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The Review and Herald Articles
for the Year 1892
(Vol. 69, #6)
Nov. 12, about 2 P. M., we went on board the steamship "Alameda," at San Francisco, Cal., for our long voyage across the Pacific Ocean. About twenty-five of our friends came to meet us at the boat and say good-by. Soon the last parting words were spoken, and at four o'clock our good ship left the dock, and steamed out of Golden Gate against a strong headwind. The restless sea rocked and tossed us about, quite to the discomfort of the passengers, most of whom soon retired to their staterooms. For a time we felt inclined to lie quietly in our berths. After the first day, however, we had very pleasant, smooth sailing. The captain said that he could hardly remember having had so pleasant a voyage.
Our vessel, though comparatively small, and not so elegant as many of the Atlantic boats, was thoroughly comfortable, convenient, and safe. The officers were kind and gentlemanly. We had about eighty cabin passengers, and forty in the steerage. Among the former were about eight ministers, several of whom were returning home from the great Methodist Conference in Washington. Religious services were held in the social hall, twice each Sunday, and occasionally on deck for the steerage passengers.
One week from the time we left California we reached the Sandwich Islands. The scene presented to us from the steamer as we approached Honolulu, was very beautiful; the mountains rising at a little distance from the water's edge, and clothed with the rich green of the tropics, and the city, in its setting of palms and other tropical trees, appeared especially attractive to us after gazing for seven days on the boundless expanse of waters. We were met at the wharf by friends living in the city. Men, women, and children greeted us so heartily that we could not but feel at home among them. We were glad to welcome these dear friends, and especially glad to meet again Elder Starr and his wife, who had been laboring among the people, and speaking in the churches, by invitation, with good effect.
After a short visit in the family of one of our brethren, we were taken to ride about the city and a few miles beyond the suburbs. The business part of the town is very indifferent, but the residences are fine, with broad verandas, and surrounded by green lawns, which are beautified with all kinds of tropical trees and flowers. On our way we saw beautiful avenues of royal palms, vines and trees, shrubs and hedges brilliant with flowers; cocoa palms laden with the brown, heavy-looking fruit; breadfruit and mango trees; fields of pineapples and patches of taro, the staple food of the natives, with many other strange plants and trees which I cannot even name.
For six miles back of the town the road gradually ascends a mountain valley, to the "pali," or precipice, an interesting point, both for its historical association, and for the fine landscape view which is obtained from it. Standing on the rocky edge of the precipice, we look down 1,200 feet, while on either side the bare, rocky summits tower to a height of 3,000 feet. Below us lies a rich green plain, dotted with rice and sugar plantations, and hills around which the brown road winds in and out. Beyond all is the broad blue sea, the white surf breaking along the shore.
It was near the head of this valley, about the eighteenth century, that the last native chief of the island made a stand with his forces against Kamehameha I., who was trying to bring all the islands under one government. The chief's forces were defeated, and fleeing up the valley, many were driven over the precipice, and dashed to pieces on the rocks at its base. It is said that the bones of these unfortunate warriors are still to be found scattered on the plain.
We took our lunch on a pleasant, grassy spot overlooking the valley, and returned to the city, feeling that the day's excursion would be ever remembered with pleasure.
Then a few hours were spent at the home of a merchant in the city, whose wife has attended our meetings with much interest, and whose little daughter spent some months at our college at Healdsburg, Cal. The wife was among the friends who had met us at the boat, and I had called on her a few moments in the morning on our way to the "pali." I then bowed in prayer with them, at her request, placing my hands upon the heads of the little ones, and invoking God's blessing upon the mother and her children.
Our steamer was not to leave Honolulu till past midnight, and at the earnest desire of our friends I had consented to speak in the evening. The hall of the Young Men's Christian Association was secured for the purpose. Only a few hours' notice of the meeting could be given, yet a goodly number were assembled, among them many who were actively interested in temperance and Christian work. I spoke from 1 John 3:1-4, dwelling upon the great love of God to man, expressed in the gift of Jesus that we might become children of God. The Spirit of the Lord was present with us. At the close of the meeting we were gratified to make the acquaintance of some of the leading members of the Young Men's Christian Association. Many spoke gratefully of the help that Elder Starr had rendered them. They expressed their regret that we could not remain longer, and gave us an earnest invitation to stay and labor a few months with them on our return to America. We too regretted that we must leave so soon.
We were grateful for the opportunity of becoming acquainted with the few brethren and sisters in Honolulu, and we thought of the probabilities and possibilities before those who believe the truth, if they would be faithful witnesses for God. The words of Christ just before his ascension to heaven mean much to everyone who shall accept the truth as it is in Jesus. He said: "Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." All the followers of Christ are to be witnesses for him. Everyone who receives the precious treasure of truth is to impart of the same to others.
But the truth is often presented in such a manner that it does not have the influence it otherwise would have. A controversial spirit is encouraged. Many dwell almost exclusively upon doctrinal subjects, while the nature of true piety, experimental godliness, receives little attention. Jesus, his love and grace, his self-denial and self-sacrifice, his meekness and forbearance, are not brought before the people as they should be. The errors existing everywhere have, like parasites, fastened their deadly poison upon the boughs of truth and in many minds have become identified with it; many who accept the truth teach it in a harsh spirit. A false conception of it is given to the people, and the truth is made of no effect to those whose hearts are not softened and subdued by the Holy Spirit.
Many weave so much of their own spirit into the presentation of truth, that the truth has the appearance of bearing the impress of man. In dealing with those who are in error, they argue, argue, and contend, and thus obscure the beauty and sacredness of truth, because their own hearts are not sanctified by it. The spirit of debate, of controversy, is a device of Satan to stir up combativeness, and thus eclipse the truth as it is in Jesus. Many have thus been repulsed instead of being won to Christ.
It is essential for all to discern and appreciate the truth; therefore it is of the greatest importance that the seed of the word should fall into soil prepared for its reception. The question with us individually should be, How shall we sow the precious seed of truth so that it shall not be lost, but spring up and produce a harvest, that sheaves may be brought to the Master? How shall the great truths contained in the holy Scriptures be presented so as to win the people to obedience?
The teacher of truth needs first to learn his lessons of the Great Teacher. Christ assumed humanity, that he might touch humanity. He became as one of us, and he would have his undershepherds come as close to the people as possible in sympathy and love, and yet not sacrifice one principle of truth. There are subjects we can dwell upon that will not arouse a combative spirit. Preach Christ and him crucified. There are very many groping in darkness. The cry of the soul is, "What must I do to be saved?" In every congregation there are souls starving for their portion of meat in due season. If the word is rightly divided, these souls will receive just what they need. The gospel of Christ must be preached in its simplicity. But a teacher cannot communicate that which he has not. In order to confess Christ, he must have Christ abiding in his own heart. In words and deeds there must be a visible representation of Christ.
Men may speak fluently upon doctrines, and may express strong faith in theories, but do they possess Christianlike meekness and love? If they reveal a harsh, critical spirit, they are denying Christ. If they are not kind, tenderhearted, longsuffering, they are not like Jesus; they are deceiving their own souls. A spirit contrary to the love, humility, meekness, and gentleness of Christ, denies him, whatever may be the profession. We deny Christ when we speak evil one of another. We deny him in foolish talking, in jesting, and joking. We deny him when we have a foolish spirit, criticising our brethren. We deny him in seeking to be first, seeking honor one of another. We may deny Christ in outward appearance, by gratifying a proud heart, by lifting up the soul unto vanity, by uncourteous behaviour.
Satan has gained many victories over the professed followers of Jesus through their unchristlike spirit and behavior toward their brethren who do not agree with them, and toward unbelievers. The discussion of doctrines has not resulted in bringing union, but variance. A bitter spirit has been cherished, bitter words have been spoken. The words of the True Witness should be carefully studied by all: "I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love,"--grown cold, unsympathetic; hardness of heart has taken the place of brotherly, Christlike 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." This warning should be heeded by every church in our ranks. New elements of Christian life must be brought into the church. Love for Christ means a broad, extended love for one another, that love which is now so sadly wanting. The lack of love leads to the lack of respect for each other, and the neglect of true courtesy. There is criticising, faultfinding, reporting words spoken in confidence, and using these to second the accusations of Satan, who is ever busy in sowing distrust, jealousy, and bitterness. Why do the members of the church run so readily into this evil work, overlooking the precious things? Why do they not speak words of approval and encouragement to one another, and thus water the precious plant of love, that it may not die out of the heart?
We must awake; we must consider humbly and attentively the words of the True Witness. Shall these words, which present such solemn consequences, have their designed effect? Are they to be lost upon the church? If we do not manifest toward one another the tender, pitying love of Christ, we show that we do not appreciate the wealth of love that Jesus has manifested to us at such an infinite cost to himself. We show that we do not love Jesus, when we do not love those whom he has given his life to save. Shall we who profess to be Christians, engage in the work of weakening and discouraging those whom we should strengthen? God has united us in a sacred brotherhood, and if we understand and appreciate this, we shall move with great carefulness toward all who are seeking to follow Jesus.
All who have the Saviour dwelling in their hearts will feel a yearning for fellowship and communion with one another. There will be no drawing apart. The Spirit of Christ abiding in our hearts will be attracted to the same Spirit in the hearts of our brethren; and there cannot but be oneness. The heart where Christ is a cherished guest will flow out in love to all the objects of his love and compassion. But this love does not grow of itself; we must cultivate it by daily receiving of the grace of Christ. The Lord Jesus accepted his disciples, not because they were defective in character, but notwithstanding their defects. We must draw near to our erring brethren and help them.
The Lord Jesus sought ever to keep before his disciples their responsibility in the world. He tells them: "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. . . . Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." "Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men." The saving salt is the pure first love, the love of Jesus, the gold tried in the fire. When this is left out of the religious experience, Jesus is not there; the light, the sunshine of his presence, is not there. What, then, is the religion worth?--Just as much as the salt that has lost its savor. It is a loveless religion. Then there is an effort to supply the lack by busy activity, a zeal that is Christless. There is a wonderful keenness of perception to discover defects in a brother or sister, and make these prominent. We are professedly commandment-keepers; then let us obey the commandments of God, the law that is love. Then like David we can say, "I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart."
Let every professed Christian read frequently and carefully the 14th, 15th, 16th, and 17th chapters of John. Read with a heart determined to understand the teachings of Christ, and to be a doer of his word.
The Spirit of God, as it comes into the heart by faith, is the beginning of the life eternal. What promise is less fulfilled in the church than that of the endowment of the Holy Spirit? Here is our greatest need. Let the spirit of controversy be put away, and let us seek for the living testimony of the Spirit of God. The teacher must be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Then the mind and spirit of Christ will be in him, and he will confess Christ in a spiritual and holy life. He will give evidence that the truth he has received has not been merely in theory, but that he has been sanctified through the truth. He can talk of Christ and him crucified in language that savors of heaven. He can present the will of God to man because his own heart has been brought into submission, and has been glorified by the Spirit of God. The sun of righteousness is risen upon him, that he may reflect its brightness to the world.
The Lord is willing to help all who are searching for truth, and when any believer is asked the reason of his hope, let him answer with meekness and fear, having his own soul full of love to Jesus and to his fellowmen. His activity, his self-denial, and self-sacrifice will represent the Pattern, Christ Jesus. Those who teach the truth as it is in Jesus will not dishonor it or betray sacred trusts. They will beautify the truth by presenting its Author. Holding close to Jesus by the hand of living faith, they lay hold of souls for whom Christ died. With a wisdom that is divine, they draw souls to Christ. Thus they become a savor of life unto life; and if faithful to the end, they will walk in the heavenly courts side by side with those they have been instrumental in saving, and by the side of Jesus the Redeemer. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 69, #7)
Friday, Nov. 27, we reached the Samoan Islands, after a pleasant voyage of seven days from Honolulu. We had expected extremely hot weather in passing through the tropics, but in this we were happily disappointed. Only a few days were uncomfortably warm. On Tuesday, Nov. 24, when we crossed the equator, the air was so cool that we found our wraps needful as we sat on deck.
Our steamer cast anchor off Apia, which is situated on the island of Upolo, and is the principal town of the Samoan group. The harbor or bay of Apia is a beautiful expanse of water, shut in by coral reefs, over which the surf is constantly breaking. The island is clothed in the richest and most luxuriant verdure. The mountains rise almost from the water's edge; the cocoa palms grow all along the shore and far up the mountain sides, which are clothed in green to the very summits. The town of Apia consists of two rows of small white buildings on either side of a narrow street that winds along the shore.
Through an opening in the reef that incloses the harbor, vessels pass in and out; another reef lying nearer the shore prevents them from reaching the dock, but passengers are taken on shore in boats. Before us is a reminder of the terrible storms that sometimes visit this lovely spot. On the reef between us and the shore lies the hull of a German vessel which was wrecked in the hurricane of March, 1889, when seven men-of-war and fifteen merchant vessels were either wholly destroyed or stranded on the shore.
Before our steamer comes to anchor, we see boats and the canoes of the natives coming out to meet us, and soon we are surrounded with them in every direction. The natives are physically well developed, and are said to have the finest physique of any of the South Sea peoples. They are of a light brown color. Most of them are destitute of clothing except a cloth or mat about the loins; many are elaborately tattooed. Some wear broad-brimmed straw hats, some, turbans, while many have the hair dressed with lime, giving them the appearance of wearing a white cap. The canoes were laden with articles for sale,--pineapples, bananas, oranges of a bright green color, but of excellent flavor, mangoes, limes, coconuts, and other tropical fruits, shells and coral, mats and cloth, together with baskets and fans very neatly woven from the native grasses.
Most of our party went ashore, and had an opportunity of seeing the natives in their homes. The huts are made by spreading over a wooden framework a covering of palm leaves and native grasses. For the floor, the ground is covered with gravel or pounded coral, on which is spread a coarse matting. Mats form the beds at night, and the table and seats by day; large leaves and coconut shells serve as dishes.
Our party was greeted cordially by the natives, who brought them flowers, and seemed anxious to show their feelings of kindness. At Apia, they welcome the visits of Americans, seeming to feel that our country has proved a friend to them.
At one o'clock P. M. the anchor was lifted, and soon our boat was again on its way over the broad Pacific.
Nov. 26, the day before we reached Samoa, was my birthday. Another year of my life had passed into eternity, and my record for a new year was begun. As I contemplate the past year, I am filled with gratitude to God for his preserving care and lovingkindness. At times I have been afflicted in body and depressed in spirits, but the Lord has been my Redeemer, my Restorer. Many have been the rich blessings imparted to me. In the time of my greatest need, I have been enabled to hold fast my confidence in my heavenly Father. The bright beams of the righteousness of Christ have been shining into my heart and mind, the powers of darkness are restrained; for Jesus our advocate lives to make intercession for us. He is able to save us, soul, body, and spirit, and to make us vessels unto honor, meet for the Master's use. We are living in a perilous time, when all our powers must be consecrated to God, to do his will and keep his way, irrespective of circumstances. We are to follow Christ in his humiliation, his self-denial, his suffering.
The Lord requires his people to be holy in all manner of living. His command is: "Be ye holy; for I am holy." My heart is hungering and thirsting after righteousness. Through faith in Christ I am made a partaker of his heavenly benefits. The exalted privileges, the great grace, revealed through Christ are for all who will believe and obey the words of God. There are given to us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these we might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. I receive and enjoy these promises, full of divine mercy and truth. It is given me to know for myself individually that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth me from all unrighteousness.
We owe everything to Jesus, and renewedly I consecrate myself to his service, to work for him in a strange land, to lift him up before the people, to proclaim his matchless love. My prayer ascends day and night for the presence of Jesus to go before us. While lying in my stateroom, the language of my heart has been, "My Redeemer, I beseech thee to engage for me in every conflict. I know in whom I have believed, and thy grace alone is my trust." It is my prayer that I may the coming year be a co-worker with Jesus in saving my own soul, which he has bought with his precious blood, and that every day I may learn his meekness and lowliness, that he can use the frail, unworthy agent to bring souls out of darkness into light.
I look unto Jesus; for his holy life is a faithful example. I must be daily molded as the clay in the hands of the potter. I must educate my soul, that my confidence in God may be unlimited. Jesus said: "I can of mine own self do nothing." How much more is this true of us.
The hope that I can be true or useful is through faith in the atonement made for me. O, that this sixty-fifth year of my life may be one of progress and perfection in the work which the Master has given me to do! I want clearer perceptions of truth daily, that I may act in harmony with its holy principles. I have no happiness aside from doing the will of Christ and proclaiming to others his grace and truth.
Between Samoa and Auckland we crossed the day-line, and for the first time in our lives we had a week of six days. Tuesday, Dec. 1, was dropped from our reckoning, and we passed from Monday to Wednesday.
At daylight of Dec. 3 the coast of New Zealand was in sight, and soon after noon our boat reached the wharf at Auckland. Here is a beautiful harbor, and the town, on the hills above, presents a fine appearance. We had hoped to meet Elder Gates of the "Pitcairn" here, but in this we were disappointed. He had come here a month before, expecting to meet us on the arrival of the "Monowa." As we did not come, he decided to make a trip to Norfolk Island, and return before our arrival. For some reason he failed to meet us. As our boat touched the wharf, a number of brethren stepped on board, and introduced themselves to us; we had a glad meeting. On landing we rode to the house of brother Edward Hare. Here we found a pleasant home, and were refreshed with delicious strawberries, oranges, bananas, and more substantial viands. Then we had a very enjoyable ride into the country. The fresh, sweet air, filled with the fragrance of wild roses, sweet-brier, and new-mown hay, reminded us of our northern summer; the green hedges separating the fields, make one think of England, while there is much in the landscape to resemble California. The vegetation and the general appearance of the country is that of the temperate zone rather than the tropics.
In the evening we met with the church at their house of worship, and I spoke to them in regard to the necessity of receiving Christ as their personal Saviour. When we thus accept him, the beauty of truth will be revealed through us; for in our words and our life it will be presented as it is in Jesus. There will be no strife to see who shall be greatest, but we shall individually seek to represent Christ, and thus let our light shine to the world. If the words of Jesus dwell in us, we shall represent his love, in kindness, in humility, in goodness, coming in close union with the people of God, and working as missionaries of Jesus wherever we have opportunity. Instead of seeking to glorify ourselves, we shall exalt the name that is above every name, Jesus, the center of all attraction.
All who believe the truth should remember that they are to bear the credentials of Christ to the world, in their firm unity, their Christian courtesy and love to one another. Wherever he may be, every follower of Jesus can give to the world a practical illustration of the purity and power of the truth. We should ever bear in mind that the world will criticise us in the conduct of our temporal affairs. Do we work as Christians? Do we buy and sell as Christians? That which we may speak in the church is not of half as much consequence as the influence we exert in our daily business life. We are constantly making either favorable or unfavorable impressions to the truth. We should manifest kindness, forbearance, and generosity, not to our brethren merely, but to all who do not love the truth.
No man can have a sound, healthful experience unless he shall practice the instruction that Christ has given through the apostle Peter: "Giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity." "For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."
To be converted daily is to renew the soul's life by receiving vital power from Christ, as the branch receives nourishment from the vine. The growth of every Christian is from within, not from without. It is only as the Spirit of Christ dwells in the heart by faith that we can grow in grace and the knowledge of Christ. Only through the grace daily drawn from Jesus can the heart be kept. There can be no safety in extolling self; we must hide self in Jesus. Christ abiding within, is the life of the soul. And we are to receive Christ through his word. It is the truth that sanctifies the soul. We should study the Scriptures, even upon our knees, with earnestness and sincerity. The love of Jesus in the heart will create a love for the searching of his word.
The work of every child of God is to impart the knowledge of Christ to those who have it not. We must plant the seeds of truth wherever we can. The words of eternal life, sown in many hearts, will bring forth fruit unto righteousness. The heavenly intelligencies are waiting for God's human agencies to consecrate themselves fully to him, that he may use them as channels of light. We need to realize our responsibility, to cooperate with the heavenly agencies. We belong to God; he has purchased us with the blood of his only begotten Son; we are to represent to the world what Christ is to us. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 69, #8)
"Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth." This was the prayer of Christ in behalf of his disciples just prior to his crucifixion on Mount Calvary, and his words refer not only to those who heard him at that time, but they have reference also to us who believe on his name; for he said, "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word." This is what we are seeking to do, striving to be followers of our Lord Jesus, doers of his commands. If we would be sanctified through the truth, we must believe his message, and receive his messengers; for his word comes down along the lines to us from patriarchs and prophets, from one generation to another, that we may know the truth of God.
But in these days of peril we are not to accept everything that men bring to us as truth. As professed teachers from God come to us declaring that they have a message from God, it is proper to inquire carefully, How do we know that this is truth? Jesus has told us that "false prophets shall arise and shall deceive many." But we need not be deceived; for the word of God gives us a test whereby we may know what is truth. 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."
From this statement it is evident that it becomes us to be diligent Bible students, that we may know what is according to the law and the testimony. We are safe in no other course of action. Jesus says, "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." Then how very important it is that we sanctify ourselves through the grace given us by Christ, that we may exert a sanctifying influence upon all those with whom we associate.
The work of sanctification begins in the heart, and we must come into such a relation with God, that Jesus can put his divine mold upon us. We must be emptied of self in order to give room to Jesus, but how many have their hearts so filled with idols that they have no room for the Redeemer of the world. The world holds the hearts of men in captivity. They center their thoughts and affections upon their business, their position, their family. They hold to their opinions and ways, and cherish them as idols in the soul; but we cannot afford to yield ourselves to the service of self, holding to our own ways and ideas, and excluding the truth of God. We must be emptied of self. But this is not all that is required; for when we have renounced our idols, the vacuum must be supplied. If the heart is left desolate, and the vacuum not supplied, it will be in the condition of him whose house was "empty, swept, and garnished," but without a guest to occupy it. The evil spirit took unto himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they entered in and dwelt there; and the last state of that man was worse than the first.
As you empty the heart of self, you must accept the righteousness of Christ. Lay hold of it by faith; for you must have the mind and spirit of Christ, that you may work the works of Christ. If you open the door of the heart, Jesus will supply the vacuum by the gift of his Spirit, and then you can be a living preacher in your home, in the church, and in the world. You can diffuse light, because the bright beams of the sun of righteousness are shining upon you. Your humble life, your holy conversation, your uprightness and integrity, will tell to all around that you are a child of God, an heir of heaven, that you are not making the world your dwelling place, but that you are a pilgrim and a stranger here, looking for a better country, even a heavenly, living with an eye single to the glory of God.
When Jesus came to this world, he found that the things of time had taken possession of the human heart, and occupied men's minds to the exclusion of an appreciation of eternal realities. Jesus does not despise the world, for he made the world; but he does not design that his children shall center their hopes and affections on earthly things that will pass away. He places the world in subordination to the things pertaining to the future, immortal life. When Christ came to earth, the world was covered with the darkness of error and superstition, and men had lost sight of eternal interests, and Jesus parted the darkness with the white beams of his righteousness, and eternity was brought to view, that men might not drop from their reckoning the interests of the life that measures with the life of God, that temporal things might not be permitted to outweigh the exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
In order to keep the world in its proper subordination, it is necessary to have more than a mere casual, nominal faith in Christ. Many might give assent to the fact that Jesus was the Son of God, and yet fail to have saving faith. Jesus must be all in all to the soul. You must believe in him as your personal and complete Saviour; for unless you take him for all that he is,--a complete Saviour,--you will not represent him to the world as he is. Everywhere throughout the churches of Christendom there is a dearth of spirituality, a lack of vital godliness, and those who profess religion are many of them like dry bones. They need the breathing of the Spirit of God upon them, that they may live. It is because the aid of the Holy Spirit is not united with the efforts of men, that there is not more true piety in the church; for the Holy Spirit is to convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment to come. But even in the church sin is suffered in our brethren. Men are not faithful to rebuke evil in the professed servants of Christ. One does not go to another in the spirit of love and meekness, seeking to restore such as are erring from the faith. They do not go to the erring one, and say, "My brother, you are not representing the character of Christ. You do not manifest his self-denial and self-sacrifice. You need tenderness of heart, Christian politeness, that you may manifest the courtesy that Jesus has enjoined upon us in his word." But instead of going to your brethren when you see defects of character, you go to others to talk over their imperfections. This is not fulfilling the commands of Christ.
While we are to deal kindly and lovingly with our brethren, we are only to follow them so far as they follow Christ. We are to pattern our lives after the divine Model. We cannot afford to imitate others. We cannot afford to measure ourselves by human standards. The standards of men are as various as the men who make them. One has one standard, and another has another. You may copy someone whose standard you regard as perfect, but fall below his example; and someone else may imitate you, and fall below the mark; and so human imperfections are passed along, and measuring yourselves among yourselves, proves that you are not wise. The sacredness has been lost from our labors, and we do not appreciate divine realities as we should, because we have lost sight of Jesus, and fastened our eyes upon humanity. We must awake from our sleep, that Christ may give us life; for we cannot afford to live in a state of stupidity. We must become representatives of our divine Master.
Christ said, "I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified." We are a spectacle unto the world, to angels, and to men. Angels and men are taking note of us to see what manner of spirit we are of, to see whether we are meeting the approval of heaven. You may feel that you cannot meet the approval of heaven. You may say, "I was born with a natural tendency toward this evil, and I cannot overcome." But every provision has been made by our heavenly Father whereby you may be able to overcome every unholy tendency. You are to overcome even as Christ overcame in your behalf. He says, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne." It was sin that imperiled the human family; and before man was created the provision was made that if man failed to bear the test, Jesus would become his sacrifice and surety, that through faith in him, man might be reconciled to God, for Christ was the lamb "slain from the foundation of the world." Christ died on Calvary that man might have power to overcome his natural tendencies to sin. But one says, "Can I not have my own way, and act myself?--No, you cannot have your way, and enter the kingdom of heaven. No "my way" will be there. No human ways will find place in the kingdom of heaven. Our ways must be lost in God's ways.
Abraham was a man who kept the way of the Lord, and he is called the father of the faithful, the friend of God. God said of Abraham, "I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him." Do fathers and mothers follow the example of Abraham, or do they indulge their children in evil ways, and suffer wickedness in their households? Do they pass over sin in their children, and forget that they are younger members of the Lord's family?
Mothers, you should begin to discipline your child when it is a babe in your arms. Through childhood to youth, through youth to manhood, you should train your children for the family above. God does not desire you to take up your time in adorning your garments and decorating your homes, to the neglect of the education of your children. You should take your children out into the gardens, and show them the beautiful flowers that God has made. God is the great Master Artist, and the pictures which are painted by human artists and admired by the world, are only feeble imitations of the works of God. God daily works miracles before us in the unfolding of the blossoms; for no human hand can paint such delicate hues, or fashion such graceful plants. All this speaks of the work of the divine Artist, and each flower is an expression of the love of God to us. God has designed to make us happy. He has covered the earth with the beautiful green verdure; for he knew that this color would be grateful to our senses. Each beautiful thing in nature is a token of God's love and care. So take your children out into the open air beneath the canopy of the heavens, under the noble trees, into the gardens, and point them through nature up to nature's God. Carry their minds up to contemplate the works of God in nature that they may learn to love him in their childhood and youth. Do not weary them with long prayers and tedious exhortations, but teach them to be obedient to the law of God. Teach them to be kind and courteous, tell them that if they are rude and unlovely in disposition, they cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven where all is peace and love. We are here to be trained for the family above. By Mrs. E. G. White. (Concluded next week.)
(Vol. 69, #9)
Do you teach your children that Jesus is soon coming? Do you read to them the promise, "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 to prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also"? I began to teach my children about the love of Jesus when they were mere babes. I could not leave the work of training my children to the hands of servants. They were my first considerations. When visitors came, I told them that they must excuse me until I had set my children their little task, or provided some suitable amusement for them. It is the duty of every parent to do as did Abraham; for he did not betray his sacred trust. If you allow your children to grow up in rebellion against your authority, they will be receiving a training that will cause them to rebel against the authority of God. Their religious experience will be molded by their training in childhood, and they will not be controlled by the rules of the church. The influence of neglect in the home training is seen on every side; for this is the reason that so few of the youth are impressed by the Spirit of God. Christian fathers and mothers, are you seeking to train your children so that they will be as lights in the world? A well-ordered family is one of the best testimonies we can present to the world of the value of our religion. This living testimony has more weight than sermons and professions.
Then tell your children what God expects of them. Let Jesus put his mold upon them. Teach them moral independence. Teach them to look neither to the right nor to the left to engage in evil, but to do justice and judgment, and keep the way of the Lord. Give them the invitation of Jesus to come to him and find rest unto their souls.
Jesus 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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." We are to wear the yoke of Christ, and then he bears the burden for us. When I was a little girl, I saw them yoking up the oxen, and I asked my mother why they put that heavy yoke on the oxen. She replied, "It makes the load easier to draw, and lightens the burden." This is why Christ invites us to wear his yoke. "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden." What has made them heavy laden?--It is because they have manufactured yokes of their own. They have not had the meekness and lowliness of Christ which lifts the soul above the heavy burdens, and makes the yoke easy.
Christians are to be laborers together with God. They are to lift up Jesus. He says, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." We are to talk of his love, of the mansions he has gone to prepare for those that love him; we are to talk of his mercy, and magnify his righteousness. Why is it that we have so little freedom in speaking of the love of Jesus?--It is because we have not educated the tongue to talk of his goodness and tell of his power. Why is it that we have so little freedom in prayer?--It is because we have not educated ourselves in the exercises of devotion. If we prayed three times a day, as did Daniel, we should be able to say, "I place my hand in the hand of Jesus, and I will not gratify the enemy by talking doubt. I will not dishonor my Redeemer."
Jesus knows everything in your life and character. He knows your down-sitting and your uprising, and your words are all registered in the books of heaven. Not a sparrow falls to the ground without the notice of your heavenly Father, and the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
There are many who do not have vital faith. They do not realize that Jesus knows all about them. They do not have the faith of the poor woman who was compassed with infirmity, and who said, "If I might but touch the hem of his garment, I should be whole.". Jesus knew all about her desire, and her faith in him, and as he was on his way to heal the ruler's daughter, he passed by the place where this poor woman was, going out of his way that she might have a chance to act out her faith. And as Jesus came near, the crowds thronged about him, and the woman pressed her way toward the Master. Step by step she gets near to him. She pressed her way until by reaching her hand through those who stood nearest him, she touched his garment, and immediately she knew that she was healed. Then Jesus turned, and said, "Who touched me?" His disciples were astonished that he should ask such a question, and Peter spoke up in surprise, saying, "Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me. And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately." She told him the whole story; and did Jesus rebuke her? Did he turn coldly from her?--No, he comforted her. He said, "Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace." O, I would rather have one word of comfort from Jesus than all the wealth and all the mansions in Sydney. I would rather have one smile of approval from Jesus than all the gold of the world. I love him, I love him. I praise him for his wonderful mercy and goodness to the children of men.
It is our privilege to have an experience more precious than gold. We are to come in living faith to Jesus. We need not be among those who have only a casual faith, who get no answers of peace when they pray. We may have a living experience in the things of God; but we must take time to pray. We must take time to search the Scriptures, digging for truth as for hidden treasures. When Jesus came to the world, Satan had obscured the truth under the rubbish of men's opinions, and Jesus commanded his disciples to search the Scriptures, saying, "They are they which testify of me."
We are to be sanctified through the truth, but Jesus declares, "Thy word is truth." We can be sanctified only through a knowledge of the word of God, and that word is to become a part of our life. God has given you a Bible, and when your will is submitted to God's will, you will know what is truth. The law of God is the standard to which we are to come. It is the mirror which reveals to us our defects of character. But while it reveals our defects, there is no power in the mirror to cleanse us from the stains of sin. In looking into the law of God, we see our shortcomings and failures, but there is no power in [the] law to redeem the transgressor of [the] law. A remedy has been provided for the sinner. A fountain has been opened for uncleanness, where Judah and Jerusalem may wash and be made clean. We must have repentance toward God. Why?--Because we have broken his law. We must have faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, because he is the sacrifice for sin. And where do we get repentance?--It is the Holy Spirit that imparts repentance to us. Jesus draws us to himself through the agency of his divine Spirit; and through faith in his blood we are cleansed from sin; "for the blood of Jesus Christ his Son, cleanseth us from all sin." "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." But suppose that we sin after we have been forgiven, after we have become the children of God, then need we despair?--No; for John writes, "My little children, these things I write unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." Jesus is in the heavenly courts pleading with the Father in our behalf. He presents our prayers, mingling with them the precious incense of his own merit, that our prayers may be acceptable to the Father. He puts the fragrance into our prayers, and the Father hears us because we ask for the very things which we need, and we become to others a savor of life unto life.
Jesus came to suffer in our behalf, that he might impart to us his righteousness. There is but one way of escape for us, and that is found only in becoming partakers of the divine nature.
But many say that Jesus was not like us, that he was not as we are in the world, that he was divine, and that we cannot overcome as he overcame. But Paul writes. "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. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Jesus says, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne."
Jesus encircled the race with his humanity, and united divinity with humanity; thus moral power is brought to man through the merits of Jesus. Those who profess his name through his grace are to sanctify themselves that they may exert a sanctifying influence on all with whom they associate. Jesus says of his disciples, "Ye are the light of the world." We are to be representatives of Christ, becoming sanctified through the truth.
There are rich treasures for us in the mine of God's word, and we must dig deep for the precious jewels of truth. The rubbish of human opinion must be swept aside, that the clear jewels of truth may be brought to light; for we want the truth on every point, that we may be sanctified through the truth. The Bible is the garden of God, and here we must learn to gather the roses and the lilies and the pinks of God's promises. We must hang them as precious pictures upon the wall of memory, and have our eyes fixed upon the glorious things of God, so that we shall be able to go through the world and not dwell upon its corruptions, or be polluted by its wickedness.
Fasten your faith to the eternal throne, and all the promises of God are at your command. When God gave his Son, he gave us all in that precious gift. "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?" How glad would our Lord be to see our faces lighted up with the light of his Holy Spirit. He wants us to have love and joy and peace. He says, "He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." Then let us talk of the power of Jesus; for help has been laid upon One that is mighty. Isaiah says that "his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." So let us elevate our souls through faith in Christ above the lowlands of earth, and breathe the atmosphere of heaven. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 69, #10)
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."
We may have high anticipations in regard to the things of this life, but we shall meet with disappointment. We shall find that they fade away. But here is "an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you." We want our thoughts to be fixed on the things that will abide, not upon those that pass away with the using. If we fix our hopes on the future, immortal world, we shall not be disappointed.
When Christ came into this world, he saw that men had left the future, eternal life out of their reckoning. He came to present that life before us, that by beholding it we might be led to change our relation to the things of this life, that our affections might be placed upon the things above, and not upon the things of the earth, so soon to pass away. The shadow that Satan has caused to intervene between our souls and God, Christ seeks to roll back, that the view of God and eternity may become clear. While he does not despise this world, he places it in its proper position of subordination. And then he places the things of eternity in their relative importance before us, that we may fix the eye of faith upon the unseen. The things of temporal interest have power to engross the thoughts and affections, and it is important that we should be constantly educating and training our minds to dwell upon things of eternal interest. Will this make us unhappy? Will it cause us to have a hard time here?--No, indeed. Receiving the gift of God will make everything in life easy. The more of the Spirit of God, the more of his grace, is brought into our daily experience, the less friction there will be, the more happiness we shall have, and the more we shall impart to others.
We read in the Bible about the resurrection of Christ from the dead; but do we act as though we believed it? Do we believe that Jesus is a living Saviour, that he is not in Joseph's new tomb, with the great stone rolled before it, but that he has risen from the dead, and ascended on high, to lead captivity captive, and to give good gifts unto men? He is there to plead our cases in the courts of heaven. He is there because we need a friend in the heavenly court, one who is to be our advocate and intercessor. Then let us rejoice in this. We have everything for which to praise God. Many judge of their religious state by their emotions; but these are not a safe criterion. Our Christian life does not depend upon our feelings, but upon our having a right hold from above. We must believe the words of God just as he has spoken them; we must take Christ at his word, believe that he came to represent the Father, and that the Father, as is represented in Christ, is our friend, and that he desires not that we should perish, or he would never have given his Son to die our sacrifice. The cross of Calvary is an eternal pledge to every one of us, that God wants us to be happy, not only in the future life, but in this life.
We must bring our minds to rest upon the inheritance that is "incorruptible, and undefiled, reserved in heaven for you who are kept"--by your own merit or works?--No; "who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations." We shall have trials and afflictions; we shall have temptations because we see the working of the enemy and our feebleness to resist him, and we do not constantly look to the Source of our strength. "That the trial of your faith"--that is why temptations come, to try our faith--"that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ." The trial of our faith should not cause despair or discouragement. We should not cast ourselves away, saying, "I am a sinner, and when I become good enough, I will come to Christ; then I can believe and pray." You will never be good enough of yourselves to merit the favor and help of God. You must come just as you are. Christ meets you as you draw nigh to him. Place your hand in the hand of Jesus, and he will direct you. Believe that he keeps you, and then it will be found that in the trial of your faith you will come off more than conqueror through him that loved you. We gain the victory through faith in Christ's power to save us. Then the trial of our faith will be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Christ. You will praise God that you have found in Christ a present help in every time of need.
In the books of heaven are registered your profession of faith, your responsibility as Christians. But are you Christians? What is it to be a Christian?--It is to be Christlike. To be a Christian is to act as Christ acts, to have his spirit at all times, in all places, and under all circumstances. When we are brought into adverse circumstances, when our natural feelings are stirred, and we want to give vent to them, then our faith is tried; then we are to manifest the meekness and gentleness of Christ. Not by one word are we to give expression to the feelings of the natural heart. "If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body"--the whole man. What we want is to be under the control of Jesus. We do not want our own way. I have heard some plead as an excuse for their wrong course, "You know that it is my temperament, it is my disposition, transmitted to me from my parents." Yes; and they have cultivated it, and educated themselves in it, and thus excused all their wrongdoing. Instead of yielding to temptation, they should lay hold upon the arm of Infinite Power, saying, "I will come to God just as I am, and plead with Christ to give me the victory. I shall be more than conqueror through him that loved me."
In order to understand how great the love of Jesus is for you, look to Cavalry. You can then know something of the depth, the breadth, and the height of that love, and you can see something of the condescension of God and the Lord Jesus Christ, as step by step the Saviour descended into the valley of humiliation. He did not stoop to sin, to defilement, but he stood on this atom of a world to battle with Satan and his host, and here to win for us an immortal inheritance, an inheritance which is incorruptible, and undefiled, and which fadeth not away. When he ascended on high, and led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men, he left the battle in our hands, but we are not to fight in our own strength; we should certainly fail if we attempted it. Christ is there present with the Father, to bring to our help the unseen intelligences, the angels of God. What we need is the simplicity of faith, the meekness and humility of Christ. Then we shall trust wholly in the Lord of heaven, and he will be at our right hand to help us.
When you indulge the feelings of the natural heart, letting the carnal nature have the supremacy, then I ask, What assurance have you that you are kept by the power of God unto salvation? "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." No frost shall blight the crop, no mildew blast it, no palmerworm destroy it. If we sow to the flesh, we shall of the flesh reap corruption; but if we sow to the Spirit, we shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. Let us live with reference to the reaping time. By Mrs. E. G. White. (Concluded next week.)
(Vol. 69, #11)
The apostle continues, speaking of Christ, "Whom having not seen, we love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory." Then why are you mourning? Christ has said: "As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love." It is for us to choose whether we will abide in his love, or by indulging selfishness will separate ourselves from him. He says, "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. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." In him there is joy that is not uncertain and unsatisfying. If the light that flows from Jesus has come to you, and you are reflecting it upon others, you show that you have joy that is pure, elevating, and ennobling.
Why should not the religion of Christ be represented as it really is, as full of attractiveness and power? Why should we not present before the world the loveliness of Christ? Why do we not show that we have a living Saviour, one who can walk with us in the darkness as well as in the light, and that we can trust in him? While we have been on this ground, we have seen clouds interpose between us and the sun, but we did not mourn and clothe ourselves in sackcloth for fear that we should never see the sun again. We manifested no anxiety about it, but waited as cheerfully as possible until the cloud passed away and revealed the sun. Just so in our trials and temptations. Clouds may seem to shut from us the bright beams of the sun of righteousness; but we know that the face of our Redeemer is not forever hidden. He is looking upon us with love and tender compassion. Let us not cast away our confidence, which hath great recompense of reward, but when clouds hang over the soul, let us keep our eyes fixed where we can see the sun of righteousness, and rejoice that we have a living Saviour. Think how beautiful was the light which we enjoyed, keep the mind stayed on Jesus, and the light will again shine upon us, and dismal thoughts will flee. We shall have joy in Christ, and shall go singing on our way to Mount Zion. This is what the Lord wants us to do.
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul says, speaking of the gospel, "Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ." Why not keep your minds fixed on the unsearchable riches of Christ, that you may present to others the gems of truth? In the word of God there are rich mines of truth that we may spend our whole lifetime in exploring, and yet we shall find that we have only begun to view their precious stores. Sink the shaft deep, and bring up the hidden treasures. But it is impossible to do this while we indulge an idle, restless spirit, seeking constantly for something that will merely gratify the senses, something to amuse, and cause a foolish laugh. Well has the wise man said, "As the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool." We should not set our minds upon such things as these, when there are unsearchable riches for us. It will take us all eternity to comprehend the riches of the glory of God and of Jesus Christ. But minds that are occupied with frivolous reading, with exciting stories, or with seeking after amusement, do not dwell upon Christ, and cannot rejoice in the fullness of his love. The mind that finds pleasure in foolish thoughts and trifling conversation, is as destitute of the joy of Christ as were the hills of Gilboa of dew or rain. Does not your own experience testify to this? How much peace of mind do you have at the close of a day spent in frivolity, in light and trifling conversation? Can you retire to rest at night, saying, "It is well, it is well with my soul; my life is hid with Christ in God, and when He who is my life shall appear, then shall I also appear with him in glory"? How often when you come into the house of God, into the solemn assembly, your thoughts are turned to that foolish remark which someone has made, to that idle story, or that comical thing which you read or saw. And the thought will come at just such a time as to eclipse a bright ray of the glory of Christ, and you lose the benefit of the heaven-sent light which you ought to receive. Keep the mind free from all such trash.
We need to be constantly filling the mind with Christ, and emptying it of selfishness and sin. When Christ came into the world, the leaders of the Jews were so permeated with Phariseeism that they could not receive his teachings. Jesus compared them to the shriveled wine skins which were not fit to receive the new wine from the vintage. He had to find new bottles into which to put the new wine of his kingdom. This was why he turned away from the Pharisees, and chose the lowly fishermen of Galilee. Jesus was the greatest teacher the world ever knew, and he chose men whom he could educate, and who would take the words from his lips, and send them down along the line to our time. So, by his Spirit and his word, he would educate you for his work. Just as surely as you empty your mind of vanity and frivolity, the vacuum will be supplied with that which God is waiting to give you,--his Holy Spirit. Then out of the good treasure of the heart you will bring forth good things, rich gems of thought, and others will catch the words and will begin to glorify God. Then you will not have the mind centered upon self. You will not be making a show of self; you will not be acting self; but your thoughts and affections will dwell upon Christ, and you will reflect upon others that which has shone upon you from the sun of righteousness.
Christ has said: "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink." Have you exhausted the fountain?--No; for it is inexhaustible. Just as soon as you feel your need, you may drink, and drink again. The fountain is always full. And when you have once drank of that fountain, you will not be seeking to quench your thirst from the broken cisterns of this world; you will not be studying how you can find the most pleasure, amusement, fun, and frolic. No; because you have been drinking from the stream which makes glad the city of God. Then your joy will be full; for Christ will be in you, the hope of glory.
Let us read further from Ephesians: "And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be made known to the church the manifold wisdom of God." Then why not receive the heavenly wisdom, and impart of it to others? God has declared what your wisdom is; he says it is foolishness, and that the weak things of God are stronger than men. We need the "manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord; in whom we have boldness by the faith of him." This boldness is not presumption, but we come with confidence, as the children of God; as branches of the True Vine, we draw nourishment from it.
"Wherefore I desire that you faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory. For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 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."
When Christ dwells in your heart by faith, this rich experience will be yours. Then you will know that love is flowing into your hearts, and subduing every affection and every thought, and bringing them into captivity to Christ. You cannot explain it; human language can never explain how the love of Christ can take possession of the soul, and lead captive every power of the mind. But you will know it by a personal experience.
"Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus." Praise and flattery of one another is forbidden in the Scriptures. It is an offense to God, and is an injury both to him who gives and him who receives praise. It is a snare to them; for it separates the soul from God. We must learn to place God's estimate upon men. Certain ones, you say, do not please you, and you do not enjoy their society; but these very ones may be nearer to God than you are. When we come to the judgment, we shall find that there are some whom we have esteemed very highly, whose names are not registered in the book of life. Your finite judgment approved their actions, when God did not approve them. And others, of whom you have a very low estimate, may be found to be precious jewels in the sight of God. Jesus never makes a mistake, as men do. In the scale of heaven, character is weighed. Let every tribute of praise that flows from the heart be offered to the Lord God of hosts. Praise him that he has given Jesus to be our righteousness, that he is weaving for us a garment in the loom of heaven, that we may be clothed, not unclothed, but clothed upon with the righteousness of Christ.
There is no need for us to hunger; there is no need for us to thirst, while the storehouse of heaven is open for us, and the key is given into our possession. What is the key?--Faith, which is the gift of God. Unlock the storehouse; take of its rich treasures. May God help us to lay hold upon the eternal realities, and "when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 69, #12)
"He showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: and, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power."
The disciples were anxious to know the exact time for the revelation of the kingdom of God; but Jesus tells them that they may not know the times and the seasons; for the Father has not revealed them. To understand when the kingdom of God should be restored, was not the thing of most importance for them to know. They were to be found following the Master, praying, waiting, watching, and working. They were to be representatives to the world of the character of Christ. That which was essential for a successful Christian experience in the days of the disciples, is essential in our day. "And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you." And after the Holy Ghost was come upon them, what were they to do? "And ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth."
This is the work in which we also are to be engaged. Instead of living in expectation of some special season of excitement, we are wisely to improve present opportunities, doing that which must be done in order that souls may be saved. Instead of exhausting the powers of our mind in speculations in regard to the times and seasons which the Lord has placed in his own power, and withheld from men, we are to yield ourselves to the control of the Holy Spirit, to do present duties, to give the bread of life, unadulterated with human opinions, to souls who are perishing for the truth.
Satan is ever ready to fill the mind with theories and calculations that will divert men from the present truth, and disqualify them for the giving of the third angel's message to the world. It has ever been thus; for our Saviour often had to speak reprovingly to those who indulged in speculations and were ever inquiring into those things which the Lord had not revealed. Jesus had come to earth to impart important truth to men, and he wished to impress their minds with the necessity of receiving and obeying his precepts and instructions, of doing their present duty, and his communications were of an order that imparted knowledge for their immediate and daily use.
Jesus said: "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." All that was done and said had this one object in view,--to rivet truth in their minds that they might attain unto everlasting life. Jesus did not come to astonish men with some great announcement of some special time when some great event would occur, but he came to instruct and save the lost. He did not come to arouse and gratify curiosity; for he knew that this would but increase the appetite for the curious and the marvelous. It was his aim to impart knowledge whereby men might increase in spiritual strength, and advance in the way of obedience and true holiness. He gave only such instruction as could be appropriated to the needs of their daily life, only such truth as could be given to others for the same appropriation. He did not make new revelations to men, but opened to their understanding truths that had long been obscured or misplaced through the false teaching of the priests and teachers. Jesus replaced the gems of divine truth in their proper setting, in the order in which they had been given to patriarchs and prophets. And after giving them this precious instruction, he promised to give them the Holy Spirit whereby all things that he had said unto them should be brought to their remembrance.
We are in continual danger of getting above the simplicity of the gospel. There is an intense desire on the part of many to startle the world with something original, that shall lift the people into a state of spiritual ecstasy, and change the present order of experience. There is certainly great need of a change in the present order of experience; for the sacredness of present truth is not realized as it should be, but the change we need is a change of heart, and can only be obtained by seeking God individually for his blessing, by pleading with him for his power, by fervently praying that his grace may come upon us, and that our characters may be transformed. This is the change we need today, and for the attainment of this experience we should exercise persevering energy and manifest heartfelt earnestness. We should ask with true sincerity, "What shall I do to be saved?" We should know just what steps we are taking heavenward.
Christ gave to his disciples truths whose breadth and depth and value they little appreciated, or even comprehended, and the same condition exists among the people of God today. We too have failed to take in the greatness, to perceive the beauty of the truth which God has intrusted to us today. Should we advance in spiritual knowledge, we would see the truth developing and expanding in lines of which we have little dreamed, but it will never develop in any line that will lead us to imagine that we may know the times and the seasons which the Father hath put in his own power. Again and again have I been warned in regard to time-setting. There will never again be a message for the people of God that will be based on time. We are not to know the definite time either for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit or for the coming of Christ.
I was searching through my writings, before coming to this meeting, to see what I should take with me to Australia, and I found an envelope on which was written, "Testimony given in regard to time-setting, June 21, 1851. Preserve carefully." I opened it, and this is what I found. It reads, "A copy of a vision the Lord gave sister White June 21, 1851, at Camden, N. Y. The Lord showed me that the message must go, and that it must not be hung on time; for time will never be a test again. I saw that some were getting a false excitement, arising from preaching time, that the third angel's message can stand on its own foundation, and that it needs not time to strengthen it, and that it will go with mighty power, and do its work, and will be cut short in righteousness.
"I saw some were making everything bend to this next fall; that is, making their calculations, and disposing of their property in reference to that time. I saw that this was wrong for this reason, instead of going to God daily, and earnestly desiring to know their present duty, they looked ahead, and made their calculations as though they knew that the work would end this fall, without inquiring their duty of God daily. "E. G. White." "Copied at Milton, June 29, 1851. A. A. G."
This was the document I came upon last Monday in searching over my writings, and here is another which was written in regard to a man who was setting time in 1884, and sending broadcast his arguments to prove his theories. The report of what he was doing was brought to me at the Jackson, Mich. campmeeting, and I told the people they need not take heed to this man's theory; for the event he predicted would not take place. The times and the seasons God has put in his own power, and why has not God given us this knowledge?--Because we would not make a right use of it if he did. A condition of things would result from this knowledge among our people that would greatly retard the work of God in preparing a people to stand in the great day that is to come. We are not to live upon time excitement. We are not to be engrossed with speculations in regard to the times and the seasons which God has not revealed. Jesus has told his disciples to "watch," but not for definite time. His followers are to be in the position of those who are listening for the orders of their Captain; they are to watch, wait, pray, and work, as they approach the time for the coming of the Lord; but no one will be able to predict just when that time will come; for "of that day and hour knoweth no man." You will not be able to say that he will come in one, two, or five years, neither are you to put off his coming by stating that it may not be for ten or twenty years.
It is the duty of the people of God to have their lamps trimmed and burning, to be as men that wait for the Bridegroom, when he shall return from the wedding. You have not a moment to lose in neglect of the great salvation that has been provided for you. The time of the probation of souls is coming to an end. From day to day the destiny of men is being sealed, and even from this congregation we know not how soon many shall close their eyes in death and be habited for the tomb. We should now consider that our life is swiftly passing away, that we are not safe one moment unless our life is hid with Christ in God. Our duty is not to be looking forward to some special time for some special work to be done for us, but to go forward in our work of warning the world; for we are to be witnesses of Christ to the uttermost parts of the world. All around us are the young, the impenitent, the unconverted, and what are we doing for them? Parents, in the ardor of your first love, are you seeking for the conversion of your children, or are you engrossed with the things of this life to such an extent that you are not making earnest efforts to be laborers together with God? Do you have an appreciation of the work and mission of the Holy Spirit? Do you realize that the Holy Spirit is the agency whereby we are to reach the souls of those around us? When this meeting shall close, will you go from here and forget the earnest appeals that have been made to you? will the messages of warning be left unheeded, and the truth you have heard leak out of your heart as water leaks out of a broken vessel?
The apostle says, "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?"
The third angel's message is swelling into a loud cry, and you must not feel at liberty to neglect the present duty, and still entertain the idea that at some future time you will be the recipients of great blessing, when without any effort on your part a wonderful revival will take place. today you are to give yourselves to God, that he may make of you vessels unto honor, and meet for his service. Today you are to give yourself to God, that you may be emptied of self, emptied of envy, jealousy, evil-surmising, strife, everything that shall be dishonoring to God. Today you are to have your vessel purified that it may be ready for the heavenly dew, ready for the showers of the latter rain; for the latter rain will come, and the blessing of God will fill every soul that is purified from every defilement. It is our work today to yield our souls to Christ, that we may be fitted for the time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord--fitted for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. By Mrs. E. G. White. (To be continued.)
(Vol. 69, #13)
Brethren and sisters, with the increased light that has shone upon you at this meeting, will you go home to be more faithful in your Christian life? Meetings have been held every day to instruct your children as to how to give their hearts to Jesus, how to live in a manner that will be acceptable to God. They have been instructed that if they repent of their sins, Jesus will forgive them, and cleanse them from all unrighteousness. Who will carry forward the good work that has been begun? Day by day these children need instruction as to how to follow the Lord. Will you pray for them and teach them, and lead them in the way of righteousness? Will you teach your little ones of the love of God which led him to give his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life?
Those who would be successful in winning souls to Christ, must carry with them the divine influence of the Holy Spirit. But how little is known concerning the operation of the Spirit of God. How little has been said of the importance of being endowed by the Holy Spirit, and yet it is through the agency of the Holy Spirit that men are to be drawn to Christ, and through its power alone can the soul be made pure. The Saviour said: "And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment."
Christ has promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to his church, but how little is this promise appreciated. How seldom is its power felt in the church; how little is its power spoken of before the people. The Saviour has said: "Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me." With the reception of this gift, all other gifts would be ours; for we are to have this gift according to the plentitude of the riches of the grace of Christ, and he is ready to supply every soul according to the capacity to receive. Then let us not be satisfied with only a little of this blessing, only that amount which will keep us from the slumber of death, but let us diligently seek for the abundance of the grace of God.
God grant that his converting power may be felt throughout this large assembly. O, that the power of God may rest upon the people. What we need is daily piety. We need to search the Scriptures daily, to pray earnestly that by the power of the Holy Spirit God may fit every one of us up to work in our place in his vineyard. No one is prepared to educate and strengthen the church unless he has received the gift of the Holy Spirit. No minister is prepared to labor intelligently for the salvation of souls, unless he is endowed by the Holy Spirit, unless he is feeding on Christ, and has an intense hatred of sin. There are some who are regarded as laborers together with God, who have no connection with God, and are sinning against him. They are not led by Christ; another is their captain. They do not wait upon the Lord, and renew their strength in Christ; they have no burden for souls. What kind of account will these false shepherds have to meet in the judgment? What will they have to say to justify their inefficient, unconsecrated lives? What excuse can they render to the God of heaven? Was there not a sufficient sacrifice made in their behalf, that they might become partakers of the divine nature, and escape the corruptions that are in the world through lust? We are to make intelligent work for eternity. This is the object for which we should labor.
I have no specific time of which to speak when the outpouring of the Holy Spirit will take place,--when the mighty angel will come down from heaven, and unite with the third angel in closing up the work for this world; my message is that our only safety is in being ready for the heavenly refreshing, having our lamps trimmed and burning. Christ has told us to watch; "for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of man cometh." "Watch and pray" is the charge that is given us by our Redeemer. Day by day we are to seek the enlightenment of the Spirit of God, that it may do its office work upon the soul and character. O, how much time has been wasted through giving attention to trifling things. Repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.
We now call upon you to give yourselves to the service of God. Too long have you given your powers to the service of Satan, and have been slaves to his will. God calls upon you to behold the glory of his character, that by beholding, you may become changed into his image. There are many who have not an experimental knowledge of God or of the Lord Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent. Christ came into the world because men did not have a correct knowledge of the character of God, and he came to reveal the Father. He said: "Neither knoweth any man the Father, but the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him." Jesus came to reveal to the world the love and goodness of God.
It was thought that Solomon knew God. In a dream the Lord appeared unto Solomon, and said unto him: "Ask what I shall give thee." And Solomon said: "Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?" And the Lord gave Solomon wisdom and riches and power and influence, and Solomon served the Lord for a time. At the dedication of the temple, Solomon prayed unto the Lord, and blessed the people, saying, "Blessed be the Lord, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that he promised: there hath not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant. The Lord our God be with us, as he was with our fathers: let him not leave us, nor forsake us: that he may incline our hearts unto him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and his statutes, and his judgments, which he commanded our fathers. And let these my words, wherewith I have made supplication before the Lord, be nigh unto the Lord our God day and night, that he maintain the cause of his servant, and the cause of his people Israel at all times, as the matter shall require: that all the people of the earth may know that the Lord is God, and that there is none else."
But although Solomon had had great light, he became lifted up in himself, and imagined that he was wise enough to keep himself, so he separated from God. Then he made alliances with the heathen nations around him, and married idolatrous women, and bowed at pagan shrines, and worshiped after the manner of the heathen.
He forgot the benefits that God has bestowed upon him; he forsook the sacred temple of the Lord, but he afterwards repented, and turned from his evil ways. But did Solomon know God when he was doing according to the ways of idolaters?--No; he had forgotten the rich experience of his youth and the prayers he had made in the temple.
The True Witness speaks to us today, and says, "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 Lord wants you to set things in order in your families, and to come back to your first love. He says, "Except thou repent, I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place." The candlestick was removed out of its place when Solomon forgot God. He lost the light of God, he lost the wisdom of God, he confounded idolatry with religion. The Saviour declares, "Ye cannot serve God and mammon," and every one of you who persists in sinning against God when you have had such great light, will be lost, "except thou repent." Do you imagine that you can give the third angel's message to the world while you are still carnal and corrupt, while your characters are still sinful? "No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment; for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse." Unless your hearts are emptied of sin every day, unless you are sanctified through the truth, you would better not touch the message of God. You cannot cleanse yourselves, but by coming to Jesus in humility, in contrition, surrendering yourselves to God, through the merits of Christ's righteousness you may have an experience in the things of God, and taste of the powers of the world to come. You then will have fruit unto life eternal.
Christ says, "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love." "O," you may say, "I do keep the commandments." Do you? Saul came to meet Samuel, and when reproved, he declared, "I have kept the commandments of the Lord." Do you carry out the principles of God's commandments in your home in your family? Do you never manifest rudeness, unkindness, and impoliteness in the family circle? If you do manifest unkindness at your home, no matter how high may be your profession, you are breaking God's commandments. No matter how much you may preach the commandments to others, if you fail to manifest the love of Christ to others in your home life, you are a transgressor of the law. But if the grace of Christ appears in your life, you will be in a position to glorify God, and to manifest Christ to others. But do you think that that man who goes from the sacred desk to indulge in jesting and joking, and in all manner of trifling conversation, is a representative of Christ to the world? Has he the law of God in his heart?--No. His heart is filled with self-love, self-importance, and he makes it manifest that he has no correct estimate of sacred things. His conduct is the product of his thoughts, showing just what is in the heart. Christ is not there, and he does not go weighted with the spirit of the solemn message of truth for this time. An exhibition of this character clearly proves that the man does not know God, and has not been intrusted with the solemn work which he does not understand or appreciate.
If the minister had a realizing sense of the presence of God, would he conduct himself in this way? He had great light, and had taken upon himself the sacred responsibility of a minister of God, and yet he acts as carelessly as if he was an unbeliever. His actions make it evident that he has as much realization of the presence of God as had Belshazzar when he drank from the sacred vessels from the house of the Lord, praising the gods of gold and silver. The mighty men and the lords of the kingdom were assembled, and they ate and drank, and had a jovial time, but the True Witness was there, and their profanity was recorded in the books of heaven. In the midst of their revelry, a bloodless hand appeared, tracing mysterious characters upon the wall of the palace, and their godless mirth was checked, and terror and despair took its place. They inquired for someone who could interpret the writing, and Daniel, the prophet of God, was called to the banquet room, and the servant of the Lord was able to decipher the writing, and interpret the meaning of the words. "This is the interpretation of the thing: Mene; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. Tekel; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. Peres; Thy kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians."
The same Witness that recorded the profanity of Belshazzar is present with us wherever we go. Young man, young woman, you may not realize that God is looking upon you; you may feel that you are at liberty to act out the impulses of the natural heart, that you may indulge in lightness and trifling, but for all these things you must give an account. As you sow, you will reap, and if you are taking the foundation from your house, robbing your brain of its nutriment, and your nerves of their power by dissipation and indulgence of appetite and passion, you will have an account to render to him who says, "I know thy works."
If you knew God, if you were truly converted, you would not take pleasure in sinful things. The fear of God would be upon you, and as you looked to Calvary, the hateful character of transgression would be revealed to you, and you would see the great love wherewith God has loved you, and you would not have a disposition to sin. But how would it be with many of you who have dared to handle sacred things with unclean hands and with defiled souls, should the trumpet sound today? How would it be with some of you, should you be called to render up your account at the judgment seat of Christ today? I ask, What would be your condition if Christ should leave the holy place today, and probation should close, and Christ should come? That time is soon to come, though we know not the day or the hour.
The times and the seasons are known only to God, but we are each to know that it is well with our souls, that Christ is formed within, the hope of glory. We are to know that our Redeemer liveth, and that we will be among that number who shall hear the voice of Christ, who will be gathered by the angels of God, and caught up to meet the Lord in the air. By Mrs. E. G. White. (Concluded next week.)
(Vol. 69, #14)
We would ask you what time have you set in which you have determined to give your heart to God without reserve? What time have you set for seeking for perfection of character through faith in the righteousness of Christ? Is it tomorrow? Tomorrow you may be cold in death. Is it next week? Next week your hands may be folded across your breast, and your eyes may be sealed in their last sleep, and it may be too late for you to perfect a character for heaven. I want to ask our ministers, What kind of character do you think the Lord will accept in his kingdom? Do you know God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent? Is the love of God abiding in your souls? Are you dwelling in Christ, and Christ in you? If you are, you are safe; but if you are not, there is no safety for you. Do not allow your minds to be diverted from the all-important theme of the righteousness of Christ by the study of theories. Do not imagine that the performance of ceremonies, the observance of outward forms, will make you an heir of heaven. We want to keep the mind steadfastly to the point for which we are working; for it is now the day of the Lord's preparation, and we should yield our hearts to God, that they may be softened and subdued by the Holy Spirit.
"Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you." But when the Holy Spirit is in the heart, the minister will manifest it to others by his godly life and holy conversation. Do you think that the minister who has no burden for souls is fit for the sacred office to which he has been ordained?--No; he does not know what it means to keep his own soul in the love of God. The minister should realize that souls are the purchase of the blood of Christ, ransomed at an infinite cost. Can the minister who is standing under the shadow of Calvary engage in jesting and joking, and indulge his carnal propensities? Would such a one be a safe guide for the flock of God? Would he not cause them to stumble? He would cause them to stumble; for he would not discern between the sacred and the common, and eternity would be lost out of his reckoning.
We should all realize that an angel is writing every word and action in the book of record, and the things done in secret are to be proclaimed upon the housetop. What we need in this time of peril is a converted ministry. We need men who realize their soul poverty, and who will earnestly seek for the endowment of the Holy Spirit. A preparation of heart is necessary that God may give us his blessing, but this heart work is not done. O, when will the ministry awake to the solemn responsibilities that are laid upon them, and earnestly plead for heavenly power? It is the Holy Spirit that must give edge and power to the discourse of the minister, or his preaching will be as destitute of the righteousness of Christ as was the offering of Cain. Both ministers and people need to open the door to Christ. He 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." Thank God for that promise, for it is given to those who have made mistakes and failures. Jesus says, "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent." May God help us to do this work in sincerity and in contrition of soul.
When ministers enter the desk, they should do so feeling their dependence upon God, that they may work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, and all the glory should be given to God; for it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. This is the cooperation that God requires. What is the trouble that the flock of the Lord is sickly and ready to die? Why is it that spiritual food is not supplied? Are the ministers of the Lord eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the Son of God? Jesus says, "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. . . . It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." My heart is drawn out to the hungry flock in Michigan, and you who have not fed on the living Bread, who have not drank of the healing streams of salvation, and do not know where to lead the flock of God that they may find refreshment, for Christ's sake, do not try to minister in the sacred desk, until you have an experience in the things of God. Jesus prayed, "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." When the word of God is in the heart, it exerts a sanctifying influence over the character, and men are brought into harmony with God. If truth and light are in the heart, you will bring love and light and blessing to the churches. You will not be as shadows casting the gloom of unbelief and darkness upon the people. Jesus wants to take your hand, and lead you, and will you not give yourselves to him? Talk of what Jesus did, how he left his glory, and came to seek and to save that which was lost.
If God has sent you to preach, he has provided that you shall go weighted with the graces of the Spirit of God, and with a message of truth that will be as meat in due season to the hungry flock of God. You will realize that you are standing between the living and the dead, and that you are a spectacle unto the world, to angels, and to men. The minister is to reveal Christ, not to exhibit himself to the people. Youth is not to be urged as an excuse for lightness and trifling; for the apostle exhorts that young men be sober-minded, and remember that they are to render an account to God for the influence they exert. Young men, if you have had no special sense of sin, if you are possessed of a spirit of trifling, do not seek to minister in the sacred desk, and jeopardize your own soul and the souls of others, and leave the impression on the world that you are representatives of the solemn truth for this time. Unless Jesus is formed within, the hope of glory, you will be a curse and not a blessing to the congregation, for the minister cannot bring the people to a higher standard than that which he himself reaches. But those who sincerely repent and turn to the Lord, will find in him a personal Saviour. He is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him. He will save you from yourself, from every defilement, from all your foolishness. You are to believe in him, to "trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe." When you love Jesus, you will not grieve him by indulging sin in yourself; for you will realize that he came not to save you in your sins, but from your sins. John says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
Those whom God has called to the ministry are to give evidence by the influence they exert, that they are fit for the holy calling in which they are found. Paul writes, "Be thou an example of the believers." Then shall young ministers be excused for their lightness and trifling? Shall the church be expected to listen to their words, to receive their testimony, when their example misrepresents the character of Christ, and leads away from the path cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in? What can we think of churches that will listen to the testimony of men who have no power in prayer, no fervency in their devotion, no freedom in personal labor for souls? The Lord has commanded, "Be ye holy in all manner of conversation." "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them; for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee." The proof of the minister's call to preach the gospel is seen in his example and work. God desires men in the ministry who will esteem highly the things which he esteems, and preserve the sanctity of truth, and not do as did Nadab and Abihu. They discerned not the difference between the sacred and the common. Their senses were blunted with indulgence in wine, and they offered strange fire before the Lord. They did not realize the sacredness of the work in which they were engaged. There are some now who profess to be ministers of the Lord who talk of the things of God as they would talk of some business transaction. O, we need the heavenly enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. The churches will never become the light of the world unless they turn unto the Lord to serve him with full purpose of heart.
The people of God are called to be the light of the world, a city that is set upon a hill, not to be hidden; and if the church is ever to fulfill its divine mission, we must be filled with the love of Jesus. Our hearts must be so full of his matchless grace that when we meet each other, we shall take our brethren by the hand, and say, "Hear what the Lord hath done for my soul." Our minds must be stayed upon God until, by beholding, we shall become changed into the same image. Then we shall talk of the power of God, of the goodness and mercy and love of our heavenly Father; and as we talk of the matchless charms of our divine Redeemer, our hearts will be melted and subdued by the Holy Spirit, and those around us will behold us, and know that we have been with Jesus and learned of him.
Then if one comes among you professing to be a preacher of righteousness, who mingles with the truth words of foolishness and jesting, who carries no burden for souls, take him aside, and in the spirit of love and meekness, tell him that he cannot feed the church of God when he himself does not know what it means to feed on the bread of life. Let the father plead that he is seeking to follow the example of Abraham, and commanding his children and his household to keep the way of the Lord. Let the mother urge that a right example be given to her children. Let trifling and joking be banished from the conversation of the minister, but let his speech be seasoned with grace; let the light and love of Jesus shine in his example and precept, that souls may be won for the Master.
Follow the instruction of the word of God, in dealing with your ministering brethren. Paul says, "Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father, and the younger men as brethren." There may be occasion to speak of their errors to those who have long been in the ministry, but let it be done as a matter of entreaty, and not rebuke. The younger ministers are to be treated as brethren, and may God help us that we may help one another. We must have a living connection with God. We must be clothed with power from on high by the baptism of the Holy Spirit, that we may reach a higher standard; for there is help for us in no other way. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 69, #15)
It is through the truth, by the power of the Holy Spirit, that we are to be sanctified,--transformed into the likeness of Christ. And in order for this change to be wrought in us, there must be an unconditional, wholehearted acceptance of the truth, an unreserved surrender of the soul to its transforming power.
Our characters are by nature warped and perverted. Through the lack of proper development they are wanting in symmetry. With some excellent qualities are united objectionable traits, and through long indulgence wrong tendencies become second nature, and many persons cling tenaciously to their peculiarities. Even after they profess to accept the truth, to yield themselves to Christ, the same old habits are indulged, the same self-esteem is manifested, the same false notions entertained. Although such ones claim to be converted, it is evident that they have not yielded themselves to the transforming power of the truth.
These things are not only harming their own souls, but are misleading others, who look to them as representatives of the truths which they profess to believe. Here we may see why some of our ministers as well as laymen have not greater power. They have not made an entire surrender to God. They do not realize the sinfulness of clinging to their own ways, following their own ideas, which are crude and narrow, and without symmetry. They hold tenaciously to the theory of the truth, and try to present it to others, but it is so beclouded by their own peculiarities that its brightness is obscured; it appears unattractive, and too often is refused.
Those who accept unpopular truth must receive it in the face of many opposing influences. Tradition, custom, and prejudice barricade their souls against the light. The advocates of truth must give evidence in their own character of its reforming, transforming power, or their labors will have little effect.
Again: those who do accept the truth naturally expect that the one who presents it to them is right in his ideas of general principles and of what constitutes Christian character. When associated with him, they incline to do as he does. If his practices are wrong, they almost imperceptibly become partakers of the evil. His defects are reproduced in their religious experience. Often, through their love and reverence for him, some objectionable feature of his character is even copied by them as a virtue. If the one who is thus misrepresenting Christ could know what harm has been wrought by the faults of character which he has excused and cherished, he would be filled with horror.
All who receive the truth are to stand as its representatives and advocates; the same responsibility rests in a degree upon all members of the church, whether ministers or laymen. Every soul who receives the truth should make the fullest possible surrender of himself to God,--a surrender represented as falling upon the Rock and being broken. Our old habits, our hereditary and cultivated traits of character, must all be yielded to the transforming power of Christ if we would become vessels unto honor, meet for the Master's use, prepared unto every good work.
As the Comforter shall come, and reprove you of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment, be careful lest you resist the Spirit of God, and thus be left in darkness, not knowing at what you stumble. Be willing to discern what it shall reveal to you. Yield up your self-will, the long idolized habits peculiar to yourself, that you may receive the principles of truth. Thus you become a branch of the True Vine, and you will not bear wild grapes or thorn-berries, but rich clusters of precious fruit, just like that which grows upon the parent stock.
Said Christ, "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit." Why prune the branch that is already bearing fruit? Because its tendrils are fastening upon earthly rubbish, too much of its strength has gone to the growth of the stem and leaves, and too little to the production of fruit. The vine must be cut away, the tendrils that bind it earthward must be severed. It must be rightly directed. Then it will produce more fruit, and of more precious quality.
John says, "The light"--Christ--"shineth in darkness," that is, in the world, "and the darkness comprehended it not. . . . But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." The reason why the unbelieving world are not saved is that they do not choose to be enlightened. The old nature, born of blood and the will of the flesh, cannot inherit the kingdom of God. The old ways, the hereditary tendencies, the former habits, must be given up; for grace is not inherited. The new birth consists in having new motives, new tastes, new tendencies. Those who are begotten unto a new life by the Holy Spirit, have become partakers of the divine nature, and in all their habits and practices, they will give evidence of their relationship to Christ. When men who claim to be Christians retain all their natural defects of character and disposition, in what does their position differ from that of the worldling? They do not appreciate the truth as a sanctifier, a refiner. They have not been born again.
The command, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect," would never have been given, if every provision had not been made whereby we may become as perfect in our sphere as God is in his. We are to be ever advancing from light to a greater light, holding fast what we have already received, and praying for more. Thus we shall never be left in darkness.
Let none feel that their way needs no changing. Those who decide thus are not fitted to engage in the work of God, for they will not feel the necessity of pressing constantly toward a higher standard, making continual improvement. None can walk safely unless they are distrustful of self, and are constantly looking to the work of God, studying it with willing heart to see their own errors, and to learn the will of Christ, and praying that it may be done in and by and through them. They show that their confidence is not in themselves, but in Christ. They hold the truth as a sacred treasure, able to sanctify and refine, and they are constantly seeking to bring their words and ways into harmony with its principles. They fear and tremble lest something savoring of self shall be idolized, and thus their defects be reproduced in others who confide in them. They are always seeking to subdue self, to put away everything that savors of it, and to supply the place with the meekness and lowliness of Christ. They are looking unto Jesus, growing up into him, gathering from him light and grace, that they may diffuse the same to others.
The truth, the grace of Christ, received into the soul never rests content with its own existence. It is always gathering, diffusing, and increasing by diffusing. It is an active, working principle. As long as there are sinners to be saved, grace and love and truth are seeking for them. Jesus said: "I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." We are to be laborers together with him; but our work is to lift up Christ. He alone can draw men unto him.
Never think that even when you do your best, you are, of yourself, capable of winning souls to Christ. You must cultivate the habit of discerning a power beyond that which can be seen with human vision,--a power that is constantly at work upon the hearts of men. When you approach the stranger, when you stand face to face with the impenitent, the afflicted, the soul-needy, the Lord is by your side if you have indeed given yourself to him. He makes the impression on the heart. But you may be the instrument for his gracious work. You cannot reach hearts with a mere form of words, a parrot-like repetition of set phrases. What you say must be the expression of a personal experience: If you cheer hearts with words of courage and hope, it will be because the grace and love of God are to you a living reality. It is God's impress that these souls are to receive, not your own. But if the worker has not himself been refined, transformed, he cannot present the truth with a freshness, a force, a power, that awakens responsive feelings in those who hear the word of life.
It is true that some will be found who will accept the truth on its own merits, notwithstanding the defects of the one who presents it to them. Though himself unsanctified in heart, he may bring forward conclusive evidence in favor of the truth; and those upon whose hearts the Spirit of God has been moving, leading them to hunger and thirst for truth, will by the same Spirit be led to accept the truth when it is presented. It was not the man who made the impression, but the Comforter, the Spirit of truth, that Christ promised to send, to lead his disciples into all truth. But how much more might be accomplished in winning souls, if all who present the truth were instruments for the working of the Spirit of God.
Those to whom the message of truth is spoken, seldom ask, "Is it true?" But, "Who are the men that present these doctrines?" They judge of the truth by the character of its advocates. Multitudes estimate it by the numbers who accept it; and the question is often asked, as of old, "Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed?" We cannot boast of large numbers, or of the patronage of the wealthy, or the great in the world's estimation. Here is not the source of our strength. God declared to Israel, through Moses, "The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people." The advocates of truth must hide in Jesus; he is their greatness, their power and efficiency. They must love souls as he loved them, be obedient as he was, be courteous, full of sympathy. They should war with all their power against the least defect of character in themselves. They must represent Jesus. In every act let him appear.
Both in the popular churches and in the world there is a misconception of our faith. Many false reports are circulated, many charges are brought against those who keep the commandments of God, which the world and the church are trampling under their feet. But if the teacher of truth is in close connection with God, the Lord himself will work upon minds, and impress them with the force of truth. The very best work that we can do is to come as close to the people as possible, and reveal in life and character the work wrought upon our own souls by the Spirit of God.
The teacher of truth will have a far-reaching influence, an influence that will be a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death. The precepts he advocates, he is under the most sacred obligation to obey. All the principles of truth must be brought into his life and character. Then precept and practice will harmonize.
"These things have I written unto you," said Jesus, "that in me ye might have peace"--peace in Christ, peace through belief of the truth. The Comforter is called the Spirit of truth because there is comfort and hope and peace in the truth. Falsehood cannot give genuine peace; this can be received only through the truth. We need heavenly culture and refinement. Under all circumstances we should manifest Christian sympathy and politeness. Daily we should send our supplications to heaven for divine grace and power. We must put away selfishness, and seek the heavenly adornment of a meek and quiet spirit, in the sight of God of great price.
Jesus prayed that his followers might be one; but we are not to sacrifice the truth in order to secure this union, for we are to be sanctified through the truth. Here is the foundation of all true peace. Human wisdom would change all this, pronouncing this basis too narrow. Men would try to effect unity through concession to popular opinion, through compromise with the world, a sacrifice of vital godliness. But truth is God's basis for the unity of his people.
Sanctification, unity, peace,--all are to be ours through the truth. The belief of the truth does not make men gloomy and uncomfortable. If you have peace in Christ, his precious blood is speaking pardon and hope to your soul. Yea, more, you have joy in the Holy Spirit, through accepting the precious promises.
Jesus says, "In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer: I have overcome the world." "Therefore the world shall not overcome you if you believe in me. It is a world that I have conquered. Because I have overcome, if you believe in me, you shall overcome, and have eternal life."
All that Jesus has promised, he will fulfill; and it is greatly dishonoring to him for us to doubt him. All his words are spirit and life. Accepted and obeyed, they will give peace and happiness and assurance forever. "Not as the world giveth, give I unto you." Christ declares that he has given us peace; it belongs to us. And he has spoken these things, that in him we may have that which through infinite sacrifice he has purchased for us,--what he holds as ours. This peace we need not seek in the world, for the world has it not to bestow. It is in Christ. He will give it, in spite of the world, notwithstanding its threats and decrees, its alluring, deceiving promises.
In the presentation of truth the great lessons essential to success are to be learned, not from human authors, but from Christ. The teachings of men may be a help to the worker, but not till he has learned in the school of Christ the lesson, "Without me ye can do nothing." It is while you are humbling yourself in the sight of God that he is lifting you up. By beholding him, you will become changed into his likeness, and thus you will manifest the Christlike graces that prove you to be one with him.
Of the Comforter it is written, "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." Through the Holy Spirit, Christ will open more clearly to those who believe on him that which he has inspired holy men to write concerning the truth. When the Saviour prayed, "Sanctify them through thy truth," he added, "Thy word is truth." The teachers of the truth need to search the word with great diligence. As represented in the Saviour's parable, they are to dig for the truth as for hid treasure, that the precious jewels may be discovered and revealed to others. But the pearls of truth found in the Scriptures can be discerned only by the eye of faith. "The pure in heart shall see God." They can hear his voice, and discern his love.
Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." "I am that ladder which Jacob saw, the base of it resting firmly upon the earth, while the topmost round reaches to the throne of God. I am the light that shines upon every soul who climbs up by me. I am the life, inspiring with faith and love as you move onward and upward."
All truth is found in Christ. "Ye are complete in him." Satan is continually seeking to turn minds away from Christ. Through his devices, man has been exalted, and has received confidence and honor that belong only to God. The people have looked to men for wisdom, instead of looking to God. And in order to save man from ruin, God has been compelled to let him see his own weakness by withdrawing, in a great measure, the Holy Spirit from him.
While Christ is everything to us, while our salvation depends upon him, and it is only by beholding him that we can hope to be transformed, why is it that so little is said about him, even by those who profess to preach his word?
"Show us the Father," said Philip, "and it sufficeth us." Jesus answered, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father." I am "the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person." You can know God by knowing me. It is the preaching of Christ and him crucified that melts and subdues the soul. Only by presenting the truth as it is in Jesus will our work be effectual in reaching the hearts of men.
Lift up Jesus, you that teach the people. Lift him up in exhortations, in sermons, in songs, in prayer. Let all your efforts be directed to pointing souls, confused, bewildered, and lost, to "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." Bid them look and live. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 69, #16)
Text.--"And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom unto Israel? And he said unto them, it is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." Acts 1:4-8.
Jesus spoke these words just before his ascension to heaven; for the record says, "When he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight." These were the last words of the Saviour to his disciples, and in them we see the commission which was given them, and the work that they were to do. They were to be witnesses unto Christ to the uttermost parts of the earth. The very same charge has been given to us as was given to them, and how desirous should we be to fulfill our Lord's commission to save those that are lost and to glorify God in the world. It seems strange that Christ should direct the disciples to begin their work in Jerusalem, the very place where the spirit of Satan had been most manifest in opposition and enmity to the Prince of life. It was there that he had been hunted, persecuted, denied, and betrayed. It was there that he had suffered in the judgment hall, there he had been mocked, insulted, scourged, there he had been put to grief and shame, and lifted up to die on the cross. It was there that the priests and rulers, who had not responded to his divine teaching and mission, had mocked him who was dying to redeem the children of men. There it was that they had railed on him, and reviled him, wagging their heads, and saying, "Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, 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: for he said, I am the Son of God."
The chief priests and rulers who rejected the Son of God had gone from one degree of blindness to another in their hardness and unbelief. They had refused the first rays of divine light, and at last by their own perversity and stubbornness they were completely blinded to the evidences of the divinity of Christ. Brethren, it is a terrible thing to refuse to receive the first ray of light; for you will thus be led to reject greater light. After truth has once appealed to your heart in vain, the succeeding evidences of its sacred character will become dimmer to your understanding, and how great is your darkness. By rejection of light, the perception will become blunted, and you will have no power to discern between the sacred and the common. Then grieve not the Holy Spirit of God. This was the condition of those who rejected the Saviour. Because of their stubborn refusal of his teachings, they were led at last to crucify the Son of God.
In Jerusalem where our Lord had been crucified, the disciples were to begin their work as witnesses of Christ. From this city their work was to extend through all Judea and Samaria, unto the uttermost parts of the earth. But it was not so strange that they were to begin to preach the gospel in this wicked city, when we remember that they were to tarry at Jerusalem until they should be indued with power from on high. They were to wait for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Man of himself can do nothing. His only efficiency is in Christ. The Lord has said to his disciples, "Without me ye can do nothing." We cannot win souls to Christ unless we ourselves are acquainted with God. The only way by which we shall draw men to Christ is by drawing nigh to God ourselves.
While Jesus was with his disciples, he had instructed them as to how to go forth to gather sheaves for the heavenly garner. They had listened to his discourses; they had heard his daily teaching; they had walked and talked with the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world, and from his daily instruction, they had learned of the Master how to work for the elevation of humanity. Jesus had looked upon the fields, and had said to his disciples. "The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest." "And when he had called his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. . . . These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not." They were to go where Christ himself had been, where he had made friends in the cities of Judea. In fulfilling his command, for the first time they were alone in the work, and without the Master. How many times did they long to have a few words with Jesus. How much they wanted to have his counsel and sympathy in the different cases that were brought to their attention. He had given them power to glorify God, to heal the sick, to cast out devils, to preach the glad tidings of salvation to the poor. But they were to go to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel." The time had not yet come to go to the Gentiles and to the Samaritans, and if they had first preached the gospel to these, they would have lost their influence among the Jews who were first to hear the message of God.
Among the children of Israel there were many who were hungering and thirsting for light and knowledge, and Jesus sent forth his disciples two and two, that they might bring the tiding of his love to these longing hearts. Why is it that we have departed from the method of labor which was instituted by the great Teacher? Why is it that the laborers in his cause today are not sent forth two and two? "O," you say, "we have not laborers enough to occupy the field." Then occupy less territory. Send forth the laborers into the places where the way seems to be opened, and teach the precious truth for this time. Can we not see the wisdom of having two go together to preach the gospel? One may be an excellent preacher, but he may be in need of education in personal labor out of the desk. No minister is sufficiently equipped for his work who does not know how to meet the people at their homes, and come into close relation to their needs. The people should be allowed to ask questions concerning subjects presented that seem to be obscure to them. The light of God is to be brought before their vision. How often when this has been done, and the minister has been able to answer their inquiries, has a flood of light broken into some darkened mind, and hearts have been comforted together in the faith of the gospel. This is the way we are to work in order to flash the light into the minds of those who are seeking a knowledge of the way of salvation.
We must have the light of Christ in our own hearts in order to give it to others. We want the light to practice by, a living principle in the soul, that the character may be transformed. The preacher cannot bring the people to a higher standard than he himself reaches. But when the laborer for God works in humility, God will bless and strengthen him, and crown his labors with success.
We are to learn that humility is before honor. The apostle writes. "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up." We are not to have a put on humility. There is such a thing as humility on stilts, a humility that parades itself before men to be seen of them. The humility that God will honor is that humility which is the result of the soul's realization of its helplessness. This is the lesson that the workers in all branches of the cause need to learn. When this is learned, they will exert an influence that will be a savor of life unto life. We want to be joined to Christ by living faith. There are too many who are satisfied with having their names on the church book, while their names are not registered in the books of heaven. It is not your profession, but your course of action, that will determine whether or not you are Christians. We are nearing the judgment, and we should strive to spend the little time that intervenes between the present and the coming of Christ, in an intelligent manner. We should seek to have the mind filled with valuable knowledge, not with wood, hay, and stubble. By wise cultivation our ability should increase, that we may have growing power to understand the sacred teachings of Christ. We are to become teachers of the mysteries of the gospel.
The exhortation that Paul gave to Timothy should be heeded by every young man who would become a co-laborer with Christ. He says, "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 the line along which you should educate yourselves. But if you are indolent, and satisfied with seeking merely the superficial side of truth, you will miss the mark. Jesus has commanded, "Search the Scriptures." We are to feed on the word of God, to live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
When the disciples went forth, they were to preach that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, and they were not to burden themselves with money or scrip. The Saviour added, "Into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, inquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go hence." There is no question as to where you shall take up your abode when you go forth to preach the gospel, or what shall be the character of the people with whom you are to dwell. You are to go the best place, among the people who can be a blessing to you, and whom you can benefit, those who will receive your instruction, and whose influence will tell on the side of truth. Then you can work with courage.
"And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city." By Mrs. E. G. White. (To be continued.)
(Vol. 69, #17)
Text.--"Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." Matt. 10: 16.
In the great work before us we are to cultivate those qualities of character that will make us persons of wisdom and discernment; and as we do this, we shall better understand the sacred nature of the cause in which we are engaged. Our characters must be of such a stamp that our association with the people will result in leading them to take a consistent course when they embrace the present truth. Those who labor for Christ should be men and women of great discretion, so that those who do not understand their doctrines may be led to respect them, and regard them as persons void of fanaticism, void of rashness and impetuosity. Their discourses and conduct and conversation should be of a nature that will lead men to the conclusion that these ministers are men of thought, of solidity of character, men who fear and love their heavenly Father. They should win the confidence of the people, so that those who listen to the preaching may know that the ministers have not come with some cunningly devised fable, but that their words are words of worth, a testimony that demands thought and attention. Let the people see you exalting Jesus, and hiding self. The sentiment of your heart should be, "He must increase, but I must decrease." Exalt his matchless power and grace, but let self be crucified, let self be hidden in Christ.
When perplexities crowd upon you, and the people oppose the truth, you are not to say indifferently or impatiently, "Well, there is no use, I can do them no good." Come to them in the Spirit of Christ, "in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;" for "the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient." You are to come to the people in sympathy, and be clothed with humility as with a garment. The Lord has set his people to be a light to others, and the grace of God should be seen in all your conversation and conduct. The spirit of kindness must characterize your dealings with all men.
You will be tempted to deal harshly with those who are reported to you as in error. Persons will come to you with accusations against this brother or that sister, and you may feel stirred with indignation, and feel that you must immediately set things in order, but you must remember that you are to be as wise as a serpent, as harmless as a dove. Those who are so ready to accuse their brethren might better be attending to their own defects of character instead of seeking to expose the failings of others. Do not let these reports move you to act in a hasty, unchristlike manner. Let God put his Spirit upon you, that you may not go according to human judgment, but be directed as God would have you go. Sit low at the feet of Jesus and learn of him how you are to deal with your brethren, and with the momentous truths that are committed to you to give to the world.
"Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." These words should have an influence on the minds of all those who profess the truth. The Lord has not sent us to criticise and condemn the world. Even Christ came not to condemn, but to redeem lost humanity. You have no right to find fault with those who do not believe as you do. You are not to criticise the minister who is sent to you, and say he is too liberal, or he is at fault in this or that, if he is preaching the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. No matter what you may think, do not allow your tongue to utter condemnation of that which you do not understand. Do not sow the seed of unbelief and discord. Silence is eloquence, and we greatly need to learn this eloquence. When you hear your brethren speaking evil of others, tell them not to judge, not to condemn. Jesus says, "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?" Persons have criticised those who were digging deep in the mines of knowledge, and their criticism, if heeded, would crush out the very powers that God would have men develop and strengthen. This talking against others must be stopped among those who profess to be the children of God.
How much evil is done by unwise condemnation of others. O, whatever we do, let us not interpose ourselves between souls and God. How often has criticism of others, in the church or in the world, resulted in closing the door by which most precious truths might have found an entrance to hearts, and souls might have been converted to God. We need to humble ourselves at every step, and lift up the Man of Calvary, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. Talk of the loveliness of the character of Christ. We are charged to be "holy in all manner of conversation." The Lord says, "Be ye holy; for I am holy." We must perfect a Christlike character, or we shall never enter into the kingdom of heaven. We are to have self hidden behind Jesus. We are to learn in his school meekness and lowliness of heart. All self-sufficiency must be put far from us. We are to come to a position before God where we can present the sacred, elevated truth in the demonstration of the Spirit and with power, so that there will be no savor of self about it. There is often such a mingling of self with the truth, that the hearers turn away in disgust. O, we must understand to a much greater extent the will and the way of God.
Jesus says, "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves." But you need not meet the wolves in the same spirit that they themselves possess. You are to be "as harmless as doves." In meeting those who are fierce of spirit, you must manifest meekness and love, and the manifestation of this spirit will frequently change the spirit of the wolf, and a wonderful transformation will take place. "But beware of men." Do not open to men all your counsels. Do not put implicit confidence in those who know not God, and open to them the whole of the sacred treasure of the truth. "For they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues." This does not mean simply that you will be scourged in the synagogues with the tongue, as many of you are today in the pulpits of the land, but that men making high professions will treat you with violence. "And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles." The light is to be brought before kings and before the great men of the earth, although they may receive it in the same manner in which Pharaoh received the testimony of the servants of the Lord, and ask, "Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice?"
Kings, governors, and great men will hear of you through the reports of those who are at enmity with you, and your faith and character will be misrepresented before them. But those who are falsely accused will have an opportunity to appear in the presence of their accusers to answer for themselves. They will have the privilege of bringing the light before those who are called the great men of the earth, and if you have studied the Bible, if you are ready to give an answer to every man that asketh you of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear, your enemies will not be able to gainsay your wisdom. You now have an opportunity to attain to the greatest intellectual power through the study of the word of God. But if you are indolent, and fail to dig deep in the mines of truth, you will not be ready for the crisis that is soon to come upon us. O that you would realize that each moment is golden. If you will live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God, you will not be found unprepared. If your work is wrought in God, and you will do as Christ has commanded you, your intellect will expand; for "the entrance of thy words giveth light." David exclaims, "O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts."
"But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you." You are now to get ready for the time of trial. Now you are to know whether your feet are planted on the eternal Rock. You must have an individual experience, and not depend upon others for your light. When you are brought to the test, how do you know that you will not be alone, with no earthly friend at your side? Will you then be able to realize that Christ is your support? Will you be able to recall the promise, "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world?" There will be invisible ones all about you bent upon your destruction. Satan and his agents will seek in every way to make you waver from your steadfastness to God and his truth. But if you have an eye single to his glory, you need not take thought as to how you shall witness for his truth. "Take no thought how or what ye shall speak: . . . for it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you." How can the Spirit of God communicate with you? It is the Holy Spirit that is to bring to your remembrance whatsoever Jesus has said unto you. Are you now hearing the words of Christ? Does the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom? The reason that we do not know more of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is that men would be lifted up in self, and take the glory to themselves, if God should crown their efforts with success. O if you were hidden in Christ, if you were on the Rock of Ages, when you are brought before kings and great men, it would be evident that Jesus was at your side, and you would know just what answer to give, for the Spirit would give you what you should utter. Praise God for this promise!
The time is not far off when the people of God will be called upon to give their testimony before the rulers of the earth. Not one in twenty has a realization of what rapid strides we are making toward the great crisis in our history. The angels of God are holding the four winds, and this leads many to cry, Peace and safety; but there is no time for vanity, for trifling, for engaging the mind in unimportant matters. We must empty the soul temple of every defilement, and let the Spirit of God take full possession of the heart, that the character may be transformed. By Mrs. E. G. White. (To be concluded.)
(Vol. 69, #18)
Text.--"And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved."
Brethren and sisters, have you the power to endure? Young men and women, are you growing up to the full stature of men and women in Christ, so that when the crisis comes, you cannot be separated from the Source of your strength? If we would stand during the time of test, we must now, in the time of peace, be gaining a living experience in the things of God. We must now learn to understand what are the deep movings of the Spirit of God. Christ must be our all and in all, the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.
We should have a realizing sense of the presence of Christ; if our trust is in him, and our lives in harmony with his will, he will be at our right hand, that we shall not be moved. But let the transgressor understand that Christ is a witness to all deeds of evil. He knows every act of dishonesty, every prevarication, every unrighteous thought and imagination. The psalmist exclaims, "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." The Lord is acquainted with us, and how glad should we be that this is so; for we need his watchful eye upon us. "The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry. The face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit." We all should take our troubles to Jesus, and tell him all our difficulties, that he may pour in the balm of Gilead, and give us the oil of joy for the spirit of mourning. We may present all our wants to him, and ask him for strength of body as well as for clearness of mind and peace of soul.
"And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake." Enmity against Satan is not natural to the human heart. The Lord said: "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." The carnal heart is in harmony with the prince of evil, and it will lead you to the indulgence of self, not to suffering for Christ's sake. You must continually deny self, for self-indulgence will rob you of your nourishment in Christ Jesus. You are to abide in him. Jesus says, "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples." If we are to stand through the time of trial, we should now be learning what it is to draw from the Fountain of life.
"And when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another." You are not to expose yourselves when it is not necessary for the glory of God, and have your life cut short when there is no occasion. When you are endangered because of the spirit of persecution, seek another refuge. This is what Jesus did, and there are other places beside the one in which you are, where God will manifest his power through your efforts for the salvation of souls. The follower of Christ is called upon to practice self-denial for Christ's sake, and to be partaker of his humiliation and sufferings. He bore reproach for us, will we bear shame for him? He gave himself for us; what will we give for him? What are we doing for the Master? "The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?"
"Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in the light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops." Does not Christ give you messages when you enter into your closet to commune with him? He knows whether your prayers ascend from a polluted heart or whether they are prompted by love to him, whether you desire some selfish gratification, or whether in humility you come to him for grace and power to glorify the Master. If you come to Christ in sincerity and humility, the Holy Spirit will bring to your remembrance the precious words of Christ, and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. As Christ sheds his light upon your pathway, you are to reflect its bright rays to others.
"And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." We are not to think that we can have an easy time. But "what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? "We shall have respect unto the recompense of the reward, and esteem the reproaches of Christ greater riches than the treasures of this world. The fear of God should ever be before our eyes, in all our business transactions, in all the concerns of life. We cannot engage in unnecessary traffic with unbelievers without becoming like them in spirit; for by beholding, we become changed. As followers of Christ, we cannot afford to grasp for the wealth of the world. "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich." Those who would have earthly riches at the expense of heavenly riches, sell themselves at a cheap market. A business man said to my husband, "Elder White, with such powers of mind as you possess, you should not be engaged in the work you are now doing, burying your talents in the service of the Adventists. You should occupy a position where your talent would be recognized and rewarded. I will pay you a large remuneration for your services, if you will engage yourself to me." But my husband said: "If you would heap gold upon this table as high as the ceiling, it would be no temptation to me. I am living for the immortal inheritance, for the eternal substance, for the life that measures with the life of God." If we love Jesus, we shall hold him and his service supreme, and shall desire his approval more than the applause of the whole world. We will not deny our Lord by selling ourselves to the world for any price. "Ye are not your own. For ye are bought with a price," even the precious blood of the Son of God.
"Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father." Think of it, not one of these little brown sparrows that are caroling forth their praises to God will fall to the ground without the notice of the heavenly Father. Not one of these little brown sparrows that the boys so ruthlessly kill, drops to the ground but his eye marks its fall. "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered." If God cares for a sparrow that has no soul, how will he care for the purchase of the blood of Christ? One soul is worth more than all the world. For one soul Jesus would have passed through the agony of Calvary that that one might be saved in his kingdom. "Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows."
Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven." We have a different confession to make from that which we have made; and we shall have to make it under different circumstances. The three Hebrews were called upon to confess Christ in the face of the burning fiery furnace. They had been commanded by the king to fall down and worship the golden image which he had set up, and threatened that if they would not, they should be cast alive into the fiery furnace, but they answered, "We are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up." It cost them something to confess Christ, for their lives were at stake. Then the king commanded that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than it is was wont to be heated, and the faithful children of God were cast into the furnace. "Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counselors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God."
How did Nebuchadnezzar know that the form of the fourth was like the Son of God? He had heard of the Son of God from the Hebrew captives that were in his kingdom. They had brought the knowledge of the living God who ruleth all things. Then Nebuchadnezzar called forth the servants of God, and they had not so much as the smell of fire upon them. If you are called to go through the fiery furnace for Christ's sake, Jesus will be at your side. "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walketh through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee."
A confession of Christ means something more than bearing testimony in social meeting. Daniel is an example to believers as to what it means to confess Christ. He held the responsible position of prime minister in the kingdom of Babylon, and there were those who were envious of Daniel among the great men of the court, and they wanted to find something against him that they might bring an accusation against him to the king. But he was a faithful statesman, and they could find no flaw in his character or life. "Then said these men, we shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God." So they agreed together to ask the king to make a decree that no one should ask any petition of any God or man for thirty days save of the king, and if any disobeyed this decree, he was to be cast into the den of lions. But did Daniel cease to pray because this decree was to go into force!--No, that was just the time when he needed to pray. "When Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and, his window being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime." Daniel did not seek to hide his loyalty to God. He did not pray in his heart, but with his voice, aloud, with his window open toward Jerusalem, he offered up his petition to heaven. Then his enemies made their complaint to the king, and Daniel was thrown into the den of lions. But the Son of God was there. The angel of the Lord encamped round about the servant of the Lord, and when the king came in the morning, and called, "O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions? Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live forever. My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me." No harm had come to him, and he magnified the Lord God of heaven.
We may know that if our life is hid with Christ in God, when we are brought into trial because of our faith, Jesus will be with us. When we are brought before rulers and dignitaries to answer for our faith, the Spirit of the Lord will illuminate our understanding, and we shall be able to bear a testimony to the glory of God. And if we are called to suffer for Christ's sake, we shall be able to go to prison trusting in him as a little child trusts in its parents. Now is the time to cultivate faith in God. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 69, #19)
"Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven." How is it? Are we confessing Christ in our daily life? Do we confess him in our dress, adorning ourselves with plain and modest apparel? Is our adorning that of the meek and quiet spirit which is of so great price in the sight of God? Are we seeking to advance the cause of the Master? Is the line of demarkation between you and the world distinct, or are you seeking to follow the fashions of this degenerate age? Is there no difference between you and the worldling? Does the same spirit work in you that works in the children of disobedience? If we are Christians, we shall follow Christ, even though the path in which we are to walk cuts right across our natural inclinations. There is no use in telling you that you must not wear this or that, for if the love of these vain things is in your heart, your laying off your adornments will only be like cutting the foliage off a tree. The inclinations of the natural heart would again assert themselves. You must have a conscience of your own.
O did we remember that Christ became poor, that we through his poverty might become rich, would we not seek to honor his name, and advance his cause? We are to abide in him as the branch abides in the vine. Jesus says, "I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing. . . . Herein is my Father glorified that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples." If we fulfilled this command of our Lord, there would be a different state of affairs in our churches, and we should know what it is to have the deep movings of the Spirit of God. What we want is to have the ax laid at the root of the tree. We want to be dead to the world, dead to self, and alive unto God. Our life must be hid with Christ in God, that when he shall appear, we also may appear with him in glory. We need to come close to Christ, that men may know that we have been with Christ and learned of him.
I invite you to look to the Man of Calvary. Look to him whose head was crowned with the crown of thorns, who bore the cross of shame, who went step by step down the path of humiliation. Look to him who was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, who was despised and rejected of men. "Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows." "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." Look to Calvary until your heart melts at the amazing love of the Son of God. He left nothing undone that fallen man might be elevated and purified. And shall we not confess him? Will the religion of Christ degrade its receiver?--No; it will be no degradation to follow in the footsteps of the Man of Calvary. Day by day let us sit at the feet of Jesus, and learn of him, that in our conversation, our conduct, our dress, and in all our affairs, we may reveal the fact that Jesus is ruling and reigning over us. God calls upon us to walk in a path that has been cast up for the ransomed of the Lord; we are not to walk in the world. We are to surrender all to God, and confess Christ before men.
"Whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven." What right have we to profess to be Christians, and yet deny our Lord in life and deed? "He that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." Day by day we are to deny self, to lift the cross and follow in the footsteps of the Master. O that the baptism of the Holy Spirit might come upon you, that you might be imbued with the Spirit of God! Then day by day you will become more and more conformed to the image of Christ, and in every action of your life, the question would be, "Will it glorify my Master?" By patient continuance in well-doing you would seek for glory and honor, and would receive the gift of immortality.
I am glad that the day of probation is not closed. Let us in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth fall on the Rock and be broken. By meekness, by love, by a holy conversation, by a compassionate spirit, confess Christ to others. O that we might come into a position where he might reveal his glory as it was revealed in Jerusalem when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the people. I believe that we shall see of the salvation of God, that we shall yet see the church free in the Lord. I lay hold of this by faith.
Keep your eye fixed upon Christ. With humility of mind seek for a nearness to God. In words, in conduct, in life, confess Christ. Examine yourselves whether you are in the faith, and when God sends you a message, do not begin to criticise it, and see if it is suitable to put into print, but inquire, Does this message lay bare my condition? Where am I in the Christian life? Is my soul in the love of God? Does Christ heal my backslidings? Have I confessed my sins, and can I claim his promise? Now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation. Now is the time to prepare for the crisis, that when put to the test, you may stand, and having done all, stand. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 69, #20)
"Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?" This was the question that was asked of Jesus by those who had witnessed his divine power in feeding the multitudes. But the question meant, What shall we do that we may deserve heaven? What is the price that we are required to pay that we may obtain the life to come? Now mark the answer of Jesus, for it is essential that we understand the truth he uttered. "Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." The price of heaven is Jesus. The way to heaven is through faith in "the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." Those who would be saved must accept by faith the righteousness of Christ; and when they do this, they will work the works of God.
But the people did not choose to receive this plain statement of divine truth. Unbelief manifested itself; for they had seen evidences of the divinity of Christ, they still refused to walk in the light of heaven, and hardened their hearts against the Son of God. They asked, "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. But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not."
The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, "I am the bread which came down from heaven." And they "strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then said Jesus 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. . . . It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." The question comes home to us today, Are we eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the Son of God? It is by beholding the love of Christ, by drinking it in, by dwelling upon it, that we eat his flesh and drink his blood, becoming partakers of the divine nature. As we meditate upon the truth as it is in Jesus, it becomes more deeply impressed upon the soul. "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." It is through the ministry of the word that the saints are to be perfected. But what does it mean, that there is so low a standard of piety among those who profess to be followers of Christ? Are the people fed upon the words of Christ? Are the messengers satisfied with preaching a discourse, and leaving the work of ministering to whoever may be inclined to do it? There is earnest work to do out of the desk as well as in it. The sermon may arouse the conscience, but will not the labor be lost if the soul is left to settle down into the same state of indifference as before the words were spoken? The messenger is to speak as moved by the Spirit of God, and then he must come close to souls through personal labor, and guide the conscience, and fasten the truth in a sure place. The minister has a work to do in the home circle, teaching the members of the family concerning the great love wherewith God hath loved us, that they may know what it is to eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of God. When the heart of the messenger is warmed with the love of Jesus, he will have a message to give that will be as a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death. He will not then feel that his responsibility is over when he leaves the desk, for if he is a heaven-sent messenger, the truth will be in him as fire shut up in his bones, and he will continually be seeking to enlighten those who are ignorant of what Jesus is to them, of what they are to Jesus. He will teach them that the only way to reach the heaven above is to cling to Jesus, mounting step by step to the heights of Christ.
Those whom God has appointed to become instructors of the ignorant, must know by personal experience what it is to have Christ made unto them wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. But let no soul imagine that the gaining of eternal life through the finished work of Christ, will involve no struggle, no conflict. The apostle declares, "We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore 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." We are continually to be found fighting the good fight of faith. We are to behold Christ, to study his character in the light of his word with fervent prayer, dwelling upon his attributes and virtues, until we shall become changed into his image. There is no time to halt upon the ladder of progress. The command is to go forward, looking to God who is above the ladder. To look back is to become dizzy, to relax your hold, to lose all, to fall back into darkness. You must keep hold on Christ your Mediator, ascending step by step, changing from glory to glory, from character to character, as by the Spirit of the Lord. Stretch up the hand of faith, taking hold of one line after another in the work of the Redeemer. You are not to wait till you know it all before you begin to communicate to others, you are not to think that you have attained all that belongs to the work of the minister, when you can preach a discourse; but set your standard high, seek to become a minister of the word, teaching the soul precept upon precept, line upon line of divine truth. Seek to enlighten the minds of the seekers after truth by giving them clear and definite explanations in the home circle, in the prayer meeting, and from the pulpit. Instead of spending all the time in sermonizing, open your Bible, and invite the people to engage with you in studying its precious truths. Let those who desire, ask questions concerning that which they do not comprehend, that the plan of salvation may be more clearly revealed to their minds. Plant the feet of all that you possibly can, one step after another upon the divine ladder, reaching from earth to heaven. Lift up Jesus, lift him up as the only One whereby men can be saved. Then will the truth you present become the power of God unto salvation.
It is a perilous thing for the minister to become careless in his thoughts and actions; as surely as he does, he will become inefficient. I appeal to those who minister in the sacred desk, to put into practice that which you already know from the messages which God has given you, to warn, to instruct, and to encourage you. Confess your coldness, and let the warmth of the love of Christ, the beams of the Sun of righteousness, into your heart. If your hearts are filled with the message of God, if mercy and peace and righteousness are yours, if you feel that eternal vigilance is the price of your safety, your influence will be after the character of your experience, and others will follow in your footsteps. They will do as you do. It is your privilege to experience the completeness of salvation in Christ. Jesus is your only hope. You are to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus. You are to follow on to know the Lord, whose goings forth are prepared as the morning. You are to be raised up to sit together in heavenly places with Christ Jesus. All that is written concerning the spiritual life is written for you, and may be attained through uniting yourself to Jesus. If you will leave the world, and abandon your former ignorance, pressing on for more and more of the grace of Christ, you may have his guidance continually, and at every step diminish the distance between your soul and God, and be found in him, not having your own righteousness, but the righteousness of God which is by faith in Jesus Christ. If you love Jesus, you will show it by your love to those for whom he has died. If your zeal is languishing, your first love grown cold, accept again of the proffered love of Christ. Eat of Christ's flesh, drink of his blood, and you will become one with the Father and with the Son.
If you will but improve upon the light that has already been given you, the Lord will send you more light by whom he will send; but you are too easily satisfied, you do not push forward your investigations into all the lines of truth that have been given of God. When a message comes to you, bearing the signet of heaven, you rejoice in the light, but fail to receive the full blessing of God, because you do not sink the shaft deeper into the mines of truth. You think that the subject has been exhausted, when it has scarcely begun to unfold. When you present the truth to others, you make the same mistake; for when a certain impression has been made, you imagine that the object of the work has been reached, when the plowshare of truth has only stirred the surface of the fallow ground of the heart. You think that when the good emotions are manifested, when the earnest resolves are expressed, that the work is done; but you are to watch for souls as they who must give an account, and see that the heart is sanctified, that the character is being molded after the divine model. By Mrs. E. G. White. (Concluded next week.)
(Vol. 69, #21)
Good impressions made by the truth upon the minds of those who are out of the faith, often have been effaced by the unconsecrated life of the minister who himself needed to be reconverted. After presenting the truth, he lacked discernment to press the battle to the gates, to act as a prayerful, patient, earnest teacher, full of the solemn importance of the message of grace which he is to bring to his hearers, that they may come to the knowledge of God, to the full stature of men and women in Christ Jesus.
At the last Conference, many professed to see where they had made mistakes in their life and teaching. Have you begun to act upon the light you then received? Are you practicing the better plan, educating both by precept and example, that the world may understand what it means to be a follower of Christ? or, do you still go on teaching in the same way which you have taught in the past? Are you acquiring new facts, getting fresh ideas concerning the plan of salvation? Are you acting upon those truths which you have already received, lest they leak out of your mind as water out of a broken vessel? Those who would become efficient laborers in the cause must put into exercise that which they already know of truth, disciplining the mind to practice line upon line and precept upon precept. The Lord desires that his messengers should find their inspiration by closely studying his holy word, by sinking the shaft deep into the mines of truth. He would have those who minister in the sacred desk able to present things new and old from the treasures of his truth. He would have them able to lift up the world's Redeemer, to magnify his love before the people, to touch the heart, to press the truth upon the conscience, and give full proof of their ministry in souls sanctified to the Master. O, how my heart aches, as I think upon the condition of ministers and people; for I know that many are satisfied to speak smooth things to the people, and those who listen go away not bettered by anything they have heard. And even when earnest appeals are made, those who hear often declare that they are aroused by what they have heard, their emotions have been stirred, their consciences have been touched, but after a little, the precious impression is lost, and they sink back into coldness and indifference.
Ministers are wanted who feel the necessity of being laborers together with God, who will go forth to bring the people up in spiritual knowledge to the full measure of Christ. Ministers are wanted who will educate themselves by solemn, reverential communion with God in the closet, so that they shall be men of power in prayer. Piety is degeneration into a dead form, and it is necessary to strengthen the things that remain that are ready to die. The work of the ministry has been neglected, and the work is raveling out because it has not been wisely bound off. How are you to know that the word spoken in the desk has proved of benefit to the hearers, unless you visit in families, praying with them, and drawing out the true state of their minds, and the real condition of their experience, that you may point them to the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world? There is need that the breath of God should blow upon them, and give them spiritual life. The churches need to be enlightened in regard to practical religion in the home life. Again and again the necessity of living a virtuous life, of having a sanctified heart, of revealing a growing conformity to the image of Christ, must be presented to the people. Do they realize that the work of sanctification is to be the work of a lifetime? Jesus prayed that his disciples might be sanctified through the truth, and declared, "Thy word is truth." He said: "I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified." Are the undershepherds following the example of the great Shepherd of the sheep? Are they representing Christ, as he represented the Father. Practical religion as it was manifested in the life and character of Christ is a rare thing. Many in our churches are strangers to the experience that it is the privilege of those who believe in Christ to have in the things of God.
Doctrinal discourses have been preached to the people, and many have listened and have accepted the doctrines, who have had little knowledge of the word of God; for they have not been students of the Bible, and have never felt it their duty to dig deep in the mines of truth. They catch at the surface truths. A much more thorough work should be done. Some system must be adopted, that those who really want to know the truth as it is in Jesus, may have an opportunity of becoming students, and that they may seek earnestly for spiritual knowledge and understanding, and partake of the rich provision of the Master's table. They have labored diligently for the bread that perisheth; let them now put forth an effort for the heavenly bread, and work with an earnestness befitting the treasure for which they seek. We plead not that the feelings may be stirred, the emotions awakened, but that the people of God may be fed with their portion of meat in due season. The work of our ministers must be of a different order. They must develop in patience and Christlikeness, that they may teach the way of life by precept and example. The truth is of no value to any soul unless it is brought into the inner sanctuary, and sanctifies the soul. Piety will degenerate, and religion become a shallow sentimentalism, unless the plowshare of truth is made to go deep into the fallow ground of the heart. When the truth is received, it will work radical changes in life and character; for religion means the abiding of Christ in the heart, and where he is, the soul goes on in spiritual activity, ever growing in grace, ever going on to perfection. All through our churches there are those who are spiritually paralyzed. They do not manifest spiritual life.
It is no real evidence that you are a Christian because your emotion is stirred, your spirit stirred by truth; the question is, Are you growing up into Christ, your living head? Is the grace of Christ manifested in your life? God gives his grace to men, that they may desire more of his grace. God's grace is ever working upon the human heart, and when it is received, the evidence of its reception will appear in the life and character of its recipient; for spiritual life will be seen developing from within. The grace of Christ in the heart will always promote spiritual life, and spiritual advancement will be made. We each need a personal Saviour, or we shall perish in our sins. Let the question be asked of our souls, Are we growing up into Christ, our living head? Am I gaining advanced knowledge of God, and of Jesus Christ whom he hath sent? We do not see the plants grow in the field, and yet we are assured that they do grow, and may we not know of our own spiritual strength and growth?
Growth in grace does not come without much earnest prayer, without the humbling of self at every step. Jesus said: "Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able." "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."
"Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." "And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the spirit which he hath given us." "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."
The sum and substance of the whole matter of Christian grace and experience is contained in believing on Christ, in knowing God and his Son whom he hath sent. But here is where many fail, for they lack faith in God. Instead of desiring to be brought into fellowship with Christ in his self-denial and humiliation, they are ever seeking for the supremacy of self. As long as they will not fall upon the Rock and be broken, they cannot appreciate the love of the character of God. We may be one with Christ, but we must be willing to yield our own way and our own will, and have the mind that was in Christ, that we may know what it is to have a fellowship with him in humiliation and suffering. Our ideas are too contracted; we must have more expanded views of Christ and the character of his work. O, if we did but appreciate the love of God, how our hearts would be expanded, our limited sympathies would be enlarged, and break away from the icy barriers of selfishness, and our comprehension would be deeper than it now is; for we should look beneath the surface.
It is because we do not know God, we do not have faith in Christ, that we are not deeply impressed with the humiliation he endured in our behalf, that his abasement does not lead us to the humbling of self, to the exalting of Jesus. The Lord calls upon you to humble yourselves under his mighty hand, that you may be partakers of his holiness. You are not to be above your Master, but as he was, so are you to be in the world. O, if you loved him as he has loved you, you would not shun an experience in the dark chapters of the suffering of the Son of God!
In order to be partakers with Christ in his sufferings, we must behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. When we contemplate the humiliation of Christ, beholding his self-denial and self-sacrifice, we are filled with amazement at the manifestation of divine love for guilty man. When for Christ's sake we are called to pass through trials that are of a humiliating nature, if we have the mind of Christ, we shall suffer them with meekness, not resenting injury, or resisting evil. We shall manifest the spirit that dwelt in Christ. The Christian cannot hope to live without trials. Difficulties will arise, unexpected sorrows will come to those who are called to be the stewards of the manifold grace of God; but in the face of difficulty, those who, through faith in their Redeemer, are united to Christ as the branch is united to the living vine, will become partakers with him in his self-denial, and will go forth to shed upon those who are in darkness the light of his love. We are to understand what the sacrifice, the labors, and the sufferings of Christ are, in order that we may cooperate with him in working out the great scheme of redemption.
Though Christ endured sorrow which no pen can portray, he did not shrink from the payment of the ransom for lost man. Let the minister and missionary look upon his example of faith and perseverance. Of him it was written, "He shall not fail nor be discouraged till he have set judgment in the earth." You are not to grow weary in well-doing, but to be of good courage in the work of God. It was love that sustained Christ in his humiliation, love for perishing souls that enabled him to endure the insults, the contempt, the rejection of men, and at last led him to die on Calvary, that whosoever believeth on him might not perish, but have everlasting life. The salvation of the lost was the object of Christ's mission to earth, and he died to redeem sinners of every race and every clime. We are to be laborers together with him; for as long as there are sinners to be saved, so long are the followers of Christ to deny self, to work intelligently, to go forth into the highways and byways, showing forth the praises of Him who hath called them out of darkness into his marvelous light. Christ calls upon all who have discerned the merits of his sacrifice and character, to make known the wonders of redeeming love to those who know him not. He would have us bear with others as he has borne with us in our perversity, in our backslidings; for he hath not cast us off in our waywardness, but has forgiven our transgression, and clothed us with the robe of his righteousness, drawing us to himself by the cords of his love.
We are to bear Christ's yoke, to work as he worked for the salvation of the lost; and those who are partakers of his sufferings will also be partakers of his glory. The apostle says, "Ye are laborers together with God." Then let us take hold of his strength. Let everyone who names the name of Christ among us, become a laborer together with God. Let not the burden of the whole work fall on the ministers, but let every member of the church realize that he has a work to do. Instead of all settling in one place, let the people of God scatter abroad, moving in all directions into cities and villages where the light of truth has not shone, that the knowledge of God may be diffused among men. Tell others what they must do to be saved. "This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." If you had a realizing sense of the lost condition of souls who are out of Christ, you would work according to your intrusted talents, not growing weary in well-doing. The Saviour's commission to his people is, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." O, how grievously has this work been neglected, and yet the famine-stricken world is perishing for the bread of life. Let everyone surrender himself to God, accept the heavenly endowment of the Holy Spirit, and go forth to tell those who sit in darkness of a Saviour's love and sacrifice, that they should not perish, but have everlasting life. In whatever place you take up your abode, be a light to the people, pointing out the path cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in, and thus become laborers together with God. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 69, #22)
The great controversy between Christ, the prince of light, and Satan, the prince of darkness, is presented before us in the parable of the sower. A great multitude had gathered together to hear the words of Christ, so that he was thronged upon all sides; and in order that the people might better see and hear him, he stepped into a boat and pushed out a little from the shore. In plain sight were the sowers and the reapers, side by side, the one casting the seed, the other harvesting the early grain. Calling the attention of the people to the scene before him, he utters the parable that is to teach the lesson of the reception and rejection of gospel truth to the end of probation.
He said: "Behold, a sower went forth to sow; and when he sowed, some seeds fell by the wayside, and the fowls came and devoured them up: some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: and when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: but other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some a hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear."
The Sower is the Son of God, or he to whom he delegates his work; for by cooperating with Christ, man is to become a laborer together with God. Those who by personal ministry open to others the Scriptures, are sowing the good seed, for the good seed is the word of God. In order that the seed may find a soil in which it may germinate and bring forth fruit, the heart must be prepared. The seed sown by the wayside represents the word of God as it falls upon the heart of him who is an inattentive hearer; for those who are to bring the fruit forth must meditate much upon the word of God which has been presented to them. "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." As the birds of the air are ready to catch up the seed from the wayside, so Satan is represented as ready with his unseen agencies of evil, to catch away the seeds of divine truth from the heart, lest it should find a lodgment there, and bring forth fruit unto eternal life. He fears that the word of God may awaken the careless, and take effect upon the hardened heart.
It is when souls are awakened to their condition, that there is need of personal ministry on the part of him who is presenting the word of God; for the enemy waits to catch away the truth, and enshroud the seeker after light, in darkness. Much of the time spent in sermonizing should be devoted to personal labor for the souls of the lost. The minister should seek to break up the fallow ground of the heart, that the word of God may find a soil in which it may grow. The word must be preached, but this work of personal ministry must not be neglected.
Satan and his angels are in the assembly where the gospel of the kingdom is preached. While heavenly angels also are present to minister for those who shall be heirs of salvation, the enemy is ever on the alert that he may make of no effect the influence of the truth. With an earnestness that is only equaled by his malice, he seeks to thwart the operation of the Spirit of God on the heart of the hearer; for he sees that if the truth is accepted, he has lost control of his subject, and Christ has won the victory. Jesus says, in explaining the part of the parable where the seed fell by the wayside, "When anyone heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the wayside."
But in spite of all the efforts of the enemy to make of none effect the word of God, he who has a heart to search for truth will find it; for it lies open before him, revealed in the word of God, as the secrets of nature are open to him who studies her laws. God's word is the revelation of all truth; and in laboring for souls, the minister should seek to unveil the truth in such a way that it will make the right impression upon the heart, that the sinner may renounce his allegiance to Satan, and turn to Christ. Jesus is ready to accept the soul who turns to him, pleading the merits of the blood of Christ. He will receive, pardon, purify, and make him whole. But before this point is reached, before the soul surrenders to Christ, there is a time when the will is vacillating, when the soul is under conviction, and pressed by doubt, and it is then that a strong personal effort should be made. The minister should come close to the trembling one, and point him to Calvary, lifting up a crucified and risen Saviour as the sinner's only hope. There are many whose hearts are as hard as the beaten highway, and apparently it is a useless effort to present the truth to them; but while logic may fail to move, and argument be worthless to convince, let the laborer for Christ come close to such in Christlike sympathy and compassion, and it may be that the love of Christ will subdue and melt the soul into tenderness and contrition. "The world by wisdom knew not God." Let the wayward and hardhearted be led to the feet of Jesus; here they may learn precious lessons of love of their Creator and Redeemer, and hope will spring up. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
The wicked one is in continual controversy with God, seeking to make of no effect the mission and work of Christ. Christ came to save sinners; but when some hear the word, and become convicted, and their hearts are weighed down by a sense of their sins, and stirred by the forgiving love of God, lest they should be wholly persuaded to become the followers of Christ, the enemy immediately seeks to entice them to their former allegiance to him, by presenting to them the attractions of the world and its lusts, and the words of truth are made of no effect. The heart that has long yielded to the influences of the world, that has long indulged in the gratification of its own selfish desires, is not prepared for the reception of the word.
Satan ever works to carry out to completion the scheme of rebellion which he originated in the courts of heaven. When Jesus, the sinner's only hope, draws the soul by the cords of his love, the enemy begins a work of opposition, and tries to turn the attention of the one who is moved to seek Jesus, to the world. He engages the mind of the seeker in his delusive snares, and catches away the word of truth; for his falsehoods seem more palatable to the natural heart than do the truths of heavenly origin, and men accept them, rejecting the word of truth. But we can be saved only through the reception of the truth, whose power will sanctify and refine the soul, for the gospel of Christ is adapted to the need of a fallen, apostate race.
The reason why it seems so difficult to win souls for Christ, is that Satan is continually engaged in misrepresenting the character of God to the human mind. Christ came to reveal the Father to the world in his true character, that the false conceptions which men entertained of the divine character might be swept away. Proud and worldly hearts sometimes are subdued by the power of the truth; but when the people of the world accept the truth, there will be much work to be done in their behalf, that their false theories of religion may be replaced by true theories, that their false conceptions of God may be banished through the bright beams of the Sun of righteousness shining into the darkened chambers of mind and heart. They must be awakened to investigate the truth, and to meditate much upon the plan of salvation in the light of Calvary's cross.
Through every possible device, through evil angels, and wicked men, Satan will seek to catch away the truth from the soul, and lead the sinner from the path of peace and righteousness. This is the special work of the enemy, and when he who has been seeking light, turns to engage in pleasure, to follow the ways of the world, manifesting pride and unbelief, it is evident that he has permitted the enemy to catch away the good seed from his heart; he has chosen darkness, rather than light. He did not accept the love of the truth, but yielded to the suggestions of Satan, and was taken captive by his strong delusions. He was led to believe a lie.
Through the years of probation, God is testing and proving the hearts of men, that it may be seen who will find room for Jesus. The question to be answered by every soul is, Will you accept the pardoning love of God, which is a remedy for the diseases of the soul, or will you choose the enmity of Satan, and reap the terrible doom of the lost? In order that sin may be cleansed from the soul, it is necessary to believe the word of God. Satan will suggest unbelief, and while it is not always necessary or wise to seek to answer the cavils of infidels and skeptics, it is well to be able to give an answer to every honest inquirer, the reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. Plant your feet on the word of God, and give the reason of your faith and hope, but let not the unbeliever drag you down into his cave of darkness; rather invite him up to stand under the light of the Sun of righteousness, that he may recognize the voice of God. There will no excuse be found for unbelief in the judgment.
In order to be able to help those who are in unbelief and sin, we must needs feel our own weakness, our utter helplessness without Christ. Through the grace of God given unto us, we must be delivered from all our worldliness, our pride, our selfishness. By looking to Jesus we may see what changes must take place in our character, and by beholding him we shall become changed. We cannot change ourselves. We cannot be good, or do good to others, of ourselves. Christ has said: "Without me ye can do nothing." But Jesus can cleanse us. He is the hope of the lost. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 69, #23)
"Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: and when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away."
Jesus explained this part of the parable as referring to a certain class of hearers. He said: "He that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for awhile: for when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, by and by he is offended." This class of hearers is again represented by the parable of the foolish builder. Jesus says, "Every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it."
The seed sown upon stony ground finds little depth of soil in which to take root. The plants spring up quickly, but the tender roots cannot penetrate into the rock and find nutriment to sustain the growing plant, and it soon perishes. A large number who make a profession of religion may be represented by the stony ground hearers. They are a class that are easily convinced; but they have only a superficial religion. As far as outward appearances are concerned, they are bright converts; but they are like the man who started to build without counting the cost of his enterprise, and they are not able to finish. There are those who receive the precious truth with joy; they are exceedingly zealous, and express amazement that all cannot see the things that are so plain to them. They urge others to embrace the doctrine that they find so satisfying. They hastily condemn the hesitating, and those who carefully weigh the evidences of the truth, and consider it in all its bearings. They call such ones cold and unbelieving. But in the time of trial, these enthusiastic persons too often falter and fail. They did not accept the cross as a part of their religious life, and they turn from it with dampened ardor, and refuse to take it up. They do not make the Lord Jesus their strength from the beginning to the end, and do not know what it means to fall upon the Rock and be broken. If they did but realize their great need, the Lord could be their strength, and would put his seal upon them. But they did not die to self that they might be born again, and their life was not hid with Christ in God. They did not become laborers together with God, bearing the cross, lifting the burden, that they might understand how great were the blessings of the service of Christ, in contrast to the poor pleasures of the world. If they had done this, like Paul, they would have been a partaker with Christ in his sufferings, and would have been able to exclaim, "I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."
As the roots of a plant strike down into the soil, gathering moisture and nutriment from the ground, so the Christian must abide in Christ, drawing sap and nourishment from him, as does the branch from the vine, until he cannot be turned away from the Source of his strength by trials.
He who knows Christ, is willing to deny self, to suffer the loss of all things, if he may but have the privilege of laboring with Christ, for he lays hold of eternal realities by living faith, and develops a symmetrical character. But those who have but a superficial religion make it manifest that they have no vital connection with Christ; they are stony ground hearers.
The Lord designs that every soul shall be tried, in order that it may be apparent who have a living connection with him. To every believer the testing time will come; and when it comes to the soul, how the angels of heaven watch to see what shall be the result of the trial. They know that failure to hold onto God means ruin, and tenacious faith means victory and life. For a time many who have only a superficial faith, appear to be charmed with the truth; but when the word of God points out some cherished sin, and rebukes some chosen course of action, or requires self-denial and self-sacrifice, they are offended. As the truth is brought home to the conscience, they see that some idol of their hearts must be sacrificed, renounced, if they become the followers of the Lord in deed and in truth, and they cling to the idol, and put aside the warnings of the Spirit of God. They look at the present inconvenience and trial, and forgot the eternal realities, and begin to measure themselves among themselves, and conclude that they are as good as those who make a profession of religion, and so reject the requirements of the gospel.
The stony ground hearer says, "It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinances, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts?" This is the way in which many reason, but they are under a deception when they entertain the idea that the religion of Jesus requires them to walk in mourning and sadness and weeping. I have not thus learned Christ. Jesus says, "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. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you [what is the result?], and that your joy might be full." Those who see in the religion of Jesus only sadness and gloom and discipline, and go mourning their way to mount Zion, have not the genuine article; they do not know what pure and undefiled religion is.
Stony ground hearers may rejoice for a season, for they think that religion is something that will free them from test and from all difficulty. They have not counted the cost. They do not understand the controversy that is going on between Christ and Satan over the souls of men. They do not realize that if they would stand under the bloodstained banner of Prince Emmanuel, they must be willing to be partakers of his conflicts, and wage a determined war against the powers of darkness.
When thinking on the conflict, Paul writes to his Ephesian brethren, exhorting them to "be strong," not feeble, not wavering, tossed to and fro like the waves of the sea. But in what are they to be strong? In their own might?--No. "Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might." He says, "Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore 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." What is the "all" that they are to do? Is it the many good works, upon which they may rely, and flatter themselves that they are good Christians?--No, the class that Jesus represents as stony ground hearers trusted in their good works, in their good impulses, and were strong in themselves, in their own righteousness. They were not "strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might." They did not feel that eternal vigilance was the price of safety. They might have put on the whole armor of God, and have been able to stand against the wiles of the enemy. The rich and abundant promises of God were spoken for their benefit, and believing the word of God, they might have been clothed with a "Thus saith the Lord," and been able to meet every wily device of the adversary; for when the enemy should come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord would have lifted up a standard against him. By Mrs. E. G. White. (Continued next week.)
(Vol. 69, #24)
Instead of trusting to good works, the soul who would be saved must trust in the righteousness of Christ; for only in Christ can he work the works of God. Jesus says, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." Christ is the sinner's only hope. There is no comfort for the soul in looking at the good works he has done; for they are all mixed with pride and sin, and by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight; for by the law is the knowledge of sin. In the righteousness of Christ the sinner may find refuge; for the repenting soul may lay hold of the merits of Christ, and find a remedy for sin, a healing for the wounds of the soul.
Those who would understand the way of salvation should study the word of God. In the Bible they will find the most precious instruction, and the richest promises whereby they may become partakers of the divine nature. In time of need the Comforter will bring the admonitions and promises of God to your remembrance, and so the mind may be clothed with the "whole armor of God," and having done all, the soul may stand. In time of trial you may stand, not moved away from your position of faith, not deprived of hope and courage in God, but you may be like valiant soldiers, able to endure hardness for the Captain of your salvation. "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit," and then what?--"And watching thereunto, with all perseverance." Those who would not be numbered with stony ground hearers, must heed the instruction given them in the word of God. They must watch on the right hand and on the left, praying, and not giving up when they are tempted to think that their prayers are not answered.
The beginning of yielding to temptation is in the sin of permitting the mind to waver, to be inconsistent in your trust in God. The wicked one is ever watching for a chance to misrepresent God, and to attract the mind to that which is forbidden. If he can, he will fasten the mind upon the things of the world. He will endeavor to excite the emotions, to arouse the passions, to fasten the affections on that which is not for your good; but it is for you to hold every emotion and passion under control, in calm subjection to reason and conscience. Then Satan loses his power to control the mind. The work to which Christ calls us is to the work of progressive conquest over spiritual evil in our characters. Natural tendencies are to be overcome; for the natural disposition is to be transformed by the grace of Christ. Appetite and passion must be conquered, and the will must be placed wholly on the side of Christ. This will not be a painful process, if the heart is opened to receive the impression of the Spirit of God. "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."
Sinners may understand the gospel in theory, they may be stirred under the preaching of the word, and be disposed to do much for the cause of God, and may appear to be Christians, but they may do all this and yet be strangers to Christ, because they have not opened the door of the heart for his entrance there. Their hearts are not placed upon spiritual things; they do not mind the things of the Spirit. Many, many who profess to be Christians, choose the things that please themselves, instead of the things that please Christ. They prefer the things of time and sense to the invisible, the carnal to the spiritual, the temporal to the eternal, and they walk in the sparks of their own kindling. They are in a state of false security, and unless they repent and come to Christ, they shall lie down in sorrow.
Let the parable of the sower be carefully studied by all who make a profession of religion, that you may ascertain whether you are a stony ground hearer. Let us put the questions to our souls, "Are we carnally minded? Do we mind the things of the flesh, or the things of the Spirit?" Stony ground hearers endure only for a time; for when persecution ariseth because of the word, they are offended, I warn you that profess to be Christians, not to allow any worldly motive to influence you while considering the question of your eternal welfare. Be true to your allegiance to Christ; for it is in halfheartedness in the Christian life that you become feeble in purpose, changeable in desire, and find no rest for your soul. This seeking to serve Christ and the world makes you a stony ground hearer, and you will not endure when the test comes upon you. The religion of Christ permits no compromise, no yielding to the influences of the world. "Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof."
There is a disposition among those who are halfhearted followers of Christ to make much of the ignorance of those who believe the truth for this time. They are continually pleading for the development of a more pleasing kind of religion than we see in our churches. But if they mean that they desire the followers of Christ to meet the world's standard, to try to be attractive to the world from their point of view, we say, No, no. It should be our aim ever to be more and more familiar with the character of Jesus, that we may follow in his footsteps, and not shape our course of action so that we shall commend ourselves to the devotees of fashion. The religion that is fashionable, that is popular in the world, is not the religion of the meek and lowly Jesus.
Many of those who feel that they have much polish because of their education or advantages in society, do not make it manifest in a way that would commend it to the true Christian. Too often they manifest an unchristlike spirit toward those whom they do not regard as their equals. They are proud, prejudiced, cold, and full of Pharisaical spirit that has not the slightest resemblance to the love of Christ. They show an interest in those of "our set," but others have no part in their interest and affection. They have a theory of what the standard should be, but it is false, and leads away from the simplicity of the gospel, from the meekness and lowliness of Christ. If the persons with whom they are brought in contact meet their standard, they will be courteous to them; but if they do not, they treat them with indifference or contempt. In their narrowness they chill and kill the life of true godliness from the soul. They are self-righteous, self-centered, too tenacious of their own ideas to learn anything from others.
The religion of Christ is not after this bigoted order. The Prince of glory left his exalted throne that he might become the friend of sinners. He died for the salvation of the world, and if we would be his followers, we must labor for the same end as did the Master. Whoever will be a worker with Christ in the broad field to which he has called his followers, must learn of him how to present the truth in an attractive light, and in a manner that will meet the people where they are. The believers in Christ will manifest the characteristics of Christ, and by their fruits they are known to be the children of God.
The work we have to do calls for consecrated energy. It demands the whole heart, the faculties of the mind, and the physical powers. The truth of God must be presented with soul fervor. Not much can be accomplished without it. Let enthusiasm be kindled in the church, and let her God-given powers be roused to activity. But a small proportion of her intellect or wealth is enlisted in active effort for the glory of God. There is enough to do in places where the truth has not been preached. As you look at the cross of Calvary, work, O, work with burning enthusiasm. This enthusiasm means the fullness of divine inspiration, a consecration of the whole soul to the work. Beholding the life of Jesus, his self-denial and sacrifice, his matchless love, man becomes transfigured, uplifted, filled with the fullness of God. To be an enthusiast in Christ's work is to be a partaker of the divine nature. The Holy Spirit has taken possession of the soul; the Sun of righteousness has shone into the chambers of the mind and heart, and all-absorbing truths have sanctified the mind. Let none fear this, but pray for it most earnestly, and live for it perseveringly. It will make you strong as workers together with God. With such laborers, the church will arise and shine, for her light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon her. I call upon you, my brethren, to practice self-denial, to lift the cross, and plant the standard of truth in places far and near. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 69, #25)
"And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them." "He also that received seed among thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful."
In the thorns that choke the good seed, the Great Teacher would depict the dangers that are around those who hear the word of God; for there are foes on every hand to make of no effect the precious truth of God. All that draws the affections from God, all that fills the attention so that Christ has no room in the heart, must be renounced if the seed of truth is to flourish in the soul. Jesus specifies the things that are dangerous to the soul. He says the cares of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desire for other things, choke the word, the growing spiritual seed, so that the soul does not draw nourishment from Christ, as does the branch from the vine, and the spiritual life dies from the heart. Love of the world, love of its pleasures and display, and love of other things, keep the soul away from God; for he who loves the world does not depend upon God for his courage, his hope, his joy. He knows not what it is to have the joy of Christ, for this is the joy of leading others to the Fountain of life, of winning souls from sin to righteousness.
All that draws the affections from Christ is a detriment to the soul, and must be put away that the soul temple may be cleansed from all defilement. Unless the soul is emptied of its idols, you cannot comprehend the truth of God. Some of the precious seed may find a place in the heart, but in order to have spiritual discernment to distinguish the thorns from the pure grain, the soul must receive the word with meekness. When those who have but a partial knowledge of the truth, are called upon to study some point that cuts across their preconceived opinions, they are confused. Their preconceived opinions are as thorns that choke the word of God, and when truth is sown, and it becomes necessary to root up the thorns to give it place, they feel that everything is going from them, and they are in trouble. There are many who have but an imperfect understanding of the character of God. They think of him as stern and arbitrary, and when the fact is presented that God is love, it is a difficult matter for these souls to lay aside their false conceptions of God. But if they do not let the word of truth in, rooting out the thorns, the briers will start up afresh, and choke out the good word of God; their religious experience will be dwarfed, for the evil of their hearts will overtop the tender plant of truth, and shut away the spiritual atmosphere.
How many have a dwarfed religious experience. They do not draw nourishment from Christ. They love the world and the things that the world loves. At times their hearts are touched by the love of Christ, but they are not careful to watch and pray. They do not take the path of self-denial and cross-bearing, and follow in the way which Jesus trod while upon earth. They choose to indulge self, and spend their money for that which is not bread, and their labor for that which satisfieth not. They are like those whom the prophet describes, when he says, "There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart. Therefore thus saith the Lord: Ask ye now among the heathen, who hath heard such things: the virgin of Israel hath done a very horrible thing. 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? because my people hath forgotten me, they have burned incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths, to walk in paths, in a way not cast up." Those who allow the cares of this world to crowd out the good seed, become surfeited with this world. The time that they should devote to the service of God, is devoted to the gratification of self. The work of the Lord should be their first anxiety, but Jesus and the souls he died for, are treated as matters of secondary importance. Their love of the world, their desire for riches, their anxiety to meet the world's standard, to follow the fashions of the world, to try every new thing, choke out the world, and it becomes unfruitful.
It is necessary to be diligent, lest thorns find their way into the soil of the heart, and the precious plants of heavenly origin be crowded out; for they cannot grow in the heart together. Christ says, "Ye cannot serve God and mammon." Those who attempt it bring no fruit to perfection. There are those who attempt to serve two masters. They take the precious promises of God to themselves, but refuse to comply with the conditions on which the promises are given. They are not doers of the words of Christ, laboring together with God. In heart and in practice they are of the world, and yet they make a profession of godliness. Brain and muscle are devoted to the acquirement of property or position, as though the gaining of these temporal things would give them a passport into heaven. But it is not learning, position, or wealth, that commends a man to God. The psalmist says, "A broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." Many who profess to be Christians know not what it is to give up their all for Christ, who paid an infinite price for the redemption of the lost.
Self must die if we would be counted as the followers of Christ. The apostle says, "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. . . . For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God." "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." When a man is converted to God, a new moral taste is created; and he loves the things that God loves; for his life is bound up by the golden chain of the immutable promises, to the life of Jesus. His heart is drawn out after God. His prayer is, "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law." In the immutable standard he sees the character of the Redeemer, and knows that though he has sinned, he is not to be saved in his sins, but from his sins; for Jesus is the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. It is through the blood of Christ that he is brought nigh unto God. As he beholds the righteousness of Christ in the divine precepts, he exclaims, "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul." As the sinner is pardoned for his transgression through the merits of Christ, as he is clothed with the righteousness of Christ through faith in him, he declares with the psalmist, "How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth." "More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb." This is conversion. When the Spirit of God controls the mind and heart, it turns the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just. The law of Jehovah will then be regarded as a transcript of the divine character, and a new song bursts forth from the heart that has been touched by divine grace; for he realizes that the promise of God has been fulfilled in his experience, that his transgression is forgiven, his sin covered. He has exercised repentance toward God for the violation of his law, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ who has died for his justification. "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulation 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."
"The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." Love is the fulfilling of the law, and those who could not understand the precepts of heaven before they experience the new birth, now see the commandments as "holy, and just, and good," and in keeping of them there is great reward. The law of God is the rule of God's government, and through eternal ages it will be the standard of his kingdom. Those who trample upon its requirements, are trampling upon the authority of heaven, upon the throne of God. If we do not yield to its requirements in this life, learning to love God with all our hearts and our neighbors as ourselves, we shall meet with no change in character at the appearing of Jesus. Rebellion will not give place to peace and love when he comes in the clouds of heaven. Now is the time to separate the thorns from the precious seeds of truth, that the heart may be wholly occupied with the truth from heaven.
He who knows all things, who reads the heart of man as an open book, says, "Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares." And Paul writes, "They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 69, #26)
"But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some a hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold." "But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty." "But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience."
What an encouragement it is that the sower is not always to meet with disappointment. The seed is sometimes received into honest hearts. The hearer comprehends the truth, and does not resist the Holy Spirit or refuse to receive the impression of truth upon his heart. He feels he must be true to God, and true to himself. He receives the truth into the heart, and it accomplishes its transforming work upon the character. He is not able to change his own heart, but the Holy Spirit, through his obedience to the truth, sanctifies the soul.
The good heart does not mean a heart without sin; for the gospel is to be preached to the lost. Jesus says, "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." The convicted sinner sees himself a transgressor in the great moral mirror, God's holy law. He looks upon the Saviour, upon the cross of Calvary, and asks why this great sacrifice was made; and the cross points to the holy law of God, which has been transgressed. It was to save the transgressor from ruin that he who was co-equal with God, offered up his life on Calvary. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." The law has no power to pardon the evildoer; but Jesus has taken the sins of the transgressor upon himself, and as a sinner exercises faith in him as his sacrifice, Christ imputes his own righteousness to the guilty one. There has been but one way of salvation since the days of Adam. "There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." We have no reason to fear while we are looking to Jesus, believing that he is able to save all who come unto him.
As the result of active faith in Christ, we are brought into the moral warfare with the world, the flesh, and the Devil. If we undertake this warfare in our own wisdom, our human ability, we shall certainly be overcome; but if we exercise living faith in Jesus, and practice godliness, we shall understand what it means to be sanctified through the truth, and we shall not be overcome in the conflict, for heavenly angels encamp around about us. Christ is the Captain of our salvation. He it is who strengthens his followers for the moral conflict which they are pledged to undertake.
But if the love of the world, if self-esteem, or any defiling thoughts or actions, obtain the victory over us, then shall we lose confidence in Jesus, or in ourselves? Is it because Jesus failed us, and did not supply us with his grace?--No; it is because we did not do what the Lord has told us to do, Watch unto prayer; "Pray always;" Pray without ceasing." How can your soul be in health, when you shut yourself away from prayer, and have no connection with Christ, the source of all spiritual light and life and power? We must have a constant connection with Christ; for he is our sustenance. He is that bread which came down from heaven. Then let us be doers of his word, and we shall have spiritual life and power. We must place ourselves often before God as suppliants, because prayer brings the soul into immediate contact with God through Jesus Christ. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. If a Christian fails, it is because he does not obey the orders of his Captain. He is off guard; he is not Christlike. It will work disaster to the soul to neglect prayer; for you will be led to yield carelessly to temptation. But if you do yield, do not therefore cast away your confidence in God; lose confidence in yourself, and press closer to the side of Christ.
Christ is not to be charged with the results of the negligence and indecision of man. He who gave his life to save fallen man, appreciates the value of the soul. He will never fail of doing his part, nor become discouraged. He will never leave the erring one, tempted and tried in the conflict. "My grace is sufficient for thee." "God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able." "He weighs and measures every trial before he permits it to come.
God can never be charged as unjust because he does not send assistance to men; but on the part of the one assailed by temptation there is a negligence to appropriate the freely offered aid. If they had trusted Christ, he would have proved an all-sufficient Saviour, and it is through conflict that the spiritual life is strengthened. We are not left alone, but we are to seek help where it will surely be found.
The opposition we meet may prove a benefit to us in many ways. If it is well borne, it will develop virtues which would never have appeared if the Christian had nothing to endure. And faith, patience, forbearance, heavenly mindedness, trust in Providence, and genuine sympathy with the erring, are the results of trial well borne. These are the graces of the Spirit, which bud, blossom, and bear fruit amid trials and adversity. Meekness, humility, and love always grow on the Christian tree. If the word is received into good and honest hearts, the obdurate soul will be subdued, and faith, grasping the promises, and relying upon Jesus, will prove triumphant. "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."
He who opens the Scriptures, and feeds upon the heavenly manna, becomes a partaker of the divine nature. He has no life or experience apart from Christ. He hears the voice of God speaking from heaven, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." That voice is assurance to him that he is accepted in the Beloved. And he knows that in character he must be like him with whom God is well pleased. God has fully accepted Christ as our substitute, our surety; then let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from all iniquity, and be one with Christ in character, that Jesus may not be ashamed to call us brethren. He in whom we trust has proved himself a present help in every time of need; and as we dwell with him, we grow more and more into his image. "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 [which means from character to character], even as by the Spirit of the Lord." "For God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."
If we bear much fruit to the glory of God, our souls must be absorbed in meditating upon the glorious truths of the word of God. "It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 69, #27)
Text.--"For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 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." Eph. 3:14-21.
From this scripture we are to understand what is the privilege of every follower of Christ. Our standard has been too low; our expectations have been too limited. We must make our aims higher than we have made them in the past; for it is possible for us to be filled with all the fullness of God, to have Christ abiding in our hearts by faith. Christ has died for us, and we are not to think that we are of no value before the Lord; for the cross of Calvary reveals the fact that we are valued by the infinite sufferings of the Son of God. As we have been purchased by the blood of Christ, should we not search the word of God that we may know what are our privileges, and by faith lay hold of unseen realities? We should understand our relation to God and his relation to us. The Lord declares that if we will come out and be separate, and touch not the unclean, he will receive us, and be a father unto us, and we shall be his sons and his daughters. Again and again Paul addresses the people of God as "dear children," as "obedient children." This is the test of our relation to God: Do we render obedience to him? Do we manifest his Spirit in our lives? Can we perceive the difference between the sacred and the common? Our religion is to be carried into our home, into our business, into all the affairs of life. The heart is not to be so engaged in worldly matters that we cannot appreciate eternal things.
Those who have a healthy experience in the Christian life, will be better fitted for their duties in business life, for their responsibilities in the home and in the church, than if they were but halfhearted followers of Christ. The Saviour has said: "Ye cannot serve God and mammon." We are to strive, to agonize, to enter in at the strait gate; for many shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able. It will take something more than mere seeking to enter in at the strait gate; for the gate to death is wide, and the road broad, and easy of access, and many there be that go in thereat. If we would enter in at the strait gate, we must be partakers of the sufferings of Christ. We must know what it is to practice self-denial, that we may come into sympathy with the Father and Son. Jesus said: "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."
As Jesus looked upon the world, he saw such misapprehension of the character of God, such darkness covering the earth, and gross darkness the people, that his heart was drawn out in compassion for mankind. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Jesus came to plant the cross between heaven and earth, between divinity and humanity. There he offered himself to God as a lamb without blemish, a spotless sacrifice for the sins of men. What means it that the divine Victim hangs there in dying agony?--It means that not one jot or tittle of the law could be set aside to save the transgressor of law, for whom Christ became substitute and surety. Christ consented to become man's sacrifice on Calvary's cross, and in him divine justice and mercy met together, so that God could pardon the transgressor, and vindicate his justice, and uphold his throne in righteousness.
It is by beholding Christ upon the cross of Calvary that the sinner is drawn to his Saviour; and as he realizes that Christ has died for him, his heart is melted into contrition and tenderness. He repents toward God because he has transgressed the divine law, and he has faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ as his substitute and surety.
This is the work that is before every soul who has transgressed the law of God,--repentance toward God for breaking his commandments, which has caused the death of his Son, and faith toward him who imputeth his righteousness unto us. But there is a great misapprehension in regard to what is genuine faith. It is not a mere intellectual assent to truth, or a nominal acceptance of the fact that Christ has died for the salvation of men. Genuine faith works by love, and purifies the soul. There are some who declare that all we have to do is to believe in Jesus, and they think it makes no difference if we trample upon the divine precepts. These statements show that this class do not understand the fundamental principles of the plan of salvation. Genuine faith in Christ will not lead a man to transgress the law; for Christ is not a minister of sin.
When the angel announced the birth of Christ to Mary, he said: "Thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins." When John called the attention of his followers to Jesus, he exclaimed, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."
The only definition the Bible gives of sin is that it is "the transgression of the law." While we are to repent toward God for the transgression of the law, we are not to look to the law for remission of sins, or for justification. Neither are we to imagine that repentance for past sin will be all-sufficient; for in order to be saved, we must have faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. When we accept Christ as our sacrifice, our substitute, our righteousness, then we behold the Father in a different light from that in which too many have regarded him in the past. We have blamed the Father for our sufferings. In ignorance and blindness to his infinite love, our hearts have been full of murmuring toward him; for the enemy had cast his shadow athwart our pathway, and clothed God with his own satanic character. But Christ came to reveal the Father, to roll back the shadow that Satan had cast over humanity, that men might behold God clothed in the divine attributes of his nature. By Mrs. E. G. White.
Our Saviour does not promise that those who follow him shall have no difficulties. Satan will continually seek to misrepresent God to every mind. The apostle says, "Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore 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 would make the Christian warfare as hard as possible for everyone who is determined to follow Christ; for it is his purpose to fasten every soul in deception.
Christ came to our world because he saw that it was impossible for man to overcome in his own behalf. He came to be the head of the church, to give his own life, that man might have everlasting life. He withstood all the temptations and devices of the enemy, and step by step passed over the ground where Adam fell, and redeemed his disgraceful failure. He was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin. Satan was on his track at every step, and in the wilderness he assailed him with the three leading temptations with which man is overcome,--appetite, presumption, and ambition. All over the world we see how appetite has controlled the reason, and beclouded the perceptions of men, and has taken the foundation from the character. Through the indulgence of appetite, men have come to a position where it is impossible for them to discern the light of God. The world is full of the wrecks of humanity because of indulgence of appetite. After Jesus had endured a fast of forty days, the tempter came to him, and said: "If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That men shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God."
We are not to be presumptuous, and place ourselves in the way of temptation, trusting that God will deliver us from the power of the enemy. When the tempter came to Christ to lead him to presumption, he came quoting the Scripture. "And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." If we are in the path of duty, if we are in the place where the angels of God can have charge over us, we may expect to be kept in all our ways; for God will be our helper; but if we rush into danger, following our own feeble judgment, and led by our own desires, we shall get into sorrow and difficulty. If we persist in presumption, we cannot expect that God will deliver us; for we are not following in the footsteps of Jesus. We must follow our Lord, just as trained soldiers follow their leader.
When Satan failed to induce Christ to act presumptuously, he took him to a high eminence, and "showed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the Devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them; for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will, I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine." Satan had come to Christ, saying, "If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread," and now Jesus gave him evidence of his divinity. He rebuked the enemy. Divinity flashed through humanity, and Jesus said: "Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." Are we doing this? Are we worshiping the Lord in spirit and in truth? Everything is to be held in subordination to the service of God. The temptation is presented to us from every side to serve ourselves, to serve the world, to serve Satan; but we are to overcome as Christ also overcame. By Mrs. E. G. White. (Continued next week.)
(Vol. 69, #28)
"And the Devil, taking him up into a high mountain, showed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the Devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will, I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine." How many are listening to this temptation today! How many are ambitious, desirous of honor and power, that they may be exalted in the eyes of the world! How many are aspiring to be something great and high, ever reaching forward, restless and unreconciled to their lot, while neglecting the very things which God has given them to do! They do not see the importance of making their home a happy one. They do not see the necessity of performing those things that will make their lives efficient for good. They neglect what they call "the little things;" for they do not realize that there is nothing unimportant or insignificant. God calls upon men to be faithful in little things. There is no excuse for unfaithfulness. We should be true to principle in carrying forward the work God has put into our hands.
I want to tell the children how they may be faithful as Christ would have them to be. They can have his approving smile by being obedient and respectful to father and mother. Children, you are under the eye of Christ, and he is watching you to see if in the future he can intrust to you sacred responsibilities. Do not be satisfied to do superficial work, or to work as an eye-servant, simply busying yourself because someone is watching you; work as a servant of God, and be faithful wherever you are, when God alone knows what you are doing.
Parents, your first work for your children should be to teach them that God will not accept superficial work. Teach them concerning the great sacrifice that Jesus has made in their behalf, in order that they might be happy in the mansions which he has gone to prepare for those who love him. Satan is at work to ruin our youth in every institution that we have, by leading them to do superficial work. O that we all might understand that we cannot afford to do surface work; for it will entail upon us loss in this life and in that which is to come. Paul instructed Timothy in that in which all our youth should be instructed. He said: "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed." "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."
We should seek to have others understand all that we understand, and not be envious when others excel us, but rather rejoice that the best of talent can be brought into the service of God. Your first duty is to yield your powers to God, that he may use you in his service, but you are not to yield to the temptations of the evil one, and aspire for high position, and the honor of the world.
The work of overcoming is in our hands, but we are not to overcome in our own name or strength; for of ourselves we cannot keep the commandments of God. The Spirit of God must help our infirmities. Christ has become our sacrifice and surety. He has become sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in him. Through faith in his name, he imputes unto us his righteousness, and it becomes a living principle in our life. The apostle shows unto us what is the privilege of the Christian. He says, "I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . 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." Christ imputes to us his sinless character, and presents us to the Father in his own purity. There are many who think that it is impossible to escape from the power of sin, but the promise is that we may be filled with all the fullness of God. We aim too low. The mark is much higher. Our minds need expansion, that we may comprehend the significance of the provision of God. We are to reflect the highest attributes of the character of God. We should be thankful of that we are not to be left to ourselves. The law of God is the exalted standard to which we are to attain through the imputed righteousness of Christ. We are not to walk according to our own ideas, and present before others in our example a human standard which they will follow; but we are to follow in the footsteps of Christ, and make straight paths for our feet, lest the lame be turned out of the way. We are to keep the commandments and live.
Jesus suffered the full penalty of sin. On Calvary's cross the weight of the sins of the world rested upon his soul. He received in his bosom the arrow of lost humanity. Have you followed him in the garden of Gethsemane? Have you seen the bloody sweat bedew the ground? Have you heard the anguished prayer he offered to heaven, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt"? Three times was this petition offered to heaven, but the cup was not removed. The destiny of a lost world trembled in the balance, but Jesus decided to drink the bitter cup to the very dregs.
During the Master's agony of soul, the disciples slept. Again and again he came to them, desiring even the sympathy that humanity could have given him, but he had to tread the winepress alone, and of the people there was none with him. When the bitter hour was over, he waked his followers and said: "Behold the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me. And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people." "Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground." Divinity flashed through humanity, and the soldiers were powerless before him. Had he spoken the word, twelve legions of angels would have come to his defense, and delivered him from his foes, and every one of that cruel company would have been destroyed at his word. But no, he had come to save man, and at any cost he would carry out his purpose. He permitted them to take him and drag him away as they would have taken any common criminal. They brought him to the judgment hall, and his disciples all forsook him and fled. Peter had declared, "Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death." But now Peter followed afar off, and when he ventured into the hall, and a maid said: "This man was also with him," he denied him, saying, "Woman, I know him not. And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not. And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him; for he is a Galilean." It was then that with cursing and swearing, Peter denied his Lord. How this cut to the heart of Jesus! There was the Man of sorrows, surrounded by his enemies, accused by false witnesses, buffeted and insulted by the mob, but the denial of Peter cut deeper than all the mockings of his foes.
To see how his disciple would sacrifice his integrity, and deny his Master, wounded the heart of Jesus. Then the Lord turned, and looked on Peter with a look of pitying compassion mingled with grief, and that look broke Peter's heart. He remembered what Jesus had said to him, that before the cock should crow he would deny him thrice, and he went out from the judgment hall in shame and grief. He hurried to the garden of Gethsemane, and prostrated himself on the very spot where Jesus had prayed in agony, where the bloody sweat had bedewed the soil, and there he wept bitterly. Jesus saw the anguish of his heart, and forgave Peter for his sin. Thus it is whenever a sinner draws nigh to God in repentance and contrition of soul, Jesus draws nigh to him; for when a soul repents, it is an evidence that Jesus is drawing him to himself.
It was in man's behalf that Jesus suffered, taking the steps of humiliation from the throne of glory to the cross of shame. When Jesus was brought before the Roman ruler, Pilate examined him, and said: "I find in him no fault at all." And he would have released him, but he feared for his life. The follower of Christ must reach a point where he would rather sacrifice his life than betray the cause of Christ. Jesus said: "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it." Satan and his angels are at work influencing the children of disobedience to bring about a state of affairs which will place the follower of Christ in positions of peril, where his fidelity will be tested to the utmost.
Although Pilate pronounced Jesus innocent, he scourged him and sent him to Herod. Jesus was mocked and insulted, robed in purple, and crowned with thorns, and the soldiers bowed to him in mock homage, and said: "Hail, King of the Jews!" O, what a spectacle for the universe to behold! O what a scene for those who kept the commandments of God! And yet it was necessary that Satan should manifest his enmity toward the Son of God, in order that the real character of the evil one might be understood, and that he might be uprooted from the affection of men and angels. When Jesus died on Calvary, men and angels beheld the malignity of Satan, and the love of God for a fallen world. On this atom of a world the great controversy between Christ and Satan is waged, but Christ is conqueror. In his name and through his strength, his followers obtain the victory. By Mrs. E. G. White. (Concluded next week.)
(Vol. 69, #29)
Christ is our example. In his life on earth he withstood the temptations of the enemy; for he was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. No man will ever be called upon to endure what Jesus had to endure. No man will ever have occasion to cry out, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Jesus endured the hiding of his Father's face, that God might never have to forsake the children of earth, unless they deliberately turned from him. In the light of the cross of Calvary, I ask you if you cannot see why the transgressor cannot escape the penalty of the broken law. Death is the wages of sin, and the law cannot be changed in the least to make a way of escape for its transgressor. The anguish of Christ on Calvary's cross speaks louder than any argument that can be presented, to prove the immutability of the law. But Jesus bore the penalty of the law, and tasted death for every man. But the tomb could not hold him. Three days after his crucifixion, the mighty angels of heaven parted the darkness from their track, and rolled the stone from the sepulcher. The seal of the government was broken, and the Roman guards placed there to keep the tomb from all disturbance, lest the disciples might come and steal away the body of Jesus, fell to the earth as dead. The angel of the Lord appeared, whose countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow, and for fear of him, the keepers did quake, and became as dead men. Christ came forth from the tomb a mighty conqueror over death and the grave, and he ascended up on high, there to intercede for us as a merciful and faithful high priest, who is touched with the feeling of our infirmities.
We are not to enter heaven without trial. Jesus has told us that we must strive, agonize, to enter in at the strait gate. We are to wage a continual warfare against principalities and powers, and spiritual wickedness in high places, against the ruler of the darkness of this world. But Jesus knows the plan of the battle, and he comforts us with the assurance that he is at our right hand, that we shall not be moved. He says, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." The angels of God are all about us. "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation?"
Christ is the ladder that Jacob saw, on which descended and ascended the angels of God, while the glory of God illuminated every round of the ladder from the highest heaven to the earth. Christ spanned the gulf that separated man from God, and earth from heaven, and he is working continually in our behalf, and individually we are to cooperate with him and with the heavenly intelligences. But Christ can do nothing for us without our cooperation, and we can do nothing without him. Satan and his angels are at war with us, and they will be at war with us to the end of the world, and Jesus has told us, "Without me ye can do nothing." This is the lesson that Christ has been teaching his children through all ages, and in every generation. When Joshua went forth in the morning before the taking of Jericho, there appeared before him a warrior fully equipped for battle. And Joshua asked, "Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?" and he answered, "As Captain of the host of the Lord am I now come." If the eyes of Joshua had been opened as were the eyes of the servant of Elisha at Dothan, and he could have endured the sight, he would have seen the angels of the Lord encamped about the children of Israel; for the trained army of heaven had come to fight for the people of God, and the Captain of the Lord's hosts was there to command. When Jericho fell, no human hand touched the walls of the city, for the angels of the Lord overthrew the fortifications, and entered the fortress of the enemy. It was not Israel, but the Captain of the Lord's host that took Jericho. But Israel had their part to act to show their faith in the Captain of their salvation.
Battles are to be fought every day. A great warfare is going on over every soul, between the prince of darkness and the Prince of life. There is a great battle to be fought, that the inhabitants of the world may be warned of the great day of the Lord, that the strongholds of the enemy may be entered, and that all who love the Lord may be gathered under the bloodstained banner of Prince Emmanuel, but you are not to do the main fighting here. As God's agents you are to yield yourselves to him, that he may plan and direct and fight the battle for you, with your cooperation. The Prince of life is at the head of his work. He is to be with you in your daily battle with self, that you may be true to principle; that passion, when warring for the mastery, may be subdued by the grace of Christ; that you come off more than conqueror through Him that hath loved us. Jesus has been over the ground. He knows the power of every temptation. He knows just how to meet every emergency, and how to guide you through every path of danger. Then why not trust him? Why not commit the keeping of your soul unto God, as unto a faithful Creator?
Do not think that you can be careless and reckless, and neglect so great salvation, and not suffer loss, eternal loss. It took the lifeblood of the Son of the infinite God to make a way of escape for the sinner, and can God save you in your sins? Christ came to save you from your sins. In view of the sufferings of the Son of God, what will be the result of the neglect of so great salvation? The Father gave all heaven to man in that one gift. He has made it manifest that he has done all that is possible to do, all that a God can do, that you might be saved, that you might have an inheritance with the saints in light. Election is just what the Bible has described it to be. "Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely." "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." If you will but yield your own way, and surrender yourself to Christ, how pitiful will he be to you. Read the parable of the prodigal son, if you would see the mercy of God toward the repenting sinner. Like the prodigal son, the sinner has taken God's good gifts, and has wasted them on the gratification of self, used them for the indulgence in sin. When the sinner awakes to his true condition, he sees that he has spent his all for that which is worthless, and that he is lost and undone. He says, "I will arise and go to my father." I will tell him how unworthy I am, how I am no more worthy to be called his son. I will ask him to make me as one of his hired servants. The prodigal did just as he said he would. He went to his father just as he was; for he could do no other way. His garments were in rags and tatters, but his father did not turn from him. While he was still a great way off, the father sees him, and goes to meet him. Before his repenting child can utter a word of confession, the father has forgiven him. He embraces him, he weeps upon his neck. Does he think of carrying out his son's request as he sobs out his repentant story?--No, he takes him to his home. He puts upon him the best robe. He puts a ring upon his finger, and makes a feast, and calls in the neighbors to rejoice with him; for he says, "This my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found."
This is the way that God deals with the sinner. O, I would that we had hearts of flesh to feel for those who know nothing of the pardoning love of God! O that we were baptized with the Holy Spirit, that we might know how to work for the Master! How many come before the congregation and offer up long, tedious prayers that weary the people, and do not bring the blessing of God upon them. Keep your long prayers for the closet; and when you come to the meeting, present your request before God in a simple, direct way. Let your words be the expression of the need of the hour; for God has said: "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you."
We want the light of the glory of God to shine upon us. Paul says, "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." It is 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." "Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named." The family is named after the Father. Those who enter the heavenly mansions will have the name of the Father and the name of the city of God written in their foreheads. They will bear the divine superscription, and be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruptions that are in the world through lust.
"That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man." Why is it that so many who profess to have faith in Christ, have no strength to stand against the temptations of the enemy?--It is because they are not strengthened with might by the Spirit in the inner man. The apostle prays "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." If we had this experience, we should know something of the cross of Calvary. We should know what it means to be a partaker with Christ in his sufferings. The love of Christ would constrain you, and though you would not be able to explain how the love of Christ warmed your heart, you would manifest his love in fervent devotion to his cause. The love of Christ passeth knowledge; human language cannot express its depth. It is the privilege of the children of God to 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."
From this scripture we are to understand what is the privilege of every follower of Christ. Our standard has been too low, and may the Lord help us that we may come as we are, and learn of his righteousness, that through his power we may be enabled to keep the commandments of God. As you seek to come to Jesus, Satan will point to your filthy garments that have been defiled with sin, and tell you that you are a sinner and unworthy of the favor of God. You will have to acknowledge that you have transgressed the law of God. You will have to say, "I know that I am a sinner, but I repent of my sins. I come to Christ because he has said: 'I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.' I came because he has said: 'Come unto me, all ye that labor.'" Do you want anything broader than that? "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."
When Satan assails you with doubt and temptation, point him to Calvary; for he cannot stand before the weighty argument of the cross. Take the yoke of Jesus, and learn of him; for he is meek and lowly of heart. Temptations and trials will come upon the Christian; but you need not be discouraged and lose your faith. The apostle says, "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: whom having not seen, ye love: in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory."
We cannot provide a robe of righteousness for ourselves, for the prophet says, "All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags." There is nothing in us from which we can clothe the soul so that its nakedness shall not appear. We are to receive the robe of righteousness woven in the loom of heaven, even the spotless robe of Christ's righteousness. We are to say, "He died for me." He bore my soul's disgrace, that in his name I might be an overcomer, and be exalted to his throne. Tell of his power, sing of his matchless love. In every trial he will be near you, and will give grace and power according to your need.
We are to be co-laborers with Christ, and we are to be continually working to extend the knowledge of the gospel. We are to be liberal with our means, that the cause of the Master may be advanced. We should seek to economize, that we may extend the message of truth, and send the tidings to those who know not God, and are without hope in the world, that they may be turned from error and iniquity unto truth and righteousness. O, let us seek to be co-laborers with the Master. There are souls all through Australia and the islands of the sea, who in the sight of God are just as precious as are your souls, and if they had an opportunity, they would accept the light as readily as you have accepted it.
O, may the love of God inspire our hearts! Let the Holy Spirit enkindle in our hearts a flame of sacred devotion, that we may go forth to work in the vineyard of the Lord. Then we shall wear the victor's crown. Then we shall see him as he is, and hear at last the benediction, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant: . . . enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 69, #30)
Christ has said: "Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of me." The duty of searching the Scriptures is enjoined upon every son and daughter of Adam. Jesus says, "And they are they which testify of me." The Father was revealed in the Son, and in studying Christ we shall learn of the Father. Then let us come to search the word of God with softened, subdued hearts, and read the testimony concerning our Lord and Master. Shall we not with intense interest seek to catch his spirit, copy his example, and breathe in the atmosphere of his presence, which is light and love? How eagerly should we study every lesson that fell from his divine lips! How we should cherish his instruction! How ardently we should seek to imitate his character and life, and press on to know more and more of the heavenly truths he taught. If we would but practice the truths he has given, we should perfect an experience that would be of the highest value to us, and to the world.
Jesus presented new views of truth to his disciples, and how much deeper was the meaning of his utterances than the meaning of any lesson ever taught by human lips! "God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory."
How shall we search the Scriptures? Shall we drive our stakes of doctrine one after another, and then try to make all Scripture meet our established opinions, or shall we take our ideas and views to the Scriptures, and measure our theories on every side by the Scriptures of truth? Many who read and even teach the Bible, do not comprehend the precious truth they are teaching or studying. Men entertain errors, when the truth is clearly marked out, and if they would but bring their doctrines to the word of God, and not read the word of God in the light of their doctrines, to prove their ideas right, they would not walk in darkness and blindness, or cherish error. Many give the words of Scripture a meaning that suits their own opinions, and they mislead themselves and deceive others by their misinterpretations of God's word. As we take up the study of God's word, we should do so with humble hearts. All selfishness, all love of originality, should be laid aside. Long cherished opinions must not be regarded as infallible. It was the unwillingness of the Jews to give up their long established traditions that proved their ruin. They were determined not to see any flaw in their own opinions or in their expositions of the Scriptures; but however long men may have entertained certain views, if they are not clearly sustained by the written word, they should be discarded.
Those who sincerely desire truth will not be reluctant to lay open their positions for investigation and criticism, and will not be annoyed if their opinions and ideas are crossed. This was the spirit cherished among us forty years ago. We would come together burdened in soul, praying that we might be one in faith and doctrine; for we knew that Christ is not divided. One point at a time was made the subject of investigation. Solemnity characterized these councils of investigation. The Scriptures were opened with a sense of awe. Often we fasted, that we might be better fitted to understand the truth. After earnest prayer, if any point was not understood, it was discussed, and each one expressed his opinion freely; then we would again bow in prayer, and earnest supplications went up to heaven that God would help us to see eye to eye, that we might be one, as Christ and the Father are one. Many tears were shed. If one brother rebuked another for his dullness of comprehension in not understanding a passage as he understood it, the one rebuked would afterward take his brother by the hand, and say, "Let us not grieve the Holy Spirit of God. Jesus is with us; let us keep a humble and teachable spirit;" and the brother addressed would say, "Forgive me, brother, I have done you an injustice." Then we would bow down in another season of prayer. We spent many hours in this way. We did not generally study together more than four hours at a time, yet sometimes the entire night was spent in solemn investigation of the Scriptures, that we might understand the truth for our time. On some occasions the Spirit of God would come upon me, and difficult portions were made clear through God's appointed way, and then there was perfect harmony. We were all of one mind and one Spirit.
We sought most earnestly that the Scriptures should not be wrested to suit any man's opinions. We tried to make our differences as slight as possible by not dwelling on points that were of minor importance, upon which there were varying opinions. But the burden of every soul was to bring about a condition among the brethren which would answer the prayer of Christ that his disciples might be one as he and the Father are one. Sometimes one or two of the brethren would stubbornly set themselves against the view presented, and would act out the natural feelings of the heart; but when this disposition appeared, we suspended our investigations and adjourned our meeting, that each one might have an opportunity to go to God in prayer, and without conversation with others, study the point of difference, asking light from heaven. With expressions of friendliness we parted, to meet again as soon as possible for further investigation. At times the power of God came upon us in a marked manner, and when clear light revealed the points of truth, we would weep and rejoice together. We loved Jesus; we loved one another.
In those days God wrought for us, and the truth was precious to our souls. It is necessary that our unity today be of a character that will bear the test of trial. We are in the school of the Master here, that we may be trained for the school above. We must learn to bear disappointment in a Christlike manner, and the lesson taught by this will be of great importance to us.
We have many lessons to learn, and many, many to unlearn. God and heaven alone are infallible. Those who think that they will never have to give up a cherished view, never have occasion to change an opinion, will be disappointed. As long as we hold to our own ideas and opinions with determined persistency, we cannot have the unity for which Christ prayed.
Could those who are self-sufficient see how the universe of God regards them; could they see themselves as God sees them; they would behold such weakness, such manifest want of wisdom, that they would cry to the Lord to be their righteousness; they would want to hide from his sight. The apostle says, "Ye are not your own. For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." When our schemes and our plans have been broken; when men who have depended upon our judgment conclude the Lord would lead them to act and judge for themselves, we should not feel like censuring, and like exercising arbitrary authority to compel them to receive our ideas. Those who are placed in authority should constantly cultivate self-control. I am thankful that God is a wise ruler, and everyone who is a true disciple of Christ will be humble, lift his cross, and meekly follow where the self-denying, self-sacrificing Jesus leads the way. Disappointment may prove to be the greatest of blessings to us. We must learn that others have rights as well as we have, and when any of our brethren receive new light upon the Scriptures, he should frankly explain his position, and every minister should search the Scriptures with the spirit of candor to see if the points presented on a new subject can be substantiated by the inspired word. "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." Every soul must look to God with contrition and humility, that God may guide and lead and bless. We must not trust to others to search the Scriptures for us. Some of our leading brethren have frequently taken positions on the wrong side, and if God would send a message and wait for these older brethren to open the way for its advance, it would never reach the people. These brethren will be found in this position until they become partakers of the divine nature to a greater extent than ever they have been in the past. There is sadness in heaven over the spiritual blindness of many of our brethren. Our younger ministers who fill less important positions must make decided efforts to come to the light, to sink the shaft deeper and still deeper into the mine of truth.
The rebuke of the Lord will be upon those who would be guardians of the doctrine, who would bar the way that greater light shall not come to the people. A great work is to be done, and God sees that our leading men have need of greater light, that they may unite with the messengers whom he shall send harmoniously to accomplish the work that he designs they should. The Lord has raised up messengers and endued them with his Spirit, and has said, "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins." Let no one run the risk of interposing himself between the people and the message of heaven. The message of God will come to the people; and if there were no voice among men to give it, the very stones would cry out. I call upon every minister to seek the Lord, to put away pride, to put away strife after supremacy, and humble the heart before God. It is the coldness of heart, the unbelief of those who ought to have faith, that keeps the churches in feebleness.
I would rejoice with all my heart to see all who have been connected with the work, take their places to hold high the banner of Jesus, that when their work shall be done, they may say as did Paul, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 69, #33)
"Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye, and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye."
The lesson contained in these words is of solemn import, and it is to be carefully considered. The law of the divine government is that each one has the power of being the arbiter of his own destiny. What we do to others shall be done unto us again. Therefore we should be careful how we treat one another. We ever reap as we have sown, receiving back to ourselves what we have done to God and to our fellow-beings. In this life we are on probation, placed under test and trial to form characters for the future, immortal life. Through the provision of the grace of Christ, fallen man, debased and corrupted, may be transformed into the divine likeness. The lesson that Christ gave in the words we have quoted, was to counteract the influence of the former, erroneous teachings of the Jews. "Judge not, that ye be not judged." In these words Christ presented before them a lesson that was to be brought into daily life to brighten their hopes, and to encourage their confidence in the Lord. The question is asked, What does God require of us? As transgressors of the law, justice condemns us as hopelessly ruined; but through the mercy of Christ, through repentance of sin, man, the enemy of God, may be forgiven and transformed into the divine image. And since it has cost an infinite price to redeem us, how can we presume to condemn others? Jesus says, "Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?" In these words, Jesus has represented one who is filled with self-righteousness. He is swift to detect any seeming defect in others, but in comparison to his own errors and faults, the defect he presumed to criticise is represented as a mote compared with a beam. To such a one Jesus says, "Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye."
In the days of Christ just such plain reproofs were given, and in this age we need the same straightforward reproof. When Christ came into the world, it was filled with criticism and condemnation of others, and Jesus revealed the sure result of such a course. The same results are manifest today. Those who have the greatest need to examine themselves whether they be in the faith, are most forward to pronounce sentence of evil against their brethren. Those who are accusers of the brethren are recipients of God's mercy and compassion, are every moment dependent upon his care and benevolence, and yet they are unmerciful to others, making it manifest that they have not allowed the truth to purify, refine, and sanctify them. Our characters are not to be weighed by smooth words and fair speeches manufactured for set times and occasions; but by the spirit and trend of the whole life. The unkind man, the critic, the one who is full of self-conceit, deceives his own soul, though claiming to be a clear discerner of the defects of others. He who has a disposition to find fault, to be suspicious, to surmise, think and speak evil, has so cultivated this attribute of the evil one that the good qualities of his brethren and sisters in the church do not arrest his attention. If he thinks he has discovered a flaw in the character, a mistake in the life, he is very officious to aim at the mote, when the very trait of character which he has overlooked in himself, which is developed in doing this unchristlike work, is, in comparison to what he criticises, when weighed in the golden balances of heaven as a beam in proportion to a mote.
Ungenerous, unchristian expressions of judgment, of criticism, of condemnation of others, if not repented of, will sink the soul in ruin. The piety of the man who thus condemns others, is measured by the hidden motives, the secret plans and plottings of evil against those with whom he is at enmity. The value of his conduct, the real influence of his life, is summed up as wanting by the Lord of heaven, who reads the secrets of every soul. That spoken in the ear, in the closet, will be proclaimed upon the housetop. No man can fully know the measure of the good or evil of his course of action, because the Lord holds in his own hands the consequences of our deeds. The Lord permits circumstances to arise that will bring into notice the good qualities of one who is suspected of wrong. The Lord will permit persons to pass through strait places, where the surroundings will work to develop the traits of character that are condemned by Christ. The evil work that evil workers intended to do will not to bring about the results they had designed; for the Lord will manage the matter so that good will be brought out of evil. But no credit or reward will be given to him who purposed to do harm to the purchase of the blood of Christ, even though good resulted from his plottings of evil. The Lord set counter-agencies to work to preserve his people from being deceived and injured.
Unless the truth sanctifies the soul, hereditary and cultivated traits of character will develop, and we shall be seeking for spots and blemishes in others; but our measuring and judgment will correspond to our own prejudices, to our human likes and dislikes. In dealing with brethren that reveal a hard, critical, accusing spirit, we should manifest the Spirit of Christ, that they may behold and become changed. Without a connection with God, self and self-uplifting will appear. Day by day, hour by hour, we must weave heavenly principles into our life, praying God that he will bestow his Holy Spirit upon us; for it is the Holy Spirit alone that can purify the affections, and uproot the tares that naturally grow in the heart. The love of God must abide in the soul, or man will fail to mete out to his fellowman that which God has meted out to him through his great love for his fallen creatures. Without the heavenly endowment of the Spirit of truth, we shall not be able to do that for which we shall not be ashamed. When we are brought to account by the Lord, we shall receive the very same measure we have meted to others, and eat the fruit of our own doings. Many work with intense activity to bring to light disagreeable matters concerning others, when, if the same criticism were brought upon their words and conduct, their faults in contrast with their brother's would be as a beam in proportion to a mote.
There is a great variety of ways of deceiving self; and one of the most ruinous ways to cripple our usefulness is to cultivate evil speaking and criticism of others. Those who have done this must be humble their hearts before God, and instead of denouncing others, must proclaim against themselves.
The apostle says, "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." We fail to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling when we judge and condemn others; we manifest before the universe a spirit that will decide our destiny, and place us among the transgressors of God's law. We show our kinship with Satan, who was an accuser of the brethren. Through his deceptive power, he ever seeks to make error appear as truth, and you follow his example in magnifying the faults of your brethren, and by imagining that you see evil where none exists.
The has Lord graciously given man a time of probation in which to perfect a character for eternal life; but those who are selfish, those who exalt self by seeking to abase another, making the most of every mote and defect in his character, prove that there is a beam in their own eye which unfits them for an entrance into the abode of life. The principles of divine goodness must dwell in the heart, in order that pure, generous, kindly thoughts and actions shall be manifested in the life. Everything like secret working, like deception, like anxiety to discover a mote in our brother's eye, like officious effort to remove the mote when a beam is in our own eye, is abhorrent to God. Until the accuser discovers the evil of his own heart, and feels sincere repentance for his sin, and makes confession of his wrong, he can have no clear vision to pull the mote out of his brother's eye. It is easy to deceive ourselves, but we cannot deceive God, to whose ears smooth words and fair speeches, which are only pretensions to piety, are as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. Unless the principles of heaven are inwrought in the heart, all outward profession is pretension and deception. God measures every man's piety by the character of his motives. In the prayer of Christ for his disciples he utters these words: "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one [not biting and devouring one another]; as thou, Father, art in me, and I thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 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."
In these words the relation sustained toward God and toward one another is clearly defined. We are to be as one, and this sacred unity must be contemplated and cherished in the church of God, each one seeking to bring about the fulfillment of the prayer of Christ. We should banish all thoughts of evil against our brethren. If we imagine we see wrong in our brother, let us not judge him; let us not go to work secretly to make the mote appears as large as possible before others, depreciating our brother by secret whisperings when he knows nothing of our suspicious and evil thoughts. How cruel it is to judge, condemn, and pass sentence upon your brother when he has not the slightest suspicion that you are not his friend. It was in this secret manner that Satan carried on his work in heaven, and now through human agencies who submit to his control, he carries on the same hypocritical course of action.
If you think your brother or sister has made a mistake, go privately to the offender, "considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted," and in tenderness and sincerity talk with the one that you suspect. Christians are to carry out the instructions of Christ: "Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother." If you disregard the words of Christ, and walk in sparks of your own kindling, you will fail to work righteousness, and will come under the bewitching power of Satan. Let us reverently inquire, What does the Lord require of me in my relation to my brother? The plain words of instruction, the rules given to govern our conduct in the teachings of Christ, will confront us in the judgment, however much we may disregard them here.
Every day we are passing up our accounts to heaven. The spirit, the words, the actions of our daily life, are freighted with terrible significance; for they make it manifest whether we are preparing to be members of the family of God or members of the host of evil, who will be destroyed with Satan the root, and his followers the branches. By the secret influences of his Holy Spirit, again and again the Lord comes to us and presents to us the things which pertain to our eternal welfare; we must act according to the dictates of the heavenly voice if we would be fitted for the life that measures with the life of God. We must respond to the love of God by reflecting his love to the world. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 69, #34)
The reason why so little is accomplished to fulfill the words of the Lord's prayer. "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven," is that many of those whose names swell the church list, have never been joined to Christ; but they have so mingled with the world that their lives and characters are fashioned after the world's standard. In place of pointing heavenward, they are as signboards directing to the world. They are not in union with Christ as is the branch to the vine, although Jesus says, "Without me ye can do nothing."
Christ and the world are not in partnership. The apostle says, "Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." "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." Conformity to the world will never be the means of converting the world to Christ. Christians must be entirely consecrated to God, if the church is to be efficient in its influence for good upon unbelievers. The slightest diversion from Christ is so much influence, power, and efficiency given to the enemy. The church was called into existence to counteract the influence of Satan; but as member after member of the church allows his ability and power to be diverted, one in one line and another in another line, connections are formed with the world, and the enemy of all righteousness triumphs. Almost imperceptibly the world's standard, the world's maxims and customs, are introduced into the church; and as these find room, the objectionable maxims and customs more boldly appear, and leaven the influence of the church; and Satan's devices are successful, just as he has designed they should be. In this way there is brought into the church a mixed company, a divided service. Many profess to love God, yet they are serving mammon, and bowing at worldly shrines. The world is brought into the church, but not through repentance, contrition, and conversion, but because church members become wedded to the world; and this unholy union is the explanation of the weakness and inefficiency of the church. It is made manifest when church members follow the maxims of the world, that spiritual discernment is gone. Where this union is preserved, contention, criticism, faultfinding, strife, and decided hatred one of another comes in among those who should be servants of Jesus Christ.
Those who profess to be followers of Christ, should be living agencies, cooperating with heavenly intelligences; but by union with the world, the character of God's people becomes tarnished, and through amalgamation with the corrupt, the fine gold becomes dim. When worldly agencies are introduced into the church, it is evident that Satan is carrying out his devices, working through those who profess to be followers of Christ, making them ready at any time to engage with him in disheartening and discouraging those who are faithful, who would stand wholly on the Lord's side.
The church should be the almoner for God to the world, but instead of this, when there is a union with the world, the members of the church practice robbery toward God, withholding from his cause talents of means, ability, and influence. When the church should be diffusing light in every direction, it is in darkness. When the servants of Christ should be drinking largely from the waters of life in order to impart to the world the knowledge of the healing fountain, they are drinking from broken cisterns that can hold no water. Those who profess to love God should let their light so shine before men, that they may see their good works, and glorify the Father who is in heaven.
The world needs missionaries, consecrated home missionaries, and no one will be registered in the books of heaven as a Christian, who has not a missionary spirit. But we can do nothing without sanctified energy. Just as soon as the missionary spirit is lost from the heart, and zeal for the cause of God begins to wane, the burden of our testimonies and plans is a cry for prudence and economy, and real backsliding begins in the missionary work. Instead of diminishing the work, let all the councils be conducted in such a manner that increased purpose may be manifested to carry forward the great work of warning the world, though it may cost self-denial and sacrifice. If every member of the church was constantly impressed with the thought, I am not my own, but have been bought with a price, each would feel that he is under the most sacred obligation to improve every ability given of God, to double his usefulness year by year, and have no excuse for spiritual negligence. Then there would be no lack of sympathy with the Master in the great work of saving souls. Who are there among us that with spiritual perception can discern the stirring conflict that is going on in the world between the forces of good and evil? Do you understand the nature of the great controversy between Christ, the Prince of life, and Satan, the prince of darkness? Does the conflict appear the same to you as it appears to the heavenly intelligences? O, if all who professed to be followers of Christ, were indeed living channels of light to the world, imbued by the Spirit of God, with hearts full to overflowing with the gospel message, with the very countenance beaming with devotion to God and love to man, what a work might be accomplished in a short time! The messengers of the truth would not speak with hesitation, with uncertainty, but with fearlessness and confidence. Their words, and the very tones of the voice would strike conviction to the hearts of the hearers.
Brethren and sisters, God calls upon you to enter the new fields opening before you, calling for laborers. Will you hear? Beneath the cross of Calvary will you consecrate yourselves, and take up the work with vigor and enthusiasm? In the work of saving souls the zeal of Christ consumed him; and it is only by recognizing our responsibilities as laborers together with God, that we become followers of Christ. Shall we give up self, and lift the cross, that we may be endued with the Spirit of Christ and enjoy the triumph of victorious overcomers?
If we would accomplish the great work before us, it is essential that we present to God fervent and effectual prayer; for it availeth much. The prayer needed at this time is the earnest, unbroken, continuous prayer, not fitful, uncertain prayers, wavering as the waves of the sea. If several should meet together with one accord, with hearts burdened for perishing souls, and should offer earnest, fervent prayers, they would prove effectual. Brethren, why not pray more in faith, in childlike simplicity, since our rightful place is at the very feet of God? There self is lost sight of, self is not exalted. There we acknowledge our entire dependence upon God, rendering the homage due unto his great name, which is expressed in the words of the Lord's prayer, "Hallowed be thy name." Act this sentiment out, act this truth, bring it into your practical life, and thus the soul will be drawn out after God, thus we shall be kept in active communion with the source of all grace and power. In all our councils, all our plans for the advancement of his cause, the upbuilding of his kingdom, God desires that we rely entirely upon his power, knowing that it is indispensable to success. How can we honor God, how can we vindicate his word, unless we are much in prayer, appealing to him to manifest his power in behalf of the perishing?
The world is full of projects to attract the people of God from their service to heaven. Men who claim to believe the truth accept propositions to advance the truth according to worldly methods; but our hope is in God, and we are to make this plain by importuning him for help, by refusing to be molded by the world's plan. We are to look to Jesus, showing to believers and unbelievers that our dependence is in God. It is at the throne of supplication that the pride of man is rebuked, and the honor and glory is rolled back to the Source of all power. We are to keep ourselves in a position of humble acknowledgment of God's unnumbered mercies, in a position of earnest supplication for his grace; for if we walk in the sparks of our kindling, we shall lie down in sorrow. As God's agents we are to pray more, to labor more, but not in self-sufficiency, supposing that we can go on in our finite strength and do the work that is required of us. He whom we serve is to be our efficiency, our stronghold in every time of trouble.
The Lord calls for laborers in his vineyard but let no minister think that a mere sermonizer is a laborer. He who ministers in the sacred desk must be a shepherd to the flock, or through his careless, sinful neglect, the weak and the diseased will be left to die. We are in need of the ministration of the tender Shepherd; for many are perishing for the lack of care. Paul writes concerning the gospel minister; "Whereof I am made a minister [not a pulpit preacher], according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God; even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory; whom we preach and then consider our work ended?-No, no, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: whereunto I also labor, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily."
I have a message to those who labor in the ministry. The Lord is not pleased with the work you have given him, and he does not accept it at your hands, because you neglect the very part of the work that is most essential to the salvation of souls and to the health of the church. The minister is to be a shepherd. Our Redeemer is called the chief Shepherd. The apostle writes, "Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ." However lowly, however elevated we may be, whether we are in the shadow of adversity or in the sunshine of prosperity, we are his sheep, the flock of his pasture, and under the care of the chief Shepherd. But the chief Shepherd has his undershepherds, whom he has delegated to care for his sheep and lambs. The great Shepherd never loses one from his care, is never indifferent even to the feeblest one of his flock. The beautiful parable that Christ gave of the one lost sheep, of the shepherd that left the ninety and nine to go in search of that which was lost, illustrates the care of the great Shepherd. He did not look carelessly over the sheep of the fold, and say, "I have ninety and nine, and it will cost me too much trouble to go in search of the straying one; let him come back, and I will open the door of the sheep-fold and let him in; but I cannot go after him." No; for no sooner does the sheep go astray than the countenance of the shepherd is filled with grief and anxiety. He counts and recounts the flock, and when he is certain that one sheep is lost, he slumbereth not. He leaves the ninety and nine within the fold; however dark and tempestuous the night, however perilous and unpleasant the way, however long and tedious the search, he does not weary, he does not falter, until the lost is found. But when it is found, does he act indifferently? Does he call the sheep, and command the straying one to follow him? Does he threaten and beat it, or drive it before him, recounting the bitterness and discomfiture and anxiety that he has had on its account? No; he lays the weary, exhausted, wandering sheep on his shoulder, and with cheerful gratitude that his search has not been in vain, he returns it to the fold. His gratitude finds expression in melodious songs of rejoicing, and heavenly choirs respond to the shepherd's note of joy. When the lost is found, heaven and earth unite in rejoicing and thanksgiving. For "joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance." Jesus says, "I am the good Shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine." Just as a shepherd of earth knows his sheep, so does the chief Shepherd know his flock that are scattered throughout the whole world. "Lift up your eyes and behold them that come from the north: where is the flock that was given thee, thy beautiful flock?" "And ye, my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord God." "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 69, #35)
"Unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee." "For our exhortation was not to deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness; God is witness: nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ. For we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children." "Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord."
"For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 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."
The solemn work of the gospel minister is to make all men see "what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God." If one enters upon this work choosing the least self-sacrificing part of it, contenting himself with preaching, and leaving the work of ministering for someone else to do, he need not expect that his labors will be acceptable to God. Souls for whom Christ has died are perishing for want of well-directed personal labor; and when the minister is not willing to be a servant of the people, as Jesus has directed in his word, then he has mistaken his calling. Those who minister in the sacred desk should fall upon the Rock and be broken, that the Lord may put his superscription upon them and fashion them as vessels unto honor. If those engaged in the work of the ministry were indeed laborers together with God, we should see a solid and beautiful work wrought in all countries for the saving of the souls for whom Christ has died.
God calls for consecrated men, who are willing to deny self. The work of the heavenly intelligences is constant and earnest; for they are intent upon drawing men to Jesus. This is the manner in which ministers should labor. Their message should be, "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." In the ministration of angels, they do not labor so as to shut any soul out, but rather to gather them all in; but if the message of the gospel is to go to all men, human agents must cooperate with the angel workers. Divine and human agencies must combine in order to accomplish the great work of saving the souls of the lost. Man cannot work out his own salvation without divine aid, and God will not save him without willing, decided cooperation. Human agencies must be educated; they must become sufficient for this great work, and their growth and education depend upon their union with divine forces. God provides all the capabilities, all the talents, by which men may enter the work; but the highest development of the worker for God can never be attained without divine cooperation. Symmetry of character and the harmonious development of the work will be accomplished only through continual dependence upon God and earnest effort on the part of man; for the secret of our success and power as a people advocating advanced truth will be found in making direct, personal appeals to those who are interested, having unwavering reliance upon the Most High.
Satan and his angels are struggling for the mastery of the world, while the Prince of life and the angels of heaven are engaged in the battle, determined to rescue all those who would escape from the bondage of evil. God waits to see what those who have been enlightened by his truth will do. Again and again he has called for his ministers to be shepherds to the flock. He is now waiting for the cooperation of his human agents, waiting for the ministers to minister to the diseased lambs and sheep that are ready to die. O, will not the ministers of God, as obedient children, take up one line of work after another, as he presents it to them? Every herald of the gospel is to be a minister indeed. Every forgiven child of God is to be instructed by those who are laborers together with heaven, that he is to be a messenger to work in the same way as the Father and the Son are working, seeking to save the lost. Every Christian is to lift up Jesus, and say, Behold him; behold the lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
The sacred responsibility rests upon the minister to watch for souls as one that must give an account. He must interest himself in the souls for whom he labors, finding out all that perplexes and troubles them and hinders them from walking in the light of the truth. Job says, "The cause that I knew not, I searched out." This should be considered the important work of the ministry, even if it demands much painstaking effort and inconvenience. This is home missionary work, and it is in no case to be neglected; for eternal interests are here involved. The excuses of those who fail to do this work do not relieve them of the responsibility, and if they choose not to do this work, they neglect the souls for whom Christ died, neglect their God-given responsibility, and are registered in the books of heaven as unfaithful servants. Does the minister work as did the Master, to be a strength and a blessing to others, when he shuts himself away from those who need his help? Those who neglect personal intercourse with the people, become self-centered, and need this very experience of placing themselves in communication with their brethren, that they may understand their spiritual condition, and know how to feed the flock of God, giving to each his portion of meat in due season. Those who neglect this work make it manifest that they need moral renovation, and then they will see they have not carried the burden of the work. By Mrs. E. G. White. (Concluded next week.)
(Vol. 69, #36)
God calls for men and women to be laborers together with him, to be workers who are sound in faith, pure in heart, and single in purpose. They should work to glorify God by the saving of souls that are lost. God requires heart service. A service of form, lip service, is wholly inefficient in the work of converting souls to God. A service that comes not from the heart is as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. The heart must be stirred with the cooperative energy of the Holy Spirit; then standing in full view of the cross of Calvary by faith, the worker can communicate to others the divine inspiration of his theme. From a full treasure house he can bring forth things new and old, which will stir the hearts of his hearers, and convicted, they will cry out, "What must I do to be saved?" If the minister steps from the pulpit, and separates himself from the people without making a special personal effort for those who have been touched by the love of Christ, he has lost an opportunity which he will never recover.
We need more missionary ministers, ministers who are missionaries in deed and in truth, who place themselves in communication with the Lord Jesus Christ by earnest prayer, by complete surrender to God, so that heaven's message through them may be given to the world. Then they will not fail to make decided impressions, inciting those who hear them to repentance, faith, love, joy, and earnest work for the Master. But in order to have the lifegiving power from the Source of all light and knowledge, you must be responsive to every movement of the Holy Spirit, that his light may shine through you to the church and to the world. Ministers allow themselves to take a low level, they do not aim high, they do not expect much; and time and opportunities pass by, and they make no improvement of them. In order to exercise themselves unto godliness, in order rightly to take hold of the sacred work in which they are engaged, they need daily to be lifted up by the Holy Spirit, to breathe the pure atmosphere of spiritual holiness.
Among ministers there must be more self-forgetfulness, a more complete hiding of themselves in Christ Jesus, in order that they may work the works of God, in order to win souls both by preaching the word and by ministering in the homes, in visiting the people, in praying with them, in presenting to them the heavenly manna of the word of God, educating them to contemplate the love of Christ. In doing the work the minister will be attended by the angels of heaven, and will be himself instructed and enlightened in the truth that maketh wise unto salvation. In visiting the people, he will learn their necessities, and his sympathies will be called out. The love of Jesus for blood-bought souls will manifest itself in tenderness to the lost, and will grow by exercise. He will sink self in his interest for the work.
He will have many straight and plain words to address to those who need them; for when God commissions men to do his work, he lays upon them the burden of watching for souls as they that must give an account. When needed warnings are to be given, sins are to be rebuked, errors and wrongs are to be corrected, not only in the pulpit but personal labor. This is divine work, and although it is not congenial to the natural inclinations, the minister must proclaim the straight truth which will make the ears of them that hear tingle; for they must lay before those who are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, the dangers and perils that are around them, and the doom that awaits the impenitent. Because this message is not agreeable to their inclination, or welcome to those who must be warned, they are solemnly charged to be faithful in its declaration. The ministers will meet wrongs that will seem to defy correction. They will be made aware of sins that seem to be covered that will need to be exposed, on the right hand and on the left. The prophet says, "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 ordinance of their God." "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 with all longsuffering and doctrine." The minister is not to indulge in the relation of anecdotes, but he is to preach the word. "Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality." "Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." We are to present Christ to the people, following the words of the apostle where he says, "Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus; whereunto I also labor, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily." Was it essential for Paul to have this experience? Read carefully, meditate upon his words, and see if it is safe for any of the ministers of Christ to shape their life according to any lower standard of godliness.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ." What is there left for us to ask that is not included in this merciful, abundant provision? Through the merits of Christ we are blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. It is our privilege to draw nigh to God, to breathe in the atmosphere of his presence. If we keep ourselves in close union with the common, cheap, sensual things of this earth, Satan will interpose his shadow, so that we shall fail to discern the blessedness of the promises and assurances of God, and so shall fail to be strengthened to attain to a high spiritual standard. Nothing short of abiding in the presence of Christ will bring peace, freedom, courage, and power.
"According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love." There can be no misunderstanding here, unless there is wilful blindness. We are to be holy and without blame before him in love. The condition upon which we receive an increase of grace is that we improve upon the light we already have. If we would find, we must go on continually seeking; if we would receive, we must ask; if we would have the door opened, we must knock.
The responsibility of our own ruin will lie at our own door. The word of God speaks to us as if everything depended upon our own efforts. We must come, we must resist the Devil, we must strive to enter in at the strait gate, we must run the race with patience, we must fight the fight of faith, we must wrestle with principalities and powers, we must agonize before God in prayer, if we would stand blameless before the throne of God. We must have the faith that works, or it will be powerless. Good works will not pay the price of our redemption; they are only the fruit of our faith.
Our experience must broaden and deepen; for by his grace we are to be made perfect in our weakness. Our will must be placed firmly, decidedly, intelligently, on the side of God's will. There must be no presumption; for it becomes us to pass the time of our sojourning here in fear, not in distrust of the grace of God, but in fear that self shall gain the supremacy. We are not to fear that there will be any failure on the part of God, but fear lest because of our own sinful inclinations any of us should seem to come short of the promise. Let the standard be set high, and let there be an earnest striving to reach it in our daily lives, till our souls burn with holy desire. We need to talk faith; for it is very feeble, but in talking faith we must speak of that faith that works by love and purifies the soul.
We have come to have very meager ideas as to what constitutes the duty of a Christian minister. Many who minister in the sacred desk do not half understand their responsibilities. They are taking things altogether too easy and comfortable, for, in short, many are in Satan's easy chair, thinking if they partially copy another minister, they will fill the requirements. There is need of alarm among the ministers, but no one need be hopeless. There is need of self-examination that we may understand whether we are learning the meekness and lowliness of Christ; for we are to follow his example. In our labors we are to bear the same testimony as did Paul. He says, "Ye know from the first day that I came into Asia after what manner I have been with you; at all seasons, serving the Lord with all humility of mind, . . . and how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you, and have taught publicly, and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." "Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood." "I have showed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive."
The Lord Jesus said to Peter, "When thou art converted strengthen thy brethren;" and after his resurrection, just before his ascension, he said to his disciples, "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." This was a work in which Peter had but little experience; but he could not be complete in Christian life unless he learned to feed the lambs, those who are young in the faith. It would require great care, much patience and perseverance to give those who are ignorant the suitable teachings, opening up to them the Scriptures, and educating them for usefulness and duty. This is the work that must be done in the church at this day, or the advocates of truth will have a dwarfed experience, and will be exposed to temptation and deception. The charge given to Peter should come home to every minister. Again and again, the voice of Christ is heard repeating the charge to his undershepherds, "Feed my lambs, Feed my sheep." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 69, #37)
The human family have all transgressed the law of God, and that which is of greatest importance to us is to know what we can do to be saved, and to act upon this knowledge. Paul said that he had ceased not to warn every man from house to house, "testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ"--repentance toward God because we have transgressed his law; and then by claiming the merits of the blood of a crucified and risen Saviour, we plant our feet in the path that leads to heaven. Jesus, the world's Redeemer, has given every possible evidence of his love to man. He laid aside his glory in the heavenly courts above, clothed his divinity with humanity, and for our sake he became poor, that we, through his poverty, might be made rich. He came to the earth that was all seared and marred with sin, "and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." He submitted to insult and mockery that he might leave an example for man to follow. When we are inclined to magnify our trials and think we are having a hard time, we should look away from self to Jesus, who is the author and finisher of our faith, "who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." All this he endured that he might bring many sons and daughters to God, to present them before the universe as trophies of his victory. What are we willing to suffer for him?
Christ said of his disciples. "Ye are the light of the world." Those who profess his name are to come into close relationship with Jesus, and the light that shines upon them from him, is to be reflected upon the world, to the glory of God. When those who embrace the truth have no love for their fellowmen, we know that the love of Jesus is not in their hearts. Do they really believe that souls are in danger of being lost? Do they make earnest efforts to save them? Our indifference to the salvation of souls is in marked contrast to what took place in Healdsburg, one summer. A little lad who was playing upon the banks of the Russian River, fell into the water, and was drowned. It was a week before his body was found. During that time hundreds of people gathered every day on the banks of the river, and every effort was made to find the body. The people sent for a skillful diver, and spared neither labor nor money to find the body, and no one thought they were taking too much trouble. People would stand beside the river all day. They knew the child was dead, his life could not be restored; but they wanted to see the lifeless body given back to the parents. Why cannot men be as interested in seeking and in saving perishing souls for whom Christ died? We have come to a time when religious enthusiasm is almost unheard of; forms and ceremonies are abundant, but the service of the living God is not made of the highest importance. O that an interest might be awakened for the salvation of souls, for Christ has given his life a sacrifice, and should not we show a lively interest in those who sit in darkness?
We cannot afford to lose our own souls, and we are not to be indifferent in regard to the souls of our fellowmen. We should desire to secure life eternal in the kingdom of glory, and we should long that others should be there, to have Christ as their friend and Redeemer. Some act as if there were no heaven of eternal bliss to gain, and no hell to shun. We have decided that we must have eternal life at any cost. We cannot afford to sin. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. We have made up our minds that we must have Jesus as our friend and Redeemer; and in order to do so, we must keep his commandments, as he has kept his Father's commandments.
The example of Adam and Eve is before us. It was a very slight test that was given to our first parents, but they transgressed the commandment of God, and what was the result?--The floodgates of woe were opened upon our world. With this example of disobedience and its results before us, we should fear to transgress the law of God. We should keep his commandments and live, keep them as the apple of our eye; for Jesus Christ loves us with a love that is infinite. In the service of God, in seeking to save those for whom Christ has died, we shall meet with those whose hard hearts are barred against the light; but shall we become discouraged because of this? Did not Jesus have to endure the revilings of unbelievers? Shall we complain if we are called upon to suffer reproach? If one soul is saved through our influence, we shall be amply repaid for all the efforts we can put forth. When the warfare is over, if souls through our instrumentality are in the kingdom of heaven, we shall hear the heavenly benediction, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." How essential it is that each one of us should make the best possible use of the talents God has given, and serve God with undivided heart. For "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." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 69, #38)
"He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." If we are following Jesus, we know that we are not walking in darkness, but shall be all light in--not out of, but in--the Lord. If his light illuminates the mind, and shines into the chambers of the heart, we shall be, as Christ has said, "the light of the world." We shall not walk in darkness. We shall see light, and shall talk of the love of Christ, talk of his goodness and marvelous mercy, and we shall always find enough to talk about on these themes, even to all eternity, when we have that life which measures with the life of God.
The trouble with many of us is, we get our eyes fixed upon the shadow that Satan casts between our souls and God, and we fail to discover the light beyond the shadow. We talk in a kind of hopeless way, as though we were serving as a slave to a tyrant. We represent ourselves to the world as those who are having a terribly hard time of serving the Lord. We pick up things to find fault about, to mourn over, and pity and sympathize with ourselves, and fail to make a favorable impression upon those who have not tasted of the gift of God.
Instead of talking darkness, instead of having thoughts of gloom, we should remember that we have everything to make us glad, and this gladness should shine forth out of the very countenance. Let the light shine in your very faces. Do not let the frown and the expression of gloom have place there. Take a look into the mirror of God's law, and see if you are cheerful in your service to him. Look upon Jesus, full of forgiveness, and mercy, and peace, instead of upon that which will bring you condemnation and gloom. Brethren and sisters, are you looking toward the light,--beholding the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world? When Satan tells you that you are a sinner, and points out this neglect and that wrong, tell him you know you are a sinner, but that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. Tell him, "If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." Repeat the promise, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." If you draw nigh to God, he will draw nigh to you. Present the promise to God in the name of Jesus, and you have his pledged word that he will let the Sun of righteousness shine upon you.
Jesus is the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. Will you not repent of your sins, and let him take away your guilt? Will you not say, "Lord, you come to take away my sins, and I will let you do it"? Will you let him take them away? will you let him take them upon his divine soul, and impute to you his righteousness?
Jesus stands between divinity and humanity, and he is fully able to save you. There is all sufficiency in him. He has not come to save partially, but to save unto the uttermost all that come unto God by him. He came to wash away your transgression; for he forgiveth iniquity and sin. He pardoneth the guilty. He was manifested to take away our sins, to relieve our hearts of their sorrows and burdens, to put a new song into our mouths, even praise unto our God.
We are to respond to the invitations of the Spirit of God. Do we repent of our transgressions? This is an evidence that the Lord is drawing us to himself; it is Jesus that gives us repentance. "Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins." Then why not believe that he forgives our sins? It is his Holy Spirit that impresses us with the necessity of emptying the soul of all selfishness; and when we give ourselves to God, he will fill the vacuum with his own divine Spirit, and give us the precious graces of his own character.
From the light that I have had for years, I know that the great lack among us as a people is the lack of love. The God of heaven looks upon you and sees that you are self-sufficient. But any soul that comes hungering and thirsting for the waters of life, will have his soul refreshed from the living fountain. When you thirst, you will hear the voice calling, "The Spirit and 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." Jesus points you to the fountain opened for Judah and Jerusalem, wherein you may wash and be clean. And when we have tasted of the waters of life, we shall be constrained by the love of Christ to say to others, "Come, taste and see that the Lord is good." When we drink from the waters ourselves we shall echo the cry, Come. Whosoever is athirst, let him come, and take of the water of life freely. " Whosoever will. " Tell me who is excluded from receiving the benefits of this divine invitation. "Whosoever will, let him come." All we have to do is to submit the will to God, to place the will on the Lord's side. Come and take the Lord at his word, and drink of the water of life freely.
If we have Christ abiding with us, we shall be Christians at home as well as abroad. He who is a Christian will have kind words for his relatives and associates. He will be kind, courteous, loving, sympathetic, and will be educating himself for an abode with the family above. If he is a member of the royal family, he will represent the kingdom to which he is going. He will speak with gentleness to his children, for he will realize that they, too, are heirs of God, members of the heavenly court. Among the children of God no spirit of harshness dwells; for "the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." The spirit that is cherished in the home, is the spirit that will be manifested in the church. O, we must educate the soul to be pitiful, gentle, tender, full of forgiveness and compassion. While we lay aside all vanity, all foolish talking, jesting, and joking, we are not to become cold, unsympathetic, and unsocial. The Spirit of the Lord is to rest upon you until you shall be like a fragrant flower from the garden of God. You are to keep talking of the light, of Jesus, the Sun of righteousness, until you shall change from glory to glory, from character to character, going on from strength to strength, and reflecting more and more of the precious image of Jesus. When you do this, the Lord will write in the books of heaven, "Well done," because you represent Jesus.
Christians should not be hardhearted, unapproachable; Jesus is to be reflected in our deportment, and we are to have a character beautiful with the graces of heaven. The presence of God is to be an abiding presence with us; and wherever we are, we are to carry light to the world. Those around you are to realize that the atmosphere of heaven surrounds you.
But many of you say, "How can I help sinning? I have tried to overcome, but I do not make advancement." You never can in your own strength, you will fail; but help is laid upon One who is mighty. In his strength you may be more than conqueror. You should arise and say, "Through the grace of God, I will be an overcomer." Put your will on the side of God's will, and with your eye fixed upon him who is the author and finisher of your faith, you may make straight paths for your feet. When you are tempted, say, "Jesus is my Saviour, I love him, because he has first loved me." Show that you trust him. As you walk the streets, as you work about your house, you can communicate with your Lord. Lay hold upon him by living faith, and believe the word of God to the letter.
Now suppose that you put away all murmuring and complaining, and look to the light. Let us try it for this year, and see what kind of year we shall have. When Satan suggests doubt and darkness, begin to sing of the matchless love of Jesus. Ask God to help you place your thoughts upon Jesus, and Satan cannot control your mind. Let us put away all commonness, and become a light to the world. Let our words be as choice silver; and wherever you go, those around you will realize that a precious influence goes with you. The light and love and power of God will rest upon you. Determine that through Jesus you will elevate the soul above all that is low and earthly, and let your conversation be full of hope and courage in the Lord. Say, "I will be free, I am free;" and when Satan tells you that you are a sinner, tell him, "I know it, but Jesus said, 'I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.'"
Through the mercy of God we have been taken out of the quarry of the world by the mighty cleaver of truth, to be hewn, and polished, and fitted for the heavenly building. We have been brought into the highway cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in. And we should go in this way with rejoicing, instead of with complaining. This way has been opened for us at an infinite cost, and we ought to manifest our joy and gratitude that we are permitted to be numbered among the children of God. Should we walk from day to day with rejoicing and gladness of heart, showing forth the praises of Him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvelous light, what effect would we have upon the minds of those around us? They would say, "Certainly they have been with Jesus, and have learned of him."
There is no need to doubt, to be fearful that the work will not succeed. God is at the head of the work, and he will set everything in order. If matters need adjusting at the head of the work, God will attend to that, and work to right every wrong. Let us have faith that God is going to carry the noble ship which bears the people of God safely into port. When I voyaged from Portland, Me., to Boston, many years ago, a storm came upon us, and the great waves dashed us to and fro. The chandeliers fell, and the trunks were rolled from side to side, like balls. The passengers were frightened, and many were screaming, waiting in expectation of death. After awhile the pilot came on board. The captain stood near the pilot as he took the wheel, and expressed fear about the course in which the ship was directed. "Will you take the wheel? asked the pilot. The captain was not ready to do that, for he knew that he lacked experience. Then some of the passengers grew uneasy, and said they feared the pilot would dash them upon the rocks. "Will you take the wheel?" asked the pilot; but they knew that they could not manage the wheel. When you think that the work is in danger, pray, "Lord, stand at the wheel. Carry us through the perplexity. Bring us safely into port." Have we not reason to believe that the Lord will bring us through triumphantly?
There are before me many who are old hands in the cause. I have known some of you for the last thirty years. Brethren, have we not seen crisis after crisis come upon the work, and has not the Lord carried us through, and wrought for the glory of his name? Can you not believe in him? Can you not commit the cause to him? You cannot with your finite minds understand the working of all the providences of God. Let God take care of his own work. You are to hang your helpless soul upon Jesus. Commit the keeping of your soul unto God, as unto a faithful Creator. When you do this, you will have something of the love of God; for it will abound in your heart unto his glory. The meetings will be uplifting in character; for the Lord will put a new song into your mouth, even praise unto our God. You will say, "Hear what the Lord has done for my soul." Your soul will be all light in the Lord.
We have been looking on the dark side of the picture. Now let us turn to the other side. Let us turn the dark side to the wall. Let us look on the beautiful pictures of the love of God. Educate your tongue to talk of God's mercy, and speak forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Let us fulfill the purpose of God, and be indeed the "light of the world." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 69, #39)
Jesus said: "I am the true Vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me."
We should constantly feel our dependence upon the Lord God of Israel, and know that God is our strength, and that the more we depend upon him, the more we shall draw from Christ, the living Vine, and have the mind that was in Christ. Our experience will be after the character of that upon which we feed spiritually. If we feed upon Christ, we shall have a Christlike experience: and we cannot afford to make any mistake in regard to our experience here in the things of God; for eternal interests are involved. In the path of life we may go carelessly, stumbling along; we may make crooked paths for our feet; but it will be at the terrible loss of our own souls and the souls of others. We are running the risk of losing the eternal weight of glory when we do not follow Christ, and we cannot afford to do this, because it would have been better for us had we never been born, than to lose eternal life.
We need to know and may know that Christ is abiding in our hearts by faith, and that we are abiding in Jesus by faith. Jesus says, "I am the Vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit." Now listen to the conclusion of the verse: "For without me ye can do nothing." From this you can see how our Lord Jesus Christ regards unsanctified, human ability. We may have an education in the sciences, we may have all the knowledge in the world, and yet if it is not sanctified, if it is not brought under contribution to God, if we are not depending upon his merits every moment, if we are not continually drawing from Christ, we cannot live the life of Christ; we can do nothing worthy of his name. We want to hear the voice of Jesus and invite his presence. We should open the door of the heart to Christ, and invite him to come in. He says, "Without me ye can do nothing." Is it because men work without Christ that we see so many efforts made without accomplishing any good? Is it because man depends upon his own efforts, and his own power, and thinks that he can do great things of himself? I know that this is why the Lord can do so little for man. He uses the gifts of God as weapons to destroy himself. We want Jesus simply, Jesus who offers himself to us as a free gift; and if we accept the offering with the whole heart and soul, we shall praise God at every step, we cannot help it, because he has given us this manifestation of his love and condescension. What we want is Jesus, and the power of his grace; and may God baptize us with his Holy Spirit. "If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you."
That is a wonderful promise, "If ye abide in me, and my words"--be careful to take that in--"my words abide in you." How are we to know that the words of Christ are abiding in us? how are we to understand them? It is by appropriating his promises to our souls that we feed upon Christ. We are to study his words carefully, and be doers of his word. Many trust in a flight of feeling, and think that in order to be accepted of God, they must have some special emotion come upon them, or they do not have the grace of Christ. But this is not what we are to look for. Jesus came that we might obey as well as receive; but we must believe in him, and receive, in order to obey. We are to ask, Are his words cherished by us? Are we doers of the word of Christ? This is an important question. If we are following the light just as far as it shines upon our pathway, if we are seeking to do the will of our heavenly Father, just so surely shall we be prepared for greater light to come into the heart and mind. Especially will this be the case when we are prayerfully searching the Scriptures. We have had the Spirit of God here in this meeting; we would dishonor God if we did not appreciate this, and praise his holy name that we have felt the manifestation of his Spirit in power.
Jesus said: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life, I am that bread of life. . . . 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. . . . 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." When some of the disciples were offended at these sayings of Christ, he said: It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." The word of Christ is spirit and life, and the more knowledge we have of his word, the more vigorous will be our spiritual growth.
Many are singing beautiful songs in the meetings, songs of what they will do, and what they mean to do; but some do not do these things; they do not sing with the spirit and the understanding also. So in the reading of the word of God, some are not benefited, because they do not take it into their very life, they do not practice it. We listen to the presentation of truth, it is all good; but do we listen to it as we would to a pleasant song, or receive it as the voice of God to us, and obey its precepts? Many go away after listening to the most solemn messages of truth, and pursue the same careless, unsanctified course they did before, as though they had not heard the appeal of God to them. They go away and live to please themselves, live to suit their own fancy, in a way directly opposed to the way and will of God. We should not seek to follow our own way; we have had enough of that; it amounts only to weakness. We need to have the Holy Spirit of God with us moment by moment. And where are we to find our soul consolation? In a happy flight of feeling?--O no; we are by faith to partake of the sincere milk of the word, that we may grow thereby, becoming partakers of the divine nature, and escape the corruption that is in the world through lust.
I want to know more and more of God's word and of his works. I do not want to build myself up in myself; for I am nothing. What I desire is to know the ways of the Lord. I do not wish to be so particular as to how my house is furnished; spending unnecessary time and money, so that everything may be just to my taste in this or that arrangement, and neglect the all-important question, Is it well with my soul? What is the order of my soul? Is the soul temple pure? Is the defilement of sin in my heart? Have I felt the necessity of cleansing my heart from all impurity? It is of the greatest importance to understand and practice the truth; for this sanctifies the soul. Our greatest anxiety should be to stand perfect before the Lord, clothed in the spotless garments of Christ's righteousness.
Souls are perishing for the bread of life, and every one of us should be engaged in earnest work for the Master. Jesus came into the world to be our example, and we should study and imitate his life. Moments are golden, and we should constantly guard ourselves, lest we make a world of an atom, and an atom of a world. We should guard ourselves, lest we fail to magnify the things of eternal interest, and fail to appreciate the blessings of heaven. Why is it that the truth as it is in Jesus is made of so little importance? The words of Paul to the Galatians apply to those who fail to discern the worth of spiritual things, "O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth?" Why is it that you do not walk in the light? Why is it that you permit the bewitching power of Satan to paralyze your spiritual energies? The influence of the world holds many of you in captivity. Satan has his allurements presented before everyone professing the name of Christ, that if possible he may attract the mind from Jesus, and fasten it on the things of this world. He is the master of manifold temptations, and is prepared to find access to the hearts of those who have not made a complete surrender to Christ. Shall the enemy of all righteousness have possession of our souls?
The Christian should continually realize that every moment of life should be spent for the Master. We should not live to glorify ourselves; for it would be sin to serve self. Our life must be hid with Christ in God, that every power of our being, every talent given of God, may be used to aid on the influences that are constantly flowing heavenward. It is for us to fulfill the command, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." Christ must be our only master, abiding in our hearts by living faith, that we may be laborers together with God. We should seek to know more of him day by day, dwelling upon his matchless charms, till by beholding, we become changed into his glorious image. We are to keep our eyes fixed upon the Author and Finisher of our salvation.
John says, "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God." No language can express this love; we can describe but a faint degree of love that passeth knowledge. It would require the language of the Infinite to express the love that has made it possible for us to be called the sons of God. In becoming a Christian, a man does not step down. There is no shame in having connection with the living God. Jesus bore the humiliation and shame and reproach that justly belonged to the sinner. He was the Majesty of heaven, he was the King of glory, he was equal with the Father; and yet he clothed his divinity with humanity, that humanity might touch humanity, that divinity might lay hold of divinity. Had he come as an angel, he could not have been a partaker with us of our sufferings, could not have been tempted in all points like as we are, he could not have sympathized with our sorrows; but he came in the garb of our humanity, that as our substitute and surety, he might overcome the prince of darkness in our behalf, and make us victors through his merits. Standing under the shadow of the cross of Calvary, the inspiration of his love fills our hearts. When I look upon Him whom my sins have pierced, the inspiration from on high comes upon me; and this inspiration may come upon each one of you through the Holy Spirit. Unless you receive the Holy Spirit, you cannot have the love of God in the soul; but through a living connection with Christ, we are inspired with love and zeal and earnestness. We are not as a block of marble, which may reflect the light of the sun, but cannot be imbued with life. We are capable of responding to the bright beams of the Sun of righteousness; for as Christ illuminates our souls, he gives light and life. We drink in the love of Christ as the branch draws nourishment from the vine. If we are grafted into Christ, if fiber by fiber we have been united with the living Vine, we shall give evidence of this fact by bearing rich clusters of fruit. If we are connected with light, we shall be channels of light, and in our words and works we shall reflect light to the world. Those who are truly Christians, grasp the golden chain which links earth to heaven, which binds finite man to the infinite God. The light that shineth in the face of Jesus, shines in the hearts of his followers, to the glory of God. By Mrs. E. G. White. (Concluded next week.)
(Vol. 69, #40)
How We Should Pray.--Christ says, "Ask, and ye shall receive." In these words, Christ gives us direction as to how we should pray. We are to come to our heavenly Father with the simplicity of a child, asking him for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus says again, "When ye pray, believe that ye receive the things ye ask for, and ye shall have them." You are to come to the Father repenting and confessing your sins, emptying the soul of every sin and defilement, and it is your privilege to prove the promises of the Lord. You cannot indulge your own temper, and have your own way, and still remain the children of God. We shall have to struggle with our hereditary tendencies, that we may not yield to temptation, and become angry under provocation. I have to battle every day with things that trouble, perplex, and annoy me, and which, if I would permit, would destroy my peace. But I dare not yield to temptation; I have riveted my soul to the eternal Rock, and Christ must be my helper at every point, so that Satan may not keep me in a state of perplexity and trouble. Jesus has said, "My peace I give unto you." As surely as we seek for the peace of Christ by faith, we shall obtain it. Jesus says, "Ask, and ye shall receive."
You are to come to Jesus, telling him just what you want, just what you desire; you are to present before him your need of his presence and grace, coming to him as a child comes to its parent. Jesus says, "If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give goods gifts unto your children; how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?"
We are to believe the word of God; for the test of character is found in the fact that you are building yourselves up in the most holy faith. You are proved of God through the word of God. You are not to wait for wonderful emotions before you believe that God has heard you; feeling is not to be your criterion, for emotions are as changeable as the clouds. You must have something solid for the foundation of your faith. The word of the Lord is a word of infinite power upon which you may rely, and he has said, "Ask, and ye shall receive." Look to Calvary. Has not Jesus said that he is our advocate? Has he not said that if we ask anything in his name, we shall receive? You are not to depend on your own goodness or good works; you are to come depending upon the Sun of righteousness, believing that Christ has taken away your sins and imputed to you his righteousness, that he is your all in all, your surety, your advocate, your righteousness.
Jesus fought our battles during his life upon this atom of a world, and all the heavenly intelligences are enlisted on our side in every battle in this warfare. We have no power to war with principalities, and powers, and spiritual wickedness in high places, except as we draw strength from Christ. Jesus calls upon you to behold the confederacy of evil, to behold the conflicts which you must meet. He bids us count the cost of standing under the bloodstained banner; for he does not flatter us that we shall have no difficulties in this life. But although we have a confederacy of evil to meet, Jesus assures us that the whole army of heaven is enlisted to fight our battles for us, to work out for us a glorious victory, and Jesus is the Captain of our salvation.
Why should we not praise God? Can you tell me why your tongues are usually so silent on this theme? Has not heavenly power been promised you? Has not nourishment from the living Vine nourished you? Jesus says, "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples." Jesus has made abundant provision so that every soul connected with him may work as he worked, partaking of his Spirit, his virtue, and grace. Self is to die, and Christ is to live in us. Jesus says, "As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love." If you do this, you will have to fight the good fight of faith every moment
How often the following experience has been the experience of the people of God: One says, "I was full of happiness last night, but this morning it is all gloom. I have lost the blessing of God. The Lord does not bless me at all." I have had this experience, and at one time I resolved that I would never bear testimony again, unless I had the conscious uplifting of the Spirit of God. But one trial of such a resolution proved to me that it was manifest distrust of the word of God. The Lord brought me back to the point from which I started, and I resolved not to seek to bring the Lord to my terms. I felt humbled as never before, and I was willing to trust my heavenly Father to lead me as he would. I would say, "Lord, I have asked for thy Holy Spirit to lead me, I take up my pen and write, and I believe I shall have thy light and thy grace in doing this work." While on earth, we can have help from heaven. I know this; for I have tested God a thousand times. I will walk out by faith, I will not dishonor my Saviour by unbelief.
Let us continue to fight the good fight of faith, ceasing to doubt, and not striving to make terms with God. After I surrendered myself to God, I found out why I had seemed to lose the blessing of God. It was because earth and earthly things filled me with anxiety, and I worried about a thousand things that I had no right to be anxious about. When we come into meeting, we meet with persons who have consecrated themselves to the Lord, and heavenly angels accompany them; for every one of us has, not our dead friends, but the angels whom God created in heaven to be with us; they are sent forth to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation. While in the company of those who bring heavenly influences with them, we feel the spirit of inspiration and praise to God come forth from our lips. We lie down to rest at night, but in the morning the same old worldly train of thought to which we have been accustomed, comes back to our minds, and instead of resting everything in the hands of God, we become troubled about many things, the peace and joy that we had the night before are gone, and we feel desolate and unblessed. Then what shall we do? Let us go to God, and say, "I commit all my troubles and perplexities to thee, and I know that I shall have thy help in all my tribulation, because thou hast promised it unto me. Thou hast said, 'Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.' 'I am at your right hand to help you.'" Believe these words, trust in the promise of Jesus, and do your duty as it comes to you. If we manifested as much distrust of our friends as we do of God, they would feel that we had greatly wronged them; but we do not treat our friends in the way we treat our God.
When Christ was upon earth, the people did not believe in him; they rejected the Lord of glory, condemned and crucified him. But the heavenly Vine had its roots on the other side of the wall; death could not hold him. He arose from the grave, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father, the majesty on high, where he can direct the heavenly intelligences, bidding them come to the help of every repenting soul. With the confession of the repenting, believing sinner, he mingles his own righteousness, that the prayer of fallen man may go up as fragrant incense before the Father, and the grace of God is imparted to the believing soul. We should think of what we are to Jesus, and of what he is to us, that we may carry on a successful warfare against the flesh, and against the natural tendencies of the mind. We are exhorted to gird up the loins of the mind, and to do this we must settle the mind upon Jesus. We need this education; for we talk of common things, we utter commonplace sayings, and seek inspiration from ourselves, thinking that it is of value; but it is Christless.
If we talk upon heavenly things, our conversation will prove savor of life unto life; but lightness and trifling will prove death to spirituality. Let us sow the seed unto eternal life. Let us scatter, as did Christ, the seeds of truth. Work as Christ worked. He says, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." You are to draw men to Christ, not by gloom and despondency, covering the altar of God with tears, but by wearing the brightness of the Sun of righteousness. You are to show that you are serving a loving Master, not a tyrant. Jesus says, "I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep." "To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And When he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice." It is your Master who saith, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Jesus does not say, "Perhaps I will give you rest." Then why do you act that perhaps? Why not say, "Lord, here I come, sinful and polluted. Thou hast promised to give me rest"? "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." Satan will tell you that you are a sinner, that there is no need of your praying and repenting after committing such a sin as you have committed; but you can tell Satan that it is because you are a sinner that you need a Saviour. You may go to the Lord, and say, "Forgive my sin. I put my hand to thy hand for help, and I must have thy forgiveness or perish. Let the Sun of righteousness shine into the chambers of my mind and heart, that I may teach transgressors thy ways, and that sinners may be converted unto thee."
When the enemy comes in like a flood, and seeks to overwhelm you with the thought of your sin, tell him, "I know I am a sinner; if I were not, I could not go to the Saviour, for he says, 'I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.' And because I am a sinner, I am entitled to come to Christ." In this way you will have power to overcome the wicked one. Keep looking up, for your faith has bound you to the throne of God. Do not look down, as though you were bound to earth. Do not keep pulling up your faith to see if it has any root. Faith grows imperceptibly, and when the enemy rallies his forces to bring you into a critical place, the angels of God will be roundabout you, and you will have help from on high; for your prayer will be answered in the conflict. If you have genuine faith, you will praise God, from whom all blessings flow; and as you praise him, you will realize more of his blessing. "What doth much increase the store, When I thank him, he gives me more."
As God gives us light, we should make use of it; God will not give us a second ray, while the first is not appreciated. We must praise the Lord for the light already graciously given, and reflect it upon those around us. Then more light will shine upon us, and as we praise, we shall know that "the path of the just is as a shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." Do not say, I will praise the Lord when the Holy Spirit is poured out upon us. How will you know when the Holy Spirit is poured out, unless you walk in the light day by day? You are to go about your duties, advancing step, by step, according to the counsel of the Lord, and you will find that you will have light and peace and joy, and will make melody in your heart unto the Lord. Thus the people of God will mingle their praises with those of the hosts of heaven, and sing songs of thanksgiving with the angels of God. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 69, #41)
"Whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented. For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children."
Just before Jesus uttered these words, he had been speaking of John the Baptist. He had said to the multitudes, "What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold they that wear soft clothing are in king's houses. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding, he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." "And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him."
Those who rejected the testimony of John were unwilling to receive the testimony of him of whom John declared, "He must increase, but I must decrease." The scribes, Pharisees, and rulers were determined that they would not see the evidences of truth, and they evaded the most manifest conclusions. To justify their course of stubborn unbelief, they lost no possible opportunity of seizing upon anything in the teaching of Jesus that they could misconstrue, misapply, or falsify. When there was no possibility of misapplying the truth of Christ's words, these men who rejected the counsel of God against themselves, started questions that had no reference to the matter in hand, so as to attract the attention of the people away from the lesson that Jesus sought to teach, and adroitly evade the truth. The Pharisees were not blindly opposing the doctrines of Christ; for the truth made deep impressions upon their minds; but they resisted truth, and went contrary to their convictions, closing their eyes lest they should see, hardening the heart, lest they should perceive, and be converted, and Christ should heal them. In their self-righteousness they were too proud to accept the help that Christ came to bring to them.
The manner in which the Pharisees sought to evade the truth, and to turn the attention of the people away from vital lessons,--by starting questions that did not bear upon the subject,--is one in which the opposers of truth in all ages have taken refuge. Satan, who is proficient in all manner of arts for the resisting of truth, suggests to his agents plans whereby they may reject the counsel of God against themselves. He incites the opposers of truth to start false issues, to discuss questions that are not to the point, in order that those who are convicted and half convinced, may be turned aside from their investigation and acceptance of truth. Ever since the days of Christ there have been men whose attitude toward truth has said, "Depart from me, O God. I want not thy way, but my own way."
There are many who seek to evade the truth, to run away from the Lord. If they perceive that arguments are presented which will overthrow the opinion they have held; if they see that there is a possibility of their being convinced of some truth they have not advocated, and that they may be compelled to give up their resistance, and yield to the truth, straightway they flee from the influence of its propagators, in order that they may still walk in the sparks of their own kindling; but the Lord declares of this class, "They shall lie down in sorrow."
The messenger of heaven cannot hope to please those who are determined to resist the truth. Christ describes them as saying, "We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented." Whatever course the messenger may pursue, it will be objectionable to the opposers of truth; and they will make capital of every defect in the manners, customs, or character of its advocate, in order that they may prevent those from giving it their candid attention who would listen to the evidences. If there is anything through which the opposers can find occasion to falsify the character or misinterpret the action of him who presents the truth, they will take advantage of it to deter those who would accept and obey the truth from hearing or believing the message.
The Lord sent messages to his people through the agency of patriarchs and prophets, in order that the evils which existed in his people might be corrected. Had it been possible for them to discern the traditions and interpretations of men from the truth of God, there would have been no need of sending the message of the prophet; but this was not possible; for the maxims of the world were woven into their teaching as the warp is with the woof, and the commandments of men were regarded with more reverence than were the commandments of God. Manmade theories pass from one to another, and the doctrines of men, like evil leaven, work actively till the whole lump is leavened. When the Lord sends a message, he gives sufficient evidence to convince the honest in heart of its truth; but those who would resist the truth call for greater evidence. Should the Lord give them a greater evidence, it would only make their opposition more determined.
The work of John the Baptist was to exhort the people to prepare the way of the Lord, to make straight in the desert a highway for our God. The angel announced John's mission to Zacharias, saying, "He shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." His message was to startle and arouse the people. He was not to associate with men, but wait in the wilderness, and the people were to come to him to hear his message. He was clothed in coarse raiment, such as was customary for the clothing of prophets, and he refused everything that savored of self-indulgence. He lifted up his voice as a trumpet in warning and reproof, and many were converted, and baptized of him in Jordan.
But although John was a messenger of God, not all received his testimony. Many set themselves against him, and strove to counteract his influence. They pointed in scorn to his abstemious life, his simple habits, his coarse garments, and declared that he was a fanatic. They resisted his words because he denounced their hypocrisy with scathing rebukes, and they sought to stir up the people against him by declaring that he set aside their religious ceremonies, and held in contempt their traditions. Nevertheless the Spirit of the Lord was at work upon the hearts of these scorners, convincing them of sin; but they rejected the counsel of God, and in the face of the evidence he had given them to the contrary, declared that John was possessed of a devil. Thus they cut the last link that bound them to heavenly influences, and were left in darkness.
After John had given his message, Jesus began his ministry. He had clothed his divinity with humanity, in order that humanity might touch humanity, and divinity lay hold on the infinite One. He came to reach the people, and to lift them up. He came to represent to them the character of the Father. Wherever he had opportunity, wherever he found a hungry soul, he presented the bread which cometh down from heaven. Worldly position, worldly honor, had no attraction for him, but that which appealed to his heart was a soul thirsting for the water of life. While he rebuked the Pharisees for their hypocrisy, he did not refuse to sit at the table of publicans and sinners, since it afforded him an opportunity of presenting to them lessons of divine truth. Many who thus received a favorable impression of the Saviour were converted after his ascension. Three thousand were converted in a day when the holy Spirit was poured out, and many of them were of those who had listened to Christ's gracious utterances while at the tables of the publicans.
Because of his association with sinners, Jesus was accused of being a glutton and a winebibber; but the very ones who made this charge were themselves the guilty ones. Satan's method of misrepresenting the character of God is to attribute to him his own characteristics, and thus do wicked men falsify the messenger of the Lord. Those who accused Jesus, and who had said that John had a devil, knew that they were bearing false witness; but they were filled with jealousy, because, though they had so long been the acknowledged leaders of the people, they were set aside, and the people thronged to hear the words of another.
So selfish were the Pharisees and teachers, that they did not stop to consider the fact that Jesus was eating with publicans and sinners in order to diffuse the light of heaven to those who sat in darkness. They did not stop to notice that every word dropped by the divine Teacher was as a living seed that should germinate, and bear fruit to the glory of God. They did not realize that every action of his life was fraught with eternal influence that should never lose its force. The Pharisees and rabbis had determined that they would not accept the light given by Christ; and he turned to the common people, who heard him gladly, whose hearts were not fortified against the entrance of his words that give light and understanding unto the simple. Jesus had come to be the Saviour of all,--Jew and Gentile, rich and poor, free and bond. He identified his interest with that of suffering humanity; but when accused of friendship for publicans and sinners, he said: "I am come not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
Prompted by pride, prejudice, and hatred, the Pharisees, priests, and rulers rejected the Lord of glory. His mighty works had no softening influence upon their minds; for they hardened their hearts lest they should be converted. When evidence is given that a man is a messenger of the Lord of hosts, that he speaks in God's stead, it is perilous to the soul to reject and despise the message. To turn away from heaven's light and refuse the lightbearer, is to take a course similar to that which Satan took in the courts of heaven when he created rebellion in the ranks of the angels. He misrepresented the character of God, and placed in a false light his gracious commandments. He evaded the truth, and subtly worked to make good appear as evil, and evil as good. He has lost none of his tact, and through his agents, manifests the same diplomacy and skill in evading truth, in creating false issues, in misrepresenting the message and the messenger. Not only do we see his working in the world among those who openly oppose the truth, but also in the church his art is manifested in the divisions and controversies among those who profess to be the children of God.
Whenever the Lord has a special work to do among his people, when he would arouse their minds to contemplate vital truth, Satan will work to divert the mind by introducing minor points of difference, in order that he may create an issue concerning doctrines that are not essential to the understanding of the point in hand, and thus bring about disunion, and distract attention from the essential point. When this occurs, the Lord is at work making impressions upon the hearts of men, concerning that which is necessary to their salvation. Then if Satan can draw the mind away to some unimportant issue, and cause the people to divide on some minor point, so that their hearts are barricaded against light and truth, he exults in malicious triumph. This he has done in the past, and this he purposes to do still, in order that he may cast his hellish shadow between the people and their God, and cut off the light that the Lord would have shine upon his children. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 69, #42)
"Faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone." We are living in a time when we should individually ask ourselves, "How do I stand related to God and eternity?" It will not matter to what nation we may have belonged, or what sect we have followed; but it will matter upon which side we have stood between good and evil. Daily you should ask yourself, "Am I a Christian? Am I a servant of sin, or am I following Christ? Am I renewed in the image of Christ by his transforming grace? Has a moral change taken place in me? Do I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ? Do I feel that I am not my own, but that I have been bought with the precious blood of Christ, and must consecrate myself to his service?"
Let no soul risk his eternal future upon a supposition. The Lord never designed that anyone should go blindfolded to heaven. He who sincerely desires to know, may understand whether his steps are tending heavenward or earthward. In the living oracles of God a description is given of the road leading heavenward, and the road leading to perdition, and no one need be deceived as to which one he is traveling. There is no need that one should be lost. God willeth not the misery of any one of his creatures. It is his desire that all men should come to repentance and to the acknowledging of the truth. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." The Lord has provided ample means for our salvation; but he can do nothing for us without our cooperation. Paul says, "We are laborers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building."
What honor has been bestowed upon man, in that he is privileged to come into fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ; for if we suffer with him, we shall also reign with him in glory. The command is given, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;" but this encouragement is added: "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." "We, then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succored thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)" A power above and outside of man is to work upon him, that solid timbers may be brought into his character building. In the inner sanctuary of the soul the presence of God is to abide. "And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." "What! know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." "For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord; in whom ye also are builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit."
Man does not build himself into a habitation for the Spirit, but unless there is a cooperation of man's will with God's will, the Lord can do nothing for him. The Lord is the great Master worker, and yet the human agent must cooperate with the divine worker, or the heavenly building cannot be completed. All the power is of God, and all the glory is to redound to God, and yet all the responsibility rests with the human agent; for God can do nothing without the cooperation of man. When a man believes in Jesus as his personal Saviour, and accepts of his righteousness by faith, he becomes a partaker of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust; and he escapes from corruption through the indwelling of the holy Spirit. Without divine nature, without the influence of the Spirit of God, man cannot work out his own salvation. Said Christ, "Without me ye can do nothing." When human effort does not combine with divine agency, how deficient is its influence; but he who is endowed with divine power can present Christ to the world as one who is able to save unto the uttermost all who come unto God through him. The angels of heaven are commissioned of the Lord God of hosts to cooperate with human agency in lifting up the standard of the gospel in every city, village, and town, both at home and in foreign lands.
In every home there is missionary work to be done; for the children in every family are to be brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Evil propensities are to be controlled, evil tempers subdued, and the children are to be instructed that they are the Lord's property, bought with his own precious blood, and that they cannot live a life of pleasure and vanity, have their own will and carry out their own ideas, and yet be numbered among the children of God. The children are to be instructed with kindness and patience. They are to be taught, line upon line and precept upon precept, the requirements of a holy God. Let the parents teach them of the love of God in such a way that it will be a pleasant theme in the family circle, and let the church take upon them the responsibility of feeding the lambs as well as the sheep of the flock. Let the church take a special care of the lambs of the flock, exerting every influence in their power to win the love of the children, and to bind them to the truth. Ministers and church members should second the efforts of parents to lead the children into safe paths. The Lord is calling for the youth; for he would make them his helpers to do good service under his banner.
How sad it is that many parents have cast off their God-given responsibility to their children, and are willing that strangers should bear it for them. They are willing that others should labor for their children, and relieve them of all burden in the matter. From the indifference of their parents, many children are left to feel that their parents have no care for their souls. This ought not to be so, but those who have children should so manage their domestic and business affairs that nothing may come in between them and the children, that would lessen the parents' influence in directing them to Christ. You should teach your children the lesson of the love of Jesus, that they may be pure in heart, in conduct, and conversation. Teach them how to seek divine aid, how to give themselves unreservedly to God.
The Lord would work upon the hearts of the children if the parents would but cooperate with the divine agencies; but he will not undertake to do that which has been appointed as your part of the work. Parents, you must awake from your deathlike slumber. The church must arise from the dead, that Christ may give her life.
The work of God is not divided; it is one vast plan in which all have a part to act. God would have you laborers together with him for the saving of your own children. The children must not be left to themselves to become the slaves of Satan; those who have taken the responsibility of bringing them into the world will be held responsible to a large degree for the characters they form. In order to do their God-given work to save their own households, parents will have to search the Scriptures to know the ways of the Lord. They should be much in secret prayer, that they may be holy in all manner of conversation. Their hearts should be filled with cheerfulness and thanksgiving, that there be no talebearing, no false accusation, but only such themes of conversation as will elevate and ennoble those who hear and take a part in it.
Parents should work to this end, that themselves and their children may become missionaries for God. This means that you should be vigilant, diligent in searching and teaching the Scriptures, pouring out your soul before God in your closet, that you may not fail nor be discouraged.
Children are brought into the world without a voice in the matter, and if parents do not work faithfully to save them for Christ, Satan will supply their neglect by his own devices, that he may win them to rebel against God, and war against his kingdom. Parents, unless you are workers together with God, to save the souls of your children, they may be lost. If they are, it will be through no fault of the Lord; for he loved your children, and has given his only begotten Son, that they should not perish, but have everlasting life. When Jesus was upon earth, and mothers brought their children to him, he placed his hand upon their heads and blessed them. He would do the same today; for he hath said, "Suffer the little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me; for of such is the kingdom of heaven."
The mother's work begins when her child is a babe in her arms, and she should realize that heaven is looking upon her with intense interest, ready to cooperate with her efforts to rear her child for God. In view of the responsibility that devolves upon parents, it should be carefully considered whether it is best to bring children into the family. Has the mother sufficient strength to care for her children? And can the father give such advantages as will rightly mold and educate the child? How little is the destiny of the child considered. The gratification of passion is the only thought, and burdens are brought upon the wife and mother which undermine her vitality, and paralyze her spiritual power. In broken health and with discouraged spirits, she finds herself surrounded by a little flock when she cannot care for as she should. Lacking the instruction they should have, they grow up to dishonor God and to communicate to others the evil of their own natures, and thus an army is raised up whom Satan manages as he pleases.
You cannot bring up your children as you should without divine help; for the fallen nature of Adam always strives for the mastery. The heart must be prepared for the principles of truth, that they may root in the soul, and find nourishment in the life. Parents, lay hold upon divine help, and bring no more children into the world than those to whom you can give a training and education that will fit them for this life and the life which is to come. Follow the example of Abraham. The Lord said of him, "I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment." Human effort alone will not result in helping your children to perfect a character for heaven; but with divine help a grand and holy work may be accomplished, and you may be able to present yourselves and your children before God, saying, "Here am I, and the children whom thou hast given me." By Mrs. E. G. White. (Concluded next week.)
(Vol. 69, #43)
"Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. . . . For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." It is essential to have faith in Jesus, and to believe you are saved through him; but there is danger in taking the position that many do take in saying, "I am saved." Many have said: "You must do good works, and you will live;" but apart from Christ no one can do good works. Many at the present day say, "Believe, only believe, and live." Faith and works go together, believing and doing are blended. The Lord requires no less of the soul now, than he required of Adam in paradise before he fell,--perfect obedience, unblemished righteousness. The requirement of God under the covenant of grace is just as broad as the requirement he made in paradise,--harmony with his law, which is holy, and just, and good. The gospel does not weaken the claims of the law; it exalts the law and makes it honorable. Under the New Testament, no less is required than was required under the Old Testament. Let no one take up with the delusion so pleasant to the natural heart, that God will accept of sincerity, no matter what may be the faith, no matter how imperfect may be the life. God requires of his child perfect obedience.
In order to meet the requirements of the law, our faith must grasp the righteousness of Christ, accepting it as our righteousness. Through union with Christ, through acceptance of his righteousness by faith, we may be qualified to work the works of God, to be co-laborers with Christ. If you are willing to drift along with the current of evil, and do not cooperate with the heavenly agencies in restraining transgression in your family, and in the church, in order that everlasting righteousness may be brought in, you do not have faith. Faith works by love and purifies the soul. Through faith the holy Spirit works in the heart to create holiness therein; but this cannot be done unless the human agent will work with Christ. We can be fitted for heaven only through the work of the holy Spirit upon the heart; for we must have Christ's righteousness as our credentials if we would find access to the Father. In order that we may have the righteousness of Christ, we need daily to be transformed by the influence of the Spirit, to be a partaker of the divine nature. It is the work of the holy Spirit to elevate the taste, to sanctify the heart, to ennoble the whole man.
Let the soul look to Jesus. "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." No one will be forced to look to Christ; but the voice of invitation is sounding in yearning entreaty, "Look and live." In looking to Christ, we shall see that his love is without a parallel, that he has taken the place of the guilty sinner, and has imputed unto him his spotless righteousness. When the sinner sees his Saviour dying upon the cross under the curse of sin in his stead, beholding his pardoning love, love awakes in his heart. The sinner loves Christ, because Christ has first loved him, and love is the fulfilling of the law. The repenting soul realizes that God "is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." The Spirit of God works in the believer's soul, enabling him to advance from one line of obedience to another, reaching on from strength to greater strength, from grace to grace in Christ Jesus.
God justly condemns all who do not make Christ their personal Saviour; but he pardons every soul who comes to him in faith, and enables him to work the works of God, and through faith to be one with Christ. Jesus says of these, "I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one [this unity brings perfection of character]; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me." The Lord has made every provision whereby man may have full and free salvation, and be complete in him. God designs that his children shall have the bright beams of the Sun of righteousness, that all may have the light of truth. God has provided salvation for the world at infinite cost, even through the gift of his only begotten Son. The apostle asks, "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?" Then if we are not saved, the fault will not be on the part of God, but on our part, that we have failed to cooperate with the divine agencies. Our will has not coincided with God's will.
The Redeemer of the world clothed his divinity with humanity, that he might reach humanity; for it took the divine and the human to bring into the world the salvation that was needed by fallen man. Divinity needed humanity that humanity might afford a channel of communication between God and man. Man needs a power out of and above himself to restore him to the likeness of God; but because he needs divine aid, it does not make human activity unessential. Faith on the part of man is required; for faith works by love and purifies the soul. Faith lays hold upon the virtue of Christ. The Lord does not design that human power should be paralyzed; but by cooperating with God, the power of man may be efficient for good. God does not design that our will should be destroyed; for it is through this very attribute that we are to accomplish the work he would have us to do both at home and abroad. He has given to every man his work; and every true worker sheds forth light to the world, because he is united with God and Christ and heavenly angels in the grand work of saving the lost. From divine association he becomes more and more intelligent in working the works of God. In working out what divine grace works in, the believer becomes spiritually great. He who works according to his intrusted ability will become a wise builder for the Master; for he is under the apprenticeship to Christ, learning to work the works of God. He will not shun burdens of responsibility, for he will realize that each one must lift in the cause of God to the extent of his ability, and he places himself under the pressure of the work; but Jesus does not leave his willing and obedient servant to be crushed. It is not the man who carries heavy responsibilities in the cause of God who needs your pity; for he is faithful and true in cooperation with God; and through union of divine and human effort, the work is made complete. It is he who shuns responsibilities, who has no realization of the privilege to which he is called, who is an object of pity.
The upbuilding of the kingdom of God is retarded or urged forward according to the unfaithfulness or fidelity of human agencies. Unfaithfulness to the cause of Christ makes manifest that love is lacking in the human agent. It was the love of Christ that constrained him to come and seek and save that which was lost. But the love of Christ does not seem to constrain those who profess his name; for a deathlike slumber is upon the human agents, and the work is hindered by failure of the human to cooperate with the divine. Men may pray, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven," but fail in acting upon this prayer in their lives. The living Christian is one who has not left his first love, and his candlestick is not removed out of its place. But those who do not maintain their consecration to God are blind, and cannot see afar off, and have forgotten that they were purged from their old sins. But though you may be weak, erring, frail, sinful, and imperfect, the Lord holds out to you the offer of partnership with himself, inviting you to come under divine instruction. Uniting with Christ, you may work the works of God. "Without me," said Christ, "ye can do nothing."
We are to work the works of Christ, to learn the lesson he presented to his disciples, and reflect his character to the world. Isaiah says, "Thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward." This is the righteousness of Christ which goes before us, and the glory of the Lord is to be our rearward. Ye churches of the living God, study this promise, and consider how your lack of faith, of spirituality, of divine power, is hindering the coming of the kingdom of God. Were everyone of you living missionaries, the gospel would be speedily proclaimed in all countries, to all peoples, nations, and tongues. This is the work that must be done before Christ shall come in power and great glory. I call upon the church to pray earnestly that you may understand your responsibilities. Are you individually laborers together with God? If not, why not? When do you mean to do your God-appointed work? God is working, the agencies of heaven are at work that the prayer may be fulfilled, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." Man is the agent through whom God works for man, and yet how few have given themselves unreservedly to work the works of God. Man can accomplish nothing without Jesus, and yet it is so arranged in the plan of salvation, that its great object cannot be consummated without human cooperation. Our work may appear small and unimportant, and yet we are laborers together with God. Jesus has given us every temporal and spiritual blessing; he died to make propitiation for our sins and to reconcile us to God. He has sent forth light and truth, that we should walk in the beams of the Sun of righteousness, and not in the sparks of our own kindling.
"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." He who hath this hope in him learns from the Scriptures that he must be a worker together with God. There can be no such thing as a slothful Christian. "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."
Those who are waiting to behold a magical change in their characters, without a determined effort on their part, will be disappointed. With our limited powers we are to be as holy in our sphere as God is holy in his sphere. To the extent of our ability we are to make manifest the truth and love and excellence of the divine character, and for this reason we must draw from the living fountain. As the wax takes the impression of the seal, so the soul is to take the impression of the Spirit of God, and retain the moral image of Christ. We are to become partakers of the divine nature, realizing in our experience the vigor and perfection of spiritual life.
We are to look unto Jesus, and by beholding him, we are to become changed. "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." "He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all. . . . For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."
Jesus "came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." Of these the Saviour says, "The Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God." "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."
Christ came to reveal to the world the knowledge of the character of God, of which the world was destitute. This knowledge was the chief treasure which he committed to his disciples to be communicated to men. The truth of God had been hidden beneath a mass of tradition and error. The sacrificial offerings which had been instituted to teach men concerning the vicarious atonement of Christ, to teach them that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins, had become to them a stumblingblock. All that was spiritual and holy was perverted to their darkened understanding. They were blinded by pride and prejudice so that they could not see to the end of that which was abolished. Jesus came to change the order of things that then existed, and reveal to them the character of the Father. He drew aside the veil which concealed his glory from the eyes of mortals, and made manifest to the world the only true and living God, whom to know aright is life eternal. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 69, #44)
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field."
As men seek for earthly treasure, so are they diligently to search for the truth. The truth is to be regarded of higher value than anything else within the reach of man, and the searcher for truth must be willing to purchase it at any sacrifice or cost to himself. The word of God is the mine of truth, and the Lord would have us individually search the Scriptures, that we may become acquainted with the great plan of redemption, and take in the grand subject as far as it is possible for the human mind, enlightened by the Spirit of God, to understand the purpose of God. He would have us comprehend something of his love in giving his Son to die that he might counteract evil, remove the defiling stains of sin from the workmanship of God, and reinstate the lost, elevating and ennobling the soul to its original purity through Christ's imputed righteousness.
The only way in which the fallen race could be restored was through the gift of his Son, equal with himself, possessing the attributes of God. Though so highly exalted, Christ consented to assume human nature, that he might work in behalf of man and reconcile to God his disloyal subject. When man rebelled, Christ pleaded his merit in his behalf, and became man's substitute and surety. He undertook to combat the powers of darkness in man's behalf, and he prevailed, conquering the enemy of our souls, and presenting to man the cup of salvation.
God has endowed humanity with attributes whereby we may appreciate God; and though man has revolted from God, and has endeavored to supply the place of God with other objects of worship, the true God alone can fill the wants of the soul. Christ said: "I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." Christ is to be the great center of attraction, the object to which the attention of the world is invited; and the word of God so portrays him. The Lord has intrusted to his children his written word, in order that they might search the Scriptures, and understand what is truth, and proclaim the truth to those who are in the darkness of error. How diligently should we search this word. The diligent student will be amply rewarded; for gems of truth are to be gathered up, and separated from the companionship of error. The Bible is presented to us as a precious revelation from heaven; but in order to understand it, we must diligently search its pages, with prayerful spirit and humble heart.
The prevailing spirit of our times is that of infidelity and apostasy. The spirit manifested in the world is one of pride and self-exaltation. Men boast of illumination, which in reality is the blindest presumption; for they are in opposition to the plain word of God. Many exalt human reason, idolize human wisdom, and set the opinions of men above the revealed wisdom of God. This affords opportunity for the working of Satan, and the spirit of antichrist is far more widespread than any of us imagine. Among the great mass of professed Christians, the grievous character of the transgression of the law of God is not understood. They do not realize that salvation can be obtained only through the blood of Christ, through his imputed righteousness; but this alone will avail to make fallen man what he should be, and exalt him to become a member of the royal family.
The truth as it is in Jesus is regarded as an old-fashioned doctrine. The maxims of the world, that know not God, have been worked into the theories of the church. In the eyes of men, vain philosophy and science, falsely so-called, is of more value than the word of God. The sentiment prevails to a large extent that the divine Mediator is not essential to the salvation of man. A variety of theories advanced by the so-called worldly-wise men for man's elevation, are believed and trusted in more than is the truth of God, as taught by Christ and his apostles. The lying spirit that enticed Eve in Eden, finds acceptance with the majority of earth's inhabitants today. Even the Christian world refuses to be converted by the Spirit of God, but listen to the prince of darkness, as he comes to them in the garb of an angel of light. The spirit of antichrist is prevailing in the world to a far greater extent than it has ever prevailed before. The day of test and purification is just upon us. Signs of a most startling character appear, in floods, in hurricanes, in tornadoes, in cloud-bursts, in casualties by land and by sea, that proclaim the approach of the end of all things. The judgments of God are falling on the world, that men may be awakened to the fact that Christ will come speedily. The Lord is about to reveal the difference between the righteous and the wicked; for his "fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into his garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
The time is upon us when the miracle working power of the archdeceiver will be more decidedly revealed. And his deceptions will increase in their delusive attraction, so that they will perplex, and if possible, deceive, the very elect. The prince of darkness with his evil angels is working upon the Christian world, inducing those who profess the name of Christ to stand under the banner of darkness, to make war with those who keep the commandments of God, and have the faith of Jesus. An apostate church will unite with the powers of earth and hell to place upon the forehead or in the hand, the mark of the beast, and prevail upon the children of God to worship the beast and his image. They will seek to compel them to renounce their allegiance to God's law, and yield homage to the papacy. Then will come the times which will try men's souls; for the confederacy of apostasy will demand that the loyal subjects of God shall renounce the law of Jehovah, and repudiate the truth of his word. Then will the gold be separated from the dross, and it will be made apparent who are the godly, who are loyal and true, and who are the disloyal, the dross and the tinsel. What clouds of chaff will then be borne away by the fan of God! Where now our eyes can discover only rich floors of wheat, will be chaff blown away with the fan of God. Everyone who is not centered in Christ will fail to stand the test and ordeal of that day. While those who are clothed with Christ's righteousness will stand firm to truth and duty, those who have trusted in their own righteousness will be ranged under the black banner of the prince of darkness. Then it will be seen whether the choice is for Christ or Belial. Those who have been self-distrustful, who have been so circumstanced that they have not dared to face stigma and reproach, will at last openly declare themselves for Christ and his law; while many who have appeared to be flourishing trees, but who have borne no fruit, will go with the multitude to do evil, and will receive the mark of apostasy in the forehead or in the hand. By Mrs. E. G. White. (Concluded next week.)
(Vol. 69, #45)
Now we have the precious opportunity of making our calling and election sure. Every soul is to proclaim the truth because it is the truth. There must not be with any of us a betrayal of sacred trusts. Although Satan lifts up himself, although he numbers the world as his subjects, and exalts himself above God, we must be faithful and loyal sons and daughters of God, our eyes not blinded by the enemy, our hearts not corrupted by the delusive deception that has covered the people. Let us raise high the standard of victory, proclaiming in the strength of Jehovah, the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, while believing with all the heart that "the Lord our righteousness" will be our defense in that day.
We are living in a time of worldwide apostasy; but the more widespread unbelief and infidelity are, the more does the word of God shine forth as the truth to the believing soul; for in the Bible the believer recognizes the voice of the Almighty. With what awe and reverence, with what humiliation of soul, should we attempt the searching of the Scriptures, the word of the living God. At this time the Lord has precious truth to open unto us. It is not new truth, but old, old truth, although to the receiver it is new, grand, inspiring, and glorious truth. It has been rescued from the companionship of error, and has been placed in the framework of truth. Long enough have the Lord's precious words of truth been perverted to serve the purpose of the enemy.
Christ was the great Teacher of truth, and to him we must come to learn of the great doctrine of justice, grace, and mercy. His words are as seeds that germinate and take root, and are again to be sown and cultivated by his delegated embassadors. The disciples were put in close connection with eternal, essential truth; for it was laid open to their understanding; but they failed to comprehend it in its fullness, and although the living oracles are in our hands, although we have some understanding of the inspired books of the Old and New Testaments, there is much that even in our day we do not see and comprehend. In order to understand the truth of God, there is need of deep research, that we may discover in the teachings of Christ new aspects of truth, and behold the exceeding breadth and compass of grand old truth, of which we have only a superficial knowledge. The searching of the Scriptures would reveal the harmony existing between the various parts of the Bible, and the bearing of one passage upon another. We do not perceive the meaning of the word of God without much study; but the reward of the study of the Bible is exceedingly precious to him who fears God and earnestly searches for truth as for hidden treasure. At the present day there are a large number in our churches who are not sufficiently interested in Bible study to seek to understand the mysteries of the truth. They do not go below the surface. Those who are living in these last days, who acknowledge the binding claims of the law of God, have no ordinary responsibility. They are not to be satisfied with the surface truths. That which lies plainly revealed, which costs us no effort, will not be esteemed as highly as the treasure that costs us diligent, prayerful research and investigation. Celestial truth is represented as treasure hid in a field, "which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field," that he may work every part of it to discover the golden ore or precious gems. The earth itself cannot reveal treasures of as great value as can the Bible. No toil can so repay the diligent worker, as can the search for truth. Let the mines of revelation be properly worked, and the unsearchable riches of Christ will be revealed.
How can we stand in the day of test if we do not understand the words of Christ? He said: "These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." It is the holy Spirit that is to bring to our remembrance the words of Christ. The theme Christ chose to dwell upon in his last discourse to his disciples was that of the office of the holy Spirit. He opened before them a wide tract of truth. They were to receive his words by faith, and the Comforter, the holy Spirit, was to bring all things to their remembrance. The consolation given by Christ in this promise was found in the fact that the divine influence was to be with his followers to the end. But this promise is not accepted and believed by the people today, and therefore is not cherished by them, nor is its fulfillment seen in the experience of the church. The promise of the gift of the Spirit of God, is left as a matter to be little considered by the church. It is not impressed upon the people, and the result is only that which might be expected,--spiritual drouth, spiritual darkness, spiritual declension and death. Minor matters occupy the mind and soul, but divine power which is necessary for the growth and prosperity of the church, which would, if possessed, bring all other blessings in its train, is lacking, although it is offered to us in infinite plentitude. Just as long as the church are satisfied with small things, they are disqualified to receive the great things of God. But why do we not hunger and thirst after the gift of the holy Spirit, since it is the means whereby the heart may be kept pure? The Lord designs that divine power shall cooperate with human effort. It is all-essential for the Christian to understand the meaning of the promise of the holy Spirit just prior to the coming of our Lord Jesus the second time. Talk of it, pray of it, preach concerning it; for the Lord is more willing to give the Holy Spirit than parents are to give good gifts to their children. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
We are living in the last days, when error of a most deceptive character is accepted and believed, while truth is discarded. The Lord will hold both ministers and people responsible for the light which shines in our day. God calls upon all who claim to believe present truth, to work diligently in gathering up the precious jewels of truth, and placing them in their position in the framework of the gospel. Let them shine in all their divine beauty and loveliness, that the light may flash forth amid the moral darkness. This cannot be accomplished without the aid of the holy Spirit, but with the aid of the Spirit we can do all things. When we are endowed with the holy Spirit, we by faith take hold of infinite power. There is nothing to be lost of that which comes from God. The Saviour of the world sends his divine messenger to the soul, that men may dig for the truth, that by its revelation they may dispel the multitude of errors. This is the Christian's work. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 69, #45)
The best way to educate children to respect their father and mother, is to give them the opportunity of seeing the father offering kindly attentions to the mother, and the mother rendering respect and reverence to the father. It is by beholding love in their parents, that children are led to obey the fifth commandment and to heed the injunction, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honor thy father and thy mother; which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest live long on the earth."
When children have unbelieving parents, and their commands contradict the requirements of Christ, then, painful though it may be, they must obey God and trust the consequences with him. The Lord has expressly enjoined the duty upon children of honoring their father and their mother. As they have opportunity and ability, they are kindly to care for their parents. This commandment to children stands at the head of the last six precepts which show the duty of man to his fellowman. But while children are commanded to obey their parents, parents are also instructed to exercise their authority with wisdom. Paul writes, "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." Great care should be exercised by parents lest they treat their children in such a way as to provoke obstinacy, disobedience, and rebellion. Parents often stir up the worst passions of the human heart, because of their lack of self-control. They correct them in a spirit of anger, and rather confirm them in their evil ways and defiant spirit, than influence them in the way of right. By their own arbitrary spirit they thrust their children under Satanic influences, instead of rescuing them from the snares of Satan by gentleness and love. How sad it is that many parents who profess to be Christians, are not converted! Christ does not abide in their hearts by faith. While professing to be followers of Jesus, they disgust their children, and, by their violent, unforgiving temper, make them averse to all religion. It is little wonder that the children become cold and rebellious toward their parents. And yet children are not excused for disobedience because of their parents' unsanctified ways.
O that every family professing to be devoted to God, were so indeed and in truth! Then would Christ be represented in the homelife, and parents and children would represent him in the church, and what happiness would exist! But instead of this, the books of heaven record the cruelty of parents to children, and the neglect of parents by their children. After children grow to years of maturity, some of them think their duty is done in providing an abode for their parents. While giving them food and shelter, they give them no love or sympathy. In their parents' old age, when they long for expression of affection and sympathy, children heartlessly deprive them of their attention. There is no time when children should withhold respect and love from their father and mother. While the parents live, it should be the children's joy to honor and respect them. They should bring all the cheerfulness and sunshine into the life of the aged parents, that they possibly can. They should smooth their pathway to the grave. There is no better recommendation in this world than that a child has honored his parents, no better record in the books of heaven than that he has loved and honored father and mother.
Let children carefully remember that at the best the aged parents have but little joy and comfort. What can bring greater sorrow to their hearts than manifest neglect on the part of their children? What sin can be worse in children than to bring grief to an aged, helpless father or mother? Those who grieve their aged parents are written in the books of heaven as commandment breakers, as those who do not reverence the God of heaven, and unless they repent and forsake their evil ways, they will not be found worthy of a place in the saints' inheritance.
Is it possible that children can become so dead to the claims of father and mother, that they will not willingly remove all causes of sorrow in their power, watching over them with unwearying care and devotion? Can it be possible that they will not regard it a pleasure to make the last days of their parents their best days? How can a son or daughter be willing to leave father or mother on the hands of strangers, for them to care for! Even were the mother an unbeliever, and disagreeable, it would not release the child from the obligation that God has placed upon him to care for his parent. Would that there were but few who would utterly ignore the duty that is due from a child to his mother. Alas! that there are so many who never bestow a thought upon their parents, except it be that they may gain some advantage from them. Many care not whether their parents are comfortable or uncomfortable. Their conduct reveals them to be thankless children, and their ingratitude is "sharper than a serpent's tooth." Their indifference to their parents imbitters the life of father and mother, and brings down their gray hairs in sorrow to the grave. Through selfishness, self-love, unkindness, they have created an unwholesome atmosphere about their souls, and steeled their hearts to all good, until they are utterly loveless and unfeeling. Avarice has eaten out the good from their heart, and they even deny their parents the good which, without putting themselves to trouble, they could bestow upon them. The Satanic element predominates in their characters. But how bitter will be the close of the life of such children! They can have no happy reflection in their old age; for they will reap as they have sown.
The thought that children have ministered to the comfort of their parents is a thought of satisfaction all through the life, and will especially bring them joy when they themselves are in need of sympathy and love. Those whose hearts are filled with love will regard the privilege of smoothing the passage to the grave for their parents an inestimable privilege. They will rejoice that they had a part in bringing comfort and peace to the last days of their loved parents. To do otherwise than this, to deny to the helpless aged ones the kindly ministrations of sons and daughters, would fill the soul with remorse, the days with regret, if our hearts were not hardened and cold as a stone.
Our obligation to our parents never ceases. Our love for them, and theirs for us is not measured by years or distance, and our responsibility can never be set aside. When the nations are gathered before the judgment seat of Christ, but two classes will be represented,--those who have identified their interest with Christ and suffering humanity, those who have ignored their God-given obligations, done injury to their fellowmen, and dishonor to God. Their eternal destiny will be decided on the ground of what they did, and what they did not do to Christ in the person of his saints. He will say to them, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 69, #46)
"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world: looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."
To the early church the hope of Christ's coming was a blessed hope, and they were represented by the apostle as waiting for his Son from heaven, as loving his appearing. As long as this hope was cherished by the professed followers of Christ, they were a light to the world. But it was not the design of Satan that they should be a light to the world; and because iniquity abounded, the love of many waxed cold, and the unfaithful servant is represented as saying, "My Lord delayeth his coming." As a result of loss of faith in the appearing of Jesus, the unfaithful servant begins to smite his fellow servant, and to eat and drink with the drunken. Satan was at work to cause apostasy in the early church; and in accomplishing his purpose, doctrines were introduced through which the church was leavened with unbelief in Christ and his coming. The adversary of God and man cast his hellish shadow athwart the path of the believers, and dimmed their star of hope, even their faith in the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.
The hope which had been so precious to them lost its attractions; for the specious delusions of Satan almost wholly extinguished the light of salvation through the merits of a crucified and risen Saviour, and men were led to seek to make an atonement through works of their own,--by fasts and penances, and through the payment of money to the church. It was more agreeable to the natural heart thus to seek justification than to seek it through repentance and faith, through belief in, and obedience to, the truth. During the ages of apostasy, darkness covered the earth, and gross darkness the people; but the Reformation aroused the inhabitants of earth from their deathlike slumber, and many turned away from their vanities and superstitions, from priests and penances, to serve the living God, to search in his holy word for truth as for hidden treasure. They began diligently to work the mine of truth, to clear away the rubbish of human opinion that had buried up the precious jewels of light. But as soon as the work of reformation began, Satan with determined purpose sought the more zealously to bind the minds of men in superstition and error. When he found that he could not prevent them from investigating the word of God, or deter them from accepting the truth, through forcing erroneous doctrines upon their attention, he thought to intimidate them by threatening and persecution, and thus to quench the heavenly light that was shining upon men, revealing the character of God, and making manifest the malignity of the archdeceiver.
That which Satan has led men to do in the past, he will if possible lead them to do again. The early church was deceived by the enemy of God and man, and apostasy was brought into the ranks of those who professed to love God; and today, unless the people of God awake out of sleep, they will be taken unawares by the devices of Satan. Among those who claim to believe in the near coming of the Savior, how many are backslidden, how many have lost their first love, and come under the description written of the Laodicean church, denominating them as neither cold nor hot. Satan will do his utmost to keep them in a state of indifference and stupor. May the Lord reveal to the people the perils that are before them, that they may arouse from their spiritual slumber, and trim their lamps, and be found watching for the Bridegroom when he shall return from the wedding.
The days in which we live are eventful and full of peril. The signs of the coming of the end are thickening around us, and events are to come to pass that will be of a more terrible character than any the world has yet witnessed. "For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them." But to those who have the light of truth, it has been written, "Ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober." "And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light." "Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cock-crowing, or in the morning: lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping."
There is great need that our weakening faith should be quickened, and that we should ever keep before the mind the evidences that our Lord is soon coming, that we may ever be found not only waiting, but watching and working. We are not to be found in idle expectancy; for this leads to carelessness of life, and deficiency of character. We are to realize that the judgments of God are about to fall upon the earth, and we should most earnestly present before the people the warning that the Lord has commissioned us to give: "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be." "Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh."
Let everyone who claims to believe that the Lord is soon coming, search the Scriptures as never before; for Satan is determined to try every device possible to keep souls in darkness, and blind the mind to the perils of the times in which we are living. Let every believer take up his Bible with earnest prayer, that he may be enlightened by the holy Spirit as to what is truth, that he may know more of God and of Jesus Christ whom he has sent. Search for the truth as for hidden treasures, and disappoint the enemy. The time of test is just upon us, for the loud cry of the third angel has already begun in the revelation of the righteousness of Christ, the sin-pardoning Redeemer. This is the beginning of the light of the angel whose glory shall fill the whole earth. For it is the work of everyone to whom the message of warning has come, to lift up Jesus, to present him to the world as revealed in types, as shadowed in symbols, as manifested in the revelations of the prophets, as unveiled in the lessons given to his disciples and in the wonderful miracles wrought for the sons of men. Search the Scriptures; for they are they that testify of him.
If you would stand through the time of trouble, you must know Christ, and appropriate the gift of his righteousness, which he imputes to the repentant sinner. Human wisdom will not avail to devise a plan of salvation. Human philosophy is vain, the fruits of the loftiest powers of man are worthless, aside from the great plan of the divine Teacher. No glory is to redound to man; all human help and glory lies in the dust; for the truth as it is in Jesus is the only available agent by which man may be saved. Man is privileged to connect with Christ, and then the divine and the human combine; and in this union the hope of man must rest alone; for it is as the Spirit of God touches the soul that the powers of the soul are quickened, and man becomes a new creature in Christ Jesus. He was manifested to bring life and immortality to light. He says, "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life." The psalmist declares, "The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple."
Then let us study the word of God, that we may know him in whom there is no darkness at all. Jesus says, "He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." The theme that attracts the heart of the sinner is Christ, and him crucified. On the cross of Calvary, Jesus stands revealed to the world in unparalleled love. Present him thus to the hungering multitudes, and the light of his love will win men from darkness to light, from transgression to obedience and true holiness. Beholding Jesus upon the cross of Calvary arouses the conscience to the heinous character of sin as nothing else can do. It was sin that caused the death of God's dear Son, and sin is the transgression of the law. On him was laid the iniquities of us all. The sinner then consents unto the law that it is good; for he realizes that it condemns his evil deeds, while he magnifies the matchless love of God in providing for him salvation through the imputed righteousness of Him who knew no sin, in whose mouth there was found no guile. By Mrs. E. G. White. (Concluded next week.)
(Vol. 69, #47)
The truth is efficient, and through obedience its power changes the mind into the image of Jesus. It is the truth as it is in Jesus that quickens the conscience and transforms the mind; for it is accompanied to the heart by the Holy Spirit. There are many, who, lacking spiritual discernment, take the bare letter of the word, and find that unaccompanied by the Spirit of God, it quickens not the soul, it sanctifies not the heart. One may be able to quote from the Old and the New Testament, may be familiar with the commands and promises of the word of God; but unless the holy Spirit sends the truth home to the heart, enlightening the mind with divine light, no soul falls upon the Rock and is broken; for it is the divine agency that connects the soul with God. Without the enlightenment of the Spirit of God, we shall not be able to discern truth from error, and shall fall under the masterful temptations and deceptions that Satan will bring upon the world. We are near the close of the controversy between the Prince of light and the prince of darkness, and soon the delusions of the enemy will try our faith, of what sort it is. Satan will work miracles in the sight of the beast, and deceive "them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast."
But though the prince of darkness will work to cover the earth with darkness, and with gross darkness the people, the Lord will manifest his converting power. A work is to be accomplished in the earth similar to that which took place at the outpouring of the holy Spirit in the days of the early disciples, when they preached Jesus and him crucified. Many will be converted in a day; for the message will go with power. It can then be said: "Our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost." It is the holy Spirit that draws men to Christ; for he takes of the things of God, and shows them unto the sinner. Jesus said: "He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you."
The work of the holy Spirit is immeasurably great. It is from this source that power and efficiency come to the worker for God; and the holy Spirit is the comforter, as the personal presence of Christ to the soul. He who looks to Christ in simple, childlike faith, is made a partaker of the divine nature through the agency of the holy Spirit. When led by the Spirit of God, the Christian may know that he is made complete in him who is the head of all things. As Christ was glorified on the day of Pentecost, so will he again be glorified in the closing work of the gospel, when he shall prepare a people to stand the final test, in the closing conflict of the great controversy. The prophet describes the enemy's plan of battle saying:--
"I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, but he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them that dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, and deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by the sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed." "These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them; for he is Lord of lords and King of kings; and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful." "And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and the cage of every unclean and hateful bird. . . . And I heard another voice from heaven saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plaques. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities."
The people of God are to be called out from their association with worldlings and evildoers, to stand in the battle for the Lord against the powers of darkness. When the earth is lightened with the glory of God, we shall see a work similar to that which was wrought when the disciples, filled with the Holy Spirit, proclaimed the power of a risen Saviour. The light of heaven penetrated the darkened minds of those who had been deceived by the enemies of Christ, and the false representation of him was rejected; for through the efficiency of the Holy Spirit they now saw him exalted to be a Prince and Saviour, to give repentance unto Israel, and remission of sins. They saw him encircled with the glory of heaven, with infinite treasures in his hands to bestow upon those who turn from their rebellion. As the apostles set forth the glory of the only begotten of the Father, 3,000 souls were pricked to the heart, and they were made to see themselves as they were, sinful and polluted, and Christ as their Saviour and Redeemer. Christ was lifted up, Christ was glorified, through the power of the holy Spirit resting upon men. By the eye of faith these believers saw him as the one who had borne humiliation, suffering, and death, that they might not perish, but have everlasting life. As they looked upon his spotless righteousness, they saw their own deformity and pollution, and were filled with godly fear, with love and adoration for Him who gave his life a sacrifice for them. They humbled their souls to the very dust, and repented of their wicked works, and glorified God for his salvation.
They said one to another, "This is the very one who was accused of gluttony, of eating with publicans and sinners; the one who was bound, and scourged, and crucified. We believe in him as the Son of God, the Prince and Saviour." The revelation of Christ by the holy Spirit brought to them a realizing sense of his power and majesty, and they stretched forth their hands unto him by faith, saying, "I believe." Thus it was in the time of the early rain; but the latter rain will be more abundant. The Saviour of men will be glorified, and the earth will be lightened with the bright shining of the beams of his righteousness. He is the fountain of light, and light from the gates ajar has been shining upon the people of God, that they may lift him up in his glorious character before those who sit in darkness.
Christ has not been presented in connection with the law as a faithful and merciful High Priest, who was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. He has not been lifted up before the sinner as the divine sacrifice. His work as sacrifice, substitute, and surety, has been only coldly and casually dwelt upon; but this is what the sinner needs to know. It is Christ in his fullness as a sin-pardoning Saviour, that the sinner must see; for the unparalleled love of Christ, through the agency of the Holy Spirit, will bring conviction and conversion to the hardened heart. It is the divine influence that is the savor of the salt in the Christian. Many present the doctrines and theories of our faith; but their presentation is as salt without savor; for the Holy Spirit is not working through their faithless ministry. They have not opened the heart to receive the grace of Christ; they know not the operation of the Spirit; they are as meal without leaven; for there is no working principle in all their labor, and they fail to win souls to Christ. They do not appropriate the righteousness of Christ; it is a robe unworn by them, a fullness unknown, a fountain untouched.
O that the atoning work of Christ might be carefully studied! O that all would carefully and prayerfully study the word of God, not to qualify themselves for debating controverted points of doctrine; but that as hungry souls they might be filled, as those that thirst, be refreshed at the fountain of life. It is when we search the Scriptures with humble hearts, feeling our weakness and unworthiness, that Jesus is revealed to our souls in all his preciousness. When we become partakers of the divine nature, we shall look with abhorrence upon all our exaltation of self, and that which we have cherished as wisdom, will seem as dross and rubbish. Those who have educated themselves as debaters, who have looked upon themselves as sharp, keen men, will view their work with sorrow and shame, and know that their offering has been as valueless as was Cain's; for it has been destitute of the righteousness of Christ.
O that we as a people might humble our hearts before God, and plead with him for the endowment of the Holy Spirit! If we came to the Lord in humility and contrition of soul, he would answer our petitions; for he says that he is more willing to give us the Holy Spirit than are parents to give good gifts to their children. Then would Christ be glorified, and in him we should discern the fullness of the Godhead bodily. For Christ has said of the Comforter, "He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you." This is the thing most essential to us. For "this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 69, #48)
We are pressing on to the final conflict, and this is no time to compromise. It is no time to hide your colors. When the battle wages sore, let no one turn traitor. It is no time to lay down or conceal our weapons, and give Satan the advantage in the warfare. But unless you watch, and keep your garments unspotted from the world, you will not stand true to your Captain. It is no time for watchmen to slumber on the walls of Zion. Let them be wide-awake. Call to your fellow-watchmen, crying, "The morning cometh, and also the night." It is no time now to relax our efforts, to become tame and spiritless; no time to hide our light under a bushel, to speak smooth things, to prophesy deceit. Every power is to be employed for God. You are to maintain your allegiance, bearing testimony for God and for truth. Be not turned aside by any suggestion the world can make. We cannot afford to compromise. There is a living issue before us, of vital importance to the remnant people of God, to the very close of this earth's history; for eternal interests are involved. On the very eve of the crisis, it is no time to be found with an evil heart of unbelief, departing from the living God.
The original apostasy began in disbelief and denial of the truth; but if we would triumph, we must fix the eye of faith steadfastly upon Jesus, the Captain of our salvation. We are to follow the example of Christ, and in all that Jesus did on earth, he had an eye single to the glory of God. He says, "As the Father gave me commandment, even so I do." "This commandment have I received of my Father." In all he did he was working out the will of his Father, so that his life on earth was a manifestation of the divine perfection. Divinity and humanity were united in Christ, that he might reveal to us God's purpose, and bring man into close communion with himself. This union will enable us to overcome the enemy; for through faith in Christ we shall have divine power. The days will come (for the enemy is working to that end) in which the law of God will be made void. As those days approach, the loyal subjects of God must rise to the emergency, manifesting more fervent zeal, giving more positive and unflinching testimony.
But while we are to speak as having authority, we should do nothing in a defiant spirit. If our hearts are fully surrendered to God, we shall unite meekness and love with truth and decision. We are "to be ready to every good work, to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, showing all meekness unto all men."
It is time for God's people to take up the duties that lie next them, to be faithful in little things; for on the right performance of little things hang great results. Do not leave the work which needs to be done, because to your judgment it appears small and unimportant. Make up every waste place, repair the breaches as fast as they occur. Let no difference or dissension exist among the workers. Let all go to work to help someone who needs help. There is a cause for the great weakness in our churches, and that cause is hard to remove; for it is self. Trouble does not arise because men have too much will, but because they have too much self-will. The will should be wholly sanctified to God. The professed followers of Christ need to fall on the Rock and be broken; for in everyone who enters the gates of the city of God, self must be crucified. This fierce spirit which rises up in the hearts of some in the church when everything does not go to please them, must be subdued; for it is not the Spirit of Christ. It is fully time that we return to our first love, and be at peace among ourselves. We must make it manifest that we are not only Bible readers, but Bible believers. If we are united to Christ, we shall be united to one another. Jesus says, "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." "We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. . . . Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: that ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Our numbers are increasing, our facilities are enlarging, and all this calls for union among the workers, for entire consecration and thorough devotion to the cause of God. There is no place in the work of God for halfhearted workers, for those who are neither cold nor hot. Jesus says, "I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth." Among those who are halfhearted are the class who pride themselves on their great caution in receiving "new light," as they term it. But their failure to receive the light is caused by their spiritual blindness; for they cannot discern the ways and works of God. Those who array themselves against the precious light of heaven, will accept messages that God has not sent, and will thus become dangerous to the cause of God; for they will set up false standards.
There are men in our cause who might be of great use if they would but learn of Christ, and go on from light to greater light; but because they will not, they are positive hindrances, forever questioning, wasting precious time in argument, and contributing nothing to the spiritual elevation of the church. They misdirect minds, and lead men to accept perilous suggestions. They cannot see afar off; they cannot discern the conclusion of the matter. Their moral force is squandered upon trifles; for they view an atom as a world, and a world as an atom.
Many have trusted and gloried in the wisdom of men far more than in Christ and in the precious sanctifying truth for this time. They need the heavenly anointing, that they may comprehend what is light and truth. They thank God that they are confined to no narrow groove, but they do not see the breadth and far-reaching extent of the principles of truth, and are not enlightened by the Spirit of God as to heaven's large liberality. They admire manmade theories, and walk in the sparks of their own kindling, diverging farther and farther from the genuine principles of Christian action ordained to make men wise unto salvation. They strive to extend the gospel, but separate from it the very marrow and life. They say, "Let the light shine," but cover it so that it shall not shine in clear rays on the very subjects that they need to understand. Some exhaust the fervor of their zeal on plans that cannot be carried out without peril to the church.
At this time the church should not be diverted from the main object of vital interest, to things that will not bring health and courage, faith and power. They must see, and by their actions testify, that the gospel is aggressive.
Watchmen on the walls of Zion are to be vigilant, and sleep not day nor night. But if they have not received the message from the lips of Christ, their trumpets will give an uncertain sound. Brethren, God calls upon you, both ministers and laymen, to listen to his voice speaking to you in his word. Let his truth be received into the heart, that you may be spiritualized by its living, sanctifying power. Then let the distinct message for this time be sent from watchman to watchman on the walls of Zion.
This is a time of general departure from truth and righteousness, a time when we must build the old waste places, and with interested effort labor to raise up the foundation of many generations.
"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."
"Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings. For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: but my righteousness shall be forever, and my salvation from generation to generation. Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord; awake, as in the ancient days, in the generations of old . . . . Art thou not it which hath dried the sea, the waters of the great deep; that hath made the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass over? Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head; they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away. I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass; and forgettest the Lord thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and hast feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? And where is the fury of the oppressor? The captive exile hasteneth that he may be loosed, and that he should not die in the pit, nor that his bread should fail. But I am the Lord thy God, that divided the sea, whose waves roared: the Lord of hosts is his name. And I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people."
"For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name. Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married."
While you hold the banner of truth firmly proclaiming the law of God, let every soul remember that the faith of Jesus is connected with the commandments of God. The third angel is represented as flying through the midst of heaven, crying with a loud voice, "Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." The first, second, and third angels' messages are all linked together. The evidences of the abiding, ever-living truth of these grand messages, that mean so much to us, that have awakened such intense opposition from the religious world, cannot be extinguished. Satan is constantly seeking to cast his hellish shadow about these messages, so that the remnant people of God shall not clearly discern their import, their time, and place; but they live, and are to exert their power upon our religious experience while time shall last.
The influence of these messages has been deepening and widening, setting in motion the springs of action in thousands of hearts, bringing into existence institutions of learning, publishing houses, and health institutions; all these are the instrumentalities of God to cooperate in the grand work represented by the first, second, third angels flying in the midst of heaven to warn the inhabitants of the world that Christ is coming again with power and great glory. The prophet says, "I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power: and the earth was lightened with glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils." This is the same messages that was given by the second angel. Babylon is fallen, "because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication." What is that wine?--Her false doctrines. She has given to the world a false Sabbath instead of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, and has repeated the falsehood that Satan first told to Eve in Eden,--the natural immortality of the soul. Many kindred errors she has spread far and wide, "teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."
When Jesus began his public ministry, he cleansed the temple from its sacrilegious profanation. Among the last acts of his ministry was the second cleansing of the temple. So in the last work for the warning of the world, two distinct calls are made to the churches. The second angel's message is, "Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication." And in the loud cry of the third angel's message a voice is heard from heaven saying, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plaques. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities." By Mrs. E. G. White. (Concluded next week.)
(Vol. 69, #49)
As God called the children of Israel out of Egypt, that they might keep his Sabbath, so he calls his people out of Babylon, that they may not worship the beast or his image. The man of sin, who thought to change times and laws, has exalted himself above God, by presenting a spurious Sabbath to the world; the Christian world has accepted the child of the papacy, and cradled and nourished it, thus defying God by removing his memorial, and setting up a rival Sabbath.
After the truth has been proclaimed as a witness to all nations, every conceivable power of evil will be set in operation, and minds will be confused by many voices crying, "Lo, here is Christ, Lo, he is there. This is the truth, I have the message from God, he has sent me with great light." Then there will be a removing of the landmarks, and an attempt to tear down the pillars of our faith. A more decided effort will be made to exalt the false Sabbath, and to cast contempt upon God himself by supplanting the day he has blessed and sanctified. This false Sabbath is to be enforced by an oppressive law. Satan and his angels are wide-awake, and intensely active, working with energy and perseverance through human instrumentalities to bring about his purpose of obliterating from the minds of men the knowledge of God. But while Satan works with his lying wonders, the time will be fulfilled foretold in the Revelation, and the mighty angel that shall lighten the earth with his glory, will proclaim the fall of Babylon, and call upon God's people to forsake her.
At the time of the loud cry of the third angel those who have been in any measure blinded by the enemy, who have not fully recovered themselves from the snare of Satan, will be in peril, because it will be difficult for them to discern the light from heaven, and they will be inclined to accept falsehood. Their erroneous experience will color their thoughts, their decisions, their propositions, their counsels. The evidences that God has given will be no evidence to those who have blinded their eyes by choosing darkness rather than light. After rejecting light, they will originate theories which they will call "light," but which the Lord calls, "Sparks of their own kindling," by which they will direct their steps. The Lord declares, "Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God. Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow." Jesus said: "For judgment I am come into the world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind." "I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness." "He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day."
By many the words which the Lord sent will be rejected, and the words that man may speak will be received as light and truth. Jesus says, "I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive." Human wisdom will lead away from self-denial, from consecration, and will devise many things that tend to make of no effect God's messages. We cannot with any safety rely upon men who are not in close connection with God. They will accept the opinions of men, but cannot discern the voice of the True Shepherd, and their influence will lead many astray, though evidence is piled upon evidence testifying to the verity of truth for these days. The truth is powerful to turn men to Christ, to quicken their energies, to subdue and soften their hearts, and inspire them with zeal, devotion, and love to God. The Sabbath truth must in no case be covered up. We must let it appear in strong contrast with error.
As the end approaches, the testimonies of God's servants will become more decided and more powerful, flashing the light of truth upon the systems of error and oppression that have so long held the supremacy. The Lord has sent us messages for this time, that will establish Christianity upon an eternal basis; and all who believe the present truth, must stand, not in their own wisdom, but in God's wisdom, and raise up the foundations of many generations; and they will be registered in the books of heaven as "repairers of the breach," the "restorer of paths to dwell in." In face of the bitterest opposition, we are to maintain the truth because it is truth. God is at work upon human minds; it is not man alone that is working. The great illuminating power is from Christ; the brightness of his example is to be kept before the people in every discourse. His love is the glory of the rainbow encircling the throne on high.
The Lord has said, "I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. . . . And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you, and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh." In the rainbow above the throne is an everlasting testimony 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." Whenever the law is presented before the people, let the teacher of the truth point to the throne arched with the rainbow of promise, the righteousness of Christ. The glory of the law is Christ; he came to magnify the law, and to make it honorable. Make it appear distinct that mercy and peace have met together in Christ, and righteousness and truth have embraced each other. When you look to his throne, offering up your penitence, praise, and thanksgiving that you may perfect Christian character, and represent Christ to the world, you abide in Christ, and Christ abides in you; you have the peace that passes all understanding. We need continually to meditate upon Christ's attractive loveliness. We must direct minds to Jesus, fasten them upon him. In every discourse dwell upon the divine attributes.
As the bow in the cloud is formed by the union of the sunlight and the shower, so the rainbow encircling the throne represents the combined power of mercy and justice. It is not justice alone that is to be maintained; for this would eclipse the glory of the rainbow of promise above the throne; men could see only the penalty of the law. Were there no justice, no penalty, there would be no stability to the government of God. It is the mingling of judgment and mercy that makes salvation complete. It is the blending of the two that leads us, as we view the world's Redeemer, and the law of Jehovah, to exclaim, "Thy gentleness hath made me great." We know that the gospel is a perfect and complete system, revealing the immutability of the law of God. It inspires the heart with hope, and with love to God. Mercy invites us to enter through the gates into the city of God, and justice is satisfied to accord to every obedient soul full privileges as a member of the royal family, a child of the heavenly King. If we were defective in character, we could not pass the gates that mercy has opened to the obedient; for justice stands at the entrance, and demands holiness in all who would see God. Were justice extinct, and were it possible for divine mercy to open the gates to the whole race, irrespective of character, there would be a worse condition of disaffection and rebellion in heaven than before Satan was expelled. The peace, happiness, and harmony of heaven would be broken. The change from earth to heaven will not change men's character; the happiness of the redeemed in heaven results from the character formed in this life after the image of Christ. The saints in heaven will first have been saints on earth.
The salvation that Christ made such a sacrifice to gain for man is that which is alone of value; for it is that which saves from sin, the cause of all the misery and woe in our world. The mercy of God is that which constantly draws the sinner to Jesus. If he responds, coming in penitence with confession, in faith laying hold of the hope set before him in the gospel, God will accept him; for "the broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." Thus the law of God is not weakened by the gospel, but the power of sin is broken, and the scepter of mercy is extended to the penitent sinner.
The rainbow above the throne is the bow of promise, testifying to the whole world that God will never forget his people in their struggle against evil. Let Jesus be our theme. Let us by pen and voice present, not only the commandments of God, but the faith of Jesus. This will promote real heart-piety as nothing else can. While we present the fact to men that they are subjects of a divine moral government, their reason will declare to them that this is truth, that they owe allegiance to Jehovah, and that this life is our time of probation. In this life we are placed under the discipline and government of God to form characters and acquire habits for the higher life. All the scenes in which we must act a part, are to be carefully studied; for they are a part of our education, a part of God's great plan. We should bring solid timbers into our character building; for we are working both for this life and the eternal life. And as we near the close of this earth's history, we either rapidly advance in Christian growth, or we rapidly retrograde toward the world.
Temptations will come in like a flood; but we need not fail nor be discouraged while we know that the bow of promise is above the throne of God. We shall be subject to heavy trials, opposition, bereavement, affliction, but we know that Jesus passed through all these. These experiences are valuable to us; the advantages of varying experiences are not by any means confined to this short life; they reach into eternal ages. Through patience, faith, and hope, in all the changing scenes of earth, we are forming characters for the everlasting life. And whatever we are called upon to bear, we may be assured that all things work together for good to those that love God. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 69, #50)
There is no excuse for anyone in taking the position that there is no more truth to be revealed, and that all our expositions of Scripture are without an error. The fact that certain doctrines have been held as truth for many years by our people, is not a proof that our ideas are infallible. Age will not make error into truth, and truth can afford to be fair. No true doctrine will lose anything by close investigation. We are living in perilous times, and it does not become us to accept everything claimed to be truth without examining it thoroughly; neither can we afford to reject anything that bears the fruits of the Spirit of God; but we should be teachable, meek and lowly of heart. There are those who oppose everything that is not in accordance with their own ideas, and by so doing they endanger their eternal interest as verily as did the Jewish nation in their rejection of Christ. The Lord designs that our opinions shall be put to the test, that we may see the necessity of closely examining the living oracles to see whether or not we are in the faith. Many who claim to believe the truth have settled down at their ease, saying, "I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing." But Jesus says to these self-complacent ones, Thou "knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." Let us individually inquire, Do these words describe my case? If so, the True Witness counsels us, saying, "Buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see."
From the description of the Laodiceans, it is evident that many were deceived in their estimate of their spiritual condition. They regarded themselves as rich, as possessing all the knowledge and grace that was needed; but yet they lacked the gold of faith and love, the white raiment of Christ's righteousness. They were destitute and poverty stricken, walking in sparks of their own kindling, and preparing to lie down in sorrow. Jesus says to them, "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 [when the glow of the love of God was upon you]; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent." This warning would not be given if there were no danger of failure on the part of those who profess to be the children of God.
In unmistakable language our position is presented before us. Apart from Christ we have no merit, no righteousness. Our sinfulness, our weakness, our human imperfections make it impossible that we should appear before God, unless we are clothed in Christ's spotless righteousness. We are to be found in him, not having our own righteousness, but the righteousness which is through Christ.
But there is hope for everyone; for "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." If the love of God is not appreciated, and does not become an abiding principle in the hard heart to soften and subdue the soul, we are utterly lost. The Lord has no reserve power with which to influence man. He can give no greater manifestation of his love than that which he has given. Heaven's richest gift has been freely offered for your acceptance. If the exhibition of the love of Jesus does not melt and subdue your heart, by what means can you be reached? Has the love of Christ failed to bring forth an earnest response of love and gratitude? Then let it not remain in this condition of hardness another day. Open your heart, and receive Christ, the best gift of heaven. Let not cruel unbelief lead you to refuse the heaven-sent gift. Let not Christ say of you, "Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life."
The heart of Christ is constantly drawn out in sympathy toward fallen man. While upon earth, his only mission was to save sinners. He had a deep abhorrence of sin, while exercising the tenderest compassion toward the sinner. He was grieved and wounded at heart because men failed to value and accept his love. The Majesty of heaven veiled his divinity in humanity, and passed from place to place through towns and cities, teaching the truth and working miracles, and though multitudes flocked to hear him, few were in sympathy with the lessons of truth he presented, which alone could save the soul.
How few have any conception of the anguish which rent the heart of the Son of God during his thirty years of life upon earth. The path from the manger to Calvary was shadowed by sorrow and grief. He was the man of sorrows, and endured such heartache as no human language can portray. He could have said in truth, "Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow." His suffering was the deepest anguish of the soul; and what man could have sympathy with the soul anguish of the Son of the infinite God? Hating sin with a perfect hatred, he yet gathered to his soul the sins of the whole world, as he trod the path to Calvary, suffering the penalty of the transgressor. Guiltless, he bore the punishment of the guilty; innocent, yet offering himself to bear the penalty of the transgression of the law of God. The punishment of the sins of every soul was borne by the Son of the infinite God. The guilt of every sin pressed its weight upon the divine soul of the world's Redeemer. He who knew no sin became sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. In assuming the nature of man, he placed himself where he was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, that by his stripes we might be healed.
In his humanity Christ was tried with as much greater temptation, with as much more persevering energy than man is tried by the evil one, as his nature was greater than man's. This is a deep mysterious truth, that Christ is bound to humanity by the most sensitive sympathies. The evil works, the evil thoughts, the evil words of every son and daughter of Adam press upon his divine soul. The sins of men called for retribution upon himself; for he had become man's substitute, and took upon him the sins of the world. He bore the sins of every sinner; for all transgressions were imputed unto him, though "he did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth." Though the guilt of sin was not his, his Spirit was torn and bruised by the transgressions of men.
"How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?" It is at the peril of our souls that we neglect the prescribed conditions under which we are called to work out our own salvation. It is only through Christ, who was made sin for us, that we can work out our own salvation; for it is God that worketh in us both to will and to do of his own good pleasure. We are to cooperate heartily with God, by faith laying hold of the righteousness of Christ, which alone can save. The only way by which we may be saved is by becoming workers together with God. It is through the cooperation of man with God that the believer may come off victorious. We shall not be found guiltless if we are content to float along in the current of the world, submitting the question of our soul's salvation to those who teach the traditions of men and rely upon supposed evidences. Every soul is to put himself to the task of searching out the truth as it is in Jesus, to know it for himself by the study of the sure word of God. We are not to ask, What is the popular opinion? What saith brother A. or brother B. or any other man? What saith the fathers? But what saith the Lord our God in regard to the saving of the soul? And when we have found what saith the Scriptures, let us act upon the written word; for it is perilous to sit in judgment on the words of inspiration. That which has been written is for our instruction, admonition, and comfort.
Christ is the originator of divine truth. He knew the height and depth, length and breadth and fullness of the compassion of divine love, as no mortal man can know it. He knows the blessedness that sinners are refusing when they reject divine light, the horrors that will come upon the soul that refuses the truth of heaven. A heavenly feast has been spread for the hungry, but they refuse to eat. Christ alone knows what means the exceeding weight of glory which those who rebel against God, refuse to receive. The work of Christ upon earth was to seek and save that which was lost. Ever before him, he saw the result of his mission, although the baptism of blood must first be received, although the weight of sins of the world was to gather upon his innocent soul, although the shadow of an unspeakable woe was ever over him; yet for the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross and despised the shame. He endured all this that sinful man might be saved, that he might be elevated and ennobled, and have a place with him upon his throne.
Men are contaminated with sin, and they cannot have an adequate conception of the heinous character of the evil which they cherish. Because of sin, the Majesty of heaven was stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. Voluntarily our divine substitute bared his soul to the sword of justice, that we might not perish, but have everlasting life. Said Christ: "I lay down my life that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again." No man of earth nor angel of heaven could have paid the penalty of sin. Jesus was the only one who could save rebellious man. In him divinity and humanity were combined, and this was what gave efficiency to the sacrifice made on Calvary's cross. Here it was that mercy and truth met together, righteousness and peace kissed each other.
Christ is called "the Lord our righteousness," and through faith, each one should be able to say, "The Lord my righteousness." When faith lays hold upon this gift of God, the praise of God will be upon our lips, and we shall be able to say, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." Then we shall be able to tell the lost concerning the plan of salvation, that while the world was lying under the curse of the law, meriting death, the Lord presented terms of mercy to the fallen and hopeless sinner, and brought out the meaning and value of his grace. Grace is unmerited favor. The angels, who know nothing of sin, do not understand what it is to have grace exercised toward them; but our sinfulness calls for the exercise of grace from a merciful God. It was grace that sent us our Saviour to seek us as wanderers and bring us back to his fold.
No works that the sinner can do will be efficacious in saving his soul. Obedience was always due to the Creator; for he endowed man with attributes for his service. God requires good works from man always; but good works cannot avail to earn salvation. It is impossible for man to save himself. He may deceive himself in regard to this matter; but he cannot save himself. Christ's righteousness alone can avail for his salvation, and this is the gift of God. This is the wedding garment prepared for you in which you may be a welcome guest at the marriage supper of the Lamb. Let faith take hold of Christ without delay, and you will be a new creature in Jesus, a light to the world. By Mrs. E. G. White.