is not yet accomplished. They then have the race to run. An arduous struggle is before them, to do what?--To "fight the good fight of faith," to "press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." There is no release in this warfare; the battle is lifelong, and must be carried forward with determination and energy proportionate to the value of the object to be attained, which is eternal life. Immense interests are here involved. We are made partakers of Christ's sacrifice here in this life, and if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end, we are assured that we shall be partakers of all the benefits of the future, immortal life.
The promise is, "God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape." Trials will certainly come, but we have a living Saviour, an Intercessor, one who will help us in every time of need. "Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness." Eternal interests are here involved. Maintain to the last your Christian integrity. You cannot afford to become discouraged, and cast away your confidence; the Lord Jesus is your only hope. Make sure work for eternity. You must not murmur or complain; neglect no means of grace; encourage your soul to believe and trust in God. "Take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand."
Satan is ever seeking to destroy; he is casting his hellish shadow between our souls and the light of the Sun of righteousness. When you talk doubts, and distrust your Heavenly Father's love, Satan comes in, and deepens the impression, and that which was only a shadow is made the blackness of despair. Your only hope is to cease talking darkness. In dwelling on the dark side, you cast away your confidence in God, and this is just what Satan wants you to do. He wants to sift you as wheat; but Jesus is making intercession for you. His love is broad and deep. Perhaps you will say, "How do you know he loves me?" I look where you may look, to the cross of Calvary. The blood shed upon the cross cleanseth from all sin. When tempted to go in the dark cave of doubt and despair, sing:--"Arise, my soul, arise, Shake off thy guilt fears; The bleeding Sacrifice--In my behalf appears; Before the throne my Surety stands; My name is written on his hands."
"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. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land." Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free Spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee." Let your prayers ascend to our Heavenly Father, and let this 51st psalm bring assurance and comfort to you. Do not stay away from Jesus, for he loves you. You may say, "He will not hear my prayers; I am a sinner." But Christ says, "I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Then you are not to wait, but come now, and believe that he will receive you. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
But you cannot enjoy his blessing without any action on your part. Salvation is a gift offered to you free; on no other condition can you obtain it, than as a free gift. But cooperation on your part is essential for your salvation. "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling: for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." The Lord would not have us forget that we are fitting ourselves for weal or woe. We are daily working out our destiny. We have a crown of eternal life to win, a hell to shun. We certainly cannot save ourselves, and we know that Christ wants us to be saved; he gave his own life, that he might pay the ransom for our souls. Then when he has made this infinite sacrifice, will he regard us with indifference? He is ready to help us whenever we feel our need of help, and come to him penitent and believing. Then let us come to him humbly, saying,--"In my hand no price I bring; Simply to thy cross I cling," and Jesus will do the work in our hearts. Satan is seeking to counteract it, but as the Lord works in us, we must cooperate, and work out that which he works in our hearts, to our own salvation. The Holy Spirit works in us by bringing to mind, vividly and often, the precious truths concerning God's saving operations in the plan of redemption. We would forget the truths of God, which we neglect to obey, and for us his rich promises would lose their efficiency, were it not for the Holy Spirit working upon our hearts; he takes of the things of God, and presents them anew to our minds.
Then why not put away unbelief? The promise is, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." And then, to make assurance doubly sure, the Saviour adds, "For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." What you need is faith, living, active faith. Even when affliction is in your home, do not go about with a gloomy countenance; for this but increases the sorrow for yourself and others. You want to encourage cheerfulness; do not go about in mournful sadness, as if Jesus were in Joseph's tomb, and a great stone were rolled before the door. Jesus has risen from the tomb. He lives. In the trial of your faith, show that you know you have a living Saviour, one who is making intercession for you and your loved ones. If they will only come to Jesus, he will receive them. You can show them the way. Jesus ever liveth to make intercession for us. He has no pleasure in the death of the sinner, but rather that he should turn from his sins and live. What more positive language could be employed than the following: "Joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance"? To make God's grace our own, we must do our allotted part; we must believe Christ, we must show the grace of Christ in our lives, bearing fruit to the glory of God. Do not please Satan by carrying a sad, mournful countenance. When the furnace fire kindles about your soul, is the time to fight the good fight of faith, to reveal your confidence, your trust in Jesus. By Mrs. E. G. White. (Concluded next week.)
(Vol. 68, #35)
The Lord himself has pledged his word, "If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it. If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth [now mark the following words]; whom the world cannot receive; because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments [he that hath light in regard to the binding claims of the law of God], and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him."
"If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." How careful is the Lord Jesus to give no occasion for a soul to despair. How he fences about the soul from Satan's fierce attacks. If through manifold temptations we are surprised or deceived into sin, he does not turn from us, and leave us to perish. No, no, that is not like our Saviour. Christ prays for us. He was tempted in all points like as we are; and having been tempted, he knows how to succor those who are tempted. Our crucified Lord is pleading for us in the presence of his Father at the throne of grace. His atoning sacrifice we may plead for our pardon, our justification, and our sanctification. The Lamb slain is our only hope. Our faith looks upon him, grasps him as the one who can save to the uttermost, and the fragrance of the all-sufficient offering is accepted of the Father. Unto Christ is committed all power in heaven and in earth, and all things are possible to him that believeth. Christ's glory is concerned in our success. He has a common interest with all humanity. He is our sympathizing Saviour.
"If, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son; much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life." What greater assurance can we have of the willingness, yea, the longing, of Christ to have all come unto him and believe in him that they may have eternal life! O, when we see the sorrows and suffering of loved ones, shall we turn away from Christ dissatisfied, murmuring, and complaining?--No; that is the time to come close to the only One who can be our helper in every time of need. You have no time for repining, no time for unbelief, no time to let go of Jesus. When trial comes, press closer to his bleeding side. When the whole world was under condemnation, Christ took upon himself the guilt of the sinner; he bore the wrath of God for the transgressor, and thus suffering the penalty of sin, he ransoms the sinner. Had it been the choice of God to destroy the disobedient, he might in justice have swept the earth clean of the guilty transgressors; but he reveals himself as a compassionate loving Father. "As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live." "Wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye."
The Son of God bore the contradiction of sinners against himself. Behold his agony in the garden of Gethsemane. Hear his thrice-repeated prayer, "If it be possible, let this cup pass from me." Sweating great drops of blood in his human agony, he added, "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt." Has God, then, no knowledge of his suffering creatures? Behold the Saviour betrayed, mocked, derided in the judgment hall. Who was this?--The Prince of Life, the holy and beloved of God. Faint and weary after his long, agonizing struggle in the garden of Gethsemane, he was dragged from one tribunal to another, testified against by false witnesses, given up to the malice of the Jews by Pilate, who pronounced him blameless, scourged with cruel whips, spit upon, mocked at, fainting under the burden of the cross, and then lifted upon the cross, reproached in his dying agonies, the rude soldiers quarreling over his few garments, the reward for their part in the shameful work, priests and rulers in triumph wagging their heads and taunting him, "He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him."
How could heaven keep silent? Can we wonder at the horrible unnatural darkness that hung over the cross? Can we wonder at the rending rocks, the rolling thunder, the flashing lightning, the shaking of the earth beneath the tread of the heavenly army as they beheld their loved Commander suffering such indignity? The crown of thorns we wore, the curse of the cross he suffered,-- who could have imagined that he, the Son of the infinite God, the Majesty of heaven, the King of glory, would bow his righteous soul to such a sacrifice! For sinners, for sinners, he died. Wonder, O heavens, and be astonished, O earth! The Son of God has died on the shameful cross, that the world might not perish; he died to bring life, everlasting life, to all who shall believe.
Can we look to the cross of Calvary, and then question the love of Jesus? The stone is rolled away from the sepulcher; Christ has risen. Rejoice, O rejoice, that there is hope for you. Pray to the Lord Jesus that a holy influence may be brought into your life, an influence which shall subdue every passion, hush every murmuring thought, exalt your affections, and purify your heart. "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life," or the crown of righteousness. Look up, look up, come out of the cave of unbelief, and stand with God. If you dwell upon your trials, you will have a hopeless life. If you look beyond the shadow to Jesus, your only hope, you will see the bright beams of the Sun of righteousness.
Learn the lessons of meekness and lowliness in the school of Christ. Realize how much he bore for us, and then count it not a mark of God's anger that you have some trials to bear for Jesus. If you trust God, the trials will always prove a blessing, and your faith will come forth the brighter, the stronger, the purer. Satan is always trying to press the soul into distrust of God, and therefore we must educate the mind to trust him. Talk faith and hope when Satan says, as did the wife of Job, "Curse God, and die." If you trust God, you will see more reason to trust him. As you talk of his goodness, you will see more of his love to talk about. Thus the mind may be trained to live in the brightness of the Sun of righteousness, and not in the shadow which Satan casts athwart our path. Hope in God, who is the health of our countenance, and our God. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 68, #36)
The work of the Christian mother begins in the home circle, in making her home what it should be,--pleasant to her husband, pleasant to her children. My sister, has God intrusted you with the responsibilities of a mother? You have a great work, a holy calling. If you are one of those who are to be the light of the world, that light is to shine in your home. Here you are to exemplify the Christian graces, to be lovable, patient, kind, yet firm. You are to be a laborer together with God, and you need to learn right methods, and acquire tact for the training of your little ones, that they may keep the way of the Lord. You need to seek constantly the highest culture of mind and soul that you may bring to the education and training of your children a restful spirit, a loving heart; that you may imbue them with pure aspirations, and cultivate in them a love for things honest and pure and holy. As a humble child of God, learn in the school of Christ; seek constantly to improve your powers, that you may do the most perfect, thorough work at home, by both precept and example.
In this work you have the help of the Lord; but if you ignore your duty as a wife and mother, and hold out your hands for the Lord to put another class of work in them, be sure that he will not contradict himself; he points you to the duty you have to do at home. If you have the idea that some work greater and holier than this has been intrusted to you, you are under a deception. By faithfulness in your own home, working for the souls of those who are nearest to you, you may be gaining a fitness to work for Christ in a wider field. But be sure that those who are neglectful of their duty in the home circle are not prepared to work for other souls.
Your children need a mother's care. Never did your sons in their helpless babyhood need a mother more than in their boyhood and youth. Your daughters also need a watchful guardianship of an affectionate Christian mother. Do not leave them to become demoralized by improper associations. The children need to be instructed, to be guided in safe paths, to be kept from vice, to be won by kindness, and by diligent training to be confirmed in well-doing. The Saviour discerns a value and dignity in every soul, because of the image of God which it bears. He died that your children might have the gift of eternal life. He looks upon them with divine compassion. Their souls may be saved unto eternal life, and they are just as precious as the souls of others. You have before your own door a little plot of ground to care for, and God will hold you responsible for this work which he has left in your hands. Through earnest prayer and study, you may become wise in your home, learning the different dispositions of your children, and carefully noting their behavior. You may have at home a little school, of which you shall be the teacher. If you seek wisdom from the Lord to understand his way and to keep it, he will give you wisdom and grace.
When we give ourselves unreservedly to the Lord, the simple, commonplace duties of home life will be seen in their true importance, and we shall perform them in accordance with the will of God. We are to be vigilant, watching for the coming of the Son of man; and we must also be diligent; working as well as waiting is required; there must be union of the two. This will balance the Christian character, making it well developed, symmetrical. We should not feel that we are to neglect everything else, and give ourselves up to meditation, study, or prayer; neither are we to be full of bustle and hurry and work, to the neglect of personal piety. Waiting and watching and working are to be blended. "Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord."
My sister, you may be bound about with poverty, your lot in life may be humble, but Jesus does not forsake you because of this. God has made you a trustee, a steward, in your home; seek to educate yourself for this work, and he will be by your side to bless all your endeavors, that by and by, when the reckoning time for the administration of your trust shall come, he may say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."
Mothers who do not love their children too much, may yet reveal their love unwisely, to the injury of the children. The love must be sanctified, and then the mother will not act from impulse, but from principle. Then she will bring up her children to be pure, and discipline them to obedience.
Your interest in your children must not make you a slave to wait on them. Teach them to help you. Boys and girls may be kept busy, trained to be faithful and diligent in the little things. It may seem to you that they hinder more than they help, but let them never know this. You are their teacher, and should train them to be useful, to do things tastefully and thoroughly. This is one of life's great lessons that is essential to the well-being of your children. "He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much." You can preoccupy the minds of your children. Active brains and hands must be employed in something useful, as the parents may suggest, else they will be occupied with evil things, as Satan may direct. Parents may be teachers in a sacred sense, not only training the children to be useful in the common, homely duties of life, but all the time giving them illustrations of the higher life. Thus you are bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Children who have been properly educated, who love to be useful, to help father and mother, will extend a knowledge of correct ideas and Biblical principles to all with whom they associate. Such a family will have a powerful influence in favor of Christianity. But in order to secure this result, parents must not neglect their work or lose sight of their responsibility. Infidels assemble and devise plans to spread the poison of infidelity. The papists are untiring in plying their subtle arts to suppress the Bible, the living oracles which exalt God as supreme. They want the control of men's consciences. They want to enslave the soul, so that finite man shall occupy the place where God should be. And shall Christians who bow to God alone as infallible, be dull and inactive? Shall they not seek to understand what they can do to build up barriers against the tide of evil? Will they not educate and train their own children to become intelligent Christians, so that they may represent the character of Christ?
If parents believe that sin is an offense to God, and that none but the pure and holy can enter heaven; and if they are consistent in their belief, they will seek wisdom and grace from Christ, that by every means in their power they may teach their children to resist and overcome sin. Parents have given their children their own stamp of character; and if some traits are unduly developed in one child, and another reveals a different phase of character which is unlovely, who should be as patient and forbearing and kind as the parents? who should be as earnest as they to cultivate in their children the precious graces of character revealed in Christ Jesus?
Mothers do not half appreciate their privileges and possibilities. They do not seem to understand that they can be in the highest sense missionaries, laborers together with God in aiding their children to build up a symmetrical character. This is the great burden of the work given them of God. The mother is God's agent to Christianize her family. She is to exemplify Biblical religion, showing how its influence is to control us in its everyday duties and pleasures, teaching her children that by grace alone can they be saved, through faith, which is the gift of God. This constant teaching as to what Christ is to us and to them, his love, his goodness, his mercy, revealed in the great plan of redemption, will make a hallowed, sacred impress on the heart.
Scolding and fretting, gathering clouds and gloom about the soul, will bring only a shadow and discouragement in the home life. Let not one word of fretfulness harshness, or passion escape your lips. The grace of Christ awaits your demand. His Spirit will take control of your heart and conscience, presiding over your words and deeds. Never forfeit your self-respect by hasty, thoughtless words. See that your words are pure, your conversation holy. Give your children an example of that which you wish them to be.
The mother needs constant sympathy and help from the father of her children. The parents must be perfectly united in their work, and must seek help from God. While keenly alive to their sacred responsibilities, they should not become distrustful because they see that their work is imperfect, and does not secure the results they hoped for. Keep sowing the seed for time and eternity. All heaven is watching the efforts of the Christian parent.
The husband and father, the wife and mother, are in God's sight, in their religious life, just what they are in their home life. Father and mother, bind your hearts in closest, happiest union. Do not grow apart, but bind yourselves more closely to each other; then you are prepared to bind your children's hearts to you by the silken cord of love.
Mothers, be careful of your precious moments. Remember that your children are passing forward where they may be beyond your educating and training. You may be to them the very model of all that is good and pure and noble. Identify your interest with theirs. God does not intend that any other should do the mother's work in the training of her child. He wills that she shall rise to meet her sacred responsibility; but this can never be done while mothers so largely neglect their duty.
Nothing can have a greater claim upon the mother than her children have; and when their needs are lightly regarded, when she sets aside their claims, in order to devote herself to visitors, she is robbing her children of their God-given rights. No absorption in business on the part of parents can warrant a departure from God's plans and ways. Your first and grandest work is for your children. Let the light of heavenly grace irradiate your character, that there may be sunlight in the home. Let there be peace, pleasant words, and cheerful countenances. This is not blind affection, not that tenderness which encourages sin by unwise indulgence, and which is the veriest cruelty, not that false love which allows the children to rule, and makes the parents slaves to their caprices. There should be no parental partiality, no oppression; the combined influence of affection and authority will place the right mold upon the family.
We have Bible rules for the guidance of all, both parents and children, a high and holy standard, from which there can be no swerving. God's injunctions must be paramount. Let the father and mother of the family spread out God's word before him, the searcher of hearts, and ask in sincerity, "What hath God said?" By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 68, #37)
It is our wisdom to fear God and to love him with all the heart. He is to be first and last and best in everything. We are not to be like the beasts of the field, who eat and drink, with no thought of God, no idea of gratitude to their Creator for his daily benefits. All of us, as beings blessed of God with reasoning powers, with intellect and judgment, should acknowledge our accountability to God. The life he has given us is a sacred responsibility, and no moment of it is to be trifled with; for we shall have to meet it again in the record of the Judgment. In the books of heaven our lives are as accurately traced as in the picture on the plate of the photographer. Not only are we held accountable for what we have done, but for what we have left undone. We are held to account for our undeveloped characters, our unimproved opportunities.
Dear youth, be sure your sin will find you out. The Saviour has said, "There is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known." This statement is too decided and plain to be misunderstood. Sins committed in secret, whether in the brightness of day, in the darkness of night, in the wilderness, in the city, in solitude however lone, will not escape the notice of God. Every soul is to be rewarded as his works have been. The eye that never slumbers, has watched all your movements, detected all your faults, and has not failed to note your neglect and indifference, your contempt for the just claims of God. You may have concealed your lack of interest from your father and mother, from sisters and brothers; but the true state of your heart toward the law of God is not hidden from Heaven.
David exclaimed, "Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee!" Nothing is hidden from the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. When we realize the fact that our sins are all to be revealed in the day of Judgment, does it not make you tremble? No one but he whose heart is calloused with sin can reflect upon this terrible truth without serious forebodings. If we do not awake to repentance in this time of probation, and make our peace with God now, we shall awake to it when fear shall come like a desolation, when the cities of men, with all their splendid architecture, shall be overthrown, and the heavens depart as a scroll when it is rolled together.
Every moment of our life is intensely real. Life is no play; it is charged with awful importance, fraught with eternal responsibilities. When we look upon life from this point of view, we realize our need of divine help. The conviction will be forced upon us that a life without Christ will be a life of utter failure; but if Jesus abides with us, we shall live for a purpose. We shall then realize that without the power of God's grace and Spirit, we cannot reach the high standard he has placed before us. There is a divine excellence of character to which we are to attain; and in striving to meet the standard of heaven, divine incentives will urge us on, the mind will become balanced, and the restlessness of the soul will be banished in repose in Christ.
How often do we come in contact with people who are never happy. They fail of enjoying the contentment and peace that Jesus can give. They profess to be Christians, but they do not comply with the conditions upon which the promise of God is fulfilled. Jesus has said, "Come unto me, all ye that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me: for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." The reason why many are in a state of unrest is that they are not learning in the school of the Master. The submissive, self-sacrificing child of God understands by experience what it is to have the peace of Christ. True followers of Christ know that they must take his yoke, share his trials, carry his burdens. But they do not feel like complaining; for the meekness and lowliness of Christ makes the yoke easy and the burden light.
It is love of selfish ease, love of pleasure, your self-esteem, self-exaltation, that prevents you from learning the precious life-lessons in the school of Christ. It is the Christian's duty not to permit surroundings and circumstances to mold him; but to live above surroundings, fashioning his character according to the divine Model. He is to be faithful in whatever place he is found. He is to do his duty with fidelity, improving the opportunities given him of God, making the most of his capabilities. With an eye single to the glory of God, he is to work for Jesus wherever he may be. We are to surrender the will, the heart, to God, and become acquainted with Christ. We must deny self, take up the cross, and follow Jesus. Not one of us can reach heaven, save by the narrow, cross-bearing way. But how many wear the cross as an ornament of the person, but fail to bear the cross in practical, everyday life.
How many profess to be the servants of Christ; but how loth are they to bear reproach and shame, for his sake. The cross is not to please self; it lies directly across the path of the pleasure-lover, and cuts through our carnal desires and selfish inclinations. The cross rebukes all unfaithfulness in your labors. If you bear the cross of Christ, you will not shun responsibilities or burden bearing. If you are abiding in Christ, learning in his school, you will not be rude, dishonest, or unfaithful. The cross of Christ cuts to the root of all unholy passions and practices. Whatever the nature of your work, you will carry the principles of Christ into your labor, and identify yourself with the task given into your hands. Your interest will be one with that of your employer. If you are paid for your time, you will realize that the time for work is not your own,--but belongs to the one who pays you for it. If you are careless and extravagant, wasting material, squandering time, failing to be painstaking and diligent, you are registered in the books of heaven as an unfaithful servant.
Those who are unfaithful in the least of temporal affairs, will be unfaithful in responsibilities of greater importance. They will rob God, and fail of meeting the claims of the divine law. They will not realize that their talents belong to God, and should be devoted to his service. Those who do nothing for their employers except that which is commanded them, when they know that the prosperity of the work depends on some extra exertion on their part, will fail to be accounted faithful servants. There are many things not specified that wait to be done, that come directly under the notice of the one employed. Leaks and losses occur that might be prevented if painstaking diligence and unselfish effort were manifested, if the principles of love enjoined upon us by Jesus were carried out in the life of those who profess his name. But many are working in the cause of God who are registered as "eye-servants." It is the most abhorrent form of selfishness that leads the worker to neglect the improvement of time, the care of property, because he is not directly under the eye of the master. But do such workers imagine that their neglects are not noticed, their unfaithfulness not recorded? Could their eyes be opened, they would see that a Watcher looks on, and all their carelessness is recorded in the books of heaven.
Those who are unfaithful to the work of God, are lacking in principle; their motives are not of a character to lead them to choose the right under all circumstances. The servants of God are to feel at all times that they are under the eye of their employer. He who watched the sacrilegious feast of Belshazzar is present in all our institutions, in the counting-room of the merchant, in the private workshop; and the bloodless hand is as surely recording your neglect, as it recorded the awful judgment of the blasphemous king. Belshazzar's condemnation was written in words of fire, "Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting;" and if you fail to fulfill your God-given obligations, your condemnation will be the same.
There are many who profess to be Christians who are not united with Christ. Their daily life, their spirit, testifies that Christ is not formed within, the hope of glory. They cannot be depended upon, they cannot be trusted. They are anxious to reduce their service to the minimum of effort, and at the same time exact the highest of wages. The name "servant" applies to every man; for we are all servants, and it will be well for us to see what mold we are taking on. Is it the mold of unfaithfulness, or of fidelity?
Is it the disposition generally among servants to do as much as possible? Is it not rather the prevalent fashion to slide through the work as quickly, as easily, as possible, and obtain the wages at as little cost to themselves as they can? The object is not to be as thorough as possible, but to get the remuneration. Those who profess to be the servants of Christ should not forget the injunction of the apostle Paul, "Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eye-service, as men-pleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: and whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ."
Those who enter the work as "eye-servants," will find that their work cannot bear the inspection of men or of angels. The thing essential for successful work is a knowledge of Christ; for this knowledge will give sound principles of right, impart a noble, unselfish spirit, like that of our Saviour whom we profess to serve. Faithfulness, economy, care-taking, thoroughness, should characterize all our work, wherever we may be, whether in the kitchen, in the workshop, in the office of publication, in the Sanitarium, in the College, or wherever we are stationed in the vineyard of the Lord. "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 68, #38)
Every eye in the unfallen universe is bent upon those who profess to be Christ's followers. Here, in this atom of a world, an earnest warfare is going on,--a battle in which Christ, our substitute and surety, has engaged in our behalf, and conquered. Now we, Christ's purchased possession, must become soldiers of his cross, and conquer in our own behalf, on our own account, through the power and wisdom given us from above. The influence of the cross of Calvary is to vanquish every earthly and spiritual evil power; and we need to know the plan of the battle, that we may work in harmony with Christ.
The promulgation of the gospel is not a haphazard work, operating at random. In the aggressive warfare of truth against error, light against darkness, there is work to be done both in heaven and on earth, and the workers on the earth are to move in perfect harmony with the heavenly agencies. Then the world will see the work moving in wisdom, and although they cannot understand or explain it, they note the effect. But when we, the human agencies, step outside of God's plan, the beauty and harmony of the arrangement is marred, and the work intrusted to our hands does not present the divine characteristics. Adherence to God's plan, which is comprehensive and connected in all its parts, is positively essential to success in the conversion of many souls to Christ.
Human influence, deriving its efficiency from heaven, is God's instrumentality through which the gospel is to be diffused, and its transforming effects revealed. We are to influence one another for good, keeping the Lord ever before us, working with the unseen world in view. The work of Satan is to interpose his sophistry, his lying statements, to lead men to believe a lie rather than the words of God, which are the truth. It is thus that he leads men into presumptuous sins. Satan is ever at work to keep out of our minds the doctrine of the cross of Christ; for this is the counter-influence through which sin is to be vanquished and man be brought back to his allegiance to the law of God.
The cross stands alone, a great center in the world. It does not find friends, but it makes them. It creates its own agencies. Christ proposes that men shall become laborers together with God. He makes human beings his instrumentalities for drawing all men unto himself. A divine agency is sufficient only through its operation on human hearts with its transforming power, making men co-laborers with God.
"Be ye perfect," said Christ, "even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." There cannot be a complete, harmonious development of Christian character when Christians exclude themselves from the world; for in this they are not following the example of Christ. "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil." Not in the closet alone is perfection of character reached, nor solely in the public assembly; it should be our first work to seek the Lord with humble hearts, to learn his way; then we are to take him with us into the public assembly. Thought and action, prayer and work, are all essential. "Ye are laborers together with God." It is our privilege to be so closely connected with God that we shall know his will.
I have seen so much of the disposition to ask, "Am I my brother's keeper?" that I have wondered how the Lord could bear with our perversity. The True Witness looks on, beholding all our works.
He marks the selfish, self-caring spirit shown toward our brethren which is so unlike the spirit and works of Christ, which misrepresents his character. As we drink at the fountain and are refreshed, we are to search for other souls who are thirsty, and in love direct them to the same fountain, that they may be refreshed. If we do this, the choicest of heaven's blessings will be ours.
Mighty truths have been committed to human agencies, truths which, when unfolded, quicken into activity the minds of men and women who are in the darkness of error, and call to them, "Come; for all things are now ready." The knowledge of truth is the great power of God unto salvation to all who believe. The atoning sacrifice, the righteousness of Christ, is to us the vital center of all truth. In the cross of Calvary, mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other. The law and the gospel are in perfect harmony; they are interwoven as the warp and the woof. They shed a flood of light amid the moral darkness of the world, stimulating, renovating, sanctifying, all who will believe the truth, all who will gladly and gratefully accept the light coming from the throne of God.
We see the great need of missionary work to carry the truth not only to foreign countries, but to those who are near us. Close around us are cities and towns in which no efforts are made to save souls. Why should not families who know the present truth settle in these cities and villages, to set up there the standard of Christ, working in humility, not in their own way, but in God's way, to bring the light before those who have no knowledge of it? When the Church shall truly have the spirit of the message, they will throw all their energies into the work of saving the souls for whom Christ has died. They will enter new fields. Some who are not ordained ministers will be laborers together with God in visiting the churches, and trying to strengthen the things that remain, that are ready to die. There will be laymen who will move into towns and cities, and into apparently out-of-the-way places, that they may let the light which God has given them, shine forth to others. Some whom they meet will not appear to be the most promising subjects, but the only question should be, Will they come into harmony with Christ? will they become partakers of his spirit, so that their influence, in precept and example, will present the attractions of the Author of truth and righteousness? In places where the truth is not known, brethren who are adapted to the work, might hire a hall, or some other suitable place to assemble, and gather together all who will come. Then let them instruct the people in the truth. They need not sermonize, but take the Bible, and let God speak directly out of his word. If there is only a small number present, they can read a "Thus saith the Lord," without a great parade or excitement; just read and explain the simple gospel truth, and sing and pray with them.
There are many souls who are starving for the bread of life. You may not know where to find them; but Jesus knows, and he will lead them into the light. It may seem to you that this is not a heroic work, nothing that will bring any special glory to yourselves; but that is not what you should labor for. You must walk humbly with God. Let him work; let him lead you. Consecrate yourselves to him daily, as workers, and submit yourselves to the influence of his Holy Spirit.
There are some churches that are doing very little except to get into trouble, and then call the ministers of Christ from important labor to settle their perplexities and grievances which are the result of their own unsanctified course of action. It is the wickedness of the human heart that creates dissension. This it is that is raising the greatest barriers to the union which Christ prayed might exist among his disciples. Men and women who profess to love God will sit down at ease in their fancied prosperity, content to while away precious, golden moments in pleasing themselves, and doing nothing to enlighten those who have never heard the truth. It is for us to fulfill the commission of Christ, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
Let there be in every church, well-organized companies of workers to labor in the vicinity of that church. Put self behind you, and let Christ go before as your life and power. Let this work be entered into without delay, and the truth will be as leaven in the earth. When such forces are set to work in all our churches, there will be a renovating, reforming, energizing power in the churches, because the members are doing the very work that God has given them to do. Let all our churches be active, zealous, filled will enthusiasm by the Spirit and power of God. It is the intelligent use of the means, the capabilities, the powers, given you by God, consecrated to his service, that will tell in the communities where you may labor. It may be that you will have to make a very small beginning in some places; but do not be discouraged; the work will grow larger,and you will be doing the work of an evangelist. Look at Christ's manner of working, and strive to labor as he did.
When Jesus came to this world, he found it in a deplorable state of sin and rebellion. He did not move far away from this rebellious multitude, but he came and dwelt among them. Because iniquity abounded, he came close to man in sympathy and tender, pitying love. In Christ dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; yet he came to earth to be one with the oppressed, the poor, the needy; he came to demonstrate how much a God can love, a Saviour suffer, in order to save men from perdition, and bring eternal life within their reach.
Character is influence. Christ's work was to draw minds into sympathy with his own divine mind. He gave his whole self as a sacrifice. We need to regard the Lord Jesus as our personal Saviour. When we do this, we shall, by the grace of Christ, make simple, tender, earnest personal appeals to those who are not Christians. The trouble with many in the church is, they will do anything but the thing which is of the most importance, that which God wants them to do. They feel that they cannot approach men and women in simplicity, and try in the name and strength of Jesus to come close to their hearts. This heart-to-heart work is strangely neglected. If those who profess to be Christians, believing the truth for these last days, would consider the result of their inaction, their wicked indifference to the welfare of the souls for whom Christ has paid the price of his own life, there would be a decided change for the better in our world. By Mrs. E. G. White. (Concluded next week.)
(Vol. 68, #39)
Every work is to be brought in review before God. Every intrusted talent is to be estimated, to see what improvements have been made upon it. God knows what you have done in blessing others, and what you have not done. The True Witness says, "I know thy works." He sees who are the willing, faithful workers, and who are the slothful servants.
I appeal to every man and woman who shall read these words, to remember that a reckoning is to be made by the One whom God hath appointed to judge the world. Everyone must then give account of the talents intrusted to him. "None of us liveth to himself." Christ said, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." Jesus, "for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame," sacrificing his life that all who should believe on him might not perish, but have everlasting life. By this great act the love of God was revealed, and as many as believe on Christ are saved.
Here are the mighty agencies for moving the world. The cross of Calvary brings under tribute every power of those who believe on Christ, that they may be instrumentalities for the saving of souls. Human effort is to be united with the divine; it must derive its efficacy from heaven. We are to be laborers together with God. The Lord is represented as opening the hearts of men and women to receive the word, and the Holy Spirit makes the word effective. Those who receive the truth have that faith which leads to decided action, which works by love, and purifies the soul. Thus the truth is a sanctifier. Its transforming power is seen on the character. When it has been admitted into the inner sanctuary of the soul, it does not operate superficially, leaving the heart unchanged; it does not awaken the emotions merely, to the neglect of the judgment and will; but it goes down to the very depths of the nature, and brings the whole being into harmonious action.
Now the work of him who is truly converted, begins in earnest. He must work as Christ worked. He must not live any longer to himself, but wholly for the Lord. The world has lost him; for his life is hid with Christ in God. That means that self no longer has the supremacy. The light shining from the cross of Calvary holds him in its bright rays, and the Spirit has taken of the things of Christ, and revealed them to him in such an attractive light as to have a transforming effect on his habits and practices, showing that he is a new creature in Christ Jesus. Every dollar he recognizes as of value, not to gratify his taste or lust, not for him to hide in the earth, but to do good with, to help win souls to the truth, to build up the kingdom of Christ. His enjoyment is the same as that of Christ,--in seeing souls saved. Why are we doing so little for the salvation of men, when there is so much to do? Why are we doing so little to draw men and women and children to Christ?
In union there is strength; in disunion there is only weakness. We should work most diligently to answer the prayer of Christ that his disciples might be one, as he is one with the Father. If we are united to Christ, the formation of a church will be a benefit to all its members; for by entering into this church union, we pledge ourselves to help one another. The Holy Spirit does not lead us into this to be a mutual admiration society, but to put forth all the powers of our being to help one another, in sympathy, in love, to be more like Jesus.
The wrongs existing in the society of the world should never, never find sanction among Christians. There should be no sympathy with the rich in their oppression of the poor, no encouragement given the poor in their jealousy and envy of the rich. There should be no sanctioning of the strong and influential in trampling upon the weak and helpless. "All ye are brethren." Exact and impartial is the Lord God of heaven. More than this, God demands that you open your hand wide to the needy, and have the tenderest compassion for those who are afflicted, or who are suffering from want. If you turn carelessly from their cry, the Lord will just as surely turn away from your prayer, and he will not hear you in your distress.
If you have the spirit of Christ, you will love as brethren; you will honor the humble disciple in his poor home, because God loves him as much as he loves you, and it may be more. He recognizes no caste. He places his own signet upon men, not by their rank, not by their wealth, not by intellectual greatness, but by their oneness with Christ. It is purity of heart, singleness of purpose, that constitutes the true value of human beings. The attention that is shown to the wealthy, and the neglect of the poor, will be remembered by the Lord, and he will place you where you will pass through experiences similar to those of the afflicted ones who suffered while you passed by on the other side.
All who are living in daily communion with Christ, will place his estimate upon men. They will reverence the good and pure, although these are poor in this world's goods. James says, "My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; and ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? If ye fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well: but if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all."
Here is a plain "Thus saith the Lord." Who will be a doer of the word, and not a forgetful hearer? Here is plainly stated the course that the Lord has marked out for Christians to pursue. In social and religious life they should be governed by a resolute purpose to help and bless the needy poor. Avarice, selfishness, and covetousness are idolatry, and are dishonoring to God "Let your conversation be without covetousness. Tenderness, compassion, and benevolence are enjoined upon Christians.
"Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase.' "Therefore, as ye abound in everything, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also,"--Christian liberality. "But to do good and to communicate, forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." "Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life."
Here the obligation is laid upon everyone who has been trusted with our Lord's goods, to communicate the same to the worthy poor, and to give to God's cause as its needs demand. As God has bounteously given us, we should give back to him his own as he makes a place for it to be invested. Thus we honor God with the substance he has placed in our hands. Thus we shall not be living to ourselves.
God's claims underlie all other claims. He lays his hand upon all that he, from his fullness and beneficence, has intrusted to man, and says: "I am the rightful owner of the universe, and these goods are mine. Use them to advance my cause, to build up my kingdom, and my blessing shall rest upon you."
Those who would have the character of Christ must practice his teachings. They must study the Pattern. Then they will reveal a Christlike character in their association with one another, and their united influence will be exerted in helping to transform the character of others. They will drink in the sympathy of Jesus, and exercise the same forbearance, supporting, encouraging, and animating one another in the work, each being a vital member of the organized body, allied to Jesus, growing up into Christ, the living head, unto the full stature of men and women. Then they will shine as lights in the world, being of one judgment, moved by the same Spirit. They will be a distinct power in the world. The mighty cleaver of truth has detached us from the world, and placed us apart, a separate people. "Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." Dwelling in the light of the Sun of Righteousness, we shall shine as lights in the world.
How important that, as we are chosen out of the world, to be separate from it, we should educate and train all our powers in obedience to God's supreme will, that no selfishness may exist among us, that all our work may be done as if done for Christ, not for wages or for applause; that we should not use our intrusted talents of influence and means to please ourselves, but that in all we do, we should manifest the self-denying spirit of Christ. We are not to profess to be Christ's, and then live a lie in our self-care and self-indulgence. We are to come out from the world. "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 68, #40)
"Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression and the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinances of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God. Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labors. Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high."
The people whom the prophet is commanded to warn are blinded, under a deception. They have a form of godliness, and regard themselves as entitled to special favor and blessing, because they make a high profession and keep up a round of religious service. This nourishes their self-complacency, and they feel as the young man felt who came to Christ, claiming to have kept all the commandments, and asked, "What lack I yet?" Jesus put his finger upon the plague spot of the young man's soul, when he answered, "Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me." This young man flattered himself that he was keeping all the commandments of God; but was he?--No. He did not love God supremely; for he loved his wealth, which was given him only in trust, more than he loved God; and he did not love his neighbors as himself; for he was not willing to distribute his riches among them. He loved his property more than he loved the souls for whom Christ was ready to sacrifice his own life.
The young man had asked, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" in his self-complacency, thinking that the Lord would commend him for his righteousness. He could not see that he lacked anything. But the Lord Jesus read his heart as an open book; he saw what the young man did not see. Jesus laid bare the defects in his character. He showed that the young man did not love God supremely. Had he done this, he would have loved his neighbor as himself. Ignorant of the far-reaching claims of the law of God, he thought he had kept all the commandments from his youth up. As the Saviour showed him his lack, how gladly should he have accepted the conditions on which his earthly treasure might be exchanged for an enduring substance in the heavens! But he went away sorrowful.
Here was demonstrated his lack of reverence for Christ, and of real faith in him. Had he truly believed him to be the Son of God, he would have accepted his words as divine authority. Like Peter, John, and many other disciples, he would have unhesitatingly obeyed the word, "Come, follow me." Jesus knew that if the young ruler followed him, he would practice his self-denial and self-sacrifice, and would lay hold by faith on the realities of the unseen world. The young man was sorrowful that he could not have both worlds, but he decided that he could not renounce the earthly for the heavenly, and thus he departed from Christ. How many are doing as did this young man,--holding fast the things precious to them, and losing the eternal weight of glory?
The house of Jacob, at the time this warning was given to Isaiah, appeared to be a very zealous people, seeking God daily, and delighting to know his ways; but in reality they were filled with presumptuous self-confidence. They were not walking in the truth. Goodness, mercy, and love were not practiced. While presenting an appearance of sorrow for their sins, they were cherishing pride and avarice. At the very time when they were showing such outward humiliation, they would exact hard labor from those under them or in their employ. They placed a high estimate on all the good that they had done, but a very low estimate on the services of others. They despised and oppressed the poor. And their fasting only gave them a higher opinion of their own goodness.
There are sins of this same character among us today, and they bring the rebuke of God upon his church. Wherever such sins are found, seasons of fasting and prayer are indeed necessary; but they must be accompanied with sincere repentance and decided reformation. Without such contrition of soul, these seasons only increase the guilt of the wrongdoer. The Lord has specified the fast he has chosen, the one he will accept. It is that which bears fruit to his glory, in repentance, in devotion, in true piety. "Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?"
In the fast that God has chosen, mercy, tenderness, and compassion will be exercised. Avarice will be put away, and fraud and oppression will be repented of and renounced. All the authority and influence will be used to help the poor and oppressed. If this were the condition of the world, it would no more be a proverb, "Truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter;" "he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey." But with Job we might say, "I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him. The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy. I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem. I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame. I was a father to the poor: and the cause which I knew not I searched out." Again he says, "If I did despise the cause of my manservant or of my maidservant, when they contended with me; what then shall I do when God riseth up? and when he visiteth, what shall I answer him? . . . If I have withheld the poor from their desire, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail; or have eaten my morsel myself alone, and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof; . . . if I have seen any perish for want of clothing, or any poor without covering; if his loins have not blessed me, and if he were not warmed with the fleece of my sheep; if I have lifted up my hand against the fatherless, when I saw my help in the gate: then let mine arm fall from my shoulder blade, and mine arm be broken from the bone. For destruction from God was a terror to me, and by reason of his highness I could not endure." If this same fear, and this love of righteousness, were in our churches now, what a transformation there would be!
"Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; and the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. . . . And they that be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations, and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in. If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable; and shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it."
Here are given the characteristics of those who shall be reformers, who will bear the banner of the third angel's message, those who avow themselves God's commandment-keeping people, and who honor God, and are earnestly engaged, in the sight of all the universe, in building up the old waste places. Who is it that calls them, The repairers of the breach, The restorers of paths to dwell in?--It is God. Their names are registered in heaven as reformers, restorers, as raising the foundations of many generations. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 68, #44)
In the work of educating the youth in our schools, it will be a difficult matter to retain the influence of God's Holy Spirit, and at the same time hold fast to erroneous principles. The light shining upon those who have eyes to see, cannot be mingled with the darkness of heresy and error found in many of the textbooks recommended to the students in our colleges. Both teachers and pupils have thought that in order to obtain an education, it was necessary to study the productions of writers who teach infidelity, because their works contain some bright gems of thought. But who was the orginator of these gems of thought? It was God and God alone; for he is the source of all light. Are not all things essential for the health and growth of the spiritual and moral nature found in the pages of Holy Writ? Is not Christ our living head? And are not we to grow up in him to the full stature of men and women? Can an impure fountain send forth sweet waters? Why should we wade through the mass of error contained in the works of pagans and infidels, for the sake of obtaining the benefit of a few intellectual truths, when all truth is at our command?
Man can accomplish nothing good without God. He is the originator of every ray of light that has pierced the darkness of the world. All that is of value comes from God, and belongs to him. There is a reason that the agents of the enemy sometimes display remarkable wisdom. Satan himself was educated and disciplined in the heavenly courts, and he has a knowledge of good as well as of evil. He mingles the precious with the vile, and this is what gives him his power of deceiving the sons of men. But because Satan has stolen the livery of heaven in order that he may exercise an influence in his usurped dominions, shall those who have been sitting in darkness and have seen a great light, turn from the light to recommend darkness? Shall those who have known the oracles of God recommend our students to study the books that express pagan or infidel sentiments, that they may become intelligent? Satan has his agents, educated after his methods, inspired by his spirit, and adapted to do his works; but shall we cooperate with them? Shall we, as Christians, recommend the works of his agents as valuable, even essential to the attainment of an education?
The Lord himself has signified that schools should be established among us in order that true knowledge may be obtained. No teacher in our schools should suggest the idea that, in order to have the right discipline, it is essential to study textbooks expressing pagan and infidel sentiments. Students who are thus educated, are not competent to become educators in their turn; for they are filled with the subtle sophistries of the enemy. The study of works that in any way express infidel sentiments is like handling black coals; for a man cannot be undefiled in mind who thinks along the line of skepticism. In going to such sources for knowledge, are we not turning away from the snow of Lebanon to drink from the turbid water of the valley?
Men who turn away from the knowledge of God, have placed their minds under the control of their master, Satan, and he trains them to be his servants. The less the productions expressing infidel views are brought before the youth, the better. Evil angels are ever on the alert that they may exalt before the minds of the youth that which will do them injury, and as books expressing infidel and pagan sentiments are read, these unseen agents of evil seek to impress those who study them with the spirit of questioning and unbelief. Those who drink from these polluted channels do not thirst for the waters of life; for they are satisfied with the broken cisterns of the world. They think they have the treasures of knowledge, when they are hoarding that which is but wood and hay and stubble, not worth gaining, not worth keeping. Their self-esteem, their idea that a superficial knowledge of things constitutes education, makes them boastful and self-satisfied, when they are as were the Pharisees, ignorant of the Scriptures and the power of God.
O that our youth would treasure up the knowledge that is imperishable, that they can carry with them into the future, immortal life, the knowledge that is represented as gold and silver and precious stones. The class of educators and learners who deem themselves wise, know nothing as they ought to know it. They need to learn meekness and lowliness in the school of Christ, that they may esteem highly that which heaven regards as excellent. Those who receive a valuable education, one that will be as enduring as eternity, will not be regarded as the world's best educated men. But the Scriptures declare that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." This kind of knowledge is below par in the estimation of the world, and yet it is essential for every youth to become wise in the Scriptures, if he would have eternal life. The apostle says, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." This is broad enough. Let all seek to comprehend, to the full extent of their powers, the meaning of the word of God. A mere superficial reading of the inspired word will be of little advantage; for every statement made in the sacred pages requires thoughtful contemplation. It is true that some passages do not require as earnest concentration as do others; for their meaning is more evident. But the student of the word of God should seek to understand the bearing of one passage upon another until the chain of truth is revealed to his vision. As veins of precious ore are hidden beneath the surface of the earth, so spiritual riches are concealed in the passages of Holy Writ, and it requires mental effort and prayerful attention to discover the hidden meaning of the word of God. Let every student who values the heavenly treasure put to the stretch his mental and spiritual powers, and sink the shaft deep into the mine of truth, that he may obtain the celestial gold, that wisdom which will make him wise unto salvation.
If half the zeal manifested in seeking to comprehend the bright ideas of infidels, were manifested in studying the plan of salvation, thousands who are now in darkness, would be charmed with the wisdom, the purity, the elevation of the provisions of God in our behalf; they would be lifted out and away from themselves in wonder and amazement at the love and condescension of God in giving his only begotten Son for a fallen race. How is it that many are satisfied to drink at the turbid streams that flow in the murky valley, when they might refresh their souls at the living streams of the mountains? The prophet asks, "Will a man leave the snow of Lebanon which cometh from the rock of the field? Or shall the cold flowing waters that come from another place be forsaken?" The Lord answers, "My people hath forsaken me, they have burned incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths, in a way not cast up."
It is a sad fact that men who have been entrusted with fine capabilities to be employed in the service of God, have prostituted their powers in the service of evil, and laid their talents at the feet of the enemy. They submitted in the most servile bondage to the prince of evil, while rejecting the service of Christ as humiliating and undesirable. They looked upon the work of the follower of Christ as a work below their ambition, that required a stepping down from their greatness, a species of slavery, that would enthrall their powers, and narrow the circle of their influence. He who had made an infinite sacrifice that they might be set free from bondage of evil, was set aside as unworthy their best efforts and most exalted service.
These men had received their talents from God, and every gem of thought by which they had been esteemed worthy of the attention of scholars and thinkers, belongs not to them, but to the God of all wisdom, whom they did not acknowledge. Through tradition, through false education, these men are exalted as the world's educators; but in going to them, students are in danger of accepting the vile with the precious; for superstition, specious reasoning and error, are mingled with portions of true philosophy and instruction. This mingling makes a potion that is poisonous to the soul,--destructive of faith in the God of all truth. Those who have a thirst for knowledge need not go to these polluted fountains; for they are invited to come to the fountain of life and drink freely. Through searching the word of God, they may find the hidden treasure of truth that has long been buried beneath the rubbish of error, human tradition, and opinions of men.
The Bible is the great educator; for it is not possible prayerfully to study its sacred pages without having the intellect disciplined, ennobled, purified, and refined. "Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord. Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will punish all them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised."
Those who claim to be Christians, who profess to believe the truth, and yet drink at the polluted fountains of infidelity, and by precept and example draw others away from the cold, snow-waters of Lebanon, are fools though they profess themselves to be wise. "Hear ye the word which the Lord speaketh unto you, O house of Israel: Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. . . . But the Lord is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting King: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation. Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens. He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion. When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens, and he causeth the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasure. Every man is brutish in his knowledge; every founder is confounded by his graven image; for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them. They are vanity, and the work of errors: in the time of their visitation they shall perish. The portion of Jacob is not like them: for he is the former of all things; and Israel is the rod of his inheritance: The Lord of hosts is his name."
"Thus saith the Lord; cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drouth, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. . . . O Lord, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living waters. Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise."
Let believers in the truth for this time, turn away from authors that teach infidelity. Let not the works of skeptics appear on your library shelves, where your children can have access to them. Let those who have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, no longer deem it an essential feature of a good education to have a knowledge of the writings of those who deny the existence of God, and pour contempt upon his holy word. Give no place to the agents of Satan, since there is nothing by which to vindicate their doings; a clean thing cannot come out of an unclean. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 68, #45)
There are two classes of educators in the world. One class are those whom God makes channels of light, and the other class are those whom Satan uses as his agents, who are wise to do evil. One class contemplates the character of God, and increases in the knowledge of Jesus, whom God hath sent into the world. This class becomes wholly given up to those things which bring heavenly enlightenment, heavenly wisdom to the uplifting of the soul. Every capability of their nature is submitted to God, and their thoughts are brought into captivity to Christ. The other class are in league with the prince of darkness, who is ever on the alert that he may find an opportunity to teach others the knowledge of evil. If place is made for him, he will not be slow to press his way into heart and mind.
There is great need of elevating the standard of righteousness in our schools, to give instruction after God's order. Should Christ enter our institutions for the education of the youth, he would cleanse them as he cleansed the temple, banishing many things that have a defiling influence. Many of the books which the youth study would be expelled, and their places would be filled with others that would inculcate substantial knowledge, and abound in sentiments which might be treasured in the heart, in precepts that might govern the conduct. Is it the Lord's purpose that false principles, false reasoning, and the sophistries of Satan should be kept before the mind of our youth and children? Shall pagan and infidel sentiments be presented to our students as valuable additions to their store of knowledge? The works of the most intellectual skeptic are works of a mind prostituted to the service of the enemy, and shall those who claim to be reformers, who seek to lead the children and youth in the right way, in the path cast up, imagine that God will be pleased with having them present to the youth that which will misrepresent his character, placing him in a false light before the young? Shall the sentiments of unbelievers, the expressions of dissolute men, be advocated as worthy of the student's attention, because they are the productions of men whom the world admires as great thinkers? Shall men professing to believe in God, gather from these unsanctified authors their expressions and sentiments, and treasure them up as precious jewels to be stored away among the riches of the mind?--God forbid.
The Lord bestowed upon these men whom the world admires, priceless intellectual gifts; he endowed them with master minds; but they did not use them to the glory of God. They separated themselves from him as did Satan; but while they separated themselves from him, they still retained many of the precious gems of thought which he had given them, and these they placed in a framework of error to give luster to their own human sentiments, to make attractive the utterances inspired by the prince of evil. It is true that in the writings of pagans and infidels there are found thoughts of an elevated character, which are attractive to the mind. But there is a reason for this. Was not Satan the lightbearer, the sharer of God's glory in heaven, and next to Jesus in power and majesty? In the words of inspiration he is described as one who "sealeth up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty." The prophet says, "Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering. . . . Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou was perfect in thy ways from the day that thou was created, till iniquity was found in thee. . . . Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee. Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffic; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee. All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more."
The greatness and power with which the Creator endowed Lucifer he has perverted; and yet, when it suits his purpose, he can impart to men sentiments that are enchanting? Everything of nature comes from God, yet Satan can inspire his agents with thoughts that appear elevating and noble? Did he not come to Christ with quotations of Scripture when he designed to overthrow him with his specious temptations? This is the way in which he comes to man, as an angel of light, disguising his temptations under an appearance of goodness, and making men believe him to be the friend rather than the enemy of humanity. It is in this way that he has deceived and seduced the race,--beguiling them with subtle temptations, bewildering them with specious deceptions.
Satan has ascribed to God all the evils to which the flesh is heir. He has represented him as a God who delights in the sufferings of his creatures, who is revengeful and implacable. It was Satan who originated the doctrine of eternal torment as a punishment for sin, because in this way he could lead men into infidelity and rebellion, distract souls, and dethrone the human reason.
Heaven, looking down, and seeing the delusions into which men were led, knew that a divine Instructor must come to earth. Men in ignorance and moral darkness must have light, spiritual light; for the world knew not God, and he must be revealed to their understanding. Truth looked down from heaven, and saw not the reflection of her image; for dense clouds of moral darkness and gloom enveloped the world, and the Lord Jesus alone was able to roll back the clouds; for he was the light of the world. By his presence he could dissipate the gloomy shadow that Satan had cast between man and God. Darkness covered the earth, and gross darkness the people. Through the accumulated misrepresentations of the enemy, many were so deceived that they worshiped a false god, clothed with the attributes of the satanic character.
The Teacher from heaven, no less a personage than the Son of God, came to earth to reveal the character of the Father to men, that they might worship him in spirit and in truth. Christ revealed to men the fact that the strictest adherence to ceremony and form would not save them; for the kingdom of God was spiritual in its nature. Christ came to the world to sow it with truth. He held the keys to all the treasures of wisdom, and was able to open doors to science, and to reveal undiscovered stores of knowledge, were it essential to salvation. He presented to men that which was exactly contrary to the representations of the enemy in regard to the character of God, and sought to impress upon men the paternal love of the Father, who "so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." He urged upon men the necessity of prayer, repentance, confession, and the abandonment of sin. He taught them honesty, forbearance, mercy, and compassion, enjoining upon them to love, not only those who loved them, but those who hated them, who treated them despitefully. In this he was revealing to them the character of the Father, who is longsuffering, merciful, and gracious, slow to anger, and full of goodness and truth. Those who accepted his teaching were under the guardian care of angels, who were commissioned to strengthen, to enlighten, that the truth might renew and sanctify the soul.
Christ declares the mission he had in coming to the earth. He says in his last public prayer, "O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it; that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them." When Moses asked the Lord to show him his glory; the Lord said, "I will make all my goodness pass before thee." "And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty. . . . And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped." When we are able to comprehend the character of God as did Moses, we too shall make haste to bow in adoration and praise. Jesus says "that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them." Jesus contemplated nothing less than that the love wherewith the Father loved him should be in the hearts of his children, that they might impart the knowledge of God to others.
O what an assurance is this that the love of God may abide in the hearts of all who believe in him! O what salvation is provided; for he is able to save unto the uttermost all that come unto God by him. In wonder we exclaim, How can these things be? But Jesus will be satisfied with nothing less than this. Those who are partakers of his sufferings here, of his humiliation, enduring for his name's sake, are to have the love of God bestowed upon them as it was upon the Son. One who knows, has said, "The Father himself loveth you." One who has had an experimental knowledge of the length, and breadth, and height, and depth of that love, has declared unto us this amazing fact. This love is ours through faith in the Son of God, therefore a connection with Christ means everything to us. We are to be one with him as he is one with the Father, and then we are beloved by the infinite God as members of the body of Christ, as branches of the living Vine. We are to be attached to the parent stock, and to receive nourishment from the Vine. Christ is our glorified Head, and the divine love flowing from the heart of God rests in Christ, and is communicated to those who have been united to him. This divine love entering the soul inspires it with gratitude, frees it from its spiritual feebleness, from pride, vanity, and selfishness and from all that would deform the Christian character.
Look, O look to Jesus and live. You can but be charmed with the matchless attractions of the Son of God. Christ was God manifest in the flesh, the mystery hidden for ages, and in our acceptance or rejection of the Saviour of the world are involved eternal interests.
To save the transgressor of God's law, Christ, the one equal with the Father, came to live heaven before men, that they might learn to know what it is to have heaven in the heart. He illustrated what man must be to be worthy of the precious boon of the life that measures with the life of God.
The life of Christ was a life charged with a divine message of the love of God, and he longed intensely to impart this love to others in rich measure. Compassion beamed from his countenance, and his conduct was characterized by grace, humility, truth, and love. Every member of his church militant must manifest the same qualities, if he would join the church triumphant. The love of Christ if so broad, so full of glory, that in comparison to it, everything that men esteem as great, dwindles into insignificance. When we obtain a view of it, we exclaim, O the depth of the riches of the love that God bestowed upon men in the gift of his only begotten Son?
When we seek for appropriate language in which to describe the love of God, we find words too tame, to weak, too far beneath the theme, and we lay down our pen, and say, "No, it cannot be described." We can only do as did the beloved disciple, say, "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God." In attempting any description of this love, we feel that we are as an infant lisping its first words. Silently we may adore; for silence in this matter is the only eloquence. This love is past all language to describe. It is the mystery of God in the flesh, God in Christ, and divinity in humanity. Christ bowed down in unparalleled humility, that in his exaltation to the throne of God, he might also exalt those who believe in him, to a seat with him upon his throne. All who look upon Jesus in faith that the wounds and bruises that sin has made will be healed in him, shall be made whole.
The themes of redemption are momentous themes, and only those who are spiritually minded can discern their depth and significance. It is our safety, our life, our joy, to dwell upon the truths of the plan of salvation. Faith and prayer are necessary in order that we may behold the deep things of God. Our minds are so bound about with narrow ideas, that we catch but limited views of the experience it is our privilege to have. How little do we comprehend what is meant by the prayer of the apostle, when he says, "That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 68, #46)
Jesus beheld the human race, ignorant, apostate from God, standing under the penalty of the broken law, and he came to bring deliverance, to offer a complete pardon, signed by the majesty of heaven. If man will accept this pardon, he may be saved; if he rejects it, he will be lost. The wisdom of God alone can unfold the mysteries of the plan of salvation. The wisdom of men may or may not be valuable, as experience shall prove, but the wisdom of God is indispensable, and yet many who profess to be wise are willingly ignorant of the things that pertain to eternal life. Miss what you may in the line of human attainments, but this you must have, faith in the pardon brought to you at infinite cost, or all of wisdom attained in earth, will perish with you.
Were the Sun of righteousness to withdraw his beams of light from the world, we should be left in the darkness of eternal night. Jesus spake as never man spake. He poured out to men the whole treasure of heaven in wisdom and knowledge. He is the light that lighteth every man who cometh into the world. Every phase of truth was evident to him. He did not come to utter uncertain sentiments and opinions; but only to speak truth established upon eternal principles. Then why take the unstable words of men as exalted wisdom, when a greater and certain wisdom is at your command? Men take the writings of scientists, falsely so-called, and seek to make their deductions harmonize with the statements of the Bible. But where there is no agreement, there can be no harmony. Christ declares, "No man can serve two masters." Their interests are sure to clash. Again and again men have attempted to put the Bible and the writings of men upon a common basis; but the attempt has proved a failure; for ye cannot serve God and mammon.
We are in the world, but we are not to be of the world. Jesus entreats that those for whom he died, may not lose their eternal reward by lavishing their affections on the things of this perishing earth, and so cheat themselves out of unending happiness. An enlightened judgment compels us to acknowledge that heavenly things are superior to the things of earth, and yet the depraved heart of man leads him to give precedence to the things of the world. The opinions of great men, the theories of science, falsely so-called, are blended with the truths of Holy Writ.
But the heart that is surrendered to God, loves the truth of God's word; for through the truth the soul is regenerated. The carnal mind finds no pleasure in contemplation of the word of God, but he who is renewed in the spirit of his mind, sees new charms in the living oracles; for divine beauty and celestial light seem to shine in every passage. That which was to the carnal mind a desolate wilderness, to the spiritual mind becomes a land of living streams. That which to the unrenewed heart appeared a barren waste, to the converted soul becomes the garden of God, covered with fragrant buds and blooming flowers.
The Bible has been placed in the background, while the sayings of great men, so-called, have been taken in its stead. May the Lord forgive us the slight we have put upon his word. Though inestimable treasures are in the Bible, and it is like a mine full of precious ore, it is not valued, it is not searched, and its riches are not discovered. Mercy and truth and love are valuable beyond our power to calculate; we cannot have too great a supply of these treasures, and it is in the word of God we find out how we may become possessors of these heavenly riches, and yet why is it that the word of God is uninteresting to many professed Christians? Is it because the word of God is not spirit and is not life? Has Jesus put upon us an uninteresting task, when he commands us to "search the scriptures"? Jesus says, "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." But spiritual things are spiritually discerned, and the reason of your lack of interest is that you lack the Spirit of God. When the heart is brought into harmony with the word, a new life will spring up within you, a new light will shine upon every line of the word, and it will become the voice of God to your soul. In this way you will take celestial observations, and know whither you are going, and be able to make the most of your privileges today.
We should ask the Lord to open our understanding, that we may comprehend divine truth. If we humble our hearts before God, empty them of vanity and pride and selfishness, through the grace abundantly bestowed upon us; if we sincerely desire and unwaveringly believe, the bright beams of the Sun of righteousness will shine into our minds, and illuminate our darkened understanding. Jesus is the light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He is the light of the world, and he bids us come unto him, and learn of him. Jesus was the great teacher. He could have made disclosures on the sciences that would have placed the discoveries of the greatest men in the background as utter littleness; but this was not his mission or his work. He had come to seek and to save that which was lost, and he could not permit himself to be turned from his one object. He allowed nothing to divert him. This work he has given into our hands. Shall we do it?
In the days of Christ the established teachers instructed men in the tradition of the fathers, in childish fables, mingled with the opinions of those who they thought were high authorities. Yet neither high nor low could discern any ray of light in their teaching. What wonder was it that crowds followed in the footsteps of the Lord, and gave him homage as they listened to his words! He revealed truths that had been buried under the rubbish of error, and he freed them from the exactions and traditions of men, and bade them stand fast forever. He rescued truth from its obscurity, and set it in its proper framework, to shine in its original luster. He addressed men in his own name; for authority was vested in himself, and why should men, professing to be his followers, not speak with authority concerning subjects on which he has given light? Why take inferior sources of instruction when Christ is the great teacher who knows all things? Why present inferior authors to the attention of students, when he whose words are spirit and life invites, "Come, . . . and learn of me"?
Shall we not be intensely interested in the lessons of Christ? Shall we not be charmed with the new and glorious light of heavenly truth? This light is above everything that man can present. We can receive light only as we come to the cross and present ourselves at the altar of sacrifice. Here man's weakness is made manifest; here his strength is revealed. Here men see there is power in Christ to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him.
Shall we not be doers of the words of him who knows all things? Shall we not make the Bible the man of our counsel in the education and training of our youth? The word of God is the foundation of all true knowledge, and Christ teaches what men must do in order to be saved. Hitherto the designs of the enemy have been carried out in bringing before our students such books as have taught specious errors, and presented fables that have tempted their carnal appetites. Shall we bring into our schools the sower of tares? Shall we permit men who are called great, and yet who have been taught by the enemy of all truth, to have the education of our youth? Or shall we take the word of God as our guide, and have our schools conducted more after the order of the ancient schools of the prophets?
If the Bible was studied and obeyed; if we had the Spirit of Christ, we should make determined efforts to be laborers together with God. We should better appreciate the worth of the soul; for every soul converted to God means a vessel dedicated to a holy use, a depositary for truth, a bearer of light to others. God expects more of the schools than has yet been brought forth. Christ has said, "Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life; which the son of man shall give you; for him hath God the Father sealed."
Then we shall rightly understand the teaching of God's word, and esteem the truth as the most valuable treasure with which to store the mind. We shall have a constant well-spring of the waters of life. We shall pray as did the psalmist, "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law," and shall find as he did that "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 68, #47)
The schools established among us are matters of grave responsibility; for important interests are involved. In a special manner our schools are a spectacle unto angels and to men. A knowledge of science of all kinds is power, and it is in the purpose of God that advanced science shall be taught in our schools as a preparation for the work that is to precede the closing scenes of earth's history. The truth is to go to the remotest bounds of the earth, through agents trained for the work. But while the knowledge of science is a power, the knowledge which Jesus in person came to impart to the world was the knowledge of the gospel. The light of truth was to flash its bright rays into the uttermost parts of the earth, and the acceptance or rejection of the message of God involved the eternal destiny of souls.
The plan of salvation had its place in the counsels of the Infinite from all eternity. The gospel is the revelation of God's love to men, and means everything that is essential to the happiness and well-being of humanity. The work of God in the earth is of immeasurable importance, and it is Satan's special object to crowd it out of sight and mind, that he may make his specious devices effectual in the destruction of those for whom Christ died. It is his purpose to cause the discoveries of men to be exalted above the wisdom of God. When the mind is engrossed with the conceptions and theories of men to the exclusion of the wisdom of God, it is stamped with idolatry. Science, falsely so-called, has been exalted above God, nature above its maker, and how can God look upon such wisdom?
In the Bible the whole duty of man is defined. Solomon says, "Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man." The will of God is revealed in his written word, and this is the essential knowledge. Human wisdom, familiarity with the languages of different nations, is a help in the missionary work. An understanding of the customs of the people, of the location and time of events, is practical knowledge; for it aids in making the figures of the Bible clear, in bringing out the force of Christ's lessons; but it is not positively necessary to know these things. The wayfaring man may find the pathway cast up for the ransomed to walk in, and there will be no excuse found for anyone who perishes through misapprehension of the Scriptures.
In the Bible every vital principle is declared, every duty made plain, every obligation made evident. The whole duty of man is summed up by the Saviour. He says, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. . . . Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." In the word the plan of salvation is plainly delineated. The gift of eternal life is promised on condition of saving faith in Christ. The drawing power of the Holy Spirit is pointed out as an agent in the work of man's salvation. The rewards of the faithful, the punishment of the guilty, are all laid out in clear lines. The Bible contains the science of salvation for all those who will hear and do the words of Christ.
The apostle says, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." The Bible is its own expositor. One passage will prove to be a key that will unlock other passages, and in this way light will be shed upon the hidden meaning of the word. By comparing different texts treating on the same subject, viewing their bearing on every side, the true meaning of the Scriptures will be made evident.
Many think that they must consult commentaries on the Scriptures in order to understand the meaning of the word of God, and we would not take the position that commentaries should not be studied; but it will take much discernment to discover the truth of God under the mass of the words of men. How little has been done by the church, as a body professing to believe the Bible, to gather up the scattered jewels of God's word into one perfect chain of truth! The jewels of truth do not lie upon the surface, as many suppose. The master mind in the confederacy of evil is ever at work to keep the truth out of sight, and to bring into full view the opinions of great men. The enemy is doing all in his power to obscure heaven's light through educational processes; for he does not mean that men shall hear the voice of the Lord, saying, "This is the way, walk ye in it."
The jewels of truth lie scattered over the field of revelation; but they have been buried beneath human traditions, beneath the sayings and commandments of men, and the wisdom from heaven has been practically ignored; for Satan has succeeded in making the world believe that the words and achievements of men are of great consequence. The Lord God, the Creator of the worlds, at infinite cost has given the gospel to the world. Through this divine agent, glad, refreshing springs of heavenly comfort and abiding consolation have been opened for those who will come to the fountain of life. There are veins of truth yet to be discovered; but spiritual things are spiritually discerned. Minds beclouded with evil cannot appreciate the value of the truth as it is in Jesus. When iniquity is cherished, men do not feel the necessity of making diligent effort with prayer and reflection, to understand that they must know or lose heaven. They have so long been under the shadow of the enemy that they view truth as men behold objects through a smoked and imperfect glass; for all things are dark and perverted in their eyes. Their spiritual vision is feeble and untrustworthy; for they look upon the shadow, and turn away from the light.
But those who profess to believe in Jesus, should ever press to the light. They should daily pray for the light of the Holy Spirit to shine upon the pages of the sacred book, that they may be enabled to comprehend the things of the Spirit of God. We must have implicit trust in God's word, or we are lost. The words of men, however great they may be, are not able to make us perfect, to thoroughly furnish unto all good works. "God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the spirit and belief of the truth." In this text the two agencies in the salvation of man are revealed,--the divine influence, the strong, living faith of those who follow Christ. It is through the sanctification of the spirit and the belief of the truth that we become laborers together with God. God waits for the cooperation of his church. He does not design to add a new element of efficiency to his word; he has done his great work in giving his inspiration to the world. The blood of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the divine word, are ours. The object of all this provision of heaven is before us,--the souls for whom Christ died,--and it depends upon us to lay hold of the promises God has given, and become laborers together with him; for divine and human agencies must cooperate in this work.
The reason that many professed Christians do not have a clear, well-defined experience is that they do not think it is their privilege to understand what God has spoken through his word. After the resurrection of Jesus, two of his disciples were journeying toward Emmaus, and Jesus joined them. But they did not recognize their Lord, and thought he was some stranger, although "beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us; for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our hearts burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the Scriptures? . . . Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures." This is the work that we may look to Christ to do for us; for what the Lord has revealed, is for us and our children forever.
Jesus knew that whatever was presented that was out of harmony with what he came to earth to unfold, was false and delusive. But he said, "Everyone that is of the truth heareth my voice." Having stood in the counsels of God, having dwelt in the everlasting heights of the sanctuary, all elements of truth were in him, and of him; for he was one with God. "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak what we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven." "Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 68, #48)
In the name of my Master I appeal to the young men and women who claim to be sons and daughters of God, to obey the word of God. I appeal to teachers in our schools to set a right example to those with whom they are associated. Those who would be qualified to mold the character of the youth, must be learners in the school of Christ, that they may be meek and lowly of heart as was the divine Pattern. In dress, in deportment, in all their ways, they should exemplify the Christian character, revealing the fact that they are under wise disciplinary rules of the great Teacher. The Christian youth should be in earnest, trained to bear responsibilities with brave heart and willing hand. He should be ready to encounter the trials of life with patience and fortitude. He should seek to form a character after the model of the divine One, following maxims of worth, confirming himself in habits that will enable him to win the victor's crown.
In school life the youth may sow seeds which bear a harvest, not of thorns, but of precious grain for the heavenly garner. There is no time more favorable than the time spent in school in which to acknowledge the power of Christ's saving grace, to be controlled by the principles of the divine law, and it is for the student's interest to live a godly life. The crowning glory of life results from a connection with Christ. No man liveth unto himself. Your life is interwoven with all others in the common web of humanity, and you are to be a laborer together with God for the salvation of those who perish in degradation and woe. You are to be instruments in influencing all those with whom you associate to a better life, to direct the mind of Jesus.
John writes: "I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one." And Paul exhorts Timothy to bid the young men to "be sober-minded." Elevate your soul to be as was Daniel, a loyal, steadfast servant of the Lord of hosts. Ponder well the path of your feet; for you are standing on holy ground, and the angels of God are about you. It is right that you should feel that you must climb to the highest round of the educational ladder. Philosophy and history are important studies; but your sacrifice of time and money will avail nothing, if you do not use your attainments for the honor of God and the good of humanity. Unless the knowledge of science is a steppingstone to the attainment of the highest purposes, it is worthless. The education that does not furnish knowledge as enduring as eternity, is of no purpose. Unless you keep heaven and the future immortal life before you, your attainments are of no permanent value. But if Jesus is your teacher, not simply on one day of the week, but every day, every hour, you may have his smile upon you in the pursuit of literary acquirements.
Daniel ever kept before him the glory of God, and you should also say, Lord, I desire knowledge, not for the glorification of self, but to meet the expectation of Jesus, that I may perfect an intelligent Christian character, through the grace he has given unto me. Will the students be true to principle as was Daniel?
In the future there will be more pressing need of men and women of literary qualifications than there has been in the past; for broad fields are opening out before us, white already for harvest. In these fields you may be laborers together with God. But if you are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, if you are filled with levity, if you allow the golden opportunities to pass without acquiring knowledge, without placing solid timbers in your character building, you will be dwarfed and crippled in any line of occupation you may undertake.
While a good education is of great benefit if combined with consecration in its possessor, still those who do not have the privilege of gaining high literary attainments need not think they cannot advance in intellectual and spiritual life. If they will make the most of the knowledge they have, if they will seek to gather something to their store every day, and will overcome all perverseness of temper through the studious cultivation of Christlike traits of character, God will open channels of wisdom to them, and it may be said of them as it was said of old, concerning the Hebrew children, God gave them wisdom and understanding.
It is not true that brilliant young men always make the greatest success. How often men of talent and education have been placed in positions of trust, and have proved failures. Their glitter had the appearance of gold, but when it was tried, it proved to be but tinsel and dross. They made a failure of their work through unfaithfulness. They were not industrious and persevering, and did not go to the bottom of things. They were not willing to begin at the bottom of the ladder, and with patient toil, ascend round after round till they reached the top. They walked in the sparks (their bright flashes of thought) of their own kindling. They did not depend on the wisdom which God alone can give. Their failure was not because they did not have a chance, but because they were not sober-minded. They did not feel that their educational advantages were of value to them, and so did not advance as they might have advanced in the knowledge of religion and science. Their mind and character were not balanced by high principles of right.
Let our young men be sober, and ponder the ways of their feet. Let them shun sin because it is destructive in its tendencies and displeasing to God. Let them discern what possibilities are within their reach, and seek God for grace to keep in the paths of righteousness. Let them seek the counsel and guidance of the Lord, that they may spend their lives for his glory in the world.
In obtaining an education, success is not to be regarded as a matter of chance or destiny, it is from that God who read the heart of Daniel, who looked with pleasure upon his purity of motive, his determination of purpose to honor the Lord. Daniel did not walk in sparks of his own kindling, but made the Lord his wisdom. Divine philosophy was made the foundation of his education. He welcomed the counsel of the Lord. Would that all students were as was Daniel; but many do not see the importance of submitting to divine discipline.
O, that all might realize that without Christ they can do nothing! Those who do not gather with him scatter abroad. Their thoughts and actions will not bear the right character, and their influence will be destructive of good. Our actions have a twofold influence; for they affect others as well as ourselves. This influence will either be a blessing or a curse to those with whom we associate. How little we appreciate this fact. Actions make habits, and habits, character, and if we do not guard our habits, we shall not be qualified to unite with heavenly agencies in the work of salvation, nor be prepared to enter the heavenly mansions that Jesus has gone to prepare; for no one will be there except those who have surrendered their will and way to God's will and way. He whose character is proved, who has stood the test of trial, who is a partaker of the divine nature, will be among those whom Christ pronounces blessed.
Without Christ we can do nothing. The pure principles of uprightness, virtue, and goodness are all from God. A conscientious discharge of duty, Christlike sympathy, love for souls and love for your own soul, because you belong to God, and have been bought with the precious blood of Christ, will make you a laborer together with God, and endow you with persuasive, drawing power. You must respect your own faith in order successfully to introduce it to others. By example as well as precept, you must show that you reverence your faith, speaking reverently of sacred things. Never allow one expression of lightness and trifling to escape your lips when quoting scripture. As you take the Bible in your hands, remember that you are on holy ground. Angels are around you, and could your eyes be opened, you would behold them. Let your conduct be such that you will leave the impression upon every soul with whom you associate that a pure and holy atmosphere surrounds you. One vain word, one trifling laugh, may balance a soul in the wrong direction. Terrible are the consequences of not having a constant connection with God.
Abstain from all evil. Common sins, however insignificant they may be regarded, will impair your moral sense, and extinguish the inward impression of the Spirit of God. The character of the thoughts leaves its imprint upon the soul, and all low conversation pollutes the mind. All evil works ruin to those who commit it. God may and will forgive the repenting sinner, but though forgiven, the soul is marred; the power of the elevated thought possible to the unimpaired mind is destroyed. Through all time the soul bears the scars. Then let us seek for that faith which works by love and purifies the heart, that we may represent the character of Christ to the world. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 68, #49)
The truth of God is infinite, capable of measureless expansion, and the more we contemplate it, the more will its glory appear. The truth has been opened before us, and yet the words of Paul to the Galatians are applicable to us. He says, "O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain."
"Without me," Christ says, "ye can do nothing." Those who undertake to carry forward the work in their own strength will certainly fail. Education alone will not fit a man for a place in the work, will not enable him to obtain a knowledge of God. Hear what Paul has to say on this matter: "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness; but unto us which are saved, it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe."
Through successive ages of darkness, in the midnight of heathenism, God permitted men to try the experiment of finding out God by their own wisdom, not to demonstrate their inability to his satisfaction, but that men themselves might see that they could not obtain a knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ his Son, save through the revelation of his word by the Holy Spirit. When Christ came to the world, the experiment had been fully tried, and the result made it evident that the world by wisdom knew not God. Even in the church, God has allowed men to test their own wisdom in this matter, but when a crisis has been brought about through human fallibility, God has risen mightily to defend his people. When the church has been brought low, when trial and oppression have come upon his people, he more abundantly exalted them by signal deliverance. When unfaithful teachers came among the people, weakness followed, the faith of God's people seemed to wane, but God arose and purged his floor, and the tried and true were lifted up.
There are times when apostasy comes into the ranks, when piety is left out of the heart by those who should have kept step with their divine leader. The people of God separate from the source of their strength, and pride, vanity, extravagance, and display follow. There are idols within and idols without; but God sends the Comforter as a reprover of sin, that his people may be warned of their apostasy and rebuked for their backsliding. When the more precious manifestations of his love shall be gratefully acknowledged and appreciated, the Lord will pour in the balm of comfort and the oil of joy.
When men are led to realize that their human calculations come far short, and are convinced that their wisdom is but foolishness, then it is that they turn to the Lord to seek him with all the heart, that they may find him.
I have been shown that every church among us needs the deep movings of the Spirit of God. O, we would point men to the cross of Calvary. We would bid them look upon him whom their sins have pierced. We would bid them to behold the Redeemer of the world suffering the penalty of their transgression of the law of God. The verdict is that "the soul that sinneth it shall die." But on the cross the sinner sees the only begotten of the Father dying in his stead, and giving the transgressor life. All the intelligences in earth and heaven are called upon to behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God. Every sinner may look and live. Do not survey that scene of Calvary with careless, thoughtless mind. Can it be that angels shall look down upon us, the recipients of God's love, and see us cold, indifferent, unimpressible, when Heaven in amazement beholds the stupendous work of redemption to save a fallen world, and desires to look into the mystery of Calvary's love and woe. Angels in wonder and amazement look upon those for whom so great salvation has been provided, and marvel that the love of God does not awaken them, and lead them to pour forth melodious strains of gratitude and adoration. But the result which all Heaven looks to behold is not seen among those who profess to be followers of Christ. How readily do we speak in endearing words of our friends and relatives, and yet how slow we are to speak of Him whose love has no parallel, set forth in Christ crucified among you.
The love of our heavenly Father in the gift of his only begotten Son to the world, is enough to inspire every soul, to melt every hard, loveless heart into contrition and tenderness, and yet shall heavenly intelligences see in those for whom Christ died, insensibility to his love, hardness of heart, and no response of gratitude and affection to the Giver of all good things? Shall affairs of minor importance absorb the whole power of the being, and the love of God meet no return? Shall the Sun of righteousness shine in vain? In view of what God has done, could his claims be less upon you? Have we hearts that can be touched, that can be impressed with divine love? Are we willing to be chosen vessels? Has not God his eye upon us, and has he not bidden us to send forth his message of light? We need an increase of faith. We must wait, we must watch, we must pray, we must work, pleading that the Holy Ghost may be poured out upon us abundantly, that we may be lights in the world.
Jesus looked upon the world in its fallen state with infinite pity. He took humanity upon himself that he might touch and elevate humanity. He came to seek and to save that which was lost. He reached to the very depth of human misery and woe, to take man as he found him, a being tainted with corruption, degraded with vice, depraved by sin, and united with Satan in apostasy, and elevate him to a seat upon his throne. But it was written of him that "he shall not fail nor be discouraged," and he went forth in the path of self-denial and self-sacrifice, giving us an example that we should follow in his steps. We should work as did Jesus, departing from our own pleasure, turning away from Satan's bribes, despising ease, and abhorring selfishness, that we may seek and save that which is lost, bringing souls from darkness into light, into the sunshine of God's love. We have been commissioned to go forth and preach the gospel to every creature. We are to bring to the lost the tidings that Christ can forgive sin, can renew the nature, can clothe the soul in the garments of his righteousness, bring the sinner to his right mind, and teach him and fit him up to be a laborer together with God.
The converted soul lives in Christ. His darkness passes away, and a new and heavenly light shines into his soul. "He that winneth souls is wise." "And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars forever and ever." What is done through the cooperation of men with God is a work that shall never perish, but endure through the eternal ages. He that makes God his wisdom, that grows up into the full stature of a man in Christ Jesus, will stand before kings, before the so-called great men of the world, and show forth the praises of Him who hath called him out of darkness into his marvelous light. Science and literature cannot bring into the darkened mind of men the light which the glorious gospel of the Son of God can bring. The Son of God alone can do the great work of illuminating the soul. No wonder Paul exclaims, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth." The gospel of Christ becomes personality in those who believe, and makes them living epistles, known and read of all men. In this way the leaven of godliness passes into the multitude. The heavenly intelligences are able to discern the true elements of greatness in character; for only goodness is esteemed as efficiency with God.
"Without me," Christ says, "ye can do nothing." Our faith, our example, must be held more sacred than they have been held in the past. The word of God must be studied as never before; for it is the precious offering that we must present to men, in order that they may learn the way of peace, and obtain that life which measures with the life of God. Human wisdom so highly exalted among men sinks into insignificance before that wisdom which points out the way cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in. The Bible alone affords the means of distinguishing the path of life from the broad road that leads to perdition and death. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 68, #50)
The highest angel in heaven had not the power to pay the ransom for one lost soul. Cherubim and seraphim have only the glory with which they are endowed by the Creator as his creatures, and the reconciliation of man to God could be accomplished only through a mediator who was equal with God, possessed of attributes that would dignify, and declare him worthy to treat with the Infinite God in man's behalf, and also represent God to a fallen world. Man's substitute and surety must have man's nature, a connection with the human family whom he was to represent, and, as God's ambassador, he must partake of the divine nature, have a connection with the Infinite, in order to manifest God to the world, and be a mediator between God and man.
These qualifications were found alone in Christ. Clothing his divinity with humanity, he came to earth to be called the Son of man and the Son to God. He was the surety for man, the ambassador for God,--the surety for man to satisfy by his righteousness in man's behalf the demands of the law, and the representative of God to make manifest his character to a fallen race.
The world's Redeemer possessed the power to draw men to himself, to quiet their fears, to dispel their gloom, to inspire them with hope and courage, to enable them to believe in the willingness of God to receive them through the merits of the divine Substitute. As subjects of the love of God we ever should be grateful that we have a mediator, an advocate, an intercessor in the heavenly courts, who pleads in our behalf before the Father.
We have everything we could ask to inspire us with faith and trust in God. In earthly courts, when a king would make his greatest pledge to assure men of his truth, he gives his child as a hostage, to be redeemed on the fulfillment of his promise; and behold what a pledge of the Father's faithfulness; for when he would assure men of the immutability of his council, he gave his only begotten Son to come to earth, to take the nature of man, not only for the brief years of life, but to retain his nature in the heavenly courts, an everlasting pledge of the faithfulness of God. O, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and love of God! "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God."
Through faith in Christ we become members of the royal family, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. In Christ we are one. As we come in sight of Calvary, and view the royal Sufferer who in man's nature bore the curse of the law in his behalf, all national distinctions, all sectarian differences are obliterated; all honor of rank, all pride of caste is lost. The light shining from the throne of God upon the cross of Calvary forever puts an end to manmade separations between class and race. Men of every class become members of one family, children of the heavenly King, not through earthly power, but through the love of God who gave Jesus to a life of poverty, affliction, and humiliation, to a death of shame and agony, that he might bring many sons and daughters unto glory.
It is not the position, not the finite wisdom, not the qualifications, not the endowments of any person that makes him rank high in the esteem of God. The intellect, the reason, the talents of men, are the gifts of God to be employed to his glory, for the upbuilding of his eternal kingdom. It is the spiritual and moral character that is of value in the sight of Heaven, and that will survive the grave and be made glorious with immortality for the endless ages of eternity. Worldly royalty so highly honored by men will never come forth from the sepulcher into which it enters. Riches, honor, the wisdom of men that have served the purposes of the enemy, can bring to their possessors no inheritance, no honor, no position of trust in the world which is to come. Only those who have appreciated the grace of Christ, which has made them heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus, will rise from the grave bearing the image of their Redeemer.
All who are found worthy to be counted as the members of the family of God in heaven, will recognize one another as sons and daughters of God. They will realize that they all receive their strength and pardon from the same source, even from Jesus Christ who was crucified for their sins. They know that they are to wash their robes of character in his blood, to find acceptance with the Father in his name, if they would be in the bright assembly of the saints, clothed in the white robes of righteousness.
Then as the children of God are one in Christ, how does Jesus look upon caste, upon society distinctions, upon the division of man from his fellowman, because of color, race, position, wealth, birth, or attainments? The secret of unity is found in the equality of believers in Christ. The reason of all division, discord, and difference is found in separation from Christ. Christ is the center to which all should be attracted; for the nearer we approach the center, the closer we shall come together in feeling, in sympathy, in love, growing into the character and image of Jesus. With God there is no respect of persons.
Jesus knew the worthlessness of earthly pomp, and he gave no attention to its display. In his dignity of soul, his elevation of character, his nobility of principle, he was far above the vain fashions of the world. Although the prophet describes him as "despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief", he might have been esteemed as the highest among the noble of the earth. The best circles of human society would have courted him, had he condescended to accept their favor, but he desired not the applause of men, but moved independent of all human influence. Wealth, position, worldly rank in all its varieties and distinctions of human greatness, was all but so many degrees of littleness to him who had left the honor and glory of heaven, and who possessed no earthly splendor, indulged in no luxury, and displayed no adornment but humility.
The lowly, those bound with poverty, pressed with care, burdened with toil, could find no reason in his life and example which would lead them to think that Jesus was not acquainted with their trials, knew not the pressure of their circumstances, and could not sympathize with them in their want and sorrow. The lowliness of his humble, daily life was in harmony with his lowly birth and circumstances. The Son of the infinite God, the Lord of life and glory, descended in humiliation to the life of the lowliest, that no one might feel himself excluded from his presence. He made himself accessible to all. He did not select a favored few with whom to associate and ignore all others. It grieves the Spirit of God when conservatism shuts man away from his fellowman, especially when it is found among those who profess to be his children.
Christ came to give to the world an example of what perfect humanity might be when united with divinity. He presented to the world a new phase of greatness in his exhibition of mercy, compassion, and love. He gave to men a new interpretation of God. As head of humanity, he taught men lessons in the science of divine government, whereby he revealed the righteousness of the reconciliation of mercy and justice. The reconciliation of mercy and justice did not involve any compromise with sin, or ignore any claim of justice; but by giving to each divine attribute its ordained place, mercy could be exercised in the punishment of sinful, impenitent man without destroying its clemency or forfeiting its compassionate character, and justice could be exercised in forgiving the repenting transgressor without violating its integrity.
All this could be, because Christ laid hold of the nature of man, and partook of the divine attributes, and planted his cross between humanity and divinity, bridging the gulf that separated the sinner from God. "For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted." "For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." "For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity. And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins. And no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. So also Christ glorified not himself to be made a high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, today have I begotten thee. As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchisedec. Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him."
Jesus came to bring moral power to combine with human effort, and in no case are his followers to allow themselves to lose sight of Christ, who is their example in all things. He said, "For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified through the truth." Jesus presents the truth before his children that they may look upon it, and by beholding it, may become changed, being transformed by his grace from transgression to obedience, from impurity to purity, from sin to heart-holiness and righteousness of life. By Mrs. E. G. White.