1849 | 1850 | 1851 | 1852 | 1853 | 1854 | 1855 | 1856 | 1857 | 1858 | 1859 | 1860 | 1861 | 1862 | 1863 | 1864 | 1866 | 1867 | 1868 | 1869 | 1870 | 1871 | 1872 | 1873 | 1874 | 1875 | 1876 | 1877 | 1878 | 1879 | 1880 | 1881 | 1882 | 1883 | 1884 | 1885 | 1886 | 1887 | 1888 | 1889 | 1890 | 1891 | 1892 | 1893 | 1894 | 1895 | 1896 | 1897 | 1898 | 1899 | 1900 | 1901 | 1902 | 1903 | 1904 | 1905 | 1906 | 1907 | 1908 | 1909 | 1910 | 1911 | 1912 | 1913 | 1914 | 1915 | 1939 | 1956 | 1957 | 1958 | 1959 | Passing Away | Index to Titles
The Review and Herald Articles
for the Year 1898
(Vol. 75, #1)
"As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life." In the Word of God alone shall we find how to secure eternal life. We are not left to conjecture as to how we shall obtain it; we are to work out the statement made, and receive the truth into the heart. Religion that comes from God is the only religion that will lead to God. "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life." "And as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name."
The love of God revealed for man is beyond any human computation; it is infinite. And the human being who is a partaker of the divine nature will love as Christ loves, will work as he worked. The love that is inspired by the love we have for Jesus will see in every soul, rich or poor, a value that cannot be measured by human estimate. The world sinks into insignificance in comparison with the value of one soul. This love can exist, and be kept pure, refined, and holy, only through the love in the soul for Jesus Christ, nourished by daily communion with God. There will be an inborn compassion and sympathy which will not fail nor be discouraged. This is the spirit that should be encouraged to live in every heart, and be revealed in every life.
Coldness on the part of Christians is a denial of the faith. But this spirit will melt away before the bright beams of Christ's love in his follower. Willingly, naturally, he will obey the injunction, "Love one another, as I have loved you."
And the love of God in the heart, manifested in true, unselfish missionary labor, will be more mighty than the sword or courts of justice in dealing with the evildoer. Often the hearts of men will harden under rebuke, but they cannot withstand the love expressed toward them in Christ. The living missionary, with his heart overflowing with the love of God, can break down the barriers. The medical missionary, taking up his appointed work, can not only relieve bodily maladies, but through the love and grace of Christ, can heal the diseased soul, leprous with sin.
The Lord has enlisted every believing soul in his service, to bring the transgressor of his law back to obedience and loyalty to Christ. He will accept those who will devote themselves to him, to work with the combined influence of the heavenly, unfallen intelligences to restore the moral image of God in man. "We are laborers together with God," he declares; "ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building." Bid the sinner have hope, and not feel that he is an outcast from his fellows. Reveal to the desperate, discouraged sufferer that he is a prisoner of hope. Let your message be, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." Present before men in your life a love higher than it is possible for you to express in words. You are laborers together with God, to bring back lost faith in God.
There is a work to do for the wealthy, in awakening them to a sense of their responsibility and accountability to God to conduct all their business relations as those who must give an account to him who will judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and kingdom. The wealthy man needs your labor in the love and fear of God. He trusts in his riches, and feels not his danger. The eyes of his mind need to be attracted to things of enduring value. He needs to recognize the authority of true goodness, which says, "Come unto me, all ye that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Put off that yoke which you have manufactured for your neck, and over which you have been perplexing yourself, and take my yoke upon you. "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." "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink." "Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."
O, if that man of wealth would only listen, if he would only hear, if he would only take time to consider, he could not but discern in these invitations the superior goodness that invites him! He would see that it is the voice of the true Shepherd that calls him, and that God will give him something of more value than gold, or silver, or precious stones. O that, in the place of trusting in uncertain riches, he would realize that he is a responsible agent, a steward of the means entrusted to him; that God calls upon him to be faithful in the use and improvement of his goods; and that he may, if he will, become a distinguished worker together with God in uplifting those whom Christ came to the world to save.
The Lord has endowed man with capabilities and power and influence; he has entrusted him with his money; but these gifts are not to be lavishly spent in self-gratification. To every man he has given his work. Man is to be a co-worker with God in the great redemption. The money that God has entrusted to men is to be used in blessing humanity, in relieving the necessities of the suffering and the needy. Men are not to feel that they have done a very wonderful thing when they have endowed certain institutions or churches with large gifts. In the wise providence of God, there are constantly presented before them the very ones who need their help. They are to relieve the suffering, clothe the naked, and help many who are in hard and trying circumstances, who are wrestling with all their energies to keep themselves and their families from a pauper's home. God never meant that this misery should exist. He never meant that one man should have an abundance of the luxuries of life, while the children of others should cry for bread. The means over and above the positive necessaries of life are entrusted to men to do good, to bless humanity. God has entrusted his goods to stewards; and if these stewards love him, they will love those formed in his image.
But too often those who are enjoying the gifts of God add house after house, and farm after farm, to their possessions. Some even build for their dogs, homes that are like palaces, and keep hired attendants to take care of them, while their fellow beings are left to misery and crime, to disease and death. How long, O Lord! how long, shall this state of things exist? God will judge the world in righteousness by that man Jesus whom he hath ordained to judge the quick and the dead; and those who have long neglected to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to give relief and comfort to suffering humanity, will have to render an account to God for the misapplication of his entrusted talents. What a record will then appear of money spent on pleasures and the gratification of appetite in wine and liquor and rich dainties, for extravagant houses and furniture and dress, while human beings received not one pitying look, one word of sympathy.
The principle of worldlings is to get all they can of the perishable things of this life. Selfish love of gain is the ruling principle in their lives. But the purest joy is not found in riches, nor where covetousness is always craving, but where contentment reigns, and where self-sacrificing love is the ruling principle. There are thousands who are passing their lives in self-indulgence, and whose hearts are filled with repining. They are victims of selfishness and discontent in the vain effort to satisfy their minds with indulgence. Unhappiness is stamped upon their very countenances, and behind them is a desert, because their course is not fruitful in good works.
Those who feel no special pleasure in seeking to be a blessing to others, in working, even at a sacrifice, to do them good, cannot have the spirit of Christ or of heaven; for they have no union with the work of heavenly angels, and cannot participate in the bliss that imparts elevated joy to them. But Christ says to his disciples, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." I lead in the path of self-denial. I require nothing of you, my followers, but that of which I, your Lord, give you an example in my own life.
By a chain of circumstances which should call forth their charities, God bestows upon men the best means of cultivating benevolence. He designs to keep them habitually giving to help the poor and to advance his cause. He sends his poor as the representatives of himself. By their necessities, a ruined world is drawing forth from us talents of means and of influence, of which it is in perishing need. And as we heed these calls by labor and by acts of benevolence, we are assimilated to the image of him who for our sake became poor. In bestowing, we bless others, and thus accumulate true riches. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #2)
Those who are yoked up with Christ will not give with a patronizing air, as though they should have great praise for their benevolence. They will realize that they are trading in their Lord's goods, not their own, and that they will have to give an account, in the Judgment, of the use they have made of their entrusted capital. Those truly love their neighbor as themselves who realize their responsibilities and the claims that suffering humanity has upon them, and carry out the principles of God's law in the daily life.
It is not God's plan at all that the rich should give gifts to those who have abundance. It is the distressed, the downtrodden, the discouraged, the hungry, the suffering, the naked, the poor, of whom Christ says, "Ye have the poor always with you." We need to take closer views of God's word and of eternity. This will not disqualify any one for the duties of life, or to act a Christlike part in society. The gospel of Christ is not only to be believed, but to be acted. We are to be doers of the word. We are daily determining our destiny in the future life by the character we develop in this.
Jesus, the world's Redeemer, laid off his royal crown, laid aside his royal robe, and clothed his divinity with humanity; though adored and worshiped by the angelic host, he left his high command, and for our sake became poor, that we, through his poverty, might be made rich. This is not riches in houses and lands, but the riches which will endure unto eternal life.
Christ penetrated into the very inner circles of life. He sought to arrest the actors in domestic life, in the midst of their household cares, and call their attention to the fact that they had eternal interests to secure. He told them: Your various endowments are so many talents. These the Lord has entrusted to you to be improved, and by their use to gain other talents. They will increase through constant exercise. God has made men almoners of his providence, to use wisely the entrusted capital, as well as the endowments of his grace, to do all the good they possibly can, and thus constitute themselves wise, faithful stewards, laborers together with God, to reshape characters, and to elevate and help those who need help.
The command is given, Work while the day lasts: the night cometh, when no man can work. Jesus asks, "Are there not twelve hours in the day." If these hours were employed as if men realized that they were accountable human beings, responsible before God, as serious, candid, heaven-bought subjects, keeping eternity in view, there would be sufficient time to secure for every soul an inheritance among the sanctified in the kingdom of God. There would be time for each one to be instrumental in the saving of many souls through precept and example. But we have no time to waste, no time to devote to selfish pleasure-loving, no time to give to the indulgence of sin. Time is golden. We have characters to form for the future, immortal life. Angels of God are watching our development of character; they are weighing moral worth.
It is said that one of earth's rulers, when told by the physician that he could live but a few moments, exclaimed, "A kingdom for one hour's time!" Year after year he had been granted the twelve hours of the day, but he had not spent them in securing his eternal interests.
Christ points out to us that which he expects us to do. He has given us a glimpse of eternity, that we may realize that there is something higher than temporal things to engage our attention, and call into activity all our delegated powers. They must be used to glorify our Redeemer. Christ calls for the human agents to cooperate with the divine agencies in saving the world. Not one is to feel that he can use his time as he chooses. Heavenly requirements are not to be ignored.
It is the almost universal practise of men to subordinate the eternal to the temporal; the claims of the future, the unseen, to the common affairs of the present. But Christ declares, "Ye cannot serve God and Mammon." "No man can serve two masters." The god of this world claims wonderful activity and constant slavery to his will. Christ, the uplifted Saviour, calls men to look and live. He declares, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness," he declares, and all needed things of secondary importance "shall be added unto you."
If the churches that have had great light and great opportunities will walk humbly with God, the Lord will give every member a work to do for him. If you make no success in the highways, go into the byways, to those who are poor, despised, and forsaken. If you work for them while mounted upon the stilts of your dignity and superiority, you will accomplish nothing; but if you will be truly converted to the Lord Jesus Christ, and learn of him who is meek and lowly in heart, you will show that you have learned how to work the works of God. This is the work of God, that you believe on him whom he hath sent, that you go to him for counsel and instruction, and pray, and watch, and work.
Waste nothing in your life practise. Jesus worked a miracle to feed the five thousand tired people. He selected a pleasant place for them,--for "there was much grass in that place,"--and gave his orders, commanding them to sit down. Then he took the five loaves and two small fishes. No doubt many remarks were made as to the impossibility of satisfying five thousand hungry men, besides women and children, from that scanty store. Then Jesus gave thanks, and placed the food in the hands of his disciples, to distribute to the multitude. The food increased in the hands of Christ, and as often as the disciples returned to him, they received a fresh supply.
Here is a lesson to be learned. Blessings, either spiritual or temporal, will accompany those who impart to the multitudes that are in need of these gifts. In the act of imparting, an increase is given of God.
The necessities of the great multitude were supplied. Then came the words of Christ. "Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost." He who had all reserves at his command gave a lesson that not a fragment should be wasted. He who has plenty should not waste. Let nothing be wasted that can do good to any one. Collect every fragment; for some one will need it.
The souls of the poor are of just as much value in the sight of God as are the souls of the rich. Then labor for those who need your help, although you may receive very little sympathy from those who are prosperous. Christ says, "Freely ye have received, freely give."
In every large city there are human beings who are not cared for, and are made of less consideration than the brutes. Moral degradation meets the eye and pains the senses. Human beings live in dark cellars, in houses that are reeking with dampness and filth. Children are born in these terrible places. Through the years of infancy and youth, their eyes behold nothing attractive; nothing of the beauty of nature cheers their vision. They hear the name of God only in profanity.
These children are allowed to grow up molded and fashioned in character by low precepts, disagreeable surroundings, and wretched examples. Impure words and the fumes of liquor greet the senses. Want and wretchedness are on every hand, because of the insufficient and miserable food, which is unfit for human beings to subsist upon; and from these abodes of want there are sent forth piteous cries for food and clothing by many who know nothing about prayer.
Christians, will you consider that Jesus gave his life to save these souls? Will you not cooperate with him in this great work? It is not fitful service that God accepts; it is not emotional spasms of piety that make us children of God. He calls upon us to work for principles that are true, firm, and abiding. If Christ is formed within, the hope of glory, he will be revealed in the character, it will be Christlike. We are to represent Christ to the world, as Christ represented the Father. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #3)
"A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned."
The Jewish priests and rulers, to whom these words were addressed, held positions of great responsibility. They were not ignorant men; they were looked upon by the people as wise teachers, whom they must obey. But they were unworthy of their holy office. Christ said of them: "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."
Here is shown the improper use made of the gift of speech. John was the greatest prophet born of women. "Verily I say unto you," Christ declared, "among them that are born of women there hath not arisen a greater than John the Baptist." "This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee." He was sent by God to prepare the way for his only begotten Son; but bitter, unkind words were spoken of him, and those who spoke these words pronounced judgment on themselves in so doing. "They say, He hath a devil," Christ said. Did that make it so?--No; these words were spoken because he rebuked sin, and called men to repentance.
Many today feel at liberty to use the talent of speech recklessly, without thinking of the influence their words will have upon others. The Lord sends his messages by whom he will, and those who make disparaging remarks of the messengers and the message need to remember that they would speak in the same way of Christ if he should come to them as he came to the Jews, with a message that did not suit their unrenewed hearts. Those who use their speech to mimic the one who is speaking the words of God are charged with having done this to Christ; for it is done to him in the person of his saints.
The pious rulers would not receive John, and neither would they receive Christ who declared to them, "I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Christ clothed his divinity with humanity, to meet humanity where it was, but not to speak the words of humanity. He sat at the table with publicans and sinners, he went among the most needy to speak words of life, and to sow the seeds of truth; for there he found more hopeful subjects than among the jealous, prejudiced scribes and Pharisees, who thought themselves exalted to heaven by their position.
Christ carried on his work among the needy and suffering. These judged him by his works. "Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw." When this man was healed, the people were amazed, and they expressed their conviction when they said, "Is not this the Son of David?" meaning, Is not this the Messiah? The gracious works they had witnessed were to them a convincing evidence that he who performed them had the power of God, and they had no thought of attributing them to any other agency. Hence the inquiry, "Is not this the Son of David?"
But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, contemptuously, "This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils." These words were inspired by Satan. The enmity and prejudice of the rulers were stirred into a fury of madness; and priests and rulers, Pharisees and Sadducees, united in pouring forth their hatred. From the treasure house of their hard, stubborn hearts came the words, "This fellow doth not cast out devils but by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils." They could not ignore Christ's wonderful works, or attribute them to natural causes, so they said, They are the works of the devil. In unbelief they spoke of the Son of God as a human being. The works of healing done before them, works which no man had ever done or could do, were a manifestation of the power of God. But they charged Christ with being in league with hell. Their talent of speech was used to abuse the world's Redeemer, and the recording angel wrote their words in the books of heaven. They attributed to satanic agencies the holy power of God, manifested in the works of Christ. Thus the Pharisees sinned against the Holy Ghost. Stubborn, sullen, iron-hearted, they determined to close their eyes to all evidence, and thus they committed the unpardonable sin.
"If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin," Christ said, "but now they have no cloak for their sin. . . . But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause." Christ's works of mercy contrasted too sharply with their pride, selfishness, and evil actions. They could not bear to have his goodness and tender sympathy acted out, even to those whom they despised.
"Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: and if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit." In Christ's works the Pharisees were given sufficient evidence of his mission, but they rejected this evidence.
"O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." By their words the Pharisees and Sadducees were exerting a deadly influence upon the people, who looked upon them as wise and good men. They were false teachers, poisoning the religious principles of the people by their deception, and teaching for doctrine the commandments of men. The Pharisees especially were stirred by a power from beneath, and they strove earnestly to exalt their manufactured precepts, their traditions and manmade commandments, above the law of God.
As for you, Christ said, your words reveal the malignity of your hearts. "A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned." Your words are an index of your character, and they will testify against you.
Here we see the importance of carefulness in the employment of speech. This talent is a great power for good when it is used aright, but it is just as great a power for evil when the words spoken are poisonous. If this talent is abused, out of the heart proceed evil things. The words are either a savor of life unto life or of death unto death.
It is the privilege of all to fill the chambers of the soul with pure and holy treasures by making themselves thoroughly familiar with the precious words of Christ, spoken for our instruction. "The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple." The word "simple" does not here mean those who lack reason and intellect. It means that class specified in Isa. 57:15: "Thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." By heeding the reproof and encouragement given in God's word, we may "walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness." Those who are thus strengthened will not walk with head bowed down like a bulrush. Cheap, nonsensical remarks, spoken to create levity, will not fall from their lips.
"Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins." Then shall we not all, old and young, learn to converse in the language that is spoken by those who are translated into God's kingdom? Shall not our words be such as will be heard with pleasure by our Heavenly Father?
As those who claim to be Christians, we are under solemn obligations to reveal the truth of our profession by our words. The tongue is a little member; but what an amount of good it can do if the heart is pure! If the heart is stored with good things, if it is stored with Christlike tenderness, sympathy, and politeness, this will be shown by the words spoken and the actions performed. The light shining from the word of God is our guide. Nothing so weakens a church as a wrong use of the talent of speech. We dishonor our Leader when our words are not such as should come from the lips of a Christian.
"Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." The quality of our works is shown by our words. When our words and works harmonize in Christ, we show that we are consecrated to God, perfecting holiness in his fear. As we give ourselves, soul, body, and spirit, to him, he works in us, both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
The love of Christ in the heart is revealed by the expression of praise. Those who are consecrated to God will show this by their sanctified conversation. If their hearts are pure, their words will be pure, showing an elevated principle working in a sanctified direction. The mind will be absorbed in holy contemplation, and there will be a sense of the presence of God. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #4)
"Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth."
This admonition and warning was left on record for all who have a knowledge of the truth, and claim to be Seventh-day Adventists. Our probation is of more value to us than all the gold and silver of the world. Man has been given a second trial; but it was at an infinite cost to heaven that we were granted another opportunity to form characters of which God can approve. Christ united his divinity with humanity. He possessed the qualities of infinite and finite. In his person all excellence dwells. His sacrifice was our ransom from the slavery of sin. By his atonement we are enabled to sit with him on his throne, and share his glory. Then shall we, with such possibilities before us, show ourselves incapable of appreciating the heavenly gift? As the recipients of his grace, shall we not do our part by working out our salvation with fear and trembling? It is God that works in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Man works, and God works; but God can do nothing without man's cooperation.
We are responsible for the gift of hearing and for the gift of speech. These gifts may be used to the glory of God. Will not those who have ears to hear, hear as for their lives, and hear to a purpose? Take heed and obey. Truly to believe on the Son of God is to have Christ dwelling in the heart, and to dwell in Christ. Then the Lord is glorified by a pure and holy service.
"The seed is the word of God." "He that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit [even the fruit of the lips, in appropriate words to the glory of God], and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty." The fruitful hearer is a sincere believer in Jesus Christ. Christ was fruitful because he had that faith which works by love and purifies the soul. A true believer shows that his character has been transformed by living a spiritual life, by living on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. His consecration is shown by the words that fall from his lips and by his zeal in good works. Has the hearing of the word humbled our pride? Has it wrought repentance in the soul? Do the fruits of righteousness appear in our lives, shown by our holy conversation? Are we bringing forth fruit to the glory of God, or do others see how little we, who profess to believe the truth, reveal it in our lives?
"Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God." Will not those thus cleansed manifest it by the words spoken? Will they not be holy in all manner of conversation? Having received the message of truth for this time, will they not reveal this truth "in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? The earth also, and the things that are therein, shall be burned up. Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless."
"Gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance; but as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation. Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear."
Let all who read these words take heed, and ascertain the character of the fruit borne by their words. Is Christ formed within us, the hope of glory? If so, the society of the frivolous will be avoided. If we put on Christ, and wear his garment of righteousness, we shall certainly reveal this by pure and holy conversation.
There is too little conversation among Christians in regard to the precious chapters in their experience. The work of God is crippled, and God is dishonored, by the abuse of the talent of speech. Jealousy, evil surmising, and selfishness are cherished in the heart, and the words show the inward corruption. Evil thinking and evil speaking are indulged by many who name the name of Christ. These seldom make mention of the goodness, mercy, and love of God, manifested in giving his Son for the world. This he has done for us, and should not our love and gratitude demand expression? Should we not strive to make our words a source of help and encouragement to one another in our Christian experience? If we truly love Christ, we shall glorify him by our words. Unbelievers are often convicted as they listen to pure words of praise and gratitude to God.
"If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." Those who do this work must seek strength and wisdom from above. They must be refreshed by drinking from the stream of life, that their labors may not become exhausting; for those who are doing God's service will strive to communicate what they receive. Therefore provision is made for every soul. "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." The golden oil, representing the Holy Spirit, is communicated to God's servants by the two anointed ones that stand by the Lord of the whole earth. This will supply the necessities of all who hunger and thirst after righteousness. But if we make no preparation by self-examination and prayer, we cannot receive this precious oil.
Please read the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah. Great light is given in this chapter. The earnest prayer from the humble, contrite heart will be heard and answered. "Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit." This we have a right to expect if we cooperate with God by consecrating ourselves, soul, body, and spirit, to his keeping. No foolish talking or evil speaking will then be heard. The tongue will utter right things.
The love of God in the heart will lead us to speak gentle words. "Charity [love] suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth." Shall we not remember this? If the love of God is in our hearts, we shall not think evil, we shall not be easily disturbed, we shall not give loose rein to passion; but we shall show that we are yoked up with Christ, and that the restraining power of his Spirit leads us to speak words that he can approve. The yoke of Christ is the restraint of his Holy Spirit; and when we become heated by passion, let us say, "No; I have Christ by my side, and I will not make him ashamed of me by speaking hot, fiery words." Christ's word to all who are connected with him is: "Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
The education of the speech must not be neglected in our schools. Those who go into society with a desire and a determination to be as Christ commanded them to be, will not condescend to unchristian conversation. They will seek to represent Christ by their Spirit and words. They will aim to promote the happiness of all with whom they come in contact, by revealing Christ as the sin-pardoner, by taking notice of those who are neglected, by informing the ignorant, encouraging the desponding, comforting the afflicted, supporting the weak; and in these labors of love, they will realize that they have a divine Helper.
"I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord, and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses. For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour. In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old." This should be the theme of our conversation.
The Lord has rich blessings for all who serve him in righteousness and truth. Great thoughts, noble aspirations, clear perceptions of truth, unselfish purposes, yearnings for purity and holiness, will bear fruit in words that reveal the character of the heart-treasure. This is religion. Let us pray, as did David, "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my Redeemer." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #5)
What a wonderful plan is the plan of redemption! Christ saw that the world had so absorbed the minds of men that they did not see the beautiful image of truth. While men slept, Satan had worked with his bewitching power to bring in traditions and false maxims, and had buried the truth beneath a mass of rubbish. He saw that the world had taken the place of God in man's affections and mind, and had divorced the soul from him; that the love of God was expelled from the heart, and the eternal world was lost from the vision. Christ himself was the Word, the Wisdom, of God; and in him God himself came down from heaven, and clothed himself in the habiliments of humanity. He engaged in the mysterious conflict with Satan and his hosts, that man might understand elevated themes of truth. He rescued the truth from the companionship of error, and sent it forth free to the world. He caused it to shine in its own native clearness and purity; for he designed that it should illuminate the dense darkness of the earth and the gross darkness of the people. All his work in its many lines was to make man meet for the inheritance of the saints in light; his words of life were given that the darkness which prevailed might pass away, and the true light shine forth.
Only a brief record has been given of the words and works of Christ during the three years and a half that he was with his disciples; there are many things that the pen has not traced. Yet even this brief relation of facts is full of life and lessons, and is of deepest interest to every soul. We may learn how Jesus spent his time from day to day, and we shall find an activity that will surprise us.
The Sea of Galilee was a place to which he often resorted with his disciples. Capernaum, Chorazin, and Bethsaida were places highly favored, because they received the largest share of his ministerial labor. In these places at a distance from the metropolis of Judea, the Saviour found people of simple tastes, who would more readily harmonize with his work. Near the ford of Jordan was the road frequented by travelers on the way from Damascus to Jerusalem. Here his words were listened to by men from all parts of the world. Thus the precious truth which he came to unfold was as seed sown beside all waters.
The apostles were Christ's personal attendants. They traveled with him from place to place throughout the cities and towns of Palestine. They partook with him of his frugal fare, and with him were sometimes hungry and often weary. They followed him through the crowded streets, by the side of the lake, and in the lonely wilderness. They saw Jesus in every phase of his life. They witnessed his miracles, and heard his lessons of instruction. And it was the design of Christ that these followers should be co-partners with himself to build up, strengthen, and advance his kingdom in the world. He therefore commissioned his disciples to go forth and carry the message he had given them. He bade them lift their voices to the traders in vanity, and break the spell of infatuation, bringing to mind eternal interests. "The kingdom of God is at hand," was to be their message.
The work of the disciples needed molding and correcting by tenderest discipline, and by opening to others a knowledge of the word they themselves had received; and Christ gave them special instruction in regard to their course of action and their work. In his own life he had given them an example of strict conformity to the rules which he now laid down for them. They were not to enter into controversies; this was not their work. They were to reveal and advocate the truth in their own characters, through earnest prayer and meditation revealing personal experience in genuine Christianity. This would be in decided contrast to the religion of the Pharisees and Sadducees. They were to call the attention of their hearers to greater truths yet to be revealed. They were to cast the arrow, and the Spirit of God was to guide the shaft into the heart.
The message which the disciples were to bear was of infinite importance. It was to impregnate every moment of the present life with future, eternal realities. They were enjoined to make known to all who would hear them that the greatness of his kingdom is the wealth of his salvation. And this message was not to be slighted and rejected with impunity. "Into whatsoever city ye enter," he said, "and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city. Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell. He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me."
Christ designed that his disciples should learn by experience the meaning of faith in him. In healing the sick and casting out devils they would obtain an experience which was new to them, and thus would be brought where they needed special wisdom from above. They desired in all things to exercise sound discretion, and when brought, as they often were, into painful perplexity, they dared not act independently. How they longed to have their Master by their side, that he might tell them what course to pursue! But they obtained an experience by relying on the promises given them by Christ. They claimed the promise, "Ask, and it shall be given you." They did pray most earnestly, and were not left without the Holy Spirit. At times they were tempted to move unadvisedly; but the words of the prophet, "Lean not unto thine own understanding," and, "In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths," led them to One who would not err in counsel.
As the apostles presented the truth, the grace of God made itself manifest, taking possession of the soul. This resulted in giving them a sympathy with Christ. Christ cooperated with them, in all their efforts arousing and quickening their spiritual life. The entrance of the word of God into their souls manifested itself in their character and conversation; and the disciples returned to Christ freighted with a treasure costlier than that with which any earthly business could have repaid them. In a special sense their minds were dealing with both worlds, and were broadening and strengthening for future development which would tax their faith to the uttermost.
This is the experience that the workers of today are to obtain. You are to lean wholly on God. You must not trust to your own wisdom. If you desire to put forth the energies of your spiritual life, if you would have your heart illumined by the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness, remove every obstruction, throw open the passage of communication between Christ and the soul, that the life which is in him may flow freely to you, and that you may impart the same to others.
Christ attaches great importance to the work of the ministry; but this does not mean preaching merely. It means personal effort also. The Saviour of the world devoted more time and labor to healing the sick than to preaching. His last injunction to his apostles, his representatives upon earth, was to lay hands on the sick, that they might recover. And when the Master shall come again, he will commend those who have visited the sick, and relieved the necessities of the afflicted. "Well done, good and faithful servant," he will say; "enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."
There is need of seeking clearness of spiritual eyesight, that we may discern the best methods of working. We have a wily foe upon our track, and we must not be ignorant of the power that is working against us. Many professed Christians will be seduced by Satan's delusions. There is safety only in continually seeking counsel of God, refusing to receive the praise of any one, and bracing the mind by the knowledge of the word of God, received through diligent study. Then Satan's illusions may be resisted. The application of spiritual truth to the heart and conscience by the Holy Spirit's agency, is saving in its influence. "The entrance of thy words," says the psalmist, "giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.
In receiving and believing the words of God, the understanding is enlightened and strengthened. These truths are of vital, soul-stirring interest, and are designed to engage the attention of all for whom Christ has died. They are truths that reach into eternity, and their greatness and importance correspond to their duration.
The Christian who has a knowledge of God and a sense of his presence will cultivate his reasoning powers, and will live with an eye single to the glory of God. He will have breadth of thought. His mind will be enlarged, his faculties strengthened to examine the scriptures that are difficult and obscure. With humility and caution will he contemplate the Word; and the entrance of the word of God into his heart will give him understanding. The pure principles which he adopts will have a molding influence upon his life and character. The Spirit of Christ will dwell in him as a well of water, springing up into eternal life.
Though many do not positively reject the message which the Lord sends them, they give little response to it in life and character, in comparison with what the Lord has a right to expect from them. But it is God's design that the truth shall be carried into the sanctuary of the soul, and work upon the conscience, and that its presence there shall be revealed by the works done to restore the moral image of God in man. Every one may find something to do in saving souls and advancing the truth of God. And all who engage in this work are laboring for time and for eternity. The promise of Inspiration is, "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." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #6)
When prophets stood in defense of the truth, it was the word of God that was given to them. They understood the work of salvation to be accomplished by the Messiah to come. But after Christ came, after he died as man's sacrifice, after the typical sacrifices were fulfilled by the antitype, the old truth in the typical service was revealed more clearly. In Christ, the representative of the Father, a wonderful truth was revealed to the world. The light from the cross of Calvary, reflected back upon the Jewish age, gives character and significance to the whole Jewish economy; and on this side of the cross, in a special manner, we have the truth as it is in Jesus. Truth communicated through our Redeemer becomes indeed present truth.
What a truth is presented as we gaze upon Jesus in connection with the cross of Calvary, as we see this Wonderful, this Counselor, this mysterious victim, stooping beneath the amazing burden of our race! That the transgressor might have another trial, that men might be brought into favor with God the Father, the eternal Son of God interposed himself to bear the punishment of transgression. One clothed with humanity, who was yet one with the Deity, was our ransom. The very earth shook and reeled at the spectacle of God's dear Son suffering the wrath of God for man's transgression. The heavens were clothed in sackcloth to hide the sight of the divine sufferer.
It was the transgression of the law of God that made this suffering necessary. And yet men harbor the thought, and give expression to the suggestions of Satan through those who trample upon the law of God, that all this suffering was to make that law of none effect. Deceived and blinded by the great transgressor, they tell the people that there is no law, or that, if they keep the commandments of God in this dispensation, they have fallen from grace. What a delusion is this that Satan has fastened upon human minds!
When the theory that the law of Jehovah is not binding upon the human family is adopted and taught, man is blinded to his terrible ruin. He cannot discern it. Then God has no moral standard by which to measure character, and to govern the heavenly universe, the worlds unfallen, and this fallen world. Could God have abolished the law in order to meet man in his fallen condition, and yet have maintained his honor as Governor of the universe, Christ need not have died. But the death of Christ is the convincing, everlasting argument that the law of God is as unchanging as his throne. In the place of the great sacrifice's abating one jot or one tittle of the Father's law, that sacrifice exalts the law; it proclaims to worlds unfallen and to the fallen race that God's law is changeless, and that he will maintain his authority and sustain his law.
Were the law understood apart from Christ, it would have a crushing power upon sinful men, blotting the sinner out of existence. But by understanding the law in connection with Christ, receiving him by faith as his substitute and surety, man sees himself as a prisoner of hope. The truth as it is in Jesus is an acquaintance with the holy, just, and good law of God, as this law is elevated, and its immutability demonstrated, in Christ. He magnified the law, expanded its every precept, and in his obedience left man an example, that he also may meet its demands.
Then why will men be so deceived, and rush on in transgression, breaking God's law, and teaching others to do the same, rushing on the thick bosses of Jehovah's buckler? Why will they make trial for themselves? Why will they test the justice of God, whether he will venture to deal out to man, unsparingly and unflinchingly, the portion that is expressly declared in the Scriptures for all transgressors of the law? The agonies of the garden of Gethsemane, the insult, the mockery, the abuse, heaped upon God's dear Son, the horrors and ignominy of the crucifixion, furnish sufficient and thrilling demonstration that God's justice, when it punishes, does the work thoroughly. The fact that his own Son, the surety for man, was not spared, is an argument that will stand to all eternity before saint and sinner, before the universe of God, to testify that he will not excuse the transgressor of his law.
God is love. He has shown that love in the gift of his only begotten Son. Yet the love of God does not excuse sin. God did not excuse sin in Satan, in Adam, or in Cain, nor will he excuse sin in any of the children of men. The perverted nature of man may distort the love of God into an attribute of weakness; but light is shining from the cross of Calvary, that man may have correct views, and hold theories that are not perverted.
God has given his law for the regulation of the conduct of nations, of families, and of individuals. There is not one worker of wickedness, though his sin is the least and the most secret, that escapes the denunciation of that law. The whole work of the father of lies is recorded in the statute books of heaven; and those who lend themselves to the service of Satan, to present to men his lies by precept and practise, will receive according to their deeds. Every offense against God, however minute, is set down in the reckoning. And when the sword of justice is taken in hand, it will do the work that was done to the divine sufferer. Justice will strike; for God's hatred of sin is intense and overwhelming.
The truth as it is in Jesus will teach most important lessons. It will show that the love of God is broad and deep; that it is infinite; and that in awarding the penalty to the disobedient, those who have made void God's law, it will be uncompromising. This is the love and the justice of God combined. It reaches to the very depth of human woe and degradation, to lift up the fallen and oppressed who lay hold of the truth by repentance and faith in Jesus. And God works for the good of the universe, for the good of the rebellious sinner, by causing the sinner to suffer the penalty of his sin.
The plan of salvation is but dimly comprehended by the Christian world. Man, as now taught by men who claim to have a knowledge of the Scriptures, can never know the extent of his fallen, degraded condition; but the mission of Christ will reveal the truth as it is in Jesus. Man can know the depths to which he has sunk only by beholding the wondrous chain of redemption employed to draw him up. The extent of our ruin can be discerned only in the light of the law of God exhibited in the cross of Calvary. The wonderful plan of redemption must be discerned in the death of Christ.
The world by its own wisdom cannot acquire a correct knowledge of the true and living God. When Christ came to this world, clothing his divinity with humanity, the treatment he received from the highest authorities of a nation that professed to know God, made fully manifest the strength of human wisdom and reason. Their reason could not form a correct idea of God through his way and works.
Only through faith in Christ is it possible for man to live the law. Man is not able to save himself, but the Son of God fights his battles for him, and places him on vantage ground by giving him his divine attributes. And as man accepts the righteousness of Christ, he is a partaker of the divine nature. He may keep the commandments of God, and live. Says Peter: "According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."
The truth as it is in Jesus is obedience to every precept of Jehovah. It is heart work. Bible sanctification is not the spurious sanctification which will not search the Scriptures, but will trust to good feeling and impulses rather than to the seeking for truth as for hidden treasure. Bible sanctification will lead its possessors to know the requirements of God and to obey them. There is a pure and holy heaven in store for those who keep God's commandments. It is worth lifelong, persevering, untiring effort. Satan is on your right hand and on your left; he is before you and behind. He supplies his falsehoods to every soul who is not cherishing the truth as it is in Jesus. He, the destroyer, is upon you to palsy your every effort. But there is a crown of life to be won, a life that measures with the life of God. And those who do not close their hearts and minds to conviction will learn what the love of a holy and righteous God is; for it is an amazing principle, which works in a mysterious and wonderful manner to secure the salvation of the race. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #7)
While on earth, Christ accomplished the work for which he left the throne of God in heaven. He worked for humanity, that through his work, humanity might be elevated in the scale of moral value with God. He assumed human nature, that he might elevate the human family, make them partakers of the divine nature, and place them on vantage ground with God. His every action had been in behalf of the fallen world,--to seek the sheep that had strayed from the fold, and bring it back to God.
But the mission and character of Christ were misinterpreted by the Jewish nation. The Pharisees claimed to understand the Scriptures, and the coming of the Messiah was the burden of their searching. Yet they refused to listen to the teachings of Christ, because those teachings directly condemned their cherished sins. Christ therefore declared that they had rejected the word of God, inasmuch as they had rejected him whom God had sent. He commanded them, "Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me."
"Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life," he said. The One who patriarchs and prophets had testified would come, and who had declared the manner of his coming,--the One for knowledge of whom they had searched the Scriptures,--he who could give them life and light,--was among them; yet they refused to receive him. Those who should have echoed the message of John, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world," held him up before the people as a deceiver.
Had the Son of Man come flattering their pride and justifying their iniquity, the Pharisees and rulers would have hastened to do him honor. But Christ declared: "I receive not honor from men. But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. 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. How can ye believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only?"
Jesus did not represent his work as differing from that of his Father. His plans were not independent of God. He moved in perfect harmony with God; his every act carried out his Father's will. His life was the mind of God expressed in humanity. He had come to the world in the Father's name, that through him we might have life. To the Jews he said: "I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him. . . . When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him. As he spake these words, many believed on him. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. . . . I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. . . . If I honor myself, my honor is nothing: it is my Father that honoreth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God."
When Christ should go to the Father, he could tell him that he had fulfilled his mission. Christ came to fulfill the law by perfect obedience in a world that was transgressing that law. "I am not come," he said, "to destroy, but to fulfil,"--to manifest in my life every precept that my Father has given, and thus magnify the law, and make it honorable. Thus he left to all who believe in him an example of obedience to the law of God. "As the Father hath loved me," he says, "so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love."
Christ was the only begotten Son of God, yet he became a servant. Through the prophet Isaiah the Lord declares this. He says of him: "Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my Spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law."
The Lord saw us in a sad condition, and sent to our world the only messenger that he could trust with his great treasure of pardon and grace. Christ, the only begotten Son of God, was the delegated messenger. He was ordained to do a work that even the angels of heaven could not accomplish. He alone could be trusted to do the work required for the redemption of a world all seared and marred with the curse. And in this gift the Father gave all heaven to the world.
What a change was this for the Son of God, him who was the adored of angels, the Light of heaven! He might have gone to the pleasant homes of the unfallen worlds, to the pure atmosphere where disloyalty and rebellion had never intruded; and there he would have been received with acclamations of praise and love. But it was a fallen world that needed the Redeemer. "I came not to call the righteous," said he, "but sinners to repentance. He came to represent the Father in bringing the message of hope and salvation to our world. He lived not for himself; he did not consult his own ease and pleasure; he did not yield to temptation; and he condescended to die in order that sinful men might be redeemed, and live eternally in the mansions he was to prepare for them. His mission was to teach souls who were dying in their sins.
This work Christ has laid upon every one whom he has purchased. The Lord will give ample light to all who will be true and loyal to him, but he will show no more favor to Phariseeism and self-righteousness today than when he walked in his humanity in our world. The soul that encourages an atmosphere of doubt, God cannot favor with constantly increasing grace. His mercy and the gracious influences of his Spirit remain the same for all who will receive them. His offer of salvation does not change. It is man who changes his relationship to God. Many place themselves where they cannot recognize his grace and his salvation. They are under a delusion as to what constitutes Christianity. And while man refuses to become pure, holy, and undefiled, as God's law requires him to do, he is walking away from Christ.
The man who refuses the light that God has given in his word, cannot expect that the appeal ignored by him today will soften and humble his heart on the morrow, and that higher incentives and greater rewards will be presented before those who are refusing God's mercy. Every day Satan is stealing a march upon the poor, tempted soul who will not yield his heart to God; and with each rejection of light, the probability of his becoming a Christian lessens, until the Holy Spirit is grieved away.
But will those who have had light and truth reveal that they have not the spirit and love of Christ in the heart,--that they are not connected with the parent vine stock? Should they not rather, as the favored people of God, manifest to the world that they are one with Christ, as he is one with the Father? This every true worker with Christ will do, through the grace given him. As Christ was dependent upon his Father, so man is dependent upon Christ. "I can of mine own self do nothing," he declared. The work which I do is all of my Father. The necessity is anticipated by him to whom I have access at all times. Had there been one deviation from the divine mind in the work of Christ, the plan of redemption would have proved a failure. So man can do nothing apart from Christ. When there is any deviation on our part from working in Christ's lines, a false mold is given to his work. Man is to live only for the accomplishment of the same work given the Son of God to do. He is honored in being a laborer together with God; and the Lord appreciates his workmanship. God has left nothing undone that he could do for us. He gave a perfect example of his character in the character of his Son; and it is the work of Christ's followers, as they behold the incomparable excellency of his life and character, to grow in his likeness. As they look unto Jesus and respond to his love, they will reflect the image of Christ. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #8)
For the last time, Christ is in the temple. He has given warnings to the Pharisees and scribes, and uttered denunciations against them, while at their tables, having been invited there that they might find some pretext for causing him to be put to death. Now, addressing them and his disciples, he says, "The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat." The Jewish teachers stood up to read the Scriptures, but were seated when they expounded them. As persons exalted, they supposed themselves capable of acting in the place of Moses as interpreters of the law given by God.
"All therefore," continued Christ, "whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say [when teaching the law from the Scriptures], and do not." They did not bring their own works into accordance with the written Word. They enjoined duties upon others, but their own teaching they did not practise. "For they bind heavy burdens [of exactions and requirements] and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi."
The phylacteries were strips of parchment, with scriptures written upon them, which were worn upon the wrists, the forehead, and the arms. But all this outward appearance of piety was, through their spiritual pride, only violating both the spirit and the letter of the law.
Whatever good thing they do, said Christ, whatever zeal they show, is not that they may obey and honor God, but to gain approval and respect for themselves, that others may think them pious and holy. The oft-repeated "rabbi" was very acceptable to the ear, but Jesus warned his disciples against this. He said to them: "But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ."
By these words Christ meant that no man is to place his spiritual interest under another, as a child is guided and directed by his earthly father. This spirit, whenever encouraged, has led to a desire for ecclesiastical superiority, and has always resulted in the injury of those who have been trusted, and addressed as "father." It confuses the sense of the sacredness of the prerogatives of God.
Of these sins the scribes and Pharisees were guilty; and it was for this that Christ denounced them, saying, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men." And to the lawyers he said: "Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered."
Knowledge is the only key that will give entrance into heaven. The inspired John declares, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." A right knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ whom he has sent is eternal life to all who believe.
"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. . . . Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchers of the righteous, and say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation."
The most terribly momentous period of the Jewish nation was at the time when Jesus was in the midst of them. Yet it was this generation, that had been honored and favored above all people on the earth, that was guilty of rejecting all the importunity of the yearning love of Christ.
Anguish, deep and unfathomable, pressed upon the soul of Christ; and in the intense pain of unrequited love, he exclaimed, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee," not content to receive with indifference and spurning the message sent by God's servants unto you, your hatred against God you have vented upon his messengers. You will not suffer them to live. "How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" The same work that you do to my messengers whom I send will be reflected back upon you. Refusing to be gathered, you will realize what it means to be scattered, to be the despised of all nations.
In the lamentation of Christ, the very heart of God was pouring itself forth in his representative. This was the separation struggle, the mysterious farewell of the longsuffering love of the Deity; it was the expression of abused, rejected love. Christ's representation is a most striking one. He would have gathered his chosen people together as a hen gathers her chickens under her wing. He would have given them protection, they would not have been left defenseless. When the hen sees that her brood is in danger, she calls them under her sheltering wings. She will resist any enemy that may approach. She will die rather than that those who have fled for protection under her sheltering wings should suffer. This will Christ do for those who fly to him for refuge. He will gather his children together under his mediatorial wings, and there they will be safe.
But the chosen nation of God must receive its eternal retribution for its refusal of the Son of God. "Behold, your house is left unto you desolate," Christ said. Christ himself was the Lord of the temple. When he should leave it, its glory would depart,--that glory once visible over the mercy seat in the holy of holies, where the high priest entered only once a year, on the great day of atonement, with the blood of the slain victim,--typical of the blood of the Son of God,--and sprinkled it upon the altar.
The Jewish nation would none of the counsels of Christ; they despised all his reproofs. They would not come to him, that they might have life. Therefore he declared to them, Your destruction lies at your own door; you yourselves are responsible. "Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #9)
The Lord expects his followers to reveal, in the transformation of their life and character, the power of the gospel, which converts and sanctifies the soul. He calls for all tact and energy to be educated and trained for his service. And yet there are but few who have educated themselves to take in the subject of redemption, and the responsibility which it places upon the followers of Christ. Thousands are doing nothing in real service for the Master. They have no feeling for sin-sick souls who are perishing out of Christ. Although many profess godliness, they help very little in alleviating the poverty and suffering that exist all around them; they reach out no hand to save the perishing. Selfishness increases in every line. It is seen in the clothing of the body, in the decorating of the home, in expending money for that which is not bread, in gratifying pride, and in selfish indulgence. Compassion is becoming rare in the hearts of those who claim to be Christians. They seem to have drunk a deadly draft of Satan's "peace-and-safety" decoction, and to be insensible to the perils to which human souls are exposed.
The Lord of glory clothed his divinity with humanity, and came to our world to endure self-denial and self-sacrifice, in order that the moral image of God might be restored in man. All the heavenly attributes were in his heart in abundance, and flowed out in an irrepressible stream of good works. Mark how readily and heartily he ministered to those in need, how his eyes took in the situation of every tempted soul, how his heart was touched with human woe!
In Christ's unwearying efforts is our pattern. Pity for those in need and suffering will be awakened in all who will attempt this self-denying, self-sacrificing work that the Majesty of heaven came to our world to perform. Those who receive Christ by faith will represent his compassion, his goodness, and his love in a world that is marred and seared with the curse. The degree to which these graces exist in the life and character, measures the genuine likeness to God. "By their fruits," said Christ, "ye shall know them." This is the true test both in grace and in nature.
If men would but consider the souls who are ready to perish as of more value than their own pleasure and selfish indulgence, means, in small and large sums, would flow into the treasury as the price of self-denial in outward adornment, in household furniture, and many other things. God's people would act as if they were pilgrims and strangers in this world.
Those who have great light have the privilege of obtaining still greater light if they will but appreciate that which they already have. But if that light is not appreciated, if God's professed people will not themselves become light to those who are in darkness, the light they have, but do not rejoice in and impart, will become darkness. If they would put their tact and ability to use in the service of Christ, he would put his Spirit upon them. The grace and attributes of Christ, imparted to others, would draw from the treasure house of God more grace, as circumstances should demand.
The Lord has made it our duty to seek him in earnest prayer, that we may understand his will. He has shown the error of the human race in having direct communion with God to so slight a degree. This is where the weakness of thousands lies today. They place finite man where God should ever be, and thereby lose a great wealth of experience. They catch the spirit of the world; they act as the world acts, and talk as the world talks. Its notions and traditions and infidel sentiments they receive as truth; and when something new is introduced, they grasp it with eagerness. That which is but chaff they look upon as manna from heaven. They are leavened by the human ideas and erroneous sentiments of professed Christians who are far from being doers of the word. Men, women, and children are neglectful of their God-given responsibilities. Perverted appetites are indulged to the injury of mental, physical, and moral health. They are fictitious representations of Christ Jesus. They belong to that class whom Paul describes as lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. As a result, their hearts are hardened. Christ's grace of sympathy and tender pity is regarded as a weakness, and they are led to a misconception of the work that needs to be accomplished.
Many have been entrusted with precious talents of intellect. But what good has been accomplished with these entrusted capabilities? What has been done with the education received from God? Have they, with all their varied plans, appreciated the Giver? or have they joined the apostate who was once a covering cherub, and placed their powers at the disposal of Satan? The work given man in this world is to cooperate with Christ in counterworking the work of the first great rebel, in suppressing the rebellion that he has created. Man is to work as Christ worked for humanity.
But who are walking even as he walked? Who are working in Christ's lines? Who among us have the faith which works by love and purifies the soul? Who are coming into such conformity to God as was represented in the grace of him who is our pattern? Those who yoke up with Christ will have the mind of Christ. They will garrison the mind so that it shall not become enslaved to the control of a power that will stop at nothing in its earnest zeal to win the victory.
We need to guard continually against the sophistry in regard to geology and other branches of science falsely so-called, which have not one semblance of truth. The theories of great men need to be carefully sifted of the slightest trace of infidel suggestions. One tiny seed sown by teachers in our schools, if received by the students, will raise a harvest of unbelief. The Lord has given all the brilliancy of intellect that man possesses, and it should be devoted to his service.
Because so little effort has been made to engage young men and women in the missionary work which must be done to bring the gospel invitation to all, there is but one worker where there should be a hundred. The indifference which is manifested for suffering humanity is charged against churches and families and individuals. The medical missionary work is becoming disproportionate to the moral influence and spiritual labor put forth by church members generally to reach the souls dead in trespasses and sins. Churches that ought to work in Christ's lines are inclined to make disparaging remarks of those who engage in medical missionary work. And yet they profess to be the people of God.
True Christlike compassion will be manifested in seeking to save those who are lost, looking for them not only in the churches, but also in the world. The woes of men are to be met by all who believe in Christ: the lost are to be sought for on every side; restoration is to be begun. Compassion manifested for the physical necessities opens the way for the soul to be reached.
What excuse can be made in the great day of God for the neglect of souls for whom Christ has died? Wasted opportunities will be presented before those who might, with their God-given abilities and influence, have accomplished a work for God. Then they will see how their unfaithfulness has left souls unassisted, unwarned, unenlightened. Then they will realize that the blood of these souls is upon the garments of those whose duty it was to work in Christ's lines to save the souls for whom he died.
Many of us have a serious account to settle for the misuse of our God-given faculties. For the misuse of the talent of time that has been wasted in selfish pleasure, the waste of the influence which God requires to be employed in his service in response to the service he is constantly doing for us, for the neglect to carry unselfish burdens in this life, God will call us to account. He declares "And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #10)
"Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread." Expecting to see Jesus at the Passover, the Pharisees had laid a trap for him. But Jesus, knowing their purpose, had absented himself from this gathering. "Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes." As he did not go to them, they came to him.
This deputation was sent from Jerusalem for the express purpose of watching Jesus, that something might be found with which to accuse him. The Pharisees saw that the disciples did not observe diligently the traditions of the elders. They did not practise the custom of "washing of cups and pots, brazen vessels, and of tables." Hoping to provoke a controversy, the Pharisees said to Christ, "Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?" They thought to draw from Christ words of which they could make capital. But he answered them with authority, while divinity was revealed with startling power: "Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do."
Christ gave them an example of what they were repeatedly doing, and had done just before coming in search of him. "Full well ye reject the commandment of God," he said, "that ye may keep your own tradition. For Moses said, Honor thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: but ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. And ye suffer him no more to do aught for his father or his mother." They set aside the fifth commandment as of no consequence, but were very exact in carrying out the tradition of the elders. The sayings of supposed great men had been handed down from rabbi to rabbi, nullifying the plain requirements of God, "making the word of God of none effect," said Christ; "and many other such like things ye do."
"And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand." He spoke with no hesitation, but with authority, as one who would flash light upon all around him. "Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man." These words, spoken in the hearing of the multitude, infuriated the ecclesiastical powers. The cavilers were seeking to destroy Christ's influence over the people, but he flashed forth such divine truth that they dared not ask him further questions. Christ knew that if he could speak directly to the people, opening to them the Scriptures, he would be heard; for they were in a far more receptive frame of mind than were the leaders. The punishment would fall upon those who were leading them from the path of rectitude. The people listened eagerly to all that Christ said; for never before had they heard such words. They were plain, direct, forcible, and brief, and clearly defined the true meaning of sin and pollution.
The Pharisees had given expression to their hatred, but they dared not then carry out their full purpose. They slunk away, repulsed. They would not receive the light shining on their pathway. When the light shines forth, those who are unwilling to receive it begin to cultivate in the heart the seeds of bitterness. These they also plant in other hearts. This evil seed prepares a place for itself, and the unconverted heart sees everything in a perverted light. So it was with the Pharisees.
"Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?" Christ knows the hearts of all men. Nothing is hid from him. "He answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch." "For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed. Therefore the Lord shall have no joy in their young men, neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows; for every one is an hypocrite and an evildoer, and every mouth speaketh folly."
"Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable. And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draft? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies; these are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man."
In this our day we meet the same false religious requirements upheld by the Pharisees. The fourth precept of the decalogue is set aside, as the Jews set aside the fifth commandment, while traditions are eagerly grasped and enforced. The Lord did not give the Jews their multitudinous traditions and ceremonies. He did not require them to occupy precious time in doing that which was of no benefit to any one, while they disregarded his commands; neither has he commanded men to observe the first day of the week.
To a large degree the religious world is following in the path of the Jews. The Pharisees taught for doctrine the commandments of men, making the word of God void by their traditions, and this the teachers of today are doing by upholding the first day of the week,--a day that bears not the divine credentials. They clothe their false Sabbath with a garb of sanctity, and many would compel its observance by imprisonment and fine. Under the enemy's training, their zeal will grow until, like the Jews, they will think they are doing God a service by heaping reproach on those who have the moral courage to keep his commandments.
Those who do this venture to make of none effect a commandment instituted in Eden; for there, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy, the foundation of the Sabbath was laid, and the seventh day was set apart to be observed as sacred. The Lord blessed this day as the day of his rest, and sanctified it, commanding man to "remember." Do not forget it; keep it holy.
Man has no permission from God to nullify one precept of the decalogue. He has no permission to lead the minds of others to bow to an idol, or to make laws compelling God's heritage to worship that which is false. Of those who do this, God says, "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me." They place the commandments of men on a level with the divine requirements; yea more, they exalt a spurious Sabbath above the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. Their obedience to manmade requirements makes their worship null and void; but God bears with their ignorance till light comes to them.
The worship of a common working day, and the multitudinous ceremonies connected with this false sabbath, are of the same nature as the wrongs pointedly exposed by Christ when he said, "And many other such like things ye do." The plain evidence of truth is not discerned. Laying aside the commandments of God as altogether unimportant, men follow tradition. They reject God's law, in order that they may keep their tradition. Common things are exalted above those things that are sacred and heavenly.
Satan has taken the world captive. He has introduced an idol sabbath, apparently giving to it great importance. He has stolen the homage of the Christian world away from the Sabbath of the Lord for this idol sabbath. The world bows to a tradition, a manmade commandment. As Nebuchadnezzar set up his golden image on the plain of Dura, and so exalted himself, so Satan exalts himself in this false sabbath, for which he has stolen the livery of heaven.
In this work the principles of the enemy are deep and deceiving, and Christ's words are appropriate, "Laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men." The heavenly universe is amazed that, in their credulity, men transfer the benediction given to the seventh day to the first day of the week. The Sabbath is God's memorial of creation and rest, and at the beginning of the Sabbath command he places the word of warning, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy." "Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid." Thus it was with the Jewish nation, and thus it will be with all who, laying aside the commandments of God, teach for doctrine the commandments of men. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #11)
"For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the pre-eminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; and, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven."
Before leaving his disciples, Christ gave them their commission. Standing but one step from the throne, his last instruction to them was, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations." "Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."
"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Again and again the words are repeated, that they may not lose their significance. Upon all creatures under heaven, high and low, rich and poor, was the light of heaven to shine in clear, strong rays. The disciples were to be colaborers with him, their Redeemer, in the work of saving the world. Christ assured them, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." They were to go forth in his name, and he promised them the ministry of his Spirit. He did not lay before them a plain and easy path. They were to be partakers of his sufferings. But he told them of the legacy they would receive. If they united with one another and with him, his righteousness would shine upon them, and from them to a world constantly increasing in wickedness.
The disciples were to catch the radiance of the light from the Saviour's presence, and were to let that light shine upon those walking in the shadow of death. They were commissioned to begin their work in Jerusalem. They were to bear witness to Christ in the city which had been the scene of his great humiliation. Here they were to give evidence of their strength and efficiency by lifting Christ up before those who had resisted his mercy and his love. Under the inspiration of Satanic agencies, those whom God had made the depositaries of sacred truth had denied and crucified their Messiah. To them the wondrous power of God was to be revealed. But the work of the disciples was not to begin and end in Jerusalem. They were to carry the truth to all nations.
Christ carried the minds of his disciples to an eminence, and showed them the vast confederacy arrayed against him who came as the light and life of men. He told them that they were to fight not merely against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the ruler of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. He reminded them that they were engaged in a warfare on which eternal results depended. In view of the heavenly universe, they were warring against principalities and powers. But they were not left to depend on human wisdom or human facilities. They were to work as seeing him who is invisible.
In his name the warfare of truth against error was to be carried forward, subverting the strongholds of idolatry and sin. People were to be stirred to carry the truth to all tongues and nations, giving the trumpet a certain sound, and rousing the slumbering nations from spiritual apathy and death. The disciples were to be his witnesses. Their every action was to fasten attention on his name, as possessing that vital power by which men may be brought into oneness with him who is the source of all power and efficiency. They were to center their faith in him who is the fountain of mercies, blessings, and power. They were to present their petitions to the Father in his name, and then their prayers would be answered. They were to baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Christ's name was to be their watchword, their badge of distinction, their bond of union, the authority for their course of action, and the source of their success. Nothing was to be recognized in his kingdom that did not bear his name and superscription.
In order that his disciples might engage in this great work, and fulfil their commission, Christ declared that they would have power as God's peculiar people: "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."
Christ read the minds of his disciples, and he saw that they were awake to the peculiar dangers that would assail them. He assured them that if they would go forward in faith to fulfil their commission, they would move under the shield of Omnipotence. He made every provision for the success of their mission. He took the responsibility of the work upon himself.
This was his last instruction to his disciples. He had told them his will concerning their work. He had opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. He had plainly assured them that they were to begin their work in Jerusalem, the very hardest field they could enter, and were to preach the remission of sins to all nations. "Ye are witnesses of these things,"--his trial, his rejection, his crucifixion, his rising from the dead, and being on the earth for forty days. "And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high."
"And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven." While the Saviour's hands were still outstretched in blessing, he was taken from them; and as they stood gazing upward, to catch a last glimpse of their ascending Lord, the sound of the voices of the angels that escorted him was wafted down to them. "While they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." "And they . . . returned to Jerusalem with great joy: and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God."
"And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication."
"And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."
By the power of the Holy Spirit the disciples were fitted to act out the impression that had been left upon their minds by Christ's words,--that they held in trust the most sacred truths ever committed to mortals. The church was fitted for the work of representing Christ. The messengers of God spoke as the Spirit gave them utterance. In accordance with the directions given, they prayed in the name of Jesus. So were the words of Christ fulfilled: "Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. . . . 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. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
Shortly before his ascension, Christ had prayed, "For their sakes I sanctify myself." He had given himself wholly to the work of human redemption. Charged with this exalted office, Christ stood as the head of humanity, the visible representative of an invisible God. "He that hath seen me," he declared, "hath seen the Father;" and again, "I and my Father are one." And having embodied in himself the love of God, Christ has imparted it to those who believe on his name, that the copies of his character may be multiplied.
"As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world." They are a part of the great firm in the science of salvation, which is to work the works of Christ. "And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth."
To us as well as to the disciples, Christ has given the work of carrying the truth to the world. But before engaging in this great and aggressive warfare, upon which eternal results depend, Christ invites all to count the cost. He assures them that if they take hold of the work with undivided hearts, giving themselves as lightbearers to the world, if they will take hold of his strength, they will make peace with him, and obtain supernatural assistance that will enable them in their weakness to do the deeds of Omnipotence. If they go forward with faith in God, they will not fail nor become discouraged, but will have the assurance of infallible success.
The hour came for the lifting up of the Son of God on the cross, and the hour has now come for him to be lifted up from the earth. Impelled and stimulated by the love of Christ, as God's people advance in the work marked out for them, they will conquer through faith. By faith they may behold even more than angels in their ranks; for the abundant aid of the General of armies is ready for them in every emergency. He leads them on from victory to victory, proclaiming at every step, "I have overcome the world." Your leader goeth forth, conquering and to conquer. Never forget that you are fighting the battle of the Lord of hosts, in full view of the invisible world. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #12)
"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! . . . Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God."
"Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people. Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee, because of the Lord thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified thee."
This work is given to all who have had Christ set forth crucified among them. By the baptism of the Holy Spirit, God's people are to do, through the instrumentality of their Master, the work that Christ did. They are to represent the benevolence of God to our world. Partakers of the divine nature, they are not only to save their own souls, through faith in Jesus; but Christ says of them, Ye are laborers together with God. As his witnesses, he has given to each his work. As his representatives, they are to bear to the world the message of invitation and mercy.
Christ enjoins upon his disciples to lift up the world's Redeemer. They are to have a sense of their obligation to devote their entrusted capabilities to the work of winning souls to the gospel of him who has made so full a sacrifice for the enlightenment and recovery of the world.
The utmost eloquence cannot describe the love of God. So vast was the conception of the divine Teacher of the love of God, that its measure could not be expressed. "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." What scales, then, can weigh the tremendous guilt of professed believers in Christ, who, for the sake of gain, give their powers of persuasion to matters earthly and common, losing sight of Christ, losing all knowledge of him! If we taxed our intellectual and spiritual powers more to comprehend this love in a fuller sense than we do now, we would put to the tax every capability, every power, to seek and save souls that are perishing out of Christ. Christlike work would be done.
Christ travailed in soul for the salvation of perishing sinners. "As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." He commissioned his disciples to be unceasing in their efforts to save the world. He himself appointed the Christian ministry and the various means of grace, as channels through which his grace and light and truth might be communicated to every creature that is in need. Abundant provision is in readiness to give spiritual power, and to set the grace of Christ flowing through channels that are cleansed, and ready to receive the heavenly gift.
In accepting Christ, and individual members of the church take the responsibility of doing the work he has appointed them. By faith they pledge themselves to wear the yoke of Christ, and bear his burdens. If they refuse to practise self-denial, and fail to place themselves in the channel where the Lord, by his Spirit, can work through them, they are not registered as Christians in the books of heaven. The more deeply the church feels the need of multiplying channels, the more thoroughly will the riches of the grace of Christ adorn the doctrines of the gospel of salvation.
In every age of the world the gift of the Holy Spirit is the great promise for the church. "Ask, and it shall be given you." There are supplies for all. "I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh." The promise of the Holy Spirit to accomplish the work is repeated in every soul that is converted to the truth. Every one newly added to the church is to be educated in regard to the work he is to do for the Master in winning souls to Christ.
The Lord requires all who profess to be Christians to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and then to consecrate their means and powers to his work. They will then have a lofty estimate of what is due to the world's Redeemer. They are to realize that they are to use every jot and tittle of their influence to help one another to appreciate the heavenly endowment. The absence of the means or influence of one whose name is registered in the church books means robbery to God. All are to wear the yoke of Christ, and lift his burdens, by watching for souls as they that must give account. To every man is given his work; no one is excused.
The promised influence of the Holy Spirit, which molds and fashions the worker, enables him to cooperate with heavenly intelligences. Such a worker will be God's living, working agency, through whom he can manifest himself. But those who are not daily converted to the Master's use, dishonor their profession of faith. They dishonor the Holy Spirit, who is appointed to aid God's people in the great and grand work of watching for souls as they that must give account.
We are to look unto Jesus, "the author and finisher of our faith." The Lord Jesus allied himself to us, that we might appreciate the high privilege of being partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. Satan seeks to pervert Christianity by filling the hearts of church members with his attributes. The law of God is the expressed character of God, but Satan has worked against it until, by a large number of those who claim to open the word of God to others, the law is declared to be abrogated. But this law is the standard of the character they must attain in order to be among God's family in the heavenly courts.
The Christian church is to endure the seeing of him who is invisible. The members of the body of Christ are to reach the highest attainments in mental, physical, and spiritual soundness, because the church is the instrumentality by which Christ enlightens those that sit in darkness. God calls upon his lightbearers to put away all selfishness, all that confuses them, and distracts them from their work. As did Daniel, they are to bring self-culture into their lives.
Look to Jesus, the source of all strength, for perfection of understanding. "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth," said Christ. If God withheld not his only begotten Son, but gave him up to death, that we might be restored to the image of the Creator, how much more will he, with him, freely give us all things?
We may expect that the Holy Spirit will impress the hearts and minds of the workers. He takes the youth with fresh talent, energy, courage, and ready susceptibilities, and brings them into harmony with divine agencies, which give no doubtful precepts, and do not lead those desiring to know the Lord to take one false step. The Lord requires all who enter his service to be consecrated and converted daily, as vessels unto honor. Simplicity will be their true eloquence.
The heart that is under the molding of the Spirit of truth is full of holy sentiments. It possesses the meekness and lowliness of Christ, and a veneration for the pure, the merciful, the upright, who possess sterling integrity, combined with the most tender sympathy for humanity. Such a one places true goodness before greatness. He has a mental culture that is in harmony with the character of Christ. Such a man will possess eloquence that is of a superior order. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: and . . . thy neighbor as thyself." Obedience to this command is the mainspring to the highest eloquence. Those who obey these principles practise true godliness. The soul is purified from selfishness and sensuality and from every phase of sin; it chooses those things that are lovely and of good report, and is a vessel unto honor.
There is altogether too little account made of the Holy Spirit's power to work upon mind and character. Those who reject the Holy Spirit, thinking that the human being, single-handed, can struggle with principalities, and powers, and spiritual wickedness in high places, will find themselves overmatched.
Christ calls upon his church to come into harmony with his character. As in the case of Daniel, in exact proportion as the spiritual character is developed, the intellectual capabilities are increased. He who loves God with all his heart and his neighbor as himself, attains this position through the working of the Holy Spirit upon mind and heart. The Lord will qualify him to be a colaborer with Jesus in the greatest work ever given to mortals.
By the word coming from God, we are instructed to educate, educate, educate, young men and young women to understand the living oracles of God. This knowledge will be of the greatest possible value to them as they labor for God. God requires that minds shall not be dwarfed by a connection with the church, but strengthened, elevated, enriched, ennobled, and made fit for the most sacred work ever committed to mortals. The Lord will have a well-trained army, ready to be called into action at a word. These will be well-disciplined men and women and youth, who have placed themselves under educating influences that have made them vessels unto honor.
The Holy Spirit is the molding power. "Without me," said Christ, "ye can do nothing." But let the Holy Spirit take hold of heart and character, and all who will heed its voice will be lights in the world. Experimental Bible religion is a leavening power wherever it is introduced.
The young men and women who join the church should have a special education in the work for which they are adapted. But if one continues to choose a low, common train of conversation, receive him not as a worker. He will do more than can be counteracted to spoil the other workers. Be sure that such are not chosen to do the work that is so sacred. The words, the spirit, the attitude, determine the scale of usefulness. Let not the work of God be cheapened by those who show that they do not appreciate the elevated character of the work.
The highest interests demand the close attention and energy that are too often given to lower and comparatively insignificant things. Under the molding, educating influence of the greatest Teacher the world has ever known, capabilities and powers will be brought into the church. These are not to be hidden, but are to be used in lines outside the church to augment the power and efficiency of the church. Those who possess these powers are to proclaim the gospel of Christ to all nations, tongues, and peoples.
Those who are truly converted are born again. "A new heart also will I give you," God says. Provision is made by God himself for every soul that turns to the Lord, to receive his immediate cooperation. The Holy Spirit becomes his efficiency. Faith in Christ is our only hope of salvation. The work of every true Christian is to set forth Christ and him crucified. "Ye are the light of the world," Christ said. What constitutes God's people lights in the world?--Abiding in Christ. Doing this, they can cooperate with him in the grand work of winning souls from darkness to light. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #13)
"And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things. And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed: send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat. He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat? He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes."
Five loaves and two fishes! What a meager portion, seemingly! But in his life of assumed humanity, the Saviour relied implicitly upon God; he knew that his Father's power was sufficient for all things. Taking the small supply of food, he blessed it, and dividing it among the disciples, bade them distribute it to the multitude. "And they did all eat, and were filled."
The provision lasted until the deed of mercy was accomplished, and the wants of every hungry soul were supplied. Then Christ said, "Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost." "And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes." So Christ would teach us economy.
From this miracle, Christ would have us learn lessons applying to spiritual things. By his action he showed the necessity of relieving temporal hunger; and how much more important it is that spiritual hunger be satisfied. In this world there are hearts that are crying aloud for the living God, that are starving for the bread of life. God requires that the truth committed to men be not only eaten by them, but given to others.
As we do this work, we must learn to rely upon what God can do for the saving of souls. Generally too much dependence is placed upon human ability, and too little faith is shown in him whose grace is sufficient to supply all our deficiencies. We are inclined to think that unless an organized company of workers is sent to a field, the efforts put forth will be useless. We feel as if we must belong to some organization if we would accomplish good.
But John the Baptist did not work on this plan. His mission was to prepare the way for the Messiah by his God-given message; and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, he did the work appointed him without calling to his aid priest or rabbi.
In the place of relying upon men for guidance, we should humble ourselves before God, confessing our sins, and pleading with him for forgiveness. We should forsake our proud, self-sufficient way, and go to work, seeking God most earnestly for strength to give the bread of life to those who are not converted,--those who are sick and in need of a physician.
After the disciples had received the Holy Spirit, they went out to give to others the light and knowledge they had received. They were few in numbers, but under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, they did more for the conversion of those in Jerusalem than the large religious organizations had ever done. They extended their work to the remote parts of the earth. God blessed their efforts, and thousands of such as should be saved were added to the church. So the Lord would have us labor. Unless those now gathered in cities will go forth willingly to do earnest, solemn work for the Master, the Lord himself will scatter them.
Success does not depend upon the numbers engaged in the work. Whether they be few or many, all are to work to the utmost of their ability, feeling that as individuals they have a personal responsibility to labor for Christ.
When Christ fed the multitude, each one of the disciples was given a part in the work. Christ asked his Father's blessing on the food, and it came; but the work was not left to one man. Each one was given something to do. So it is now. God has given to every man his work; and he expects all to do their part faithfully. When the truth is presented, God does not design that one man shall do the greatest part of the work. No man should put himself and his work in the place of God. One man's voice must not be heard continually, while others stand by as onlookers. All are to labor for the promotion of the work. Every available power is to be used to carry forward the great work.
No one should lose sight of his personal responsibility, relying on some other worker to do the work he should do, forgetting that he has a part to act in relieving those who are perishing for want of the bread of life. Ordained ministers are not the only ones who can work for Christ. Those who have heard the truth and rejoice in it have a work to do also. At all times they can work for God. It is a law of God that whoever believes the truth as it is in Jesus will make it known. In this perilous time no one can really believe the truth, and stand idly by as a spectator, without interest in the work of God.
God has given different gifts to different people. These varied gifts meet and impress varied minds. In any effort made to advance the truth, a diversity of gifts is a help. By their personal influence some may win their way to hearts and subdue stubborn natures, while others, though not possessing this God-given tact, may have more knowledge and experience.
God desires all to realize that they must be careful how they strive to control those who are doing his work. No one is to seek to bind the hands of God's instrumentalities. God has given to every man his work, and if his children will consecrate themselves to him, no one has a right to specify who is to work, or who is not to work. Let God work through whomsoever he will.
Faithfully and earnestly we are to do the work God has given us, be it large or small. No one else can do our work for us. Individual effort must be made. The Holy Spirit worked through John, but it did not submerge him in some one else. Christ called Matthew from the receipt of custom; he did not make Matthew John. He took his disciples just as he found them, and connected them with himself. He poured out his Spirit upon these human agencies, that they might speak the word of righteousness to those in need of light.
As we work for God, the outlook may not be flattering, yet if faithful, unselfish workers will go to those places that have not yet received the truth, and act their part by communicating the light they have received, God will bless their efforts. As they hold forth the bread of life to perishing souls, even though they themselves do not know where the means to carry forward the work is coming from, God will open a way before them. They will be furnished with grace, ample and full, which will supply their every necessity. The Lord will not allow his work to languish.
A simple faith and trust in God brings its reward. But the work must be regarded as God's work. It is to be done for the good of others, not to gratify pride or self-sufficiency. Every worker must be ready to sacrifice his own wishes and plans for the good of others.
The work of saving souls is infinitely above any other work in our world. He who is brought under the influence of the truth, and through faith is made a partaker of Christ's love, is by that very act appointed to save others. He has a mission in the world. He is a co-worker with Christ.
It pays to labor for those for whom Christ has died. Our strength and resources can be expended in no better way. As we cooperate with God in this work, we can think of Christ's words, which are so full of assurance: "I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance." God loves the souls to whom he gave his only begotten Son, and he calls upon us to see all men through the eyes of divine compassion. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #14)
The law of God, as presented in the Scriptures, is broad in its requirements. Every principle is holy, just, and good. The law lays men under obligation to God; it reaches to the thoughts and feelings; and it will produce conviction of sin in every one who is sensible of having transgressed it requirements. If the law extended to the outward conduct only, men would not be guilty in their wrong thoughts, desires, and designs. But the law requires that the soul itself be pure and the mind holy, that the thoughts and feelings may be in accordance with the standard of love and righteousness.
In his teachings, Christ showed how far-reaching are the principles of the law spoken from Sinai. He made a living application of that law whose principles remain forever the great standard of righteousness,--the standard by which all shall be judged in that great day when the judgment shall sit, and the books shall be opened. He came to fulfil all righteousness, and, as the head of humanity, to show man that he can do the same work, meeting every specification of the requirements of God. Through the measure of his grace furnished to the human agent, not one need miss heaven. Perfection of character is attainable by every one who strives for it. This is made the very foundation of the new covenant of the gospel. The law of Jehovah is the tree; the gospel is the fragrant blossoms and fruit which it bears.
When the Spirit of God reveals to man the full meaning of the law, a change takes place in his heart. The faithful portrayal of his true state by the prophet Nathan made David acquainted with his own sins, and aided him in putting them away. He accepted the counsel meekly, and humbled himself before God. "The law of the Lord," he said," is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward. Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my Redeemer."
Paul's testimony of the law is: "What shall we say then? Is the law sin [the sin is in the man, not in the law]? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me."
Sin did not kill the law, but it did kill the carnal mind in Paul. "Now we are delivered from the law," he declares, "that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter." "Was that then which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful." "Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good." Paul calls the attention of his hearers to the broken law, and shows them wherein they are guilty. He instructs them as a schoolmaster instructs his scholars, and shows them the way back to their loyalty to God.
There is no safety nor repose nor justification in transgression of the law. Man cannot hope to stand innocent before God, and at peace with him through the merits of Christ, while he continues in sin. He must cease to transgress, and become loyal and true. As the sinner looks into the great moral lookingglass, he sees his defects of character. He sees himself just as he is, spotted, defiled, and condemned. But he knows that the law cannot in any way remove the guilt or pardon the transgressor. He must go farther than this. The law is but the schoolmaster to bring him to Christ. He must look to his sin-bearing Saviour. And as Christ is revealed to him upon the cross of Calvary, dying beneath the weight of the sins of the whole world, the Holy Spirit shows him the attitude of God to all who repent of their transgressions. "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 need, individually, to take heed as we have never done before to a "Thus saith the Lord." There are men who are disloyal to God, who profane his holy Sabbath, who cavil over the plainest statements of the Word, who wrest the Scriptures from their true meaning, and who at the same time make desperate efforts to harmonize their disobedience with the Scriptures. But the Word condemns such practises, as it condemned the scribes and Pharisees in Christ's day. We need to know what is truth. Shall we do as did the Pharisees? Shall we turn from the greatest Teacher the world has ever known to the traditions and maxims and sayings of men?
There are many beliefs that the mind has no right to entertain. Adam believed the lie of Satan, the wily insinuations against the character of God. "And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." When Satan tempted Eve, he said, "Hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath saith, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil."
The knowledge which God did not want our first parents to have was a knowledge of guilt. And when they accepted the assertions of Satan, which were false, disobedience and transgression were introduced into our world. This disobedience to God's express command, this belief of Satan's lie, opened the floodgates of woe upon the world. Satan has continued the work begun in the garden of Eden. He has worked vigilantly, that man might accept his assertions as proof against God. He has worked against Christ in his efforts to restore the image of God in man, and imprint in his soul the similitude of God.
The belief of a falsehood did not make Paul a kind, tender, compassionate man. He was a religious zealot, exceedingly mad against the truth concerning Jesus. He went through the country, haling men and women, and committing them to prison. Speaking of this, he says: "I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women."
The human family are in trouble because of their transgression of the Father's law. But God does not leave the sinner until he shows the remedy for sin. The only begotten Son of God has died that we might live. The Lord has accepted this sacrifice in our behalf, as our substitute and surety, on the condition that we receive Christ and believe on him. The sinner must come in faith to Christ, take hold of his merits, lay his sins upon the sin-bearer, and receive his pardon. It was for this cause that Christ came into the world. Thus the righteousness of Christ is imputed to the repenting, believing sinner. He becomes a member of the royal family, a child of the heavenly King, an heir of God, and joint heir with Christ. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #15)
"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press forward to the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ."
This warning in regard to the perils of the people of God is given by one who knew. The enemies of the cross of Christ will put on the garments of light. This they did in Paul's day. As the apostle saw the power of their influence for wrong, he warned the people with weeping not to give them encouragement. They were enemies of Christ, "whose end is destruction, . . . who mind earthly things."
"For our conversation is in heaven," Paul continues, "from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved." "Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh."
Is Christ soon to come in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory? Is the end of all things at hand? If so, those who claim to be followers of Christ must work in proportion to their faith. Our part is not to wait in idle expectancy, but to act in accordance with our faith in the word of God. Vigilant waiting is to be combined with earnest watching. In view of the solemn events soon to take place, every soul who has been privileged to hear the truth is to work earnestly.
No one who is in Christ's service can rest content with doing nothing. The Christian life is not alone a life of waiting and meditation, not alone a life of prayer, but a life also of work. We are to wait, and watch, and work for Christ. Thus only can we attain to the full stature of men and women in Christ.
"We are laborers together with God," is the inspired declaration. While we search the Scriptures to learn God's plan, we are to strive to carry out that plan, praying for strength to do the work that God has given us. Not only are we to seek for strength from God, in order to know his will, but to do that will. As his earthly agents, we are to cooperate with divine intelligences in carrying out God's plan for the salvation of those for whom Christ has died. As we work under the Captain of our salvation, faithfully obeying his orders, our characters are developed. Through his merits we are enabled to work in harmony with God's great plan.
While we are to guard against all hurry and bustle that would lead us to neglect to form characters after the divine Pattern, we are also to heed the admonition, "Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord." We are to guard against the devices which lead to spiritual declension, that the day of the Lord may not come upon us as a thief. Those who merely profess to be Christians,--the subjective part of religion,--who do not do faithful service for Christ, will fail of obtaining that experience that will make them of value in God's sight. But those who realize the necessity of working for the Master, communicating to others the light and knowledge that he has given them, will be growing Christians. Waiting, praying, watching, and working, they are prepared to witness to the truth.
Heart-work reveals itself in actions. Those who appreciate truth and righteousness will show their zeal by their efforts to give the light to others. Those who are chosen vessels must reflect the character of Christ. Through these the grace of Christ from the river of the water of life flows in rich, pure streams, enabling them to bless all with whom they come in contact.
Golden instruction is given us in the fourth chapter of Zechariah. "The angel that talked with me," the prophet writes, "came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep, and said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof: and two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof. So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord? Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. . . . And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves? And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth."
There is a work for all to do for the Master. Every human being who has a vital connection with Christ will earnestly strive to carry forward the work committed to him. But no selfishness can enter God's work. The most splendid service, if it originates with self, is useless. Unless the root is holy, no fruit can be borne to God's glory.
God calls upon every true worker to be an ambassador of love. The Lord is at the door, and all the manhood and womanhood of our spiritual being is to be called into activity. We are to be justified by faith and judged by works. God's law claims obedience from all, and condemns disobedience. All are tested and proved, to see if they will keep the law of the heavenly courts. At this time, when universal contempt is shown by the professed Christian world to the royal law of Jehovah, God's witnesses are to arise and show their loyalty by keeping his law. Their prayer will be, "It is time for thee, Lord, to work: for they have made void thy law."
"Ye are my friends," Christ said, "if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you." For what purpose?--That they might make it known to others. "When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: and ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning."
God has said, Remember, do not forget, that thou keep holy the Sabbath day. If we are loyal to God's commandments, we shall hold as sacred the day he has sanctified and blessed as commemorative of his work of creation. He has set the Sabbath as a sign between us and him throughout all our generations forever, and we honor him when we reverence his Sabbath.
"He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." Precious assurance, to be realized as true by those who are obedient.
"He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me." "As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love." Shall we not continue in God's love by obeying implicitly all his commandments? "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." Full and entire obedience brings joy, not mourning, doubt, and uncertainty.
All who stand under the bloodstained banner of Prince Emmanuel, working out his commands as loyal subjects, can claim the words: "Hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. . . . Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning." Here it is definitely stated that it is the law given in Eden to which John refers, and that this law has binding claims upon all mankind.
We are not in a dreamland of inaction. We are soldiers of Christ, enlisted in the work of showing our loyalty to him who has redeemed us. What we are in the heavenly home, when saved, eternally saved, will be the reflection of what we now are in character and holy service. Shall we not show our loyalty by keeping God's commandments here, in this our place of probation? Shall we not raise the standard of loyalty to the God of heaven, irrespective of consequences, unheeding the reviling and hatred of the churches that have apostatized from the service of their Creator?
The Lord has a people on the earth, who follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. He has his thousands who have not bowed the knee to Baal. Such will stand with him on Mount Zion. But they must stand on this earth, girded with the whole armor, ready to engage in the work of saving those who are ready to perish. Heavenly angels conduct this search, and spiritual activity is demanded of all who believe present truth, that they may join the angels in their work.
We need not wait till we are translated to follow Christ. God's people may do this here below. We shall follow the Lamb of God in the courts above only if we follow him here. Following him in heaven depends on our keeping his commandments now. We are not to follow Christ fitfully or capriciously, only when it is for our advantage. We must choose to follow him. In daily life we must follow his example, as a flock trustfully follows its shepherd. We are to follow him by suffering for his sake, saying, at every step, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him." His life practise must be our life practise. And as we thus seek to be like him, and to bring our wills into conformity to his will, we shall reveal him.
Are we following Christ with unswerving loyalty, keeping his life of perfect obedience, of purity and self-sacrifice, ever before us, that, by beholding, we may become changed into his image? Do we strive to imitate his fidelity? If we educate ourselves to say, Be thou my Pattern; if by the eye of faith we see him as a living Saviour, we shall be strengthened to follow him. Then with the undefiled we shall follow him in the future life. As eye and heart witnesses, we can bear testimony to his majesty; for by faith we have been with him in the holy mount. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #16)
After hearing Christ's words in regard to the destruction of Jerusalem, the disciples came to him with the question, "When shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" In answer, Christ gave them important lessons, interweaving with the destruction of Jerusalem a still greater destruction,--the final destruction of the world. The warning here given as to what the disciples would have to meet at the hands of their fellow men is a warning to us also.
"Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted," Christ said, "and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another." These words will be fulfilled. Those who have been our companions in Christian association will not always maintain their fidelity. Envy and evil surmising, if cherished, will separate very friends. When a man loses the shield of a good conscience, he loses the cooperation of heavenly angels. God is not working in him. He is controlled by another spirit.
We must not think that Satan will cease for one moment his efforts to do to Christ's followers as he did to Christ. "If the world hate you," Christ said, "ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me. . . . This cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause." Can those who claim to be followers of Christ say, with their Master, "They hated me without a cause"?
"The mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming." "Son of man, say unto the prince of Tyrus, Thus saith the Lord God; Because thine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a god, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet thou art a man, and not God, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God:. . . . therefore thus saith the Lord God; Because thou hast set thine heart as the heart of God; behold, therefore I will bring strangers upon thee, the terrible of the nations: and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of thy wisdom, and they shall defile thy brightness. They shall bring thee down to the pit, and thou shalt die the deaths of them that are slain in the midst of the seas. Wilt thou yet say before him that slayeth thee, I am God? but thou shalt be a man, and no God, in the hand of him that slayeth thee. Thou shalt die the deaths of the uncircumcised by the hand of strangers: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord God."
The time is fast approaching when this scripture will be fulfilled. The world and the professedly Protestant churches are in this our day taking sides with the man of sin; and to those who have the light of the commandments of God is the message given, "Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. . . . For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works." The great issue that is coming will be on the seventh-day Sabbath. This day God would have us reverence. "I am the Lord your God," he declared; "walk in my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; and hallow my Sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God."
There are many who would serve Christ, provided they could serve themselves also. But this cannot be. The Lord will not accept cowards in his army. There must be no dissembling. Christ's followers must stand ready to serve him at all times and in every way that may be required. "He that is not with me is against me," Christ declares; "and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad."
Many have tried neutrality in a crisis, but they have failed in their purpose. No one can maintain a neutral position. Those who endeavor to do this will fulfill Christ's words, "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon." Those who begin their Christian life by being half and half, will at last be found enlisted on the enemy's side, whatever may have been their first intentions. And to be an apostate, a traitor to the cause of God, is more serious than death; for it means the loss of eternal life.
Double-minded men and women are Satan's best allies. Whatever favorable opinion they may have of themselves, they are dissemblers. All who are loyal to God and the truth must stand firmly for the right because it is right. To yoke up with those who are unconsecrated, and yet be loyal to the truth, is simply impossible. We cannot unite with those who are serving themselves, who are working on worldly plans, and not lose our connection with the heavenly Counselor. We may recover ourselves from the snare of the enemy, but we are bruised and wounded, and our experience is dwarfed. "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."
Christ does not promise his followers a smooth and easy path, but he does not ask them to travel the Christian way alone. "When the Comforter is come," he said, "who I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: and ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning. These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended." Christ told his disciples the truth regarding the future, that when their trial came, they might not fall into discouragement and doubt. When John the Baptist was beheaded, his disciples were inclined to reproach Christ because he had not worked a miracle to save his servant. So today there is danger that we shall become dissatisfied because Christ does not work a miracle in our behalf, and humiliate our enemies.
"They shall put you out of the synagogues." Has not this been done? Have not those who have accepted the light in regard to the binding claims of the law of God, who have decided to observe conscientiously the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, been turned out of the churches? But they are precious in God's sight. When the light came to them, they repented and were converted, and Christ's words are applicable to them: "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him."
"Yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service." These words come sounding down along the line to our time. A deception is upon those who oppress their fellow men because they do not believe the same form of doctrine that their oppressors believe. Such can give no stronger evidence to the heavenly universe and to the worlds unfallen that they have chosen to stand on Satan's side; for Satan is ever an oppressor of those who love God.
Again Christ repeated the reason for so fully presenting the future: "These things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you," to strengthen you by my presence and comfort you by my words. "But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you."
The true and faithful follower of Christ must suffer persecution. There is no way of avoiding it. Paul wrote to Timothy: "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them."
How many have come to Christ, ready to cast their interests in with his, and, like the rich young ruler, earnestly desiring to inherit eternal life! But when the cost is presented to them,--when they are told that they must forsake all, houses and lands, wife and children, and count not their lives dear unto themselves,--they go away sorrowful. They want the treasures of heaven, and the life that measures with the life of God, but they are not willing to give up their earthly treasures. They are not willing to surrender all to obtain the crown of life.
Persecution has frightened many poor souls from the bloodstained banner of Prince Emmanuel to the black banner of the great apostate. For the sake of this life, they transgress the law of God, and in that day when all transgressors are destroyed, they will be bound up with Satan to suffer the second death. But while persecution from those who worship at false shrines will cause some to yield up the truth, it will never induce a true child of God to separate from Christ, in whom his hopes of eternal life are centered. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #17)
The Lord has given his church a special work of personal service to do. God could have sent angels to work for the reformation of man, but he did not do this. Humanity must touch humanity. The church is the Lord's instrumentality. He works through those that are willing to be worked. If the church had cherished a sense of her accountability, fervent, earnest messengers would have carried the truth to countries far and near. God's living word would have been preached in every corner of the earth.
What was Christ's last commission to his disciples before he left them?--Lifting up his hands, he blessed them, and said, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." This command has not been fully obeyed by the professed followers of Christ. Our salvation depends on our obedience. It is left with each one to say whether he will qualify himself to do the work God has appointed him to do, or whether he will bury his talent in the earth.
Christ's commission is to be received and acted upon. We are to go forth in faith, with earnest prayer for the promise of One who has said, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." With the promise of such companionship, we are guilty of great unbelief and disobedience if we refuse to take up the cross of self-denial and self-sacrifice.
The words, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature," are spoken to every individual. We may be adapted for different branches of the work; but while we do our part unselfishly, we are obeying the command. Do we search the precious word of God interestedly, that we may say, "The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple," not to men and women of weak intellect, but to those who cherish simplicity of heart and mind, who are willing to be taught by the Holy Spirit, that they may know how to open the word of life to others? As we communicate the light that has found entrance to our souls, the Holy Spirit gives increased light, and our hearts are filled with the precious joy of the Lord.
Christ did not go to heaven directly after his death. It is claimed by some that when he died, although his body was laid in the grave, his spirit went to heaven. But after his resurrection he said to Mary, "Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God." If, after he bowed his head and died, he went directly to heaven, certainly he did ascend to his Father.
Christ remained in the grave the allotted period of time, and then he took up his life again. In the hearing of the people he had said, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up," referring to his body. He came forth from the grave a conqueror, proclaiming, over the rent sepulcher of Joseph, "I am the resurrection, and the life."
We have a crucified, risen Saviour to present to the people. All who have come to Jesus for pardon have found him ever ready to take their sins, and to impute his righteousness to them. He who has come to Christ, and has been truly converted, will have a longing to save the souls that are out of Christ. He who loves God supremely and his neighbor as himself cannot rest content with doing nothing. He goes forth proclaiming, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." As he comes to Christ himself, his whole soul breathes out for Christ. He receives the light and knowledge that the Lord gives to every true seeker to impart to others. After the Holy Spirit has molded the heart of the true believer, the light that enters heart and mind cannot be shut in; it must shine forth to others.
God will use humble men as his instruments. Even though they have but one talent, if they trade upon it, it will increase. The great fault in the church is that the work of saving souls is so limited that the advancement of the kingdom of God is slow. A backslidden church is the sure result of a selfish church,--a church that does not use her talents in cooperating with Jesus to restore the image of God in men. We are to minister to every creature. A responsibility is laid upon us to work for all,--our friends, our acquaintances, those who are bound up with the world and alienated from God. The apparently amiable and agreeable are to come into the sphere of our labors. The truth is for them as much as for us, and we must say, "Come."
God has entrusted the knowledge of the truth of redemption to every converted soul, and this knowledge is to be given to others. With a tender, sympathetic heart, tell them of the great truth of redemption. If we are in earnest, we can and will so speak that all will see that we have the love of the truth in our hearts. The frivolity and love of amusement that we encounter may chill our soul, but it will not silence the message we bear as Christ's witnesses. And each soul saved will save other souls; for those who are truly converted will realize that they are the depositaries of sacred trusts. What rich blessings will follow pure, consecrated effort, the worker depending on God to give the increase!
It is a most fatal mistake to suppose that the work of saving souls depends alone on ordained ministers. All who are ordained unto the life of Christ are ordained to work for the salvation of the souls of their fellow men. "The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." It is by the Spirit's power that souls that are dead in trespasses and sins are quickened to hear the words of life.
There are heathen at our doors; there is infidelity in the church that palsies the working element with unbelief. The command to work unselfishly and earnestly, wearing Christ's yoke and bearing his burdens, rests upon every soul. Wherever his work, whatever his business, his first interest is to seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and by precept and example, in word, spirit, and action, to show his earnest zeal for Christ. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #18)
The law of God is binding on all human intelligences. "Think not," said Christ, "that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
God requires obedience to his law. But Satan, ever since his fall, has been working against this law. He created disaffection in heaven by his ambition to be higher than Christ, the Commander of the heavenly host; and then he attacked the law of Jehovah. He held a position next to Christ, and in his rebellion he carried the angels with him. With their leader, these were expelled from heaven; and when Christ came to this earth to live the law that Satan had declared could not be kept, Satan followed him from the manger to the cross, doing all in his power to render his work a failure.
Many mistakes were made by the Jewish teachers in regard to the true character and far-reaching principles of the law. Its relation to sin was misconceived and misapplied. The outward action was dealt with, but inward sins were not touched. Those who did not allow the defilement of the soul to develop into outward defilement, were looked upon as righteous, while in their hearts they cherished thoughts of the most sinful character,--thoughts that were earthly and sensual.
In his sermon on the mount, Christ made known the comprehensive and far-reaching character of the law of God. He applied its great principles to the thoughts and the desires. He taught that all wrong thoughts and feelings, though unknown to any human being, are a transgression of the law of God, and that those who cherish them must suffer the penalty. Thus the law was shown to reach the inner life.
Christ presented the truth as a sharp sword, which cut to the soul. He flashed the divine requirements upon the secrets of the perverted heart. "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: but I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: but I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire."
In the Old Testament and the New the law is shown to be God's standard of character. A lawyer came to Christ with the question, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" "What is written in the law? how readest thou?" the Saviour asked. The lawyer had been urged by Christ's enemies to ask him this question, that they might find something wherewith to accuse and condemn him. In his wisdom, Christ referred the question back to the questioner. This was so unexpected that the lawyer did not study how to evade the matter, but answered him honestly, in accordance with the light that he had. He was acquainted with the principles of the law, and he replied, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself." "Thou hast answered right," said Christ; "this do, and thou shalt live." To love God with all the heart is the first great law of the universe. When the love of God fills the heart, love to our fellow men will flow forth in words and deeds as the fruit of that love.
From the pillar of cloud the Lord gave the same lesson to Moses, to be given to the people. "The Lord spake unto Moses, saying,. . . Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the Lord your God. Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them. I am the Lord."
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates."
Today Satan's influence is great, and it is his special work to make void the law of God. Those who place themselves under his control he leads to do this also. The work he began in heaven he has zealously carried out on the earth. The war between the two great armies is waged upon the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. Satanic agencies are united with human agencies in an effort to make void the law of God, and to teach for doctrines the commandments of men. Two contending forces are striving for the mastery. Shall we allow our influence to swell the tide of iniquity and transgression? Every soul that believes the word of God should arise and shine because his light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon him. Shall we not study the word of God critically, refusing to trust to our own intelligence, which may be under the control of a masterly tempter?
It means everything to us on which side we place our influence. It makes all possible difference what we believe. The falsehood maintained by Satan, that the law of God is abrogated, will be accepted in all honesty by those who have not walked in the light as it has shone upon their path. They have turned aside to falsehood, and they wrest the Scriptures to maintain their false theories. The more sincerely a man believes falsehood, the more fatal it is to his own soul. He earnestly advocates this falsehood, and those who have not been sanctified through the truth accept it. The more he advocates error, the more certain he becomes that it is truth, and that truth is error, and must be exposed and denounced. He is imbued with a zeal that is in accordance with the zeal of his leader.
A striking contrast is seen between those who practise the truth and those who have joined the ranks of the apostate. Meek and lowly will those be who follow the Lamb of God. Boastful, denunciatory, and lawless in word and deed will those be who war against the commandments of God. They are thus because they have the spirit and attributes of the dragon, who was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus.
God's law is immutable and eternal; for it is the transcript of his character, and by it God designs to bring the family on earth into harmony with the family in heaven. God has made it possible for men to obey his requirements, by making it possible for them to be partakers of the divine nature. Thus our characters may be molded in accordance with the law of God. And by willing obedience to this law our characters are conformed to the character of God.
Obedience to the law of ten commandments is the condition of salvation. This is God's positive requirement. The Bible declares that no one can truly love God and yet refuse to obey his law, after receiving light in regard to its immutability. Many attempt to justify their disobedience by distinguishing between God's commandments and Christ's commandments. This they do, that they may bear the name of Christian and yet live in violation of God's law. But those who plead thus place their faith in a falsehood devised by the father of lies.
God's commandments are indeed the commandments of Jesus. "If a man love me," Christ declared, "he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. . . . He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me."
"He that saith, I know him," John wrote, "and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked. Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning."
Through Jesus there is divine sympathy between God and the human beings who, through obedience, are accepted in the Beloved. Thus humanity conforms to the will of divinity, fulfilling the words, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." The commandment-keeping people of God are to walk in the sunlight of Christ's righteousness, their countenances expressing cheerfulness and thanksgiving, joyful in the assurance, "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #19)
In the education of their children, parents should begin early to establish in them correct methods and habits; for the early education of the youth shapes their character in both their secular and religious life. Their minds should be directed in profitable channels of thought. Their occupations should be such as not only to benefit themselves, but to teach others the development of thought and labor that will be for their present and eternal good.
Children may be trained for the service of sin, or for the service of righteousness. Solomon says, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." This language is positive. The training that Solomon enjoins is to direct, educate, develop. But in order for parents to do this work, they must themselves understand the "way" the child should go. It is impossible for parents to give their children proper training unless they first give themselves to God, learning of the great Teacher the precious lesson of obedience to his will. The mother should feel her need of the Holy Spirit, that she may herself have a genuine experience in submission to the way and will of the Lord. Then, through the grace of Christ, she can be a wise, gentle, loving teacher of her children.
Fathers and mothers are responsible for the health, the constitution, and the development of the characters of their children. No one else should be left to see to this work. As parents, it devolves upon you to cooperate with the Lord in educating your children in sound principles, keeping their minds open and impressible by the inculcation of Bible truth. This will develop strong characters.
Diet.--In two many cases the parents are only grown-up children. They are not intelligent teachers; they do not realize the responsibilities that rest upon them. In their ignorance of the wants of their infants, many parents think that they can be fed upon those things which they themselves eat. They have no knowledge of what constitutes a proper diet. Many mothers have come to me, saying, "My baby does not thrive. It is poor and fretful and sick. What is the matter with it?"
"What do you give your child to eat?" I have questioned.
"The same food that we ourselves eat,--a little bit of everything,--a little tea, coffee, potato, beer, and meat."
This variety of food is unwholesome for the parents, and is much more so for the child. The child has but a small stomach, and should have regular periods of eating, and then it should not eat too largely. Overeating crowds the stomach, and distress is the result. The "stuffing" process has placed many a little child in its narrow bed, just because of the ignorance of the parents. Let the child dress simply, and eat of the simplest and most wholesome diet. Let him not be indulged, and tempted to eat more than he should. This will ruin the digestive organs before he can become intelligent upon the important subjects of how to eat, how to dress, how to exercise, in order to retain health. The youth who are not perseveringly educated to respect the laws of their own being, will easily turn aside from the laws which God has ordained for their spiritual life.
The Spoiled Child.--In some families the wish of the child is law. Everything he desires is given him. Everything he dislikes, he is encouraged to dislike. Indulgence is supposed to make the child happy, but it only makes him restless and discontented. Indulgence has spoiled his appetite for plain, healthful food, and for the plain use of his time; self-gratification has done the work of unsettling his character for time and for eternity.
A great mistake is made when the lines of control are placed in the child's hands, and he is allowed to bear sway in the home. But this has been done, and will continue to be done, because fathers and mothers are blind in their discernment and calculation. The child who is not carefully and prayerfully disciplined will be unhappy in this life, and will form such unlovely traits of character that the Lord can not unite him with his family in heaven. There is a very great burden to be carried all through the life of a spoiled child. When his will is crossed, he is aroused to anger. In trial, in disappointment, in temptation, he will follow his undisciplined, misdirected will.
Children who have never learned to obey will have weak and impulsive characters. They may profess to be Christians, but how sad is their experience. They seek to rule, but have not learned to submit. These half-educated children are without moral strength to restrain their wayward tempers, to correct their wrong habits, or to subdue their uncontrolled wills. That mother who, knowing what is best for the spiritual and physical help of her child, yields to his tears and importunity, will, through her own training, be pierced through with many sorrows.
The heavenly intelligences can not cooperate with fathers and mothers who neglect to train their children, and who allow Satan to make the youthful mind an instrument through which he can work to counteract the working of the Holy Spirit. The youth may profess to be converted, but the character will reveal whether or not the neglected work of the parents has been overruled by good. What sin can be greater than that of allowing children to be spoiled by mismanagement? When these children have families of their own, they carry their defects with them, and thus the neglect of parents to deal faithfully carries evil from generation to generation. Thus the world is deprived of the moral power of rectitude and integrity which it should have.
The happiness of every child may be secured by strong, even discipline. A child's truest graces consist in modesty and obedience,--in attentive ears to hear the words of direction, in willing feet and hands to walk and work in the path of duty. And a child's true goodness will bring its own reward, even in this life. The early years are the time for the training process, not only that the child may become most serviceable and full of grace and truth in this life; but that he may secure the place prepared in the home above for all who are true and obedient. In our own training of children, and in the training of the children of others, we have proved that they never love parents and guardians less for restraining them from doing evil.
The future of society depends on the education and training of the youth of today. Parents, a solemn work is resting upon you. The greatest power, the efficient gospel, has its effect in the well-ordered, well-disciplined family. The children are not be treated as dolls, made to be dressed and undressed,--idols, to have affection and indulgence lavished upon them, and parental self-sacrifice cater to their impulses. They are to learn to obey in the family government. They are to form a symmetrical character, of which God can approve, maintaining law in the home life. Christian parents are to educate their children to obey the law of God. The reasons for this obedience and respect for the law of God may be impressed upon the children as soon as they can understand its nature, so they will know what they should do, and what they should abstain from doing.
God requires obedience of every human being. Upon this our eternal future depends. In obedience to the law of God we shall form a beautiful character. "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul." Children should be taught to respect every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Parents are ever to magnify the precepts of the law of the Lord before their children, by showing obedience to that law, by themselves a living under the control of God. If a sense of the sacredness of the law takes possession of the parents, it will surely transform the character by converting the soul.
Parents, never prevaricate, never tell an untruth by word or deed. If you want your child to be truthful, be truthful yourselves; be straightforward and undeviating. Even a slight prevarication should not be allowed. If the mother is accustomed to be untruthful, the child will follow her example.
The work of "breaking the will" is contrary to the principles of Christ. The will of the child must be directed and guided. Save all the strength of the will, for the human being needs it all; but give it a proper direction. Treat the child's will wisely and tenderly, as a sacred treasure. Do not hammer it to pieces; but by precept, by true example and love, wisely fashion and mold it until the child comes to years of responsibility. Then still guide with your counsel, bringing your child up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #20)
If parents desire their children to be pleasant, they should never speak to them in a scolding manner. The mother often allows herself to become irritable and nervous. Often she snatches at the child, and speaks in a harsh manner. If a child is treated in a quiet, kind manner, it will do much to preserve in him a pleasant temper. The grandest and noblest work that parents have to do for their Master is to bring Bible discipline into their government. Mothers, teachers, and guardians of the youth, be careful. If things arise to irritate, you are not at liberty to act out your feelings. Educate yourselves to carry a pleasant countenance, and to bring sweetness and melody into the voice. The angels of God are ever near your little ones; and your harsh, loud tones of fretfulness are not pleasant to their ears. Let love and tenderness, patience and self-control, be at all times the law of your speech. Winning love is to be like deep waters, ever flowing forth in the management of your children.
All through his life, Christ performed acts of love and tenderness for the children. He took the little ones in his arms, and blessed them. On one occasion he called a little child to him, and set him in the midst of his disciples, and said: "Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me."
Parents should heed the words of Christ: "Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven." These words are not spoken for the benefit of those only who are young in years. They include all who are newly come to the faith, who are little children in experience, born again into the kingdom of God.
It is your duty, parents, to educate and train your children to do service for him whose they are by creation and redemption. If the Lord could present a little child in its simplicity as an object lesson, then be careful how you treat the precious little ones, the lambs of the flock. There need be no harsh tones, no hard, painful strokes upon the little form. If, in the fear and love of God, you will do your duty, you will not deserve the pain you cause your child to suffer because of your masterly spirit that is so easily provoked. We would be much happier if we would manifest the gentleness of Christ in dealing with the little ones, who have everything to learn from the lips and character of the parents. It is a pleasant thing for God and the angels above to behold this work carried on in the families of earth in a Christlike manner, the parents fully appreciating the value of the souls of the little ones committed to their care.
The long, protracted effort made to obtain an education in books is a mistake. There is danger of arousing love for pleasure and amusement. This gives the youth an education which is deleterious and unprofitable, and which God can not bless; for it divorces the thoughts from him, and corrupts the soul. Those who receive this training are wavering and irresolute. They crave those things that are not essential for this life, or for the future, immortal life. They are full of conceit and self-importance. Unless completely transformed in character, they will never understand and know the truth.
All are to be students in this life. We are to improve our faculties, that we may do the best kind of service for him who has given his life to redeem us. We are to think soberly, and consecrate ourselves to God day by day. Then we shall consider every hour precious, and shall purify our souls with stern resolution. Our opportunities and privileges are golden. We have a high standard to reach. We are to do missionary work for the Master, cooperating with Christ in restoring the moral image of God in men.
The glory of God is to be kept before the mind's eye. This should be the one aim and purpose of parents. Everything that would hinder in this consecrated service is to be left. We are to separate ourselves from whatever position we have placed ourselves in that would fetter us to cheap habits, common words, common works, or littleness of purpose. Christians are to be Christlike. All who sincerely believe that the living oracles of God mean just what they say, will act that faith.
Nothing can excuse parents from their responsibility toward their children in their influence in the home discipline and education. Low, cheap, common talk should find no place in the family. When the heart is pure, rich treasures of wisdom will flow forth. The heart should be a holy temple for God, where no entrance of corrupt principles is allowed to divorce us from God, and extinguish our moral and spiritual power. In the training of their children, parents should inculcate right principles. Every action is liable to be repeated. Every course of action has a twofold character and importance. It is virtuous or vicious, right or wrong, according to the motive which prompts it. A wrong action, by frequent repetition, leaves a permanent impression upon the mind of the actor, and also on the minds of those who are connected with him in any relation, either spiritual or temporal. The parents or teachers who give no attention to the small actions that are not right, establish those habits in the youth. Principle must be firmly held by parents and teachers. They must reverence the principles of God's holy word, and let their own lives reveal that they are pure and noble and heavenly.
On every hand we see a neglect to train children to engage in useful labor. They are allowed to grow up in ignorance of simple and necessary things. But those who are so unfortunate in their training must awake; take the burden of the matter upon themselves; and, if they ever expect to have success, find incentives to the honest employment of their God-given powers. Their own enlightened understanding must lead them to engage in useful work. Without this kind of education, this principle of action will not be established. Their work will be fitful, and their efforts in every line, feeble.
Parents are not to be slaves to their children, doing all the self-sacrifice, while the children are permitted to grow up careless and unconcerned, letting all the burdens rest upon their parents. The children are God's precious heritage, to be disciplined, educated, and trained to lift burdens in their early years. These should be light at first; but children should be carefully educated to do their part, that they may understand how to do their work with willing aptitude. Young men and young women who have been so unfortunate as to have the idea impressed upon their minds that work is degrading to ladies and gentlemen, will in the end lose the credit of being ladies and gentlemen. There are domestic duties calling for a helping hand; in every place there are things that require energetic, persevering, skilled activity, which ready, experienced hands know how to undertake. The laws of necessity require that our missionaries, in the fulfilment of the duties of common, practical life, become wise in methods and plans.
Work is constantly being done in heaven. There are no idlers there. "My Father worketh hitherto," said Christ, "and I work." We can not suppose that when the final triumph shall come, and we have the mansions prepared for us, idleness will be our portion,--that we shall rest in a blissful, do-nothing state. We have a great work to do in this our day to prepare the way for the King of kings and Lord of lords. Be sure he finds us at the occupation he has given us. To every man he has given his work,--a fitting occupation,--to prepare a people to stand in the great day of the Lord. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #21)
When Christ sent forth the twelve, he warned them of the persecution they would receive for his sake. "Behold," he said, "I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues." They will do this while they apparently wish you to regard them as your friends. By the deceptive attitude which they assume to retain your confidence, they will betray you. They hide the spirit of the wolf under the appearance of the sheep. Their lips may speak words as smooth as oil, but the poison of asps is under their tongues.
The truth of Christ's words was verified in the case of Lazarus. Those who witnessed the resurrection of Lazarus were unable to keep silence; the miracle was the burden of the conversation of thousands. God designed that there should be witnesses to give publicity to this, Christ's crowning miracle. At the feast of the Passover, many were drawn from their homes to see and hear Jesus. "And they came not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead." Many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus. Those who saw Lazarus told others, and thus the news spread. Such a thing had never before been heard of. That he who had been cut off from among the living, now stood among them with the love of God expressed in his face, was the subject on all lips.
"The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him." The evidences of the resurrection of Lazarus were so clear that the rulers could not resist them; neither could they frame their falsehoods so long as he stood to bear testimony against them. All the false statements of the priests and rulers, all their hatred and jealousy, could not draw the people to them as long as Lazarus was living to say: He spoke, and I was released from the bonds of death. "I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." The same omnipotent power that made the world has conquered death. And as long as Lazarus lived, his testimony could not be silenced.
"The chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus." As they had laid their plans to kill Jesus, so they consulted together how they might, in some secret manner, employ men to rid them of the presence of Lazarus. If he were removed, they thought, they could more easily accomplish the death of Christ. When men open the door of the heart to let Satan in as their guest, they follow his promptings, and let unbelief bear sway. They misinterpret and misapply the Scriptures; for they read the Word in the light of their own perverted imagination. While they put on an appearance of sanctity, and profess to be doing the service of God, there is no end to the crimes they will commit if circumstances but favor them.
"And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake," Christ continued, "for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought [be not anxious] how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak."
From the burning bush the Lord reproved Moses for unbelief when he pleaded his inability to speak. "Who hath made man's mouth?" he said, "or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say." When the word of Lord came to Jeremiah, he said, "Ah, Lord God! behold, I can not speak: for I am a child." But the Lord said to him: "Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord."
The same God who gave his messages to Moses and Jeremiah will give his word to his witnesses in this generation. "For it is not ye that speak," Christ declares, "but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you." This word of the Lord has been verified in all ages, and it will be verified to the close of time in all who hold the beginning of their confidence firm unto the end. The most powerful testimony will be given in defense of the faith once delivered to the saints. The Holy Spirit is close beside those who are called to witness for truth and righteousness. He orders the testimony that is borne before earthly authorities, that the glorious truth may appear.
The history of Judas is written for our learning. He was a betrayer of sacred trusts. He had an opportunity to become converted, heart and soul, to Christ. The Saviour bore long with his perversity and defects of character. He gave no personal rebuke; he dealt with him by revealing principles of righteousness. But this was not enough. Before he left his disciples, he desired them to know the true character of Judas, and he reproved him for his covetousness in rebuking Mary for her use of the ointment.
Christ washed the feet of Judas. This was the time for Judas to confess his sin, and ask the forgiveness of Christ. This was his opportunity to accept Christ, or to shut the door of his heart against the light. The promptings of the Spirit were repressed. Judas partook of the broken body and spilled blood of his Lord, and went out from the table to betray his Master. He would not receive counsel nor reproof; he was determined to have his own way, to follow his own impulses.
We have far greater light than Judas had. We have a crucified, risen, and ascended Saviour, who ever liveth to make intercession for us. The Lord reveals to men their danger, and warns them to put away all selfishness, that they may have that faith which works by love and purifies the soul. Yet, notwithstanding this, Satan works upon human minds to do as Judas did. The deadly, groveling passions that take possession of the heart in these last days, when self once becomes lifted up, bring all kinds of evil. Those who sympathized with Korah, Dathan, and Abiram in their apostasy, brought blight and death upon themselves. So it will be in these last days. The cause of Christ will be betrayed. Those who have had the light of truth, and have enjoyed its blessings, but who have turned away from it, will fight down the Spirit of God. Inspired with a spirit from beneath, they will tear down that which they once built up, and show to all reasonable, God-fearing souls that they can not be trusted. They may lay claim to truth and righteousness, but their spirit and works will testify that they are betrayers of their Lord. The attributes of Satan they call the movings of the Holy Spirit.
"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."
There are but two classes in our world, and they are thus described in the word of God: "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him." "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie."
The warning of Christ comes sounding down the line to our time: "Then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold." "And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved."
Said Christ: "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 light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. 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."
Men will have great opportunities and privileges, and great light; and they will either go forward unto the perfection of Christ's character, or they will follow their own peculiar traits of character. Under the sway of Christ, they will be mild and teachable; under the inspiration of Satan, they will reveal a harsh spirit, and become betrayers of their brethren. They will walk frowardly, in the way of their heart. If those who have light will open the chambers of the mind, they will see as the Lord sees; they will take counsel and reproof; they will open the door of the heart of Jesus, and will welcome him in as an honored guest. Then the soul will be a temple where Christ can dwell. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #22)
"Then came the day of unleavened bread; when the passover must be killed. And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat. And they said unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare? And he said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in. And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guest chamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? And he shall show you a large upper room furnished: there make ready. And they went, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover. And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: for I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: for I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come."
The symbols of the Lord's house are simple and plainly understood, and the truths represented by them are of the deepest significance to us. In instituting the sacramental service to take the place of the Passover, Christ left for his church a memorial of his great sacrifice for man. "This do," he said, "in remembrance of me." This was the point of transition between two economies and their two great festivals. The one was to close forever; the other, which he had just established, was to take its place, and to continue through all time as the memorial of his death.
"And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you. But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table. And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed!" "I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me."
With the rest of the disciples, Judas partook of the bread and wine, symbolizing the body and blood of Christ. This was the last time that Judas was present with the twelve. But that the Scripture might be fulfilled, he left the sacramental table, Christ's last gift to his disciples, to complete his work of betrayal. O, why did not Judas at that solemn service recognize in its true light the awful work he had pledged himself to perform? Why did he not throw himself penitent at the feet of Jesus? He had not yet passed the boundary of God's mercy and love. But when his decision was made to carry out his purpose, when he left the presence of his Lord and fellow disciples, that barrier was passed.
In this last act of Christ in partaking with his disciples of the bread and wine, he pledged himself to them as their Redeemer by a new covenant, in which it was written and sealed that upon all who will receive Christ by faith will be bestowed all the blessings that heaven can supply, both in this life and in the future immortal life.
This covenant deed was to be ratified with Christ's own blood, which it had been the office of the old sacrificial offerings to keep before their minds. This was understood by the apostle Paul, who said: "For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshipers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me), to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God."
Christ designed that this supper should be often commemorated, in order to bring to our remembrance his sacrifice in giving his life for the remission of the sins of all who will believe on and receive him. And this ordinance is not to be exclusive, as many would make it. Each must participate in it publicly, and thus bear witness: I accept Christ as my personal Saviour. He gave his life for me, that I might be rescued from death.
"And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; he riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus said to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean."
The children of God are to bear in mind that God is brought sacredly near on every such occasion as the service of feet-washing. As they come up to this ordinance, they should bring to their remembrance the words of the Lord of life and glory: "Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them."
The object of this service is to call to mind the humility of our Lord, and the lessons he has given in washing the feet of his disciples. There is in man a disposition to esteem himself more highly than his brother, to work for himself, to serve himself, to seek the highest place; and often evil surmisings and bitterness of spirit spring up over mere trifles. This ordinance preceding the Lord's Supper is to clear away these misunderstandings, to bring man out of his selfishness, down from his stilts of self-exaltation, to the humility of spirit that will lead him to wash his brother's feet. It is not in God's plan that this should be deferred because some are considered unworthy to engage in it. The Lord washed the feet of Judas. He did not refuse him a place at the table, although he knew that he would leave that table to act his part in the betrayal of his Lord. It is not possible for human beings to tell who is worthy, and who is not. They can not read the secrets of the soul. It is not for them to say, I will not attend the ordinance if such a one is present to act a part. Nor has God left it to man to say who shall present themselves on these occasions.
The ordinance of feet-washing has been especially enjoined by Christ; and on these occasions the Holy Spirit is present to witness and put a seal to this ordinance. He is there to convict and soften the heart. He draws the believers together, and makes them one in heart. They are made to feel that Christ is indeed present to clear away the rubbish that has accumulated to separate the hearts of the children of God.
These ordinances are regarded too much as a form, and not as a sacred thing to call to mind the Lord Jesus. Christ ordained them, and delegated his power to his ministers, who have the treasure in earthen vessels. They are to superintend these special appointments of the One who established them to continue to the close of time. It is on these, his own appointments, that he meets with and energizes his people by his personal presence. Notwithstanding that there may be hearts and hands that are unsanctified who will administer the ordinance, still Jesus is in the midst of his people to work on human hearts. All who keep before them, in the act of feet-washing, the humiliation of Christ, all who will keep their hearts humble, and keep in view the true tabernacle and service, which the Lord pitched and not man, will never fail to derive benefit from every discourse given, and spiritual strength from every communion. These ordinances are established for a purpose. Christ's followers are to bear in mind the example of Christ in his humility. This ordinance is to encourage humility, but it should never be termed humiliating, in the sense of being degrading to humanity. It is to make tender our hearts toward one another. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #23)
Those who come to the sacramental service with their hearts open to the influences of the Spirit of God will be greatly blessed, even if those who officiate are not benefited thereby. Christ is there to make the heart susceptible to his Holy Spirit, and to discern the entire dependence of his people upon him for their salvation. "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. For I will not contend forever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made. For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him: I hid me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart."
These ordinances were established that all might have the privilege of acknowledging their wrongs, and confessing their sins at this time. And as the heart is softened and melted under the movings of the Holy Spirit, the heavenly anointing gives them spiritual eyesight to discern their errors. Jesus has pledged himself to be present in the fulness of his grace to change the current of the minds that are running in selfish channels. This service can not be repeated without one thought's linking itself with another. Thus a chain of thought calls up remembrances of blessings, of kindnesses, and of favors received from friends and brethren, that have passed out of mind. The Holy Spirit, with its quickening, vivifying power, presents the ingratitude and lack of love that have sprung from the hateful root of bitterness. Link after link of memory's chain is strengthened. The Spirit of God is at work upon human minds. The defects of character, the neglect of duties, the ingratitude to God, are brought to the remembrance, and the thoughts are brought into captivity to Christ.
How the heart of Christ is pierced by the forgetfulness, unwillingness, and neglect to do the things that God has enjoined upon us! The heart needs to be broken, that selfishness may be cut away from the soul, and put away from the practise. If we have learned the lessons that Christ desires to teach us in this preparatory service, the Witness will respond to the feelings implanted in the heart for a higher spiritual life.
"Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him." Christ does indeed manifest himself unto the believers who thus reveal their faith by coming together at the communion table with the simplicity of children to remember Jesus, his words, and his requirements, determined to exclude from the heart all selfishness and love of supremacy.
The broken bread and pure juice of the grape are to represent the broken body and spilled blood of the Son of God. Bread that is leavened must not come on the communion table; unleavened bread is the only correct representation of the Lord's Supper. Nothing fermented is to be used. Only the pure fruit of the vine and the unleavened bread are to be used.
We do not come to the ordinances of the Lord's house merely as a form. We do not make it our business, as we gather around the table of our Lord, to ponder over and deprecate our shortcomings. The ordinance of feet-washing included all this. "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." We do not come with our minds diverted to our past experience in the religious life, whether that experience be elevating or depressing. We do not come to revive in our minds the ill-treatment we have received at the hands of our brethren. The ordinance of humility is to clear our moral horizon of the rubbish that has been permitted to accumulate. We have assembled now to meet with Jesus Christ, to commune with him. Every heart is to be open to the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness. Our minds and hearts are to be fixed on Christ as the great Center on whom our hopes of eternal life depend. We are not to stand in the shadow, but in the saving light, of the cross. With hearts cleansed by Christ's most precious blood, and in full consciousness of his presence, although unseen, we may listen to his voice that thrills the soul with the words: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." On these occasions, heaven is brought very near to the true members of the Lord's family, and they are brought into sweet communion one with another.
There can be no union between our soul and God except through Christ. Union and love between brother and brother must be cemented and rendered eternal by the love of Jesus. Then do we not assemble around the communion table to meet and converse with Jesus as we receive the bread and wine symbolizing his broken body and spilled blood? Thus we must feed on Christ, or we can have no communion with him.
Christ knows that if we should allow our minds to become engrossed with earthly things, we would forget him in whom our hopes of eternal life are centered, and so lose the lifegiving power, the peace and joy, which the Lord wishes us to receive and retain. And he said: "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you."
These things we are never to forget. The love of Jesus, with its convincing power, is to be kept fresh in the memory. We must not forget him who is our strength and our sufficiency. He has instituted this service, that it may speak constantly to our senses of the love of God that has been expressed in our behalf. He gave us all that it was possible for him to give,--he gave his life for the life of the world.
And his appeal to our love is strikingly made in the words of the apostle Paul: "For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come."
Christ's second appearing, in the clouds of heaven, is ever to be kept before us. Almost his last words of consolation to his disciples were: "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."
And the communion is to be a constant reminder of this. Says Christ: Under a conviction of sin, remember that I died for you. When oppressed and persecuted and afflicted for my sake and the gospel's, remember that my love was so great that I gave my life for you. Will you evidence your love for me, if required, by dying for me? When you feel your duties stern and severe, and almost too heavy to bear, will you remember that it was for your sake that I endured the cross, despising the shame? When your heart shrinks from the trying ordeal, remember that your Redeemer liveth to make intercession for you. "Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."
Christ declared: "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." We can not, as individuals, maintain our bodily life unless we eat and drink for ourselves of temporal food. In order to maintain spiritual life and health, we must feed on Jesus Christ by studying his word, and doing the things he has commanded in that word. This will constitute a close union with Christ. The branch that bears fruit must be in the vine, a part of it, receiving nourishment from the parent stalk. This is living by faith upon the Son of God. Christ has declared: "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 can not bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 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." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #24)
"And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body. And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God. And when they had sung a hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives." Here was established the great memorial, the Lord's Supper. Can we take in the strains of Christian melody rising to heaven from the lips of the disciples? Christ, the Captain of our salvation, made of himself a sacrificial offering. The Prince of life became the Prince of martyrs.
"Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; he riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean."
The act of Christ in washing the feet of his disciples was a sacred one; his motive in so doing was to bring about, through their remembrance of what Christ had done for them, a state of feeling where no exaltation of one above another should find place. This ordinance was to bring brother to an understanding of the feelings of his brother.
The last act of Christ in behalf of his betrayer was to wash his feet. He, their Lord and Master, showed that he would do anything to save the most guilty sinner. He said, "He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all." If he will believe on Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world, he is the child of God.
Christ came not to save man in his sins, but from his sins. John's testimony of him was, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." And "as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name."
Christ had washed the feet of Judas first. This disciple was having his last opportunity. When the ceremony was ended, the Master said, "Ye are clean, but not all. For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean." These words were spoken that Judas might understand that Christ had read his secret purposes, that he was not ignorant of his wicked schemes. This was his opportunity to confess and be converted. The disciples did not understand his words at the time, but they were imprinted on their memory afterward, and they had something to consider in the patience, the mercy, and the forbearance of God toward the most grievously erring.
Christ gave his disciples to understand that the washing of their feet did not cleanse away their sin, but that the cleansing of their heart was tested in this humble service. If the heart was cleansed, this act was all that was essential to reveal the fact. He had washed the feet of Judas; but he said, "Ye are not all clean." Judas brought a traitor's heart to this scene, and Christ revealed to all that he knew him to be the betrayer of his Lord, and that the washing of his feet was not an ordinance to cleanse the soul from its moral defilement.
"So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord; and ye say well; for so I am [for I have given you an example of the position you should hold toward one another]. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you." Here is the object lesson: "Ye also ought to wash one another's feet." "Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent, greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." This ordinance is not to be treated in a mechanical way as a form. Its real object is to teach humility.
"I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me. Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me."
Jesus would give convincing proof that he understood perfectly the character of Judas, and that he had not withheld his ministry even from him whom he knew to be working to betray him into the hands of his enemies. And we have, in his example, the lesson that the ordinance of feet-washing is not to be deferred because there are some professed believers who are not cleansed from their sins. Christ knew the heart of Judas, yet he washed his feet. Infinite Love could do no more to bring Judas to repentance, and save him from taking this fatal step. If this service of his Master, in humbling himself to wash the feet of the worst sinner, did not break his heart, what more could be done? It was the last act of love that Jesus could evidence in behalf of Judas. Infinite Love could not compel Judas to repent, confess his sin, and be saved. Every opportunity was granted him. Nothing was left undone that could be done to save him from the snare of Satan.
Let all behold, in the boundless love of Christ, a longsuffering Saviour, who holds out every inducement for the sinner to receive him, repent, and be cleansed from the defilement of sin. We must understand that because we suppose one to be in error and sin, we are not to divorce ourselves from him, refuse to have any association with him, and make our suppositions prominent. The example of Christ will not sustain any one in these conclusions. Many a soul may be saved by further effort on the part of his brother; but a careless separation from him, leaving him exposed to the temptations of Satan, and driving him upon the devil's battleground, is not the method of Christ. He sought to restore, not to destroy. He who washed the feet of his disciples was the Majesty of heaven. He had the hoarded love of eternity in his heart, but he was in their midst as one who served; and in washing their feet, he gave them evidence that he would do any service, however humble, in order to make them heirs together with him of all the eternal wealth of heaven's treasure.
When this simple ordinance is being performed, the followers of Christ should bear in mind that this is the time for all to search their hearts to see if they are willing to humble themselves in spirit, and follow the example of Christ. He gives them this ordinance as a test, a heart-searcher. The Holy Spirit will be present on every occasion to convince of sin, of any wrong action done to a brother. Let none grieve the Holy Spirit of God by disregarding the object of this ordinance, and the gracious opportunity it presents to confess every wrong, every act of injustice done to a brother. Had Judas accepted this last chance given him by Christ, the poor sinner would never have betrayed his Lord, and the words of Christ would never have been spoken, "Ye are not all clean."
The Lord is present on every occasion when this humble ceremony is performed. He is the unseen Witness. He reads every heart, with its concealed purposes, its wrongdoings, its sin. You can neglect, you can leave, these seasons of divine appointment; and of you Christ's words may be appropriately spoken, "Ye are not all clean."
Is any sin cherished? Let it be cut away from the soul by confession. The first look, the first act, of contrition and repentance that you direct toward Christ, does not escape his notice. The first step you take toward him will bring him more than a step toward you. All things, especially on this occasion, are ready for your reception. He will meet you in your weakness, repenting, brokenhearted soul, with his divine strength; he will meet your emptiness and spiritual poverty with his inexhaustible fulness.
In this ordinance, Christ discharged his disciples from the cares and burdens of the ancient Jewish obligations in rites and ceremonies. These no longer possessed any virtue; for type was meeting antitype in himself, the authority and foundation of all Jewish ordinances that pointed to him as the great and only efficacious offering for the sins of the world. He gave this simple ordinance that it might be a special season when he himself would always be present, to lead all participating in it to feel the pulse of their own conscience, to awaken them to an understanding of the lessons symbolized, to revive their memory, to convict of sin, and to receive their penitential repentance. He would teach them that brother is not to exalt himself above brother, that the dangers of disunion and strife shall be seen and appreciated; for the health and holy activity of the soul are involved.
This ordinance does not speak so largely to man's intellectual capacity as to his heart. His moral and spiritual nature needs it. If his disciples had not needed this, it would not have been left for them as Christ's last established ordinance in connection with, and including, the last supper. It was Christ's desire to leave to his disciples an ordinance that would do for them the very thing they needed,--that would serve to disentangle them from the rites and ceremonies which they had hitherto engaged in as essential, and which the reception of the gospel made no longer of any force. To continue these rites would be an insult to Jehovah. Eating of the body, and drinking of the blood, of Christ, not merely at the sacramental service, but daily partaking of the bread of life to satisfy the soul's hunger, would be in receiving his word and doing his will. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #25)
Christ came to seek and to save that which was lost. His instruction was confined to the wants of their own condition in practical life. The curiosity that led them to seek for something they had not, when they came to him with prying questions, he turned into occasions of most solemn, earnest, vital appeal. When they were so eager to pluck from the tree of knowledge, he presented them with the fruit of the tree of life. They found every avenue closed to them, which would not advance them in spiritual understanding of the narrow way, leading to eternal life. They found every fountain sealed, save the fountain of eternal life. While the Holy Spirit was given them to understand everything that was essential for their salvation in the living oracles, the word of God, their unnecessary, uneasy, speculating inquiries were not opened before them. The devoted, humble seekers after the Way, the Truth, and the Life will be directed in safe paths to the mansions he has gone to prepare for them. All the light of revelation is permitted to shine upon this path alone, to make it so distinct that not one human soul need wander from the highway of holiness.
The great Teacher's wisdom in limiting the measure of our researches in earthly directions, called the attention of all to his legislation from the very foundation of our world,--to a code of morals, pure, simple, and practical, unencumbered by the long years of types and sacrifices, which passed away when the only true Sacrifice, Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, was offered for the sins of the world. His lessons to his disciples are received by all who would become his disciples, to the end of time. These lessons discharge his followers from the bondage of the ceremonial law, and leave them the ordinance of baptism to be received by repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as the only one who can take away sin.
The ceremony of feet-washing and the Lord's Supper, in its simplicity and spirituality, is to be observed with true solemnity, and with hearts full of thankfulness. Its participants are not to exhaust their powers of thought or their physical powers on outward forms and ceremonies. All the vigor of mind and the healthfulness of body are to be fresh to engage in the work of the gospel, to lead souls from sin into the upward path of holiness. In this ordinance is presented the necessity of economizing all the thoughts, all the energies, all the affections and faculties, to wear Christ's yoke, to come into partnership with him in seeking to save the souls that are perishing without God and without hope in the world.
This work the whole angelic host are engaged in as their highest service; and the human agent is to become a channel to meet humanity, and communicate to the world that which God has communicated to him, putting mind, heart, and soul into the work. God has made every provision that his requirements should meet a response in every soul, and that all should be eager, interested workers, putting forth all their entrusted capital of money, of vigor, of capabilities, that they may be worked upon by the Holy Spirit, adorning the doctrine of Christ their Saviour.
None should glory in their capabilities, or pride themselves in their intellectual greatness. All that can stir the soul, give impulse to the human agent, and awaken the godly to intense activity, comes from God. To those who are in connection with the work of the heavenly angels to embody in human nature the perfection of heavenly grace in Christ,--those who are one with Christ and with God,--he will give impulse to energize their every spiritual power. He calls upon all to surmount their difficulties, instead of looking at and deploring them. God will give sanctified energy to all who profess Christ. He arranges all rites, he collects all influences, and works them to his own name's glory.
God treats the human agencies connected with himself with a heavenly respect. The whole of God's law is of this character. Taking off every oppressive weight that man would lay upon his fellow man, he prescribes only that which is absolutely necessary for his physical, mental, and moral well-being. He imbues man with the attributes of God, and builds up the human character after the divine similitude, a goodly fabric of spiritual beauty and perfection.
In order to do this, in order that man might be in partnership with the great firm of heaven, Christ's lessons, from the beginning to the close of his life, taught humility before God. This would lead man to a love for his brother,--a spirit of love and forbearance toward all for whom Christ has died. Genuine humility is expressed in the words: "Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, and of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price." Humility is the lesson which Jesus has given in all his teachings all through his ministry, by both precept and example. He raised this precious attribute out of the dust in which it had been trodden, and clothed it with the garments of his own righteousness. "Blessed are the poor in spirit," he says; "for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
Satan erected his standard of revolt against God in heaven. He aspired to be like God, and determined to assert a power of independence of God. His after-history has revealed a persevering determination to establish his empire, governed by laws, and replenished with resources, independent of God. Every species of idolatry, sensuality, crime, rebellion, and irreligion, is the fruit borne from the proud and exalted claims of Satan. The Lord Jesus came to tear away the deceptive claims of Satan, and to reveal to the world that pride, self-sufficiency, and wrestling for the supremacy have no favor with heaven; for they are the attributes of Satan. Look at the humility of our Saviour in humbling himself to our humanity: "And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow."
In the East a common courtesy granted to travelers as they were welcomed to a house, was that a servant should remove their sandals and wash their feet. This hospitable action was neglected on one occasion, and the Lord reminded the Pharisee, whose invited guest he was, that he had shown discourtesy in this manifest neglect.
"Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat. And they said unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare? And he said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where be entereth in. And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guest chamber where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? And he shall show you a large upper room furnished: there make ready. And they went, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover. And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: for I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: for I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.
"And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you. But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table. And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed! And they began to inquire among themselves, which of them it was that should do this thing. And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest."
When they assembled to partake of the Lord's Supper, the ordinance of feet-washing was to be established as a religious ceremony. There was the pitcher of water, the basin, and the towel; but there had been a contention as to which should be the greatest in the Master's kingdom. The request of the sons of Zebedee that they should be awarded the most honored position, created jealousy and a heated discussion as to who should be thus favored. They began to refer to their capabilities and qualifications, and to declare who would best serve for the advancement of the kingdom. They had heard the words of Christ to John when, in response to the request of James and John, "Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory," Jesus said: "Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized. But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared."
But the disciples did not consider these words, and keep silent. The disciples should have learned the lessons of the Master,--that it is not reputation, natural talent, acquired skill, professional standing, nor any honor given them of men, that weighs at all in the decisions of heaven; "but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father." Had they thought of the lessons given them in reference to humility, they would have had altogether different opinions of the ones who should be honored in the kingdom of God. The disciples had often contended as to which of them should occupy the highest place of honor in the kingdom of God. Christ had given them special lessons, the most striking and positive of which is recorded in Matthew 18: "At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea." Yet again and again these lessons had to be repeated. The Lord had assured them that his kingdom was not of this world, but it was difficult for his disciples to be set right on this point. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #25)
"'Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.' 'Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'
"A steward identifies himself with his master. His master's interests become his. He has accepted the responsibilities of a steward, and he must act in the master's stead, doing as the master would do if he were presiding over his own goods. The position is one of dignity, in that his master trusts him. If a steward in any wise acts selfishly, and turns the advantages gained in trading with his lord's goods to his own advantage, he has perverted the trust reposed in him. The master can no longer look upon him as a servant to be trusted, one on whom he can depend.
"Every Christian is a steward of God, entrusted with his goods. Ministers and laymen have a work committed to them as individuals. All who are connected by faith with our Lord Jesus Christ have a ministry to perform. Those who do not take their position on the Lord's side, ought to without delay; for they will have to give an account of themselves to God. Christ paid the ransom for them as verily as for every professed Christian. If they despise the gift, the question will be asked, 'Who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?'
"Whether you are believers or unbelievers, you are the Lord's property, bought with a price. You may ignore your relationship with God as his children. Whose children, then, are you?--Children of the devil, and his deeds you are content to do. But all the influence you might have exercised by using your talent in behalf of truth and by cooperating with God, all the improvement your talents would have made if put into actual service through the provision made for you to cooperate with God, will be charged to your account. You stubbornly held yourself on Satan's side, giving your influence to the great apostate; and all the good you might have done through the atoning sacrifice, but did not do, will be charged against you when you are weighed in the balances and found wanting. You had a work to do. A special stewardship was entrusted to you, but you would not accept the trust. Christ crucified was presented to you. The Spirit of God pleaded with you. By being lifted up on the cross, Christ sought to draw you to himself. But your stubborn will would not yield to his invitations. His appeals were resisted. You are stewards, notwithstanding; but unfaithful, dishonorable stewards, burying your talents in the world, serving Satan in the place of serving the Lord. Impenitent sinner, what excuse will you give to God for all your wasted opportunities?"
"'It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.' He may not be an eloquent speaker, but he can present the truth in the clearest simplicity. He can work intelligently, doing his best according to his ability; and if he is faithful, God will give him wisdom, and increase his talents.
"To some are entrusted larger responsibilities than to others. But if you have only one talent, you may increase it by use, to two. Then by working humbly, trustingly, you may add to the two, two more. Thus the work in your charge may be continually growing. But there are a large number of idle stewards. . . .
"Let every church member carefully consider his responsibilities, and look himself in the face. Become acquainted with yourself. Urge home upon your own heart that you are not to seek to make yourself a specialty, for effect, for praise, but a specialty in seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Inquire seriously, Am I faithful? First be a most faithful steward over yourself. Search your own heart, and often compare it with the great mirror of the word of God, until, tried and searched of God, you will be approved of him, not having your own righteousness, but the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Strengthened by his might in the inner man, you will be accepted as a vessel unto honor.
"You may say, I have not large means, and can do but little with the little I have. All the Lord asks of you is to be a faithful steward, to render to God a tenth of all your increase, without stopping to measure the matter to see how you are coming out. You who have but little means, render back to him the portion belonging to him; for it is not yours. It is a serious matter to rob God. Thus you deprive yourself of the blessing he has promised to bestow if you exercise faithful stewardship. If you have been untrue to God, if you show that you will not do according to the agreement he has made with you, will he bless you with facilities for obtaining more means? You keep yourself under condemnation as an unfaithful steward by working contrary to a 'Thus saith the Lord.' You deprive the treasury of God of your proportion of his agreement with you because you choose to walk in the light of the sparks of your own kindling. In your finite wisdom, you think you are making better terms with yourself than God has made with you. How, then, if you are an unfaithful steward with the least, can the Lord entrust to you larger responsibilities?
"God wants all his stewards to be exact in following divine arrangements. They are not to offset the Lord's plans with some deed of charity, some gift, or some offering, done or given when and how they, the human agents, shall see fit. God has made his plan known; and all who cooperate with him will carry out his plan, instead of daring to attempt to improve on it by their own arrangements. Those who honor a 'Thus saith the Lord,' who accept exactly what the Lord has devised, will do according to God's plan. God will honor them, and work in their behalf; for we have his pledged word that he will open the windows of heaven, and pour us out a blessing, such as there will not be room enough to receive.
"It is a very poor policy for men to seek to improve on God's plan, and invent a makeshift, averaging up their good impulses in this and that instance, and offsetting them against all that is required by God. God calls upon you to give every jot of influence to his own arrangement and ordinances. We are to strike true and faithful figures in tithing, and then say to the Lord, I have done as thou hast commanded me. If thou wilt honor me by trusting me with thy goods to trade upon, I will, by thy grace, be a faithful steward, doing all in my power to bring meat to thy house; and I will seek to instruct others how to work in the same lines.
"Bear in mind, 'Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.' Men who have large responsibilities are to be sure that they are not robbing God in any jots or tittles, when so much is involved, as is so plainly stated in Malachi. Here we are told that a blessing is given for a faithful disposition of the tithes, and a curse for the covetous retention of the money which should flow into the treasury. Then ought we not to be sure to work on the safe side, so dealing with God in handling the property lent us on trust, that no shadow of reproach shall fall upon us?
"'Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts.' I need not ask, Will not God bless those who are faithful?--We have his pledged word. But the blessing of God is withdrawn from dishonest, covetous church members in this life. God says it; and what God says is true. Who of you claiming to be the children of God will venture to meet your delinquencies when the books shall be opened, and every man judged according to the deeds done in the body?
"The first point we need to settle is that we are not to look upon the property we are handling as our own, with which we may do as we please. It is the Lord's, to be administered in accordance with his prescribed plans. Be faithful in giving to the Lord the specified amount he has directed you to give. Then present the great mystery of godliness, lifting up Christ, and saying, 'Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.'
"Every church member who has been truly converted is to be given some work. 'The cause which I knew not I searched out,' Job declared. Consideration is to be given as to what service for God means. It means that we are to do the same kind of ministry that Christ did when he was in our world. In this work, whether we are rich or poor, we are called upon to wear Christ's yoke, and learn of him to be meek and lowly in heart. Some more especially may be given the work of setting forth Christ from the pulpit, opening the oracles of God to the churches. Yet they should not seclude themselves from visiting families, talking with them, praying with them, exhorting them, encouraging those who need encouraging, and presenting a 'Thus saith the Lord' to meet every cause of deficiency. Altogether too little of this work is done. Personal labor is greatly needed. Many, many souls might be saved if those who claim to be followers of Christ would work as Christ worked, living not to please self, but to glorify God, acting as missionaries, showing genuine love for the Master by making every possible use of their entrusted talents. From the very nature of work in Christ's lines, those who do it will lose sight of self.
"We are called upon to love souls as Christ loved them, to feel a travail of soul that sinners shall be converted. Present the matchless love of Christ. Hide self out of sight. O, what care should be taken by all who claim to be Christians, that they do not call their passions and self-importance, religion! By showing vanity, by longing for distinction, many hide the person of Christ, and expose themselves to view. There is such self-importance in their own ideas and ways, and they cherish such a pleasing sense of their own smartness, that the Lord can not bestow his Holy Spirit upon them. If he did, they would misinterpret it, and exalt themselves still higher because of it. Their self-pleasing ideas are a great hindrance to the advancement of the work. Whatever part they act, self is the main picture presented. Their own zeal and devotion are thought to be the great power of truth. Unaware to themselves, all such are unfaithful stewards. They swerve the work into wrong lines. Self-importance leads them where they will be left to make false moves.
"We are not to exalt the work of any man, magnifying him and praising his judgment. The first rising of self is the beginning of your fall, your separation from Christ. We can not in any degree exalt self without being humbled. As Christians, we are to make the light of Christ's truth shine. Self is to be kept out of sight. Christ is the Truth and the Light. He is the mirror from which to reflect truly every work done to his name's glory. The world needs light. 'Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.'
"What makes it so hard for the rich to enter into the kingdom of heaven? Why are riches, in the place of becoming a precious treasure used to advance the work and cause of God, made a curse, separating the soul from God? Why allow them to lead to the idolatry of self? God wants you, rich men, to use your goods as a sacred trust, not your own. He has made you stewards over these goods. You are to calculate wisely, employing your powers to use, to the very best advantage, the money entrusted.
"But O, how many of God's gifts have been misused, because those to whom they were given did not have the fervor of the love of Christ in the soul! There is great need of each one doing his best. There are those who would have used wisely the talents given them, if they had been left to struggle and depend on their capabilities. But they became the possessors of means, and they lost the incentive to cultivate their talents, and make all possible of themselves by communicating what they had. An abundance of money has spoiled them for faithfully fulfilling their stewardship.
"Let all who claim to be Christians deal wisely with the Lord's goods. God is making an inventory of the money lent you and the spiritual advantages given you. Will you, as stewards, make careful inventory? Will you examine whether you are using economically all that God has placed in your charge, or whether you are wasting the Lord's goods by selfish outlay in order to make a display? Would that all that is spent needlessly were laid up as treasure in heaven!
"God gives more than money to his stewards. Your talent of imparting is a gift. What are you communicating of the gifts of God, in your words, in your tender sympathy? Are you allowing your money to go into the enemy's ranks to ruin the ones you seek to please? Then, again, the knowledge of truth is a talent. There are many souls in darkness that might be enlightened by true, faithful words from you. There are hearts that are hungering for sympathy, perishing away from God. Your sympathy may help them.
"The Lord has need of your words, dictated by his Holy Spirit. He has need of the investment of your means. He needs your work for the salvation of souls. You can permit your means to be taken out of your hands to please your children. You may allow the enemy to rob you of the means that God calls for, to be used in lifting up the standard of truth in places where the people have not yet heard the message. Your means may be sunk in worldly investments, and turned into worldly channels. It may be used to do no one any good. But the Lord, the owner of all, will call you to render your account to him.
"The first work for all Christians to do is to search the Scriptures, with most earnest prayer, that they may have that faith that works by love, and purifies the soul from every thread of selfishness. If the truth is received into the heart, it works like good leaven, until every power is brought into subjection to the will of God. Then you can no more help shining than can the sun. You have striven to separate from every kind of rubbish, and to let the peace of Christ rule in your heart. But if you do not have the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness, you will reveal this by your outward insincerity. You will show this by revealing a heart that is pleased with vanity and outward adornment, by using the means that comes into your hands to gratify the unsanctified soul with idols of some order. How small is the treasure laid up in heaven by such! How little do they communicate to others in sacred ministry!
"All natural gifts are to be sanctified as precious endowments. They are to be consecrated to God, that they may minister for the Master. All social advantages are talents. They are not to be devoted to self-pleasing, amusement, or self-gratification. Money and estates are the Lord's, to be used wholly to honor him; for he has pledged his word that if we use his entrusted goods as faithful stewards, we shall be rich in blessings, of which we shall have a supply to bless others. But if we regard the advantages given to us as our own, to be used according to our pleasure, to make a display and create a sensation, the Lord Jesus, our Redeemer, is put to shame by the characters of his professed followers."
"The Lord has given evidence of his love for the world. There was no falsity, no acting, in what he did. He gave a living Gift, capable of suffering humiliation, neglect, shame, reproach. This Christ did that he might rescue the fallen. While human beings were instituting schemes and methods to destroy him, the Son of the infinite God came to our world to give an example of the great work to be done to redeem and save man. But today the proud and disobedient are striving to acquire a great name and great honor from their fellow men by using their God-given endowments to amuse. This they do instead of calling upon them to behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world.
"God's great and strange work is to redeem and save, and thus repair the ruin that sin has made. Some see many things in the Bible that to them sanction a course of action that God will never approve. But when God converts human agents, they will flee to Christ, their life, to be hid with him in God. They will lift up their eyes to the perpetual desolation which sin has made and is making, and will pray that they may be co-laborers with Christ. They will begin to repair the old waste places which have been made by high and low in the law of God.
"All who desire a place of distinction have an opportunity to wear the yoke of Christ 'Learn of me,' says the Great Teacher; '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.' Let the cry of the soul be, 'O Lord, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth. . . . For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall. . . . And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.'
"The gift of correct example is a great thing. But many gather about the soul an atmosphere that is malarious. These know not, in this their day, the things that belong to their peace. They have, to a great degree, lost the faculty of spiritual discernment. They call good evil, and evil good.
"The gifts of speech, of knowledge, of sympathy and love, communicate a knowledge of Christ. All these gifts are to be converted to God. The Lord stands in need of them; he calls for them. All are to act a part in preparing their own souls and the souls of others to dedicate their talents to God. Every soul, every gift, is to be laid under contribution to God. All are to cooperate with God in the work of saving souls. The talents you possess are given you of God to make you efficient co-laborers with Christ. There are hearts hungering for sympathy, perishing for the help and assistance God has given you to give to them. Our churches are sickly, because they do not do their appointed work. They are not as God would have them be. O, that they would awake from their lethargy!
"'Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 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. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.'" Mrs. E. G. White.
Christianity.--"'Christianity.' How many there are who do not know what it is! It is not something put on the outside. It is a life inwrought with the life of Jesus. It means that we are wearing the robe of Christ's righteousness. In regard to the world, Christians will say, We will not dabble in politics. They will say, decidedly. We are pilgrims and strangers; our citizenship is above. They will not be seen choosing company for amusement. They will say, We have ceased to be infatuated by childish things. We are strangers and pilgrims, looking for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God."-- Testimony. Mrs. E. G. White.
"The Lord has been greatly dishonored by his people catching up the issues that arise in this time of test and trial. His people are to keep free from politics. They are to stand as a separate and peculiar people; the name of God, our Ruler, is to be in their foreheads, showing to all that he is their Sovereign.
"If those who know the truth will have faith and zeal corresponding to their knowledge; if they desire to manifest their piety, and reveal what the truth has done for them, showing that the salt has not lost its savor, they will communicate the saving and sanctifying power of the truth to all with whom they associate. There will then be less controversy and a deeper interest in the things of God. . . . Men are to become the subjects of Christ's kingdom. Through the divine power imputed to them, they are to return to their allegiance. By laws and resources, God has ordained a heavenly communication with man's spiritual life, that, in its action, is as mysterious as the science and operation of the wind. John 3: 7, 8. Christ declared, 'My kingdom is not of this world.' While it imprints its influence upon earthly governments, it can not take the slightest imprint from them without marring the divine similitude. So spiritual is the character of God's work upon the human heart that receives it, that it makes every one a new creature, without destroying or weakening any capability God has given to man. It purifies every attribute fit for connection with the divine nature. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit; and when man is born from above, a heavenly peace pervades the soul.
"Christ's subjects are those who keep his commandments. These only are counted as his subjects. If, after the light has come, the disobedient continue in transgression, they are subjects of the kingdom of the prince of this world. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
"But the heavenly principles that distinguish those who are one with Christ from those who are one with the world have become almost indistinguishable. The professed people of Christ are no longer a separate and peculiar people. The line of demarcation is indistinct. People are subordinating themselves to the world, to its practises, its customs, its selfishness. The church has gone over to the world in transgression of the law, when the world should have come over to the church in obedience to the law. Daily the church is becoming converted to the world. Professing Christians are slaves of Mammon. Their indulgence of appetite, and extravagant expenditure of money for selfish gratification, greatly dishonor God.
"Contrary to worldly kingdoms, Christ does not find his subjects,--he makes them. Those who stand under the bloodstained banner of Prince Immanuel are the subjects of a kingdom not recognized by worldly kingdoms, whose subjects have wandered from their allegiance to God, from their obedience to the law of his kingdom. These are accounted as dead in trespasses and sins. They are destitute of the Spirit of God, which worketh in the children of obedience.
"I am come, Christ said, to set up a new kingdom. Except a man be born of the Spirit, he can not be enrolled as a subject of my kingdom."-- Testimony, Jan. 11, 1897. By Mrs. E. G. White.
"The Lord did not want you to employ your God-given time, and set your talents to work, in wrong channels. Your work was not set you in that line at all. Neither you nor any of your brethren had any work to do in arguing or writing or talking any part whatever in politics. God was dishonored by all who acted any part in politics.
"God has chosen a people who are to proclaim the third angel's message to the world. They are to be a separate and peculiar people in this world of churches who are transgressing his commandments. We have a special work to do to prepare the people for the greatest event the world has ever seen. The books of Daniel and Revelation are of great consequence to us, and should be studied with great earnestness.
"'For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. 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: but because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; and repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face. Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them. . . . And the Lord will take away from thee all sickness, and will put none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which thou knowest, upon thee; but will lay them upon all them that hate thee.'
"The Lord would have his people a separate and peculiar people, bearing the sign and seal of the Sabbath, in preserving the memorial, the seventh day, upon which the Lord rested after his work of creation. 'And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.' He gave the Sabbath to man as a day of rest, when his people might assemble to worship him, and come in close relationship with God. All heaven is interested in the worship of God's people.
"When man is created anew in Christ Jesus, he becomes partaker of the divine nature. God has, through his own power, united in man the human and the divine. He clothes humanity with the robe of Christ's righteousness. Man is enabled to discern the Saviour; and by beholding, he is changed into the likeness of his character. He recognizes the words of Christ, 'All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.' He who discerns Christ is a partaker of his Spirit and his righteousness. He has the inward assurance that Christ is abiding in the soul temple.
"The redemption of men draws them away from political strife to rest and peace and quietude in God. All who contemplate this will indeed have the mind of Christ, and will be clothed with the garments of Christ's righteousness. And all who are thus blessed will, with ardor, cry, "We beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.'
"Here was presented to the human mind spiritual and glorious light. 'The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, . . . full of grace and truth.' What nearness to God we may experience! What views of heaven we may obtain! But that which is of the greatest importance to all who live their life to God, is for them to understand their daily service for Jesus Christ, in representing his character in meekness and lowliness of heart, and in being good and doing good. . . .
"The Lord would have us represent Christ, and show to the world his attractive character. We may have joy in the Lord, if we will keep his commandments. If we indeed have our citizenship above, and a title to an immortal inheritance, an eternal substance, then let us have that faith that works by love and purifies the soul from every spiritual defilement. If our citizenship is above, what right have we to be engaging in political strifes? We are not called to any such service. 'Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.' What more could we ask? We shall be members of the royal family, children of a heavenly King, heirs of God, and joints heirs with Christ to an immortal inheritance. We shall have the crown of life, that fadeth not away."-- Testimony, Dec. 14, 1897. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #26)
"For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the laborers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the laborers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last."
The laborers for the Master were his official servants, upon whom he laid the weightiest responsibilities to do his work. And he agreed to give them their wages. From time to time he added others to the laborers, saying, "Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you." Some were found waiting for work at the eleventh hour, only one hour before the close of the working day. When the reckoning time between the master and workers came, the last hired were the first paid. When the first came, they supposed that they would receive more than those who had worked for so short a period; but they received every man a penny. Yet those who received all that had been promised them were displeased.
This parable was forever to quench the eager, grasping, mercenary spirit which is so offensive to God. Those who possessed this spirit were revealing their own unworthiness of having their wages increased, or to have the highest place. The complaint was: "These last have wrought but one hour; and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day." The answer came: "Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?. . . .Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last."
The spirit with which each one labors is what determines his usefulness and faithfulness in the work. In all who indulge the spirit of criticizing and murmuring, these attributes are confirmed, and thus the root of dissension and bitterness grows up imperceptibly. When circumstances occur that demand the most attentive, whole-souled interest, to do the right kind of work, to cooperate with God, such are found on the wrong side. Satan's temptations find a place in their mind and heart; and they work to counteract, rather than to cooperate with, God.
The Lord understands all the defects in human character. He desires to save man. It was for this purpose that he came to this world. In him all sufficiency dwells. In him dwells all "the fulness of the Godhead bodily." The defective characters that remain thus, when One is among them who came to our world for the express purpose of taking away the sin of the world, make manifest that they do not appreciate the attributes of Christ sufficiently to hunger and thirst after righteousness, and they will not be exalted as worthy. "Blessed are the meek," were the words that fell from his divine lips; "for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."
These are the characters that are fitting for heaven. Christ is every possible strength to all who will appropriate his words by faith. He is indeed the Bread of life. No man, woman, youth, or child can say, I have cravings that he can not satisfy. All cravings that he does not fill are supplied with a superior sufficiency, which is for the perfection of Christian character.
We all need to understand that the craving for supremacy is placing men where they will never gain the supremacy in the future life, even if they gain it in this. The ordinance of feet-washing was a revealer of character, and always will be. The Holy Spirit is present on such occasions to convict of sin, and the heart is touched and made contrite. The penitential confession clears the moral atmosphere of the soul, and awakens holy principles. The subduing grace of Christ comes into the heart, and the love of Christ draws hearts together in a blessed unity. Sins are seen in the light in which God views them. They are confessed, they are forgiven.
The administration of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper is for the purpose of making a forcible illustration of the infinite sacrifice made for a sinful world, and for us individually, as a part of that great whole of fallen humanity, before whose eyes Christ has evidently been set forth crucified among them.
"For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord."
This is a special service; and in its observance there is to be a peaceful, grateful heart. Inasmuch as this service, in the bread and wine, represents the body the Lord gave for the sin of the world, the ministration of the sacrament is commemorative of Christ's humiliation, betrayal, and sufferings, as an offered sacrifice. In symbol, Christ is set forth crucified among us. The representative of Christ is present. No one can partake of the emblems of the Lord's sacrifice in behalf of the world, with his spiritual sensibilities in full and free exercise, without recalling the whole painful history connected with the scene of Christ's communion with his disciples. Before the mind passes the whole scene of his great agony in the garden of Gethsemane. All the abuse and suffering that man could heap upon his fellow man were endured by our Lord and Master.
The Lord Jesus is present on every occasion. He reads every purpose of the heart, and his righteous principles are vindicated in the heart-searching, the heart-humbling, the penitence; and the atonement itself provided by Infinite Love is acceptable to God, and Christ's righteousness is imputed to the sinner. The humiliating ordinance is made an occasion of appeal to the spiritual imagination, and there is a vital connection with Jesus Christ. If a man is to be convinced, the truth as it is in Jesus must be presented to his mind, and must appeal to his heart. Christ refuses every other method,--everything like compulsion, or restriction, or force. His only weapons are truth and love. "I, if I be lifted up from the earth," he says, "will draw all men unto me." Fallen humanity is drawn, not forced, into any position.
To all who receive him, Christ is an inexhaustible treasure house of supply for all spiritual necessities. Then let us take in all the blessedness of the provision made, that when we shall engage in the ordinance of feet-washing, we may take in all its significance. The Holy Watcher is present from heaven to make this season one of soul-searching, one of conviction of sin, and of the blessed assurance of sins forgiven. "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." They have the blessed assurance, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."
And now, with humble, subdued, and grateful hearts, they come to the sacramental service. We need to have an understanding that we are living under the dispensation of the Spirit. Our senses must be cultivated through the improvement of our God-given opportunities to lay hold, with intellect and soul, upon the mystery of godliness by obtaining a more thorough knowledge of the work of redemption. This is not to be merely the work that ministers must do. Every soul who names the name of Christ must participate in it. The members of the church who listen to the word that is preached among them are to put to a practical use that word as a God-sent message to them individually. They are to comprehend, which it is the privilege of all to do, far more intelligently and deeply than they have done, the expiatory sufferings of Christ. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #27)
Christ was performing an act of service for his disciples. He took a towel, and girded himself. He had many things to say to them, but how would they bear it? He saw that commotions of a forbidding order were taking hold upon them. Contention had come in among them. For one of their number to wash the feet of the rest was, they thought, an act to be looked down upon,--an act that servants were supposed to do always,--and there was no one that made a move, yet, the while, all were trying to appear unconscious. O, how wretchedly miserable they felt! They seemed to think only of themselves. What terrible selfishness, and choosing to have their own way!
The Saviour let the matter linger a little while, to see if their hearts would change. And then he, the one they loved, rose, and laid aside his garments, and, taking a towel, girded himself, pouring water into the basin. It was then that the disciples were astonished and ashamed. Christ could not have put upon them a greater rebuke. In his heart he pitied his disciples. He knew that after his death, all this scene would scourge them, and be sufficient punishment. His soul was already pressed under a severe load, that none of them could enter into. But his love did not change at all. He knew that the hour was just before him when he should depart out of this world, and go unto the Father; yet, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. His love was enduring, it was divine. Their childish jealousies and passions were hurting their own souls.
Christ gave no word of rebuke to Judas,--the poor, sinful man who had allowed himself to become the channel of darkness. O that he would be ashamed, convicted, and be willing to cast out Satan! But Judas turned the wrong way. The greater the goodness, the humility, and the love of Christ expressed toward him, the more powerful were the enemy's presentations that this was not the Son of God, but a pretender. Judas knew better; but he braced his soul against light. He had given up all hope of temporal preferment, and now sought to obliterate from his mind everything that he had heard. He had often been deeply impressed under the Holy Spirit's working; but he fought away from Jesus, and became a traitor, a betrayer.
The disciples knew nothing of the purposes of Judas. Jesus alone could read his secret. Yet the Master did not expose him. When Jesus' precious hands were bathing those soiled feet, and wiping them with the towel, the heart of Judas thrilled through and through with an impulse there and then to confess. He was the first one whose feet were washed. The way Christ treated his disciples, and especially poor, deluded Judas, was a sample of his treatment of them all through his association with them. Judas was not, in appearance or deportment, the low, villainous man that might be supposed. He was considered by his associate disciples to be a man of great capabilities. He had considerable breadth of knowledge, and his qualifications would have been valuable if they had been sanctified to the service of God. But while the disciples were ashamed, mortified, and conscience-stricken, their hearts subdued and broken, they felt their hearts go out to Jesus with that deep, earnest faith that works by love and purifies the soul. Judas was rejecting Jesus.
When Peter's turn came, he utterly refused to allow Christ to touch his feet. He would gladly have taken the place of the Master, and become even a slave for his sake. He exclaimed, "Thou shalt never wash my feet." But Christ told him, as he had told John when he refused to baptize Jesus, "Suffer it to be so now." That which he did not understand then, he would better comprehend at another time. He assured Peter, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me." Except in the case of one, this washing signified the cleansing from sin. He said, "Ye are clean, but not all." Judas would not be cleansed by repentance, remorse, and confession. His last chance was being offered him. In his heart, Jesus felt the keenness of hunger for that soul. His soul had a burden similar to that he bore when he wept over the doomed city on the crest of Olivet. In his agony of tears his heart said, "How shall I give thee up?" "If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes." Judas' last chance was gone.
When Christ told Peter that unless he submitted to this service, he could have no part with him, Peter surrendered his pride and self-will. This can never, never be. He was all broken up at the thought, and exclaimed, "Not my feet only, but also my hands and my head." Jesus had a lesson, deep, full, and significant: "He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all." The true version reads, "He that is bathed needeth not save to wash his feet." That lesson comprehended more than bodily cleansing. The feet of Judas were washed, but his heart was defiled with sin. In the very act of girding himself with a towel to wash the feet of his disciples, Jesus would subdue and cleanse them from their alienation, and dissension, and jealousy, and pride. Not one of them was in an acceptable state before God, with such a spirit of unhappy dissension. The renewed heart, cleansed from every defilement, was of far more consequence than the outward application of water to their dusty feet. Jesus could not give them the lessons he so much desired to impart unless they would come into a proper state of humility and affection. Dissension always creates hatred, but Christ washed it away in the act of washing his disciples' feet. A change of feeling did come; the union of heart and love for one another did exist. They became meek, teachable, and loving, and would have conceded to any one the highest place. They were prepared to partake of the last supper with fragrant feelings of love, deep and full, for their Master and for one another.
Shall we learn the lesson of the marvelous wisdom and love of God? Shall we, at the ordinance of feet-washing, be softened and subdued, as were the first disciples? Peter shrank from bringing his soiled feet in touch with the hands of his Lord and Master; yet how often we bring our sinful, polluted souls in contact with the heart of Christ, who hates nothing but sin. O, how we grieve the pure, holy Spirit of Christ with our defiling sins! We are not prepared for the appreciation of the holy communion with Christ and with one another unless we are cleansed by his efficacy.
We need closely to investigate our life and character, and have true contrition of soul, having fellowship with Christ and fellowship with our brethren. Then we shall show that we can appreciate the work of the Holy Spirit upon our hearts. The barriers of pride, of self-sufficiency, are first to be broken down; then the love of Jesus will abound in our hearts. Then we can partake of the communion with a consciousness of sins forgiven; for whosoever sits down at the communion service should sit down humble and clean in heart, and purified from all defilement. Then the sunshine of Christ's righteousness will fill the chambers of our minds and the soul temple. We shall "behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."
This humble service is to recover man from the difficulties of sin. We are to bear in mind that in washing one another's feet, we are in Christ's place. And while we do this service, Christ is our witness; angels are watching, and the atmosphere of heaven is surrounding us. When we do just what Christ has charged us to do, we are bringing ourselves in close relation to our Lord, who is present on that occasion. There is One in our midst who has said, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." He is present to impress hearts. The life of him who is the Light from above and the Way below, will guide into all truth every soul who will come to him. His whole life was an unfolding of his love,--a revelation of the character of God. His Father is our Father.
We can better take part in this instituted ordinance when we call to mind his words: "Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me. Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #28)
The sayings of Christ are to be valued not merely in accordance with the measure of man's understanding; they are to be considered in the important bearing which Christ himself gave them. He took old truths, of which he himself was the originator, and placed them before his hearers in heaven's own light. And how different was their representation! What a flood of meaning, and brightness, and spirituality was brought in by their explanation!
Christ set forth deeper and more spiritual truths than had ever before been heard from rulers, scribes, or elders. "I am the way, the truth, and the life," he declared. The rich treasures of truth opened before the people attracted and charmed them. They were in marked contrast with the spiritless, lifeless expositions of the Old Testament Scriptures by the rabbis. And the miracles which Jesus wrought kept constantly before his hearers the honor and glory of God. He seemed to them a messenger direct from heaven; for he spoke not to their ears only, but to their hearts. As he stood forth in his humility, yet in dignity and majesty, as one born to command, a power attended him; hearts were melted into tenderness. An earnest desire was created to be in his presence, to listen to the voice of him who uttered truth with such solemn melody.
At the beginning of his ministry, Christ had declared the character of his work. "And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord."
That word was fulfilled. The sick were healed, demoniacs were restored, lepers and paralytics were made whole. The dumb spoke, the ears of the deaf were opened, the dead were brought to life, and the poor had the gospel preached to them. Every miracle wrought by Christ convinced some of his true character. Had a man in the common walks of life done the same works that Christ did, all would have declared that he was working by the power of God. But there were those who did not receive the light of heaven, and they set themselves more determinedly against this evidence.
The Jews were expecting an earthly prince, who would deliver them from power which God had declared would rule over them if they refused to keep the way of the Lord, and obey his laws. They had made their proud boast that Israel's king, the star arising from Judah, would break their thraldom, and make of them a kingdom of priests.
It was not the absence of external honor and riches and glory that caused the Jews to reject Jesus. The Sun of Righteousness, shining amid the moral darkness in such distinct rays, revealed the contrast between sin and holiness, purity and defilement, and such light was not welcome to them. Christ was not such a one as themselves. The Jews could have borne the disappointment of their hopes better than they could bear the righteous denunciation of their sins. In parables, Christ laid bare their professed sanctity. He compared them to whited sepulchers, deceiving the people by their pretensions to purity.
In his youth, Christ was subject to his parents,--an example of obedience to all the youth. In his youth he learned the trade of a carpenter, and earned his bread by the sweat of his brow. Thus he honored physical labor. It should be an encouragement and source of strength to every human being, in the performance of the commonplace duties of life, to know that Jesus toiled to provide for his own temporal wants.
The teachings of Christ, in precept and example, were the sowing of the seed afterward to be cultivated by his disciples. The testimony of these fishermen was to be referred to as the highest authority, by all the nations of the world. They had not learned in the schools of the prophets; but Jesus had been their teacher, and had given them knowledge uncorrupted by tradition and bigotry. Christ scattered the heavenly grain, which minds and hearts that desired light and knowledge might gather up as precious treasure sent from heaven.
After his resurrection, Christ opened the understanding of his followers, that they might understand the Scriptures. Everything had been transformed by the working of the arts of Satan. Truth was covered up by the rubbish of error, and hidden from finite sight. When Christ had foretold his humiliation, rejection, and crucifixion, the disciples would not take in his meaning. It had been a part of their education that the Messiah would set up a temporal kingdom; and when Christ spoke of his sufferings, they did not understand his words. He reproved them because of their slowness of apprehension, and promised them that when the Comforter should come, he would bring many things to their remembrance.
Christ had many truths to give to his disciples, of which he could not speak, because they did not advance with the light that was flashed upon Levitical laws and the sacrificial offerings. They did not accept the light, advance with the light, and follow on to still greater brightness as Providence should lead the way. And for the same reason, Christ's disciples of 1898 do not comprehend important matters of truth. So dull has been the comprehension even of those who teach the truth to others, that many things can not be opened to them until they reach heaven. This ought not to be. But as men's minds become narrow, they think they know all, when they have only a glimpse of truth. They close their minds, as if there were no more for them to learn; and should the Lord attempt to lead them on, they would not accept the increased light. They cling to the spot where they see light, when that which they see is only a glimmer of the bright beams they might enjoy. They know very little of what it means to follow in the footsteps of Christ.
In their harmonious relation, the truths of Scripture are like links in a chain. Just as fast as our minds are quickened by the Spirit of God to comprehend light, and in humbleness appropriate it, we shall dispense it to others, and give the glory back to God. The development of truth is the reward of the humble-hearted seeker who will fear of God, and walk with him. The truth which the mind grasps as truth is capable of constant expansion and new development. While we behold it, the truth is revealed in all its bearings in the life and character, and becomes more clear, and certain, and beauteous. The mind that grasps it in its preciousness becomes elevated, ennobled, sanctified.
Far, very far, are human minds from grasping the teachings of Christ. These are old truths in new settings. The entire system of Judaism was the gospel veiled. Those who will not consider are like the Jews. It is humbling to their dignity and pride to work the mines of truth. But the Light of the world is sending his divine rays to illuminate the entire Jewish economy, and the minds that have been accepting the sayings of men as the commandments of God are to be educated to look to God himself, the author of all truth.
In his habits and customs and practises, Christ did not conform to the standard of the world. What a lesson he gives to the churches that bear his name! They are not to exalt themselves above the Majesty of heaven, their Redeemer. What do men find in the example of Christ to justify them in their feelings of superiority, in keeping themselves apart from their fellow men, hiding themselves from their own flesh, because they have obtained more of this world's goods than their neighbors? Because the world honors the wealthy and despises the poor, shall those who claim to follow Jesus do the same? Whose example are such following?--Surely not the example of him who said, "He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, "to preach the gospel to the poor."
Very many teachers are content with a supposition in regard to the truth. They have crude ideas, and are content with a surface work in searching for truth, taking for granted that they have all that is essential. They take the sayings of others for truth, being too indolent to put themselves to diligent, earnest labor, represented in the Word as digging for hidden treasure. But man's inventions are not only unreliable, they are dangerous; for they place man where God should be. They place the sayings of men where a "Thus saith the Lord" should be. The world's Redeemer alone possesses the key to unlock the treasure house of the Old Testament. He explores hidden things. He separates the precious truth from superstition and error and the devisings and imaginings of men.
Sharp, clear perceptions of truth will never be the reward of indolence. Investigation of every point that has been received as truth will richly repay the searcher; he will find precious gems. And in closely investigating every jot and tittle which we think is established truth, in comparing scripture with scripture, we may discover errors in our interpretation of Scripture. Christ would have the searcher of his word sink the shaft deeper into the mines of truth. If the search is properly conducted, jewels of inestimable value will be found. The word of God is the mine of the unsearchable riches of Christ. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #29)
"And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."
This is a consecrated message, commissioning God's servants to preach the gospel to all nations, tongues, and peoples. Christ gave his life to save sinners. He gave himself as a substitute for the sinful race. He made an offering of himself, that men might be elevated and ennobled by entering into oneness with him. He came to quicken their understanding, that they might discern truth. The truths which God had given had been lost or obscured. Through the lapse of time, they had been removed from their true place in the economy of God. Christ replaced and re-established these principles. He laid out a work before his disciples. They were to preach the word. Not in their own strength were they to do this. Christ came to reveal the truth. "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, . . . full of grace and truth." In his power the disciples were to carry forward the work given them.
And to those who have the light of truth in this time is the commission given, "Go work today in my vineyard." All heaven is waiting for men to cooperate with heavenly intelligences by repeating the lessons given by Christ to his disciples when he was with them in humanity. At all times and in all places, we are to work for God. The call is to be given in the highways and hedges, "Come; for all things are now ready." All who go forth as Christ has directed, with a sense of their responsibility for the souls to be saved, will have an increasing solicitude to win souls to Christ; and they will be blessed in their work. There are many who desire the truth. After hearing the word from God's messengers, they receive it. Through diligent searching, they understand their Bibles as never before. All heaven is full of joy when souls thus hunger and thirst after righteousness, confessing their sins, and receiving remission from Christ.
The Pharisees could not understand why the holy Teacher sent from God should eat with publicans and sinners. "Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?" they asked the disciples. In answer to them, Christ spoke words that will live through all time: "Go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." "The Son of man is come to save that which was lost. How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish." "I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance."
Why did Christ eat with publicans?--Because he knew that at their tables there were sinners to be saved. In all his words he scattered the seeds of truth. This his ambassadors are to do. They are to study how they can reach souls. They are to be found in every place where there are souls in need of a Saviour.
In Christ's strength, men may go forward in the great, grand work of imparting his lifegiving principles to those who are perishing in their sins. Those who are called and chosen will be co-laborers with Christ. They have a part to act under the greatest Educator the world has ever known. He who is consecrated to God, sanctified by the breath of Christ, is one with Christ. He can communicate to others the instruction he has received. He can tell them that the merits of a crucified and risen Saviour are our hope and crown of rejoicing.
Jesus is our surety. "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." Christ, our Passover, has been sacrificed for us. Every drop of blood shed by the Jewish sacrifices pointed to the Lamb of God. All the typical offerings were fulfilled in him. Type met antitype when he died on the cross. He came to make it possible, by the sacrifice of himself, to put away sin. He paid the ransom for our redemption. We are bought with a price; and Christ calls upon us to let him take our sins, and impute to us his righteousness.
God is found of those who diligently seek him. His servants are not to be slothful in business. They may understand that it is their privilege to be obedient to all his requirements. They are to be fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. They are not to serve worldly interests. They are not to seek for gold and silver as their god. All their desires are to be directed heavenward. Those who believe the truth are to use their entrusted capital of intellect and wealth in God's service. God has made them his stewards; they are to act in his stead. God has a controversy with those who misapply the capabilities and powers given them. Souls that might have been saved are lost through their unfaithfulness, indolence, and neglect.
Think of what may be gained by all who seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness! There is a great work before all who will do this. A field of usefulness is open to him who will do good in this life. The words and works of the one who thus serves God are a savor of life unto life. He may not be able to speak to congregations, but he can lead souls to Jesus.
The Lord has more and still more grace and love to give to those who preach the gospel to sinners. A work is to be done in and for the churches. They are not merely to be preached to; they are to be educated to receive Christ as their Saviour. The hearts of the members are to be so softened and humble that they will receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save their souls.
Ministry does not consist alone in preaching. Those minister who relieve the sick and suffering, helping the needy, speaking words of comfort to the desponding and those of little faith. Nigh and afar off, souls are weighed down by a sense of guilt. It is not hardship, toil, or poverty that lowers and degrades humanity. It is guilt, wrongdoing. This brings unrest and dissatisfaction. Jesus would have his children minister to sin-sick souls. Those that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak until they become strong.
The Lord has debarred no one from ministering to others. "These signs shall follow them that believe," he declared to his disciples. "In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."
Why do we not present our sick and suffering before God in the arms of our faith? Why do we not teach them to believe in the great Healer? Why do we not lay hold of the promises, and bring the sick to God, praying for his healing power to be revealed? Why do we not plead the promise, "These signs shall follow them that believe"? This is the privilege of God's children, and faith should lay hold of all that it is possible to have as an endorsement of faith.
Christ's promises are just as fresh and strong and trustworthy now as they were in the days of the apostles. Some have carried the matter of faith-healing to an extreme, and this has greatly hurt the subject. But the need of faith in God should be kept before the church. The realization of our privileges has become almost extinct. Let this part of the commission be brought into our practical life. It is of as much importance as the preaching of the word.
These signs shall follow them that believe on Christ as a risen Saviour, who proclaimed, over the rent sepulcher of Joseph, "I am the resurrection, and the life." But if the workers neglect to link themselves in divine connection with God, the electric current of reviving, lifegiving spiritual energy can not flow in full, rich streams to the people. The church needs to be awakened. When Christ was on this earth, trying to reclaim souls, to restore the moral image of God in man by warnings, entreaties, appeals, by a perfect example of obedience to his Father's will, he could not do many mighty works in some of the places he visited, because of their unbelief. This is why we do not now see more of the deep moving of the Spirit of God upon human minds, more of his power manifested in healing the sick. Unbelief is the barrier between us and God.
How sad it is that God is disappointed and robbed of his glory because those who minister the word do not realize their privilege, and fail to increase in faith and charity. Bring your sick to God in faith. Humble your hearts before him, confessing your sins. Then pray earnestly, trustingly. You will see the practical working of God's power, and it will be said, "God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are."
Much more of God's light and love and grace should be seen in our churches. Then we should see souls receiving the impress of the image of Christ. Those who keep the love of Christ glowing in the heart will provoke others to good works. A hundredfold will be rendered to God in praise and gratitude, in willing, cheerful obedience. The hearts of God's children will be full of praise and thanksgiving to him who gave his life for the life of the world.
Standing within one step of his Father's throne, Christ made the promise, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." We need more of Christ's wisdom. If we prayed in faith, and took God at his word, he would work for us. But our faith in eternal realities is weak. We have a heavy charge against us in the books of heaven for neglecting to do our utmost for the salvation of those who are nigh and afar off. Every day we are losing our grasp of eternal interests. God will not honor such manifest unbelief. Why do we not lay hold of the promises, presenting them before God in living faith? We must no longer remain indifferent. Let us awake to our duty. Let us not sleep as do others. Let us devote every entrusted power and endowment to the service of God, who has given Jesus to be our righteousness and our efficiency. Let us rely upon him who has promised to help us.
Christ came to our world to restore the moral image of God in man. He takes human agents into co-partnership with himself, giving them the breath of his own Spirit, the life of his own life. To all who would obtain a correct view of their duty in regard to their fellow men, Christ gives power to obtain righteousness and to do their work successfully. These breathe the atmosphere that surrounds Christ. They live the true life that he lived in our world.
Christ seeks to engage the attention of repentant sinners, that they may read the expression of love in his face, and receive him as their Saviour. He would turn men's minds from every sound that emanates from him who abode not in the truth. He has knowledge to impart,--the absolute necessity of regeneration by the Holy Spirit, who comes to the believing soul under the great seal of solemn assurance. I speak to you, he said; I, who speak not merely as a man,--I, who am the Truth,--I, who am acquainted with heaven, and all the characters that shall be there admitted,--I, who hold the keys of the kingdom of heaven,--I say, "Except a man be born again, he can not see the kingdom of God." The realization of the absolute necessity of regeneration through the Holy Spirit comes to all who, by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, honor, and immortality.
There is majesty in the truth. Those who possess that faith which works by love, and purifies the soul, have a message, plain and decided, to bear to those who know not the truth. They have an important work entrusted to them. They are to live close to the One who has said, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations." The messenger who bears the word of life to a perishing world, is bound to speak the truth. The Lord Jesus is by his side, ready to enlarge the narrow confines of human knowledge, that all may see that the teacher is presenting the gift of imperishable wealth to all who will believe on Christ. There is power in Christ to redeem the mental and moral character, and to mold the man after the divine likeness.
None who breathe the breath of God, receiving the Holy Spirit from him, can be indifferent in regard to the welfare of others. Their own souls are inspired with the love of Christ, and they use all their powers in the work of presenting Bible principles. Some may tire of the warnings and appeals given them. The workers may receive no response from them. This is discouraging, but it is no more so to us than it was to Christ. There are others who have not realized that they need to behold the Lamb of God. These become interested, and inspired with hope. They believe in the Saviour, and he fills their souls with his grace. How precious to them does the light appear! How different is their attitude from the attitude of the scorner of grace! If scorners see one inquiring, What must I do to be saved? they make light of his convictions, and try by every false method to prevent him from seeking for truth as for hidden treasure. But those who have received Christ understand the meaning of the words, "The entrance of thy words giveth light." They eat the bread that comes down from heaven; and they are surprised that their companions turn from the truth, which to them is so precious.
The great apostle Paul spoke from a heart full of love, because in Ephesus there were souls who had accepted Christ as the Saviour: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 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. . . . In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace." This is the message that God has commissioned his servants to bear. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #30)
Marked and decided hostility is at this time shown to God. Passion and human wisdom are arrayed against purity and holiness, against self-denial, against the law which governs heaven and earth. Man's purpose, dictated by the wisdom of Satan, is to deny God's requirements. Human laws have taken the place of the divine. The will of finite man has been brought into direct collision with the will of the infinite God. The judgment of the creature is set above that of the Creator. Man is working in direct hostility to the God of heaven.
The man of sin has exalted himself against God, sitting in the temple of God, and showing himself to be God. He has trampled underfoot God's great memorial of creation, established to commemorate his work; and in its stead he has presented to the world a common working-day. This day he has set up as a rival sabbath, to be observed and honored. Thus the world has been turned against God; for the Lord declares that he has sanctified the day of his rest.
But though every member of the human family should accept this child of the papacy, in no case would this invalidate the holy Sabbath of Jehovah. Those who accept the false sabbath exalt the man of sin, and assail the government of God. But the man of sin can not annul what God has declared shall stand fast forever. The work now to be done in our world is to exalt the law of the Lord, and call the attention of the people to it. The time has come when the truth is to be proclaimed against falsehood and error.
"After these things," writes John, "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 a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. 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 plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double. How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her."
The Lord has given his church a special work. The crisis is right upon us. We have only, as it were, a moment of time. We must now take our Bibles, and in the Holy Spirit's power, proclaim the great truth for these last days. It will not be long before every one shall have heard the warning and made his decision. Then shall the end come. "There followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb."
People are suffering for want of a knowledge of the truth. They do not understand what they must do to be saved. Unless the gospel is preached clearly, simply, over and over again, line upon line, precept upon precept, Satan will cast his shadow between the sinner and God. God will be represented as a stern, unforgiving Judge. Christ taught in simplicity, making everything connected with the salvation of the soul plain and easy to be understood; and thus his ambassadors are to present the truth. There must be given to the world the message that the way of repentance and faith is now made plain through him who had power to lay down his life and to take it again. "He that believeth in me," Christ declared, "though he were dead, yet shall he live."
The conflict between good and evil will continue till the close of time. Satan will inspire his followers with hatred against God. His warfare is not carried on in subordination to established law, but in positive defiance to the God of heaven. He works with malice to destroy souls; but eternal vigilance, laying hold of the promises of God, will raise up a standard against the enemy for the tempted soul.
The church militant is not in this world the church triumphant. From generation to generation, the enemy has been marshaling his forces against God. His enmity against the law of God has increased as time has passed. And his followers are at enmity with any one who has moral courage to depart from evil, and bear witness to the truth. They pay no respect to the divine law, but they are strict in enforcing human laws. They are not in harmony with God. They are not attracted by his righteousness. In their human judgment they will condemn men who conscientiously keep the commandments of God. But God's children will not be frightened from their purpose by the proud, presumptuous opposition of evildoers. By faith they see a crown of life awaiting those who are victorious, and they press forward toward the mark for the prize of their high calling in Christ Jesus.
Angels are sent to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation. Could the eyes of God's children be opened, they would see from how many evils they have been saved, how many perils they have escaped. "Lo, I am with you alway," Christ says, "even unto the end of the world." You may be taken by councils, and condemned by the men who have been chosen to administer justice, but who are themselves trampling underfoot the highest of all laws, even the law of Jehovah. "But be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."
Suffering, want, despondency, misery, unbelief, the ministers of God will meet every day. Their work is not a work of self-pleasing. Many, many souls are unsaved. Fasten yourselves by faith to the Lord, and tell sinners that the Saviour is calling for them. Entreat them to tarry not; for he is calling, "Come; for all things are now ready." These are days of peril. Be instant in season and out of season. Be always ready, saying, "Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth."
The Lord longs to give precious blessings to the self-denying, self-sacrificing worker. He would have his servants at their post of duty, their loins girt about with truth. Gird up the loins of your mind; be sober, and hope to the end, watching, waiting, praying, and working.
The apostle Paul, in his epistle to the Corinthians, lifts a voice of warning: "Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God. [They live in an atmosphere of sin, and therefore sin is not to them exceeding sinful.] I speak this to your shame."
Christ's commission is ever to be kept before the church. Sinners must be saved by the light reflected from the church by the ministry of the word. Through God's commandment-keeping people, sinners are to behold the Sun of Righteousness. Ministers and people are to catch the light of God's purposes, hidden from the world because it can not see the Sun of Righteousness.
"Ye are the light of the world," Christ said to his disciples. As lightbearers, you are to reflect to the world the rays of the Sun of Righteousness. You are a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. God's people should now receive the light and diffuse it. They need not try to shine; if their hearts are enlightened by Christ, they can not help shining. The brightness will appear; every true disciple will reveal Christ to the world as the sin-pardoning Saviour.
The church is to show to the world God's forbearance, his holiness, meekness, mercy, and truth. Christians are to shine brighter and brighter, daily catching more and more of the beams from the Redeemer's face. God has appointed every member of the human family to represent the truth. He has given men and women capabilities and faculties, and has endowed them with ability to improve these powers. The voice, the affections, influence, property,--all are entrusted to man to be returned to God.
God would have us quicken our powers by appropriating his grace and communicating it. Just in accordance with the grace imparted will be the grace given us to use. We must work while the day lasts. Pure doctrines have been lost; and as the result, error has taken the field where truth alone should be. God's requirements are lost sight of. All that can possibly be done should be done to dispel the moral darkness.
The Lord says to those living in 1898, as he said to those of Israel who had chosen to serve him, "I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the Lord." The Lord has given us Jesus our Saviour. He revealed in humanity the character that he wishes us to reveal. The Lord's purpose concerning his people is, I have given them minds; I will increase my grace to them.
Will not those who have backslidden from God return? Let there be no delay. "In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack. The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing." "And thou shalt return and obey the voice of the Lord, and do all his commandments which I command thee this day. And the Lord thy God will make thee plenteous in every work of thine hand, . . . for the Lord again rejoice over thee for good, as he rejoiced over thy fathers: if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul. For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #31)
In John the Baptist, God raised up a messenger to prepare the way of the Lord. He was to bear to the world an unflinching testimony, reproving and denouncing sin. In announcing John's mission and work, the angel said: "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."
John had not been educated in the schools of the rabbis. He had obtained no human scholarship. God and nature had been his teachers. The forerunner of Christ did not expose himself to evil conversation and the corrupting influences of the world. He chose to have his home in the wilderness, where, by studying the book of nature, he could become acquainted with the character of God, and preserve the sacred sense of his majesty.
To prepare the way before Christ, one was needed who, like the prophets of old, could summon the degenerate nation to repentance, and the voice of John was lifted up like a trumpet. His commission was, "Show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins." He presented no long arguments, no fine-spun theories, elaborately delivered in their "first," "secondly," and "thirdly." Pure, native eloquence was revealed; every word carried with it certainty and truth.
All went forth into the wilderness to hear him. Unlearned peasants and fishermen came from the surrounding country. The Roman soldiers from the barracks of Herod came to hear him. Chieftains came, with their swords at their sides, to put down anything that savored of rebellion. The avaricious tax-gatherers came from the regions round about; and from the Sanhedrin came the phylacteried priests. All listened as if spellbound; and all, even the Pharisee, the Sadducee, and the cold, unimpressible scoffer, came away with the sneer gone, and cut to the heart with a sense of their sins.
John called every class to repentance. He met sin with open rebuke in men of humble occupation and in men of high degree. He declared the truth to kings and nobles, whether they would hear or reject it. And kings and nobles, Pharisees and Sadducees, Roman soldiers, officers trained in all court etiquette, and wily, calculating tax-gatherers and world-renowned men listened to his words. They had confidence in his plain statements, and were convicted of sin.
"And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise."
"Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do?" Did the Baptist say, Leave your toil and custom houses?--No; he said to them, "Exact no more than that which is appointed you." If they were tax-gatherers still, they could hold just weights and balances of truth in their hands. They could reform in those things that savored of dishonesty and oppression.
"And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages."
To the Pharisees and Sadducees he said, "Begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father." Your claims are not of the least value. They will not impart to you pure principles and holiness of character. Your ceremonial sacrifices possess no value unless you discern in them the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. By turning from God's requirements, and following your own perverted ideas, you have lost those characteristics which would constitute you children of Abraham. Pointing to the rocks in wild confusion around him, he said: "God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham." "And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire." "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
Through this messenger of God, even Herod Antipas had his last opportunity to hear the truth. The opportunity came for John to speak face to face with the royal commandment-breaker. He spoke to Herod in regard to his marriage with Herodias, saying, "It is not lawful for thee to have her." He spoke to the king of a future retribution, when God would judge every man according to his works. John made no reference to the laws of men, but he pointed the people to the statutes given by the Lord God of heaven.
Herod heard the straightforward reproof of his character and life practise, and he knew it to be the truth. He knew the Baptist to be a just and holy man; but while he respected his frankness, he did not love his practical godliness. And for his reproof of the wicked king, John lost his liberty and his life. "Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias his brother Philip's wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done, added yet this above all, that he shut up John in prison."
In this age, just prior to the second coming of Christ in the clouds of heaven, God calls for men who will prepare a people to stand in the great day of the Lord. Just such a work as that of John is to be carried on in these last days. The Lord has given messages to his people, through the instruments he has chosen, and he would have all give heed to the admonitions and warnings he sends. The message preceding the public ministry of Christ was: Repent, publicans and sinners; repent, Pharisees and Sadducees; "repent; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Our message is not to be one of peace and safety. As a people who believe in Christ's soon appearing, we have a message to bear,--"Prepare to meet thy God." We are to lift up the standard, and bear the third angel's message. Our message must be as direct as was the message of John. He rebuked kings for their iniquity. Notwithstanding that his life was in peril, the truth did not languish upon his lips. And our work in this age must be as faithfully done.
The inhabitants of the world at this time are represented by the dwellers upon the earth at the time of the flood. The wickedness of the antediluvians is plainly stated: "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." God became weary of this people, whose thoughts were only of sinful pleasure and indulgence. They sought not the counsel of him who had created them, nor cared to do his will. The rebuke of God was upon them, because they followed the imagination of their own hearts; and there was violence in the land. "And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. . . . And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth."
In his teachings, Christ referred to this: "But as the days of Noe were," he said, "so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be."
Look at the picture which the world presents today. Dishonesty, fraud, and bankruptcies, violence and bloodshed, exist on every hand. The widows and the fatherless are robbed of their all. Plays, horse races, and amusements of every kind occupy the mind. In the church, sins have become fashionable. They are glossed over and excused. The right hand of fellowship is given to the very men who bring in false theories and sentiments. Thus the discernment and sensibilities have become deadened as to what constitutes right principles. Conscience has become insensible to the counsel and reproofs which have been given. The light given, calling to repentance, has been shut out by the thick cloud of unbelief and opposition brought in by human plans and human inventions.
The inhabitants of the antediluvian world had the warning given them prior to their overthrow; but the warning was not heeded. They refused to listen to the words of Noah; they mocked at his message. Righteous men lived in that generation. Before the destruction of the antediluvian world, Enoch bore his testimony unflinchingly. And in prophetic vision he saw the condition of the world at the present time. He said: "Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him."
"These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage. But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; how that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit."
It is loving earnestness that God requires at this time. Ministers may have but little learning from books; but if they do the best they can with their talents; if they work as they have opportunity; if they clothe their utterances in the plainest and most simple language; if they walk in carefulness and humility, seeking for heavenly wisdom; if they work for God from the heart, actuated by love for Christ and the souls for whom Christ has died, they will be listened to by men of even superior ability and talents. There will be a charm in the simplicity of the truths they present.
The men who have spent long terms in the study of books are not all revealing in their lives that earnest ministry which is essential for this time. Some do not have a simple, straightforward testimony. Among ministers there is a need of the infusion of the Spirit of God. The prayerful, earnest appeals that come from the heart of the wholehearted messenger, will create conviction. It will not need the learned men to do this; for often they depend more on their own learning than upon their knowledge of God, and of Jesus Christ, whom he has sent. All who know the only true and living God will know Jesus Christ, the only begotten of the Father, and they will preach Christ and him crucified. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #32)
"What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid." The apostle decidedly denies the assertion: "Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead."
What is sin?--It is the result of Satan's administration. It is his work to make of no effect the law of God. He is determined that man shall do what God has forbidden him to do. By his deceptive, artful temptations, he strives to make men disobey. This he did with Adam and Even in Eden, and this he will continue to do till the close of time.
"For I was alive without the law once," Paul continues; "but when the commandment came, sin revived, and [the law died?--No] I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me." But because of this does Paul say, I am opposed to the commandment?--No; he declares : "Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good."
"Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful." Here we are plainly shown that the commandments of God are true and righteous, and that they are to be honored and obeyed. Right down on this side of the crucifixion, Paul declares, "Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good."
Satan has invented thousands of errors to counterfeit God's truth. And the false paths that he has made have been followed as if they were paths of right. Thousands of false steps he has taken, and men seem eager to endorse the false, rather than to follow the path of truth and righteousness.
Counterfeits are made so as to resemble the true as nearly as possible. The Lord has specified the seventh day as the day that is to be kept holy. He has said, "Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it." This day is God's great memorial, established to celebrate the work of creation. On this day God rested, sanctifying and blessing it as the day of his rest.
But a false sabbath has been instituted. Who instituted it?--The man of sin, who has thought to change times and laws. The world has turned from the true and living God to serve an idol, but because of this has Satan accomplished what he desired?--No; the Lord's word reads just as it did when it was given. Satan's counterfeits do not bear God's signature. Though every son and daughter of Adam should endorse these falsehoods, God's truth would not be annihilated. Not the smallest jot or tittle of the law has ever been given over to Satan, to be manipulated according to his fancy. If this could have been done, it would have been when the matter was first agitated in the heavenly courts. But there the first intimation of a change in God's law was met by a decided No. This led to a battle in heaven, and Satan, next to Christ the most exalted being in the heavenly courts, was overcome, and with his sympathizers cast out of heaven. Thus it was shown that Satan was not in the right, and that God had not abrogated or changed his law. This law is the transcript of his character; and throughout the eternal ages it will remain Yea and Amen, perfect and unalterable, without variableness or shadow of turning.
The principles of God's law are contained in the two precepts, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself." When we realize this, there will be a searching after truth, a deep conviction of the far-reaching claims of God's law.
That law takes cognizance of the thoughts of the heart, as well as of the actions of the life. A man may be a lawbreaker in heart, yet if the outward action is wanting, he is treated as loyal by the world. He may in heart be an adulterer, yet by his fellow men he may be regarded as possessing great integrity. But God's law looks into the secrets of the heart, and pours a flood of light on things that have been buried in darkness. Why, then, do not the teachers of the people search for truth as for hidden treasure? Why do they not humble their souls in the dust, lest they be deceived, as were Adam and Eve in Eden?
By his deceptions, Satan has led the people away from God. The sayings of men are exalted above the word of God. The world has accepted a false sabbath, discarding the holy, sanctified day of the Lord of hosts. Men have shut themselves away from the light, saying, by word and action, Seek no further. And God says, Shall I not judge for these things? Why do not the religious teachers of today instruct the people regarding the traitorous movement that Satan has made in putting a common working day in the place of the day that God has set apart as holy?
The fourth commandment is the only one to which "remember" is prefixed. God says, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy." Do not forget it. "Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the Lord your God. Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the Lord." The Lord presents himself as the authority for his requirements. There is to be no departure from the word of God in order to exalt the word of man. God is authority and what he says is to be done.
The whole matter centers here. Obedience means eternal life; disobedience means eternal death. Error never becomes truth, though it may be hoary with age. Then shall intelligent beings decide that in this world, to which Satan was banished as an exile, God has given the rebel what he claimed and failed to gain in heaven? Shall the professed Christian churches change leaders, taking a "Thus saith Satan" in the place of a "Thus saith the Lord"?
When there is so much at stake, why do not those who claim to be God's delegated messengers go to the Word of life, and make honest, wise, prayerful research, saying, We will know what saith the Lord in this matter? If the search is undertaken in the spirit of Christ, it will be awarded. But if the teachers of the people echo the words of the great apostate, it will be found to their shame and ruin; and they will carry with them those whom they have deceived, as Satan in his rebellion carried out of the heavenly courts those who accepted his words instead of the words of God.
Sin lies at the door of those who do not allow their ignorance to be expelled by the rays of light from God's word. They are doing what the Jews did in the days of Christ,--teaching for doctrine the commandments of men. By their actions they say, We do not wish to be disturbed. Let us alone. Do not disturb our peace. To God's messengers, sent to them with words of warning and reproof, they say, "Art thou he that troubleth Israel?"
God purchased men by giving his only begotten Son to die for them. If those who claim to be lightbearers in the world lead the people in paths of transgression, they are not only answerable for their own souls, but for the souls of those whom they mislead. By their profession of sanctity, they lead the unwary into disobedience, and their names are recorded on the books of heaven as workers of iniquity. God will not accept the inventions of men who in their work enter the inner circle of God, where only the Holy One, whose form is that of the Son of God, has a right to tread. In the great day of judgment, what will those who have taken sides with the apostate plead as an excuse for their conduct? How contemptible to them will appear the sparks which they have kindled, in contrast with the holy fire of God's kindling!
Sin is the most fearful thing in the whole universe. So fearful is it that it could be pardoned only by the sacrifice of the Son of the infinite God. If unpardoned, it must be followed by eternal death. There is a time coming when every unrepentant transgressor of God's law will know what it means to be a sinner, standing in God's sight uncovered, without the robe of Christ's righteousness, and with a full sense that there is no power in the law to save the transgressor.
Shall all the efforts that Heaven has made to restore in the human race the image of God be in vain because men teach for doctrines the commandments of men? Shall we sell our Lord, in order to be in harmony with the rebellious multitude? Shall our names be recorded in heaven as the names of those who have corrupted the way of the Lord? Shall we be of that number who say, "Lord, Lord," but refuse to do his will? Shall we be among those who present their supposedly good works to God, because they think he needs to be reminded of his duty toward them? He, the God of heaven, will one day present their own case before them, and they will see clearly that they were the ones who needed to be reminded.
God will say to all such, Why did you not keep sacred my memorial of creation? Why did you not hear my warnings? "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." He who ventures to corrupt truth and exalt error,--he who sells his intellect or integrity at any price, in order to gain worldly advantage,--will one day be denied in sorrow. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #33)
"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."
Christ gave this commission to his disciples just before, in his risen and glorified body, he ascended to his Father. This charge he gives to every one who has an intelligent knowledge of the plan of salvation. It is the privilege of his followers to reveal Christ and the Father to the world. The work of Christ in the world was to reveal the Father; and when praying for his disciples, he said: "As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world." "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me."
This is the knowledge that every true witness will have. Upon this rock will he stand. His faith in Christ as the Son of the infinite God, the mighty Counselor, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, will give him assurance. And resting his faith in Christ, he will become one with the Father. He will have an experimental knowledge of what Christ is to the believer. He will realize that no member of the human family can, of himself, meet the claims of God's law or satisfy his justice, but that Christ is the justifier of those who believe.
We have an infinite Redeemer, and how precious are the gems of truth that testify to this in God's word. But these precious jewels have been buried beneath a mass of rubbish, of tradition, of heresies, which Satan himself has originated. His schemes are working with a strange power upon human minds to eclipse the value of Christ to those who believe in him. The enemy of God and man has cast a spell over those who profess to be the followers of Christ, until of many it can be said, They know not the time of their visitation.
In the sacrifice of Christ for our world, his mediation is made visible. This is the evidence of things unseen, and makes faith the gift of God. "For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; . . . having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven."
It was by this means that Christ acquired the power to lay under tribute to himself man's entrusted talents, influence, and wealth to carry forward this great work in the world. It is contrary to the Lord's plan that one soul should withhold from him his ability, his means, or his influence. Every soul to whom the Lord has given a knowledge of the truth is a thread in the great web of humanity. He is to fill his position, to act his part, holding himself under the orders of the Captain of his salvation. Each is to bear a part in the work of saving souls, that there may be no hindrance to the upbuilding of the kingdom of God.
The Lord's Spirit is grieved when any of his servants withhold their tribute of service. When this is done, additional burdens fall on those who are willing to labor. To all who are converted to God, and who, through faith, become partakers of the divine nature, are entrusted talents, to be employed in the salvation of souls. Each is commanded, "Go work today in my vineyard." And in working as a colaborer with Christ, man is educated for the work. As a faithful servant looks to his master, and a handmaid to her mistress, so the servant of God will look in earnest prayer to Christ. He will be a doer of the Word. He will obey orders. If the Christian is to be the light of the world, he must shine; he must be a faithful worker for Christ, holding forth the word of life, lifting up Jesus before the people, and repeating his lessons.
"Charge them that are rich in this world," says the apostle, "that they be not highminded, and trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life."
By precept and example, the followers of Christ are to preach Christ. They are to entreat their fellow men not to provide for themselves only an earthly portion, and deprive themselves of eternal happiness. "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth," says Christ, "where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." He who secures his treasure beside the eternal throne, becomes a partaker of the heavenly attributes. Divine attributes and temporal blessings are appreciated and enjoyed in a sense that the worldling can not understand.
When the Lord asked Solomon what he should give him, Solomon said: "Thou hast showed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. And now, O Lord my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that can not be numbered nor counted for multitude. 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 speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honor: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days. And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days."
This is a lesson for us. Our petitions to God should not proceed from hearts that are filled with selfish aspirations. God exhorts us to choose those gifts that will redound to his glory. He would have us choose the heavenly instead of the earthly. He throws open before us the possibilities and advantages of a heavenly commerce. He gives encouragement to our loftiest aims, security to our choicest treasure. When the worldly possession is swept away, the believer will rejoice in his heavenly treasure, the riches that can not be lost in any earthly disaster. Then why should we not let our property go before us to heaven? By our works here below we lay up for ourselves a good foundation against the time to come.
Why are so many who profess to be children of God devoting their God-entrusted capabilities to selfish purposes? They are stewards of the grace of Christ, and should lift up Jesus before the world. They should talk of Christ. His praise should be on their lips because the Sun of Righteousness is shining in their hearts. Through them his holy name should be exalted in the earth. Many, many, become the subjects of Satan's temptations because they do not disinterestedly and energetically engage in the service of Christ, but take their position in opposition to the great worker. The names of such can not be registered in the books of heaven as laborers together with God. They are numbered with the idlers.
The True Witness says, "I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love." In the ardor of the first love, what testimonies were poured forth for Christ! what entreaties were made from souls overflowing with love! what joyous gratitude filled the heart and flowed forth from the soul, when the believer first became conscious of the love of Jesus! With tears and prayers, he offered his petitions to God, and entreated his friends to accept Jesus. His yearning sympathy was revealed in the love he manifested for the souls for whom Christ had died.
Sinners will not always respond to the Heaven-born pity revealed by the laborer in his first love. Minds may seem unimpressed; we may meet with coldness. But the example of Christ is placed before us, that we may not fail nor be discouraged. Faith--living, active faith--must work through apparent discomfiture and contempt. The love of Christ in the heart must not be quenched, but show itself invincible through God. In seeking wisdom from God in the work of saving souls, unwavering faith must be manifested.
Yet how many in our churches have lost their first love! With many it is almost extinct. Shall not the Christian graces be brought back? The Lord expects his stewards to be faithful, educating and training all their powers, that when the Lord comes to scrutinize his talents, they may return his own with usury. Unless Christlike humility is brought into the life, the believer will grow away from the simplicity of the work. He will bring in spiritual pride and self-sufficiency to supply the place that should be filled with the love of Jesus. Bungling work will be done, because the worker is not disposed to act a self-denying, self-sacrificing part. This he leaves for some one else to do. The love of Christ is scarcely mentioned. The minister whose heart is unsubdued by the grace of Christ can not give his attention to the people. He has not the Christ-love in his own soul, and therefore it can not flow out in rich currents to others.
The Lord makes every effort to reclaim those who place themselves out of the rank of workers, as if they were not responsible for the salvation of their own souls and of the souls of others. But if these men continue in this position, Christ can not become responsible for their salvation; for they hide their Lord's talents, and bind themselves to the side of the enemy. "He that is not with me," says Christ, "is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad."
In the work of redemption, all heaven is constantly employed. Angels are actively engaged in executing God's plans, to bring men back from their rebellion to reconciliation with him. With intense earnestness they are cooperating with God to bring to man moral efficiency, that, in and through Christ, he may be more than conqueror! Jesus left the heavenly courts and came to our world, bringing with him the sympathies of the angels. He advanced from the manger to Calvary, with all the heavenly intelligences in his train. In the dying victim on Calvary, mercy answered the claims of justice with a full compensation.
All who are partakers of this great salvation wrought out by Jesus Christ are under obligation to work as laborers together with God. In the heavenly courts the roll is called, on which every name is registered, and the heavenly agencies respond to the call. The service given by every human being upon earth is there recorded. If any are negligent, it is recorded; if diligent, the same is reported; if idlers, the fact stands against their names. In all the great mass of humanity, not one is lost sight of. Then let every one be ready to answer the call, saying, "Here, Lord, ready for action."
The world has claims upon you. If you fail to shine as lights in the world, some will rise in the Judgment, and charge upon you the blood of their souls. It will be seen that you were an agent in the hands of the enemy of God and man to mislead and deceive by your profession of Christianity. You did not lead souls to piety and devotion. You had a name to live, but were spiritually dead. You had not the vitalizing influence of the Spirit of God, which is abundantly provided for all who, in faith, make demands upon it.
If man turns away, and does not act his part, he not only imperils his own soul, but deprives those who are in darkness of the light he could bring them. Man must watch constantly for opportunities to do good. Then he will cooperate with the heavenly agencies. The spirit of Christ will lead men to impart to others the light given them of God. Truth in the heart longs for diffusion. According to our appreciation of its value, will be our desire to impart it. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #34)
"The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body is full of darkness. Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness. If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light."
This privilege is presented before every soul. Each may have heaven's light to guide him. If we discern the truth, and obey it, our whole course of action will be in accordance with the truth; for the truth sanctifies the receiver. But if men refuse to search for the truth as for hidden treasure, if the mind is pleased with the theories of error, the soul will remain in darkness. The course of the life, the development of the character, will be corrupted by false sentiments. Error never sanctifies. It can do no good. And how full of darkness is the soul that receives error as truth, and shapes his course of action in accordance with it.
All to whom the heavenly inspiration has come are put in trust with the gospel. The most solemn responsibility rests upon them to devote their powers to making known the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he has sent. They must not live a divided life. "Ye can not serve God and Mammon," says the Great Teacher. You may think that you can serve both; but Christ says, You will hold to the one, and despise the other. Christ lived not to please himself. He was self-denying. In behalf of man, he consented to become a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. All who stand ready to make a compromise with the world do in truth despise the humble, self-denying, self-sacrificing principles of Christ.
All who have the mind of Christ will live the law of God. They will feed upon Christ, and become partakers of the divine nature. They will stand as God's living sentinels for the truth. It is not a trifling matter for those who have the light of truth to be non-committal, nor for the sentiments of the heart to be expressed in the words, "My Lord delayeth his coming." The influence of the peace-and-safety sentiment is in the midst of us. A worldly, malarious influence prevails to soothe those who should be stirred by the message of truth to stand as faithful sentinels at the post of duty. Truth must be expressed in our lives. The light must shine brightly, or we shall cause others to stumble and fall.
Those who hide their light will soon lose all power to let it shine. They are represented by the foolish virgins; and when the crisis comes, and the last call is made, "Behold, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him," they will find that while they have been mingling with the world, their light has gone out. They did not continue to provide themselves with the oil of grace. The peace-and-safety cry hushed them to slumber, and made them careless in regard to their light. The ease-loving, world-loving professed Christians can not go in with the wise virgins to the marriage feast. When they solicit entrance, saying, "Lord, Lord, open unto us," the reply is made, "Verily I say unto you, I know you not."
The voice of God speaks to his people, saying: "Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing: and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters." Those who are watching and waiting for the appearance of Christ in the clouds of heaven will not mingle with the world in gatherings merely for their own amusement. As faithful watchmen, they will be found proclaiming, "The morning cometh, and also the night."
God calls upon those who stand as soldiers under his bloodstained banner to go to work. He will give increased light to those who love the light, to those who seek for the truth with keen perception. In the Holy Spirit, celestial aid is given to every soul. Heavenly inspiration is still imparted to God's people. God would have those who know the truth impart that which they have gained in Christian experience. The time is coming when it will be too late to use the light we now have. Then the decree will go forth: "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city."
God's people must give to the world a representation of the character of Christ. A message has come from God, which must be proclaimed: "I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."
Those who are of a contrite heart will receive the message from heaven, and will repeat the words of invitation, "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Christ called the attention of the woman of Samaria from the inferior gifts of this life to those things that are eternal, saying: "If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water." "Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."
These words of Christ are to be repeated by every worker together with God. Our faith will give evidence of its sincerity in genuine work for the souls that are in darkness. In the place of educating ourselves to have a do-nothing spirit, we shall have an earnest desire to create in every heart a love for souls. Words of entreaty and warning will be spoken to those who are seeking to quench their thirst from the waters of the valley instead of the snow waters of Lebanon.
Those whom Christ has connected with himself will, so far as in them lies, labor diligently and perseveringly, as he labored, to save the souls who are perishing around them. It is impossible for those who are really converted, enjoying communion with God, to be negligent of the vital interests of those who are perishing outside of Christ. There may be some who think the way of life trying and difficult. These should go to work and seek to help others. In such efforts, mingled with prayer for divine light, their own hearts will throb with the quickening influence of the grace of God; their own affections will glow with more divine fervor; and their whole Christian life will be more of a reality, more earnest, more prayerful. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #35)
The Sabbath was given to all mankind to commemorate the work of creation. The great Jehovah, when he had laid the foundations of the earth, when he had dressed the whole world in its garb of beauty, and created all the wonders of the land and the sea, instituted the Sabbath day and made it holy. When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy, the Sabbath was set apart as God's memorial. God sanctified and blessed the day in which he had rested from all his wondrous work. And this Sabbath, sanctified of God, was to be kept for a perpetual covenant. It was a memorial that was to stand from age to age, till the close of earth's history.
God brought the Hebrews out of their Egyptian bondage, and commanded them to observe his Sabbath, and keep the law given in Eden. Every week he worked a miracle to establish in their minds the fact that in the beginning of the world he had instituted the Sabbath. Through the prophet Isaiah, God speaks thus of his works for Israel: "When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt. . . . I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them. I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love." Through the psalmist he says: "He brought forth his people with joy, and his chosen with gladness: . . . that they might observe his statutes, and keep his laws."
On the fifteenth day of the second month after their departure from Egypt, the children of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin; and there "the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron. . . . And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.
"Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no. And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily. And Moses and Aaron said unto all the children of Israel, At even, then ye shall know that the Lord hath brought you out from the land of Egypt: and in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of the Lord; for that he heareth your murmurings against the Lord: and what are we, that ye murmur against us? And Moses said, This shall be, when the Lord shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full; for that the Lord heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the Lord."
"And in the morning the dew lay round about the host. And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground. And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat. This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents. . . .
"And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. And he said unto them, This is that which the Lord hath said, Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord; bake that which ye will bake today, and seethe that ye will seethe: and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning. And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein. And Moses said, Eat that today; for today is a Sabbath unto the Lord: today ye shall not find it in the field. Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, in it there shall be none.
"And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none. And the Lord said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws? See, for that the Lord hath given you the Sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day."
In the third month they came to the desert of Sinai, and there the law was spoken from the mount in awful grandeur. During their stay in Egypt, Israel had so long heard and seen idolatry practised that to a large degree they had lost their knowledge of God and of his law, and their sense of the importance and sacredness of the Sabbath; the law was given a second time to call these things to their remembrance. In God's statutes was defined practical religion for all mankind. Before Israel was placed the true standard of righteousness.
"And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my Sabbaths ye shall keep." Some, who have been anxious to make of none effect the law of God, have quoted this word "Sabbaths," interpreting it to mean the annual sabbaths of the Jews. But they do not connect this positive requirement with that which follows:--
"For it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you. Ye shall keep the Sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever doeth any work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel forever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed."
There are those who hold that the Sabbath was given only for the Jews; but God has never said this. He committed the Sabbath to his people Israel as a sacred trust; but the very fact that the desert of Sinai, and not Palestine, was the place selected by him in which to proclaim his law, reveals that he intended it for all mankind. The law of ten commandments is as old as creation. Therefore the Sabbath institution has no special relation to the Jews, any more than to all other created beings. God has made the observance of the Sabbath obligatory upon all men. "The Sabbath,"it is plainly stated, "was made for man." Let every one, therefore, who is in danger of being deceived on this point give heed to the word of God rather than the assertions of men.
In Eden, God said to Adam concerning the tree of knowledge, "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." "And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." Adam listened to the voice of Satan speaking through his wife; he believed another voice than that which spoke the law in Eden.
Every man has been placed on trial, as were Adam and Eve in Eden. As the tree of knowledge was placed in the midst of the garden of Eden, so the Sabbath command is placed in the midst of the decalogue. In regard to the fruit of the tree of knowledge, the restriction was made, "Ye shall not eat of it, . . . lest ye die." Of the Sabbath, God said, Ye shall not defile it, but keep it holy. "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy." As the tree of knowledge was the test of Adam's obedience, so the fourth command is the test that God has given to prove the loyalty of all his people. The experience of Adam is to be a warning to us so long as time shall last. It warns us not to receive any assurance from the mouth of men or of angels that will detract one jot or tittle from the sacred law of Jehovah. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #36)
Notwithstanding the deplorable results of our first parents' belief of a lie, similar presentations are made today. Satan claims to be the prince of this world, and he wishes to obliterate from the minds of men all knowledge of the Creator, the rightful owner of the earth. As the most successful way to accomplish this, he has attempted to change the fourth commandment of the decalogue. He knows that if he can change the Lord's rest day from the seventh to any other day of the week, if he can succeed in deluding the world in regard to this one commandment, he will gain the homage that is due to the Lord of heaven; therefore he presents a day in his own honor,--a day that God has not blessed and sanctified.
God could not alter one precept of his law to meet man in his lost condition; for in so doing he would reveal that he was not an all-wise and infallible being, without variableness or shadow of turning. No man can prove that God has changed the thing that has gone out of his lips. God is not changeable. He is not a man, that he should lie. One precept, one jot or tittle, of the law changed or altered, would have given Satan all he asked in heaven in his controversy with Christ. Satan could not point to any time when the Lord had changed his holy rest day, when he had removed his sanctity from the seventh day of the week and placed it upon the first. Therefore he had to employ his deceiving power to make men believe that the fourth commandment had been changed.
The scheme of Satan has been successful, and he is well pleased that he can sway the religious mind by presenting a mass of false theories and innumerable conjectures and sayings of men. His disguise gives him an advantage in his master working. In his counsels the way is prepared in so specious a manner that his satanic cunning is not detected. Thus he turns men's minds from the genuine to the false. The day instituted by God, when men should engage in the worship of Jehovah, is trampled underfoot, and Satan's invention--a spurious, idol sabbath--is exalted.
By the falsehoods and devices of the man of sin, the Sunday has gradually gathered to itself a covering of sanctity, and its claims upon the human race have become established; many now honestly believe that God has changed his purpose, and that he now designs Sunday to be exalted above the day which, in the beginning, he blessed and sanctified. Thus Satan gathers into his ranks not only the unbelieving world, but also the churches. Some who profess to be God's peculiar people go over to the enemy's side. They profane the day that he has sanctified, and exalt and honor a day on which he has placed no sanctity. Thus, just as surely as did Adam, they constitute themselves transgressors of the law.
Many who profess to be Christians have divorced themselves from Christ. They second the efforts of the man of sin, and, infused with his spirit, show determined opposition to the holy law of God. They array themselves against the fourth precept of the decalogue, and accept a spurious sabbath. They place themselves on Satan's side of the question. They heed the voice of Satan rather than the voice of God. Notwithstanding the most positive assertions from lips in which is no guile, men professing to believe the word of God take the word of Satan, and believe his lie; and they act in accordance with the character of him who has deceived them. They are inspired with hatred and malice against those who will not receive the lies of the great apostate, who will not bow down to worship an idol sabbath.
The world and many of the professed followers of Christ are united in their efforts to honor the Sunday. Through the deceiving power of Satan, they will strive to make God's law of no effect. But the word of God contains the truth, and all who support the truth of God for this time are doing their work for time and for eternity. Those who bring the word of God into mind and heart take their stand on the side of God and the heavenly universe. They will stand heart to heart and hand to hand in defense of the holy and the pure, while those who support error by word, and pen, and voice, and by the oppression of those who are linked with the truth, are ranged upon the other side. They are leagued with the first great apostate and the evil men who are his agents. The Word declares of these that they shall "wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived."
God foresaw the workings of the archdeceiver--every art and device in his crooked twistings and turnings. He knew that Satan's purpose was to make void the law of God, especially the fourth commandment, which specifies in unmistakable language who is the living God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth. Therefore God gave his word through Moses: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man servant, nor thy maid servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it."
God has not left the matter so undefined that we can not tell when the true Sabbath comes. "Six days," he says, "may work be done; but in the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord." He has given directions that on Friday, the day prior to the Sabbath, shall be prepared all the food to be eaten on the Sabbath. "Bake that which ye will bake," he says, "and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning." Servile work for a livelihood, or common business transactions upon the Sabbath, constitute those who take part in them transgressors. All labor necessary to provide for the sustenance of the body is to be done in the six working days.
In the fourth commandment the claims of God are expressed. In it he has specified his holy day; and he declares that so long as heaven and earth remain, not one jot nor tittle of his law shall be changed. "Think not," he says, "that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
If the Lord designed to change the day, why did he give no intimation of it? He certainly knew if he designed to do any such thing. When the transgressors of the law of God raise their objections to the Sabbath specified in the fourth commandment, they have their answer in the words of Christ: "Verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."
Heaven and earth still stand to confirm every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. For a time the powers of darkness have seemed to prevail, the man of sin has seemed to triumph; but during all the days when darkness seemed to eclipse the light, the Sabbath has been kept by God's representatives. And as we near the second appearing of Christ in the clouds of heaven, when he comes to take the kingdom under the whole heaven, and reign as King of kings and Lord of lords; when light shines from the throne of God, and the Sabbath of the fourth commandment stands in its own merits and native dignity,--then all who are true to God will see and acknowledge its perpetuity. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #37)
The practical application of the word of God reveals the principles of righteousness in all their relations to the human being; and these principles, brought into the heart, work outwardly in the life, and thus become manifest from generation to generation. The principles of truth and holiness have existed since the world was created; but Satan's constant effort has been to eclipse every ray of light coming to man from the throne of God. The great apostate is constantly at work to put darkness for light and light for darkness. But light is constantly shining forth from heaven to the children of men; and if they walk in the light, they will advance. The light will make manifest the errors that have accumulated through the assertions of men.
Satan has worked through deception to institute a spurious Sabbath, that the worship of God's people might become an offense to the Creator. When the people did this in their ignorance, the Lord was merciful, and bore with them. Men will not be judged for light they have never had. But those who have kept Sunday, whose attention has been called to this error, but who would not open their eyes to behold wondrous things out of the law, will be judged according to the light that has come to them. All who will not give attention to the message from heaven will take the side of Satan, and will denounce the only true Sabbath. They will not change their course of action, but will bring all the attributes of Satan to bear against the truth and make it of none effect; for exceedingly repulsive to them is the day upon which the Lord places so much value.
Shall we selfishly argue, as reasons for not obeying the command, that it will put us out of joint with all the world? It were better thus than to be disconnected from God. But no excuse of selfish interest or unbelief, no arguments of the long observance of a false sabbath, will be accepted by God. The Sunday-Sabbath is hoary with age, but this does not give it one tittle of sanctity, for God has not made it sacred. Sunday is not the Lord's day; although it is called so by ministers throughout Christendom. This assertion of men has not removed the sanctity from the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, nor made the Sunday a day to be reverenced. God has not placed one particle of sanctity upon the first day of the week.
The transgression of the fourth commandment came little by little. It did not come abruptly; but the first day gradually usurped the place of the holy Sabbath until the light of God's great memorial, which pointed to him as the living God, the Creator of the world, was no longer kept before the people; the first day was exalted.
But the Lord would not have his church left in darkness. The light of truth has been shining in our world in clear rays. The binding claims of the law of Jehovah, the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, are clearly and distinctly defined.
"My father," reasons one, "kept Sunday, and he was a good man; and what was good enough for my father is good enough for me." But this is a mistake. We can not be accepted in rendering to God the same service that our fathers rendered. In order to be blessed of God as our fathers were, we must manifest that faithfulness and devotion to God that will honor him before the world. We must acknowledge him as supreme. In order to reveal the truth, we must improve the light in our day as our fathers improved the light in their day.
To the apostles and prophets, Christ revealed himself, and gave light for their time. Holy men of old walked with God. These men of faith lived the truth revealed to them for their time. They improved their opportunities and privileges, and returned their talents to God with an increase. They believed in the light, they walked in the light; and the light in them did not become darkness.
More is demanded of those who live under the proclamation of the last message of mercy to be given to the world. We must reveal the binding claims of the law of God, every precept of which is "holy, and just, and good." We are not required to serve God as did the people of Israel, in going to Jerusalem to worship; neither are we required to offer up to him our flocks and herds as sacrificial offerings, symbolizing the one great Offering. At one time the chosen of God were to do this, bearing in mind that, through the shedding of the blood of the only begotten Son of God, their sacrifices were acceptable. But no such sacrifice is now required at the hands of the church. By the exceeding great and precious promises we are made partakers of the divine nature. Our path is enlightened now, and the light reveals the fraud practised by Satan in bringing in a false sabbath, thus gaining in the world what he failed to gain in heaven,--a change in the law of God.
The Lord now requires of his church perfect obedience to all his commandments. He will not accept less than his due. Man may receive grace and truth to obey all his commandments, which are reasonable and just. All his righteous demands must be fully met; for this second probation granted to the fallen race cost an infinite price, even the life of the Son of God.
In his life and death, Jesus taught the strictest obedience. He did not consult his convenience or pleasure when he left his station of high command to become a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, accepting ignominy and death in order to deliver man from the consequence of his disobedience. Jesus died, not to save man in his sins, but from his sins. Man is to leave the error of his ways, to follow the example of Christ, to take up his cross and follow the Master, denying self, and obeying God at any cost.
If men, after this great and merciful condescension on the part of God, maintain their position with the first apostate, no force will be used with them. God accepts no unwilling service. Rational, accountable beings have the light in contrast with darkness placed before them, and they are invited to walk in the light in harmony with God. If they receive the words of men in place of the plainly stated word of God, and follow the inclination of their own hearts in disobedience to the law of Jehovah; if they trample upon his Sabbath, and honor the sabbath brought into existence by the man or sin,--they will treasure up against themselves the wrath of the Lamb.
It is not a lack of knowledge of spiritual light and understanding that will separate any soul from the presence of God. These are not the things that will decide his destiny. It is the truth, brought home to the understanding, but rejected because of the cross it involves, that will condemn the sinner in that day of final judgment. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #38)
"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left."
Christ would have all understand the events of his second appearing. The judgment scene will take place in the presence of all the worlds; for in this judgment the government of God will be vindicated, and his law will stand forth as "holy, and just, and good." Then every case will be decided, and sentence will be passed upon all. Sin will not then appear attractive, but will be seen in all its hideous magnitude. All will see the relation in which they stand to God and to one another.
At his first advent, Christ came to the world as its Redeemer. He came to plant truth in the hearts of all who would give place to it, who would receive it and be converted. He came to take away the sin of the world, and to fill every heart with pure, healthful joy. He longed to breathe into prostrate humanity the breath of life. And in his attitude toward men was a foreshadowing of his work in the Judgment. From the men whom the world had favored, those who found their own enjoyment in fulsome flattery, he turned with gladness to a peculiar people, and showed which class was blessed. He assigned appropriate rewards to those who were faithful and true. Having brought into the world the accumulated treasure of heaven, he bestowed it upon them. He pronounced his blessings upon true merit, upon all who were seeking for that righteousness which it was his prerogative to give. To those who should suffer for his name's sake, he declared: "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven." He gave evidence that all the treasures of heaven were at his command, and that in dispensing them he knew no restriction.
Let us mark the partition made between the sheep and the goats, and listen to his words to each:--
"Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
"Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? when saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
"Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal."
When God's people are clothed with white robes, and crowned as true subjects of his kingdom, those who have been disloyal will see the inconsistency of their uniting with the loyal to honor and magnify the law of God, which they have educated themselves to disregard. They have regarded the law of God as null and void, and should they be trusted to come through the gates into the city? They then find that they have no passport, nothing in them that can change their life sentiments. They have made their choice of false sentiments in the place of truth, and holiness, and righteousness, and they can not change them. Every man who, by his actions, has declared, I will not have this Man to reign over me, will no longer have the privilege of being under that rule.
Those who have tried to lay their plans in councils, and by their superior numbers gain power to oppress the saints of God, to compel them to dishonor and disobey their Redeemer, will understand the work they have done upon the earth, as enemies of God, betrayers of sacred trusts. They will then know how many souls they have deceived and led away from allegiance to God. They will see that they have made themselves responsible for their own destruction and the destruction of God's property, his own heritage, purchased at an infinite cost. The blood of these souls will be upon their garments. They will understand in that day that they were dealing with Christ in the person of his saints. Whatever influence opposes the truth that God has made it the duty of his servants to proclaim in his name, dishonors him. This is a violence offered to the laws of his kingdom, and he will not suffer it to go unpunished.
"The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son." The Judge, the Prince of sufferers for the truth's sake, is on the throne,--he who suffered himself to be arraigned before Herod and Pilate, who was rejected by his own nation, and condemned by the man who had declared, "I find no fault in him,"--he who was lacerated with stripes, spit upon, degraded, and whose holy brow was crowned with thorns. He does not now stand before the bar of Pilate or Herod. He himself is judge, and these men stand before him whom they scourged, and delivered up to the will of his enemies. Pilate and Herod, who suffered the Lord to be scourged; priests and rulers, who clamored for the death of the Messiah; those who mocked him,--all now understand what it means to meet the wrath of the Lamb.
"The hour is coming," Christ said, "in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth." That voice is to resound through all the habitations of the dead; and every saint who sleeps in Jesus will awake and leave his prison house. Then the virtue of character we have received from Christ's righteousness will ally us to true greatness of the highest order. Every action of ours in befriending God's people will be rewarded as done unto himself.
In the day of final reckoning, Christ does not present before men the great work he has done for them in giving his life for their redemption. He presents before them the faithful work they have done for him. What surpassing love is this! He even mentions the work of the heathen, who have no intelligent knowledge of the law of the Lord, but who have done the very things the law required, because they have heeded the voice speaking to them in the things of nature. When the Holy Spirit implants Christ's Spirit in the heart of the savage, and he befriends God's servants, the quickening of the heart's sympathy is contrary to his nature, contrary to his education. The grace of God, working upon the darkened mind, has softened the savage nature untaught by the wisdom of men. And these uneducated heathen, in all their cruelty, are regarded in a more favorable light than are those who have had great light and evidence, but who have rejected the mercy and reproof of God.
Christ implants his grace in the heart of the savage, and ministers to the necessity of the missionary, even before he has heard or comprehended the words of truth and life. Behold that crowd collected about God's servant to harm him! But the Lord is working upon the heart and mind of perhaps one man to plead in behalf of his servant; and when the war council has determined the destruction of the Christian's life, the intercession of that savage turns the decision, and his life is spared. O, the love that goes forth to the savage for this one act! To such Christ says, in the Judgment: "I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me." "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #39)
In all our Australasian churches the nine days from May 28 to June 5 were set apart as a special season of self-examination, prayer, and thanksgiving.
Appropriate readings were published and sent out to the officers of the churches, and to isolated families of Sabbath-keepers. In these readings the perils and duties of the present time were clearly set before our people, with fervent exhortations to purity of life, godliness, and consecration.
A review of the special blessings of the year showed clearly that the Lord has had a constant care for his people, and is ever working in their behalf. As individuals, as families, and as churches, we have felt his loving care; and in the growth of our Conferences and the development of our institutions, we see material advancement. During the year, churches and companies of Sabbath-keepers have been raised up in several places, and two commodious meetinghouses built, one in Cooranbong and one in Stanmore.
One year ago there were about fifty students attending the school. During May of this year, one hundred were in attendance. Last year at this time the health home was struggling to win back the patronage it had lost through the interruption of its work on account of the sale of the building it occupied, which necessitated moving; now it is full to overflowing with patients, and earning something with which to make up the losses of last year. The Echo Publishing Company has erected a large and convenient building, which will double its capacity for work; and the New Zealand Tract Society has just completed the erection of a commodious building, in a good location in Wellington, which furnishes abundance of room for the book depository, and provides a good meeting hall for the Wellington church.
And right here I wish to express my thanks, and the hearty thanks of our brethren in these colonies, to our brethren and friends in America and in Africa, who have responded so heartily to our appeals for assistance to build meetinghouses in the important centers in these colonies; and whose timely assistance has enabled us to erect plain but commodious meetinghouses in Melbourne, Sydney, Ashfield, Wellington, Hobart, Epsom, Christchurch, and Cooranbong. Great care has been exercised in the use of the funds given for this work, and in no case have appropriations been made till the brethren in the locality where a house was needed have lifted to the extent of their ability. It would have been hardly possible in any of these places for our people, unaided, to build a suitable place of worship.
Our Institutions.--The Lord has entrusted his people in the Australasian colonies with manifold blessings with great responsibilities. The Echo Office, the school, the health home, and the tract society depositories are centers of influence, established in the providence of God as places through which he may work in a special manner. By the appointment of these centers, God designs to bring human beings into connection with himself, that humanity may touch humanity; and that men, controlled by the Holy Spirit, may increase in knowledge, strengthening every principle of character according to the divine similitude.
It is of great importance that the workers in all these institutions shall fully understand their privileges and their responsibilities. If this is not done, self will be woven into the work, and will take the place that should be given to God. The managers of our institutions should teach the workers, by precept and example, that in all things the excellence of God is to be made prominent. And church officers must teach this also in the churches. The standard of the Lord must be uplifted. All should be made to see that our institutions are of God's appointment. Those who depreciate one of them, representing, from selfish motives, that it is an inferior affair, must render to God an account for their words and influence. The Lord designs that everything connected with his work shall be treated as sacred. Let all be warned that no common fire is to be used in place of the sacred fire, that common things are not to be mingled with God's appointed agencies.
Let all beware how they weave self-serving and self-pleasing into the work. If they do this, they dishonor God, and he can not use them to his name's glory. When trial comes to prove us; when we can not see an increase of prosperity and comfort before us, but a probable lessening of these things; when there is a pressure necessitating a sacrifice on the part of all, how shall we receive Satan's insinuations that we are going to have a hard time, that everything is going to pieces, and that there is sore trouble ahead of us? If we listen to these suggestions, unbelief in God will spring up, bringing blindness to the soul.
We ought to believe that God has always had a care for his people and for his institutions. We ought to look at the work that he has done, the reforms that he has wrought. We ought to gather up the fragments of heaven's blessings, and all the tokens of good, saying: "Lord, I believe in thee; I believe in thy servants and in thy work. I will trust in thee. Thou hast made this institution a center of light. It is thine own instrumentality, and we will not fail nor be discouraged. We are greatly honored in being connected with thy work. We will be true to the work of God. We will act faithfully our part. We will keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment."
God has sent trials to his institutions, to prove who will stand faithful under the severe temptations of the enemy. Those who have shown themselves ready to listen to the voice of a stranger rather than to the voice of God, have lost much. They have loosened their hold on Christ, and chosen a broken reed on which to lean. For them, there is but one way of escape, and that is to learn to be afraid of themselves, carefully to reject false principles and wrong theories, accepting the invitation, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart."
The Lord would have the Echo Office stand as a living witness for the truth. Rays of light must be shed abroad through various avenues. Therefore the commercial work should not be entirely cut away, but it must be cleansed of all that is offensive in character. It would be a mistake for our offices of publication to build up barriers to exclude all work from the outside; for this would close an avenue through which rays of light and knowledge should be given to the world.
The Echo Office, and our publishing houses in Europe and America, should give more attention than they have done to the education of the workers. Each institution should be a school for the training of laborers. Patient effort should be bestowed upon the youth. Every good attribute is to be cultivated and developed with kindness, love, compassion, and tenderness. There should be no scolding, no fretting, but much praying with the learners. Do not fret, do not worry. By looking at appearances, and complaining when difficulties come, you show an enfeebled, sickly faith. Show your faith by earnest, cheerful work. The Lord is rich in resources. He made the world. He is never bound by circumstances. We need to look heavenward, in faith. Let us look to God, who has light, and power, and efficiency. God will open heaven, and let us see that he is light, and that in him is no darkness at all. God will bless every one who is in a position to communicate light and love to others.
With these, and many other words, I presented to the workers in the Echo Office, and to our laborers in our established centers, the principles that should guide us in our present work in Australasia, where there are so many open doors, so many ripening fields, and so few laborers to go forth with the message which is due at this time, and for which thousands are hungering.
The managers of our institutions in every land should constantly study how they may enlarge the sphere of their usefulness. The work in our publishing houses is ever in danger of being crippled by the influence of unconsecrated workers, and restricted by narrow plans and prejudices. We must ever strive to make our printing houses, as well as our sanitariums, training schools for home and foreign missionaries. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #40)
Just prior to the week of prayer, the spiritual condition of the communities around Cooranbong, Maitland, Newcastle, and Gosford was spread out before me like a panorama; and words were spoken regarding the work to be done in these communities by those connected with our school. The people are as sheep without a shepherd; many are hungering for the bread of life. It was represented to me that we had assembled in council, and the One who was our Teacher spoke of the light which should shine forth to all these places. His words brought light and spirit into our meeting. The instruction will not soon pass from my mind.
"This school," he said, "must not be conducted on stereotyped human plans, as are many of the schools among those who have a knowledge of the truth." The Bible is to lie at the foundation of all the education given; but more, far more, than a theoretical teaching of Bible truth is required. It is not enough to fill the minds of the students with precious lessons of the deepest importance,and then leave lesson after lesson unused. Missionary work should be done by suitable persons, that they may learn to impart what they have received. We are not to seal up the precious ointment; but we are to break the bottle, and let the fragrance be shared by all around. Among the students, there are those who have precious talents. Let these talents be put out to usury.
It is necessary to the best education that we give the students time to do missionary work,--time to become acquainted with the spiritual needs of the families in the community around them. They should not be so loaded down with studies that they can not have time to put to use the knowledge they have acquired. They should be encouraged to make earnest missionary effort for those in the darkness of error, by becoming acquainted with them, and taking them the truth where they are. With all humility of heart, seeking knowledge from Christ, praying, and watching unto prayer, they may make known to others the truth that is placed before them day by day.
The teachers and students in our schools need the divine touch. God can do much more for them than he had done, because, in the past, his way has been restricted. If a missionary spirit is encouraged, even if it takes some hours from the program of study, much of heaven's blessing will be given, provided there is more faith and spiritual zeal, more of a realization of what God will do.
If students will do faithfully the work that is given to them, they will see that they need all the instruction they are receiving. They will diligently seek to understand the purpose of God, that they may communicate to others the precious lessons they have received. The lessons which they are obtaining from the word of God will make them diligent students in all lines of study, and fit them for faithful service.
Students should be qualified to speak in an acceptable manner before congregations; and they should therefore train themselves to use pure, simple language, and to follow the best methods of speaking. Much attention should be given to the practise of reading with full, clear voice and distinct utterance, giving the proper emphasis to each word. To spell correctly, to write a clear, fair hand, and to keep accounts, are essential accomplishments. Bookkeeping has been strangely dropped out of our school work in many places, but it should be considered a study of primary importance. A thorough preparation in these studies will fit students to stand in positions of trust.
The lessons given in Bible lines should be repeated over and over again, in plain, simple language. It is important that the truths of God's word shall be securely fastened in the mind; and nothing will do this so effectually as for those who hear to engage in missionary labor, and speak to others the truths that have impressed their own minds. All can communicate, if they will, the grand yet simple truths regarding the mission and work of Christ. If they seek the Lord daily in earnest prayer, they will understand how to meet the people as Christ met them, adapting the instruction to their varied circumstances and understanding. The spiritual lessons regarding the kingdom of God, they should illustrate by the natural things with which their hearers are familiar. Then, as these natural objects are seen, day by day, the lesson of truth will be repeated to the mind.
The ministry of the divine Word is an important part of God's plan; but every one who takes part in this work must have a teachable spirit, and must yoke up with Christ. The frail human instrument is nothing. Without Christ we can do nothing. Teachers and students must so unite with Christ that their minds will be brought into captivity to him. We must let Christ be revealed in us. We must be his representatives to the world. We must "walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time." Self-confidence is not an evidence of advancement in the knowledge of God. The great Teacher says, "Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls."
Students as Home Missionaries.--Before I presented these matters to the students of the Avondale school, a few had been diligently engaged in missionary effort, visiting families, distributing reading matter, and holding Bible readings in places from one to five miles away; but many of the students here, as in most other schools, were acting upon the theory that it was wisest to learn all they could while in school, and wait till after school closed before undertaking any active missionary effort.
For some weeks beforehand, Elders Haskell, Hughes, W. C. White, and I had united with the officers of the Union Conference in making plans and preparations for the week of prayer. Letters containing information regarding the progress of the work, manuscripts that might be read in families and churches, and appeals for help to carry forward the work, were sent to leading workers in all the colonies. As we studied what would be for the best interests of the New South Wales churches, and for those students in the school who had had an experience in working for Christ, it was thought best to encourage persons of some experience to leave the school, and spend the week in visiting in the churches, in helping to conduct the meetings, and uniting with the workers in these churches in earnest work for those needing help. Seven were thus sent out from Cooranbong, besides Elder Haskell, who spent the week with the Stanmore church, upon which he has bestowed so much efficient and loving labor.
When this matter was first considered, by some it seemed a serious thing to lose one week out of the school term. It had cost much to reach the school, and apparently this was the last opportunity for attendance, and each lesson was very precious. But after consideration, the service was accepted cheerfully; the cross was lifted, and as it was lifted, it lifted the bearer. None of the workers settled down to have an easy time, but they moved rapidly from place to place. They met a hearty reception. They found lonely souls hungry for spiritual encouragement; as they watered others, their own souls were watered.
When these workers returned to the school, they were full of joy and courage. Their faith had developed with labor, and they were ready to cheer and help their fellows. Just then there was throughout the colony a visitation of the influenza, in a severe form. It appeared first in the cities, and then worked its way through the country. As might be expected, the school was one of the last places visited. There were many sick all around us; and the students who are in the class of practical nursing, freely offered to go, when needed, and care for the sick. So they were sent out, two and two, to give treatments, and to nurse those who were very feeble.
These experiences prepared their hearts to appreciate and receive instruction regarding the value of missionary effort as a part of their education. As this subject was presented in the school and in the church, during the week of prayer, students and teachers sought to act upon the suggestions, and opportunities for labor were found in all directions. Sabbath and Sunday afternoons, from sixteen to twenty students are engaged in holding prayer meetings, Bible readings, young people's meetings, and preaching services, in from six to ten different places. One result of this work we already see,--the workers are greatly blessed. Other results may be seen in the future. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #41)
In all our planning and preparations for the week of prayer, we sought to make the meeting a blessing to the largest number possible. We desired that this season should be a season of refreshing, not only to our churches, but also to the communities in which we lived. Therefore, the plan and the purpose of the meetings were advertised as widely as possible.
At Cooranbong we arranged for a song service, with several short addresses on our educational work, the Sunday evening preceding. The song service drew a large congregation, and the plan of the meetings during the week of prayer was clearly set forth, and all were invited to attend. It was a matter of encouragement to see our commodious meeting house filled, and also to observe the interest manifested in the several addresses setting forth the aims and objects of our school.
Why We are Here.--W. C. White said: "The question is often asked us, and is sometimes suggested by our backwoods experiences: 'Why are you here? Why do you have this large and beautiful meeting house here in the edge of the forest? Why is it that, hidden away in the bush, a quarter of a mile from the road, you have a school in which one hundred students gather daily for instruction? Why have you selected such an isolated place for the three commodious buildings already erected, and for the others soon to be built? Is not Cooranbong a strange place for a large educational institution?'
"As we study questions of truth and duty, we find that hardy, courageous workmen are needed in the Master's service. God needs as laborers men and women who have good physical powers; clear, active minds; and decided moral principles, that can not be shaken by temptation, nor put aside because of difficulties. There is need of persons who have a symmetrical training of all their mental, moral, and physical powers. Practical men and women are wanted,--those who will teach the religion of Christ, and exemplify it in their daily life and work.
"Our Conferences say to us: Train us young men and women who will love to minister to others; who will take up any good work that lies in their pathway; who will forget their own comfort, in their efforts to strengthen and comfort others.
"Our mission board says: We need many workers for foreign fields,--for Polynesia, Malaysia, India, China, and Japan,--but they should be hardy, practical workers. Sometimes the highly educated students from the most popular schools are quite helpless and inefficient in the mission field. Sometimes those who can read the Oriental languages can not keep a set of accounts, and their reports are very perplexing. Train us men and women who will be thrifty, economical, industrious; who can teach the people the best ways to build houses, to till the soil, to cook, and to sew.
"Our medical missionary board says: Train us many missionary nurses,--men and women who love their fellow men; who will minister tenderly to the poor and needy, without raising the question of remuneration; who will dare to go to any place where their ministry is needed. Men and women are needed with muscles like iron and nerves like steel,--persons who can decide quickly what should be done in an emergency, and who will minister with skilful hands, prompted by a tender heart. Such workers are needed in the islands of the sea, in the isolated homes in the Australian bush, and in the slums of our large cities.
"What can we do in response to these demands? Shall we go into the city, and build up our school where there will be the most ease and comfort? or shall we use the circumstances and surroundings of the country as a means of developing, as far as possible, the traits and characteristics required?--We have chosen the country, and we do not regret the choice."
Our Relations to those Around Us.--"I am very glad," said Elder Cassius B. Hughes, "to meet so many of our friends and neighbors here tonight; and when I say 'friends and neighbors,' I use the words in their deepest meaning. If we do not become to you friends and neighbors indeed, the mission of this school will be largely unaccomplished. Schools are for learning; but we must not forget that 'the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.' In the beautiful parable of the good Samaritan, the Saviour has taught us what it means to be a real neighbor. Therefore, if we fulfill our mission here, you will be better because of having associated with us, and we shall be better because of having associated with you. It is a very essential thing, in order that the school may accomplish what it should, that we become acquainted with you. Our feelings of friendliness will surely grow if we accomplish that for which God sent us here.
"When Christ was on earth, he went about doing good, In the school of today, there is too much selfishness. Students attend school that they may themselves be benefited, that they may obtain knowledge that will secure for them good positions. This is not the right idea of education. Our school must not be satisfied with this aim, but it must aim to help men and women, in order that they may help others.
"This school has been established to teach men and women how to minister to others, and thus to find happiness. This is a grand object, and you may say, 'Who is sufficient for these things?' We will answer this question by asking another, 'Who then is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the Lord?' Who is ready to do what God asks him to do? If God asks us to give something that we have, are we willing to give it? When we are willing to do this, we shall be accomplishing the object for which our school was established."
The Missionary Nurses' Class.--Elder H. C. Lacey briefly presented the objects and working of the department of hygiene and nursing: "In connection with the other work undertaken by our school, there has been organized this year a special department of physiology and hygiene. This department offers to the student the means of acquiring a practical knowledge of the workings of the wonderful mechanism of the human body, and furnishes an opportunity of becoming acquainted with the most approved methods in the rational treatment of disease. The study of anatomy, the form and structure of the body; of physiology, the use and functions of the various organs; and of hygiene, the laws that underlie their healthful activities, is pursued from a Biblical and scientific point of view.
"The object we have before us is the qualifying of laborers to engage in the all-round work of the third angel's message. In this school we are trying to fit ourselves that we may warn others to prepare for the second coming of Christ. We need a thorough fitting up for this work, not only spiritually and intellectually, but also physically. A thorough preparation for work includes the faithful development of the body as well as the soul; and the aim of this department is to prepare us to teach others how to care for the physique which God has given them."
The Business Department.--Mrs. H. C. Lacey, in presenting the outlines of the business department, said: "In the business department, the common branches are faithfully and thoroughly taught. After these come bookkeeping, stenography, and typewriting. There are ten in the stenography class, and fifteen are studying bookkeeping."
The Preparatory Department and the Normal Course.--Mrs. C. B. Hughes spoke thus of the normal course for teachers: "The wise man says, 'Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.' We who believe that Christ is soon coming, should be especially faithful so to train the little ones that they, with us, may be ready to meet him when he comes. We know that there are many fathers and mothers all over the land who desire that their children shall be trained aright, and we hear their oft-repeated calls for teachers. Therefore the board has made plans for the normal training of teachers. Most things have small beginnings. Christ tells us that the smallest of seeds, put into the ground, grows to be a tree that the birds may lodge in. So it is with our normal department. So far, it is only a seed. We have about fifty students in the preparatory departments, and three young ladies are being instructed in the work of teaching."
The Agricultural Department.--Mr. H. C. Thompson, our farmer, then presented some of the products of the soil. Oranges and lemons from our school orchard, sweet potatoes and other products from the garden, were shown with pride; for they were all of extraordinary size and quality. He spoke briefly of what may be realized as the result of a faithful cultivation of the land, and pointed out that some of the difficulties that must be encountered by the agriculturist in this climate are largely compensated for by the fact that we can successfully engage in the cultivation of garden crops all the year around.
The meeting closed with an earnest appeal from the chairman for the people of Cooranbong and vicinity to unite in the development of the district by the planting of orchards and the cultivation of garden produce, so that all may live upon the products of the soil, and not have to subsist on the bodies of dead animals.
The good influence of this meeting was felt throughout the week of prayer; and the spirit of cordial friendship continues to grow. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #42)
The week of prayer was a busy time for me, and for all our workers at the school and at "Sunnyside." For several weeks I had been engaged in writing out matters that had been presented to me regarding our denominational institutions, and the spirit that must be cherished by the managers and workers, and also many matters regarding our educational work, which I hope soon to publish; but now I laid all other work aside, and gave my entire strength to the various meetings held in and around Cooranbong.
The first Sabbath was a day of earnest activity. From "Sunnyside" and the school, two teams and a boat were sent to Dora Creek to bring to the meetings those who were not able to walk so far. The people had been invited to bring their lunch, and come to the meeting prepared to spend the day, and they responded freely to the invitation. Some were much surprised that we would exert ourselves on the Sabbath to bring them to the meeting. They had been taught that Sunday-keeping consisted largely in physical inactivity; and they thought that because we were zealous in the matter of Sabbath-keeping, we would keep it according to the teachings of the Pharisees. We told our friends that in the matter of keeping the Sabbath, we studied the example and teachings of Christ, whose Sabbaths were often spent in earnest effort to heal and to teach; that we believed that one of our sisters who was nursing a sick family was keeping the Sabbath as much as the one who was leading a division in the Sabbath-school; that Christ could not please the Pharisees of his day, and that we did not expect that our efforts to serve the Lord would satisfy the Pharisees of our day.
Our meeting house was well filled Sabbath morning with earnest listeners to the reading, "The End of All Things Is at Hand." In the afternoon I spoke for half an hour, and then we had a social meeting. Church members, students, and visitors testified freely, and all were blessed. We were glad that we had exerted ourselves to encourage old and young, believers and unbelievers, to come to the meeting. Knowing that the notice was short, and that some might come without lunch, we had provided abundance of plain food; and after some had been invited to the homes of our people, there were about forty who gathered under the broad-spreading gum-trees, and ate their food with thanksgiving and friendly conversation. After the meetings, our horses and carriages were again brought into service to carry some to their homes.
On Sunday morning I spoke to a congregation of between thirty and forty in the old schoolhouse at Dora Creek. Brother and Sister H. C. Lacey accompanied me, and led the singing. Most of those present were not of our faith, and they seemed deeply interested. I had perfect freedom, as I usually do in speaking to those who are hungry for truth. At the close of the meeting we arranged for our teams to go in the evening, to bring about twenty to the meeting at Cooranbong.
At the Sunday-night meeting, the progress of the cause of present truth in Australasia was briefly reviewed, and the present needs of the field were presented; also the work, and the financial embarrassments, of the Foreign Mission Board. What the cause in Australia and New Zealand has received from our brethren in America and Africa was clearly set forth; for it is only as we review our mercies and blessings, that we can be intelligently thankful. All were surprised to learn how much we have received, through the hands of the mission board, from our dear brethren in other lands. The lesson drawn from this study was that from those to whom much is given, much is required. Therefore we are under great obligation, here in Australasia, to give ourselves to the Master's work, and to educate and train our young men and women, that they may be fitted and ready to serve the Lord in home and foreign missions.
Monday was a busy day. At six in the morning, there was a meeting in the vestry of the church. Seventeen were present. I talked to them on faith. I am sure that we are not where we ought to be in this matter. Unbelief is the great obstacle in the way of our spiritual advancement. We all need to pray, "Lord, increase our faith." Nearly all bore testimony, acknowledging their lack of faith, and their weakness because they have not put their whole trust in the Lord, and taken Christ as their personal Saviour.
At nine o'clock I attended a meeting of the students in the school chapel. About eighty were present, and the room was full. An hour was occupied in reading, and in talking to them about the necessity of their understanding how to exercise faith. This is the science of the gospel. The Scripture declares, "Without faith it is impossible to please God." The knowledge of what the Scripture means when urging upon us the necessity of cultivating faith, is more essential than any other knowledge that can be acquired. We suffer much trouble and grief because of our unbelief, and our ignorance of how to exercise faith. We must break through the clouds of unbelief. We can not have a healthy Christian experience, we can not obey the gospel unto salvation, until the science of faith is better understood, and until more faith is exercised. There can be no perfection of Christian character without that faith that works by love, and purifies the soul.
The students in our schools need to study these words: "The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward." Then they will be able intelligently to pray: "Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer."
The youth have precious talents; but unless they consecrate these to God, they can not intelligently speak these words of the nineteenth psalm. When they understand the infinite sacrifice made for them, they will realize their responsibility as servants of Jesus Christ. If the humiliation and suffering borne by him in behalf of the human race are appreciated, a purer and more healthy atmosphere will surround the souls of those who take the name of Christian.
In the afternoon there was a general meeting at the church. I attended; and after engaging in prayer, I again talked to the people on the subject of faith, and told them my experience in the night season. I was then before a company, talking to them about faith. I was trying to show them that they must be able intelligently to voice the words of John, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." Men must behold him as their sin bearer. Then the word of God was opened before me in a most beautiful and striking light. Page after page was turned, and I read the gracious invitations and words of entreaty to seek God's glory and God's will, with the promise that all other things would be added. These promises and invitations stood out upon the page as in golden letters.
I said: Why do you not grasp the promises? Seek first to know God. Search the Scriptures. Feed on the words of Christ, which are spirit and life. Then your knowledge will grow. Study your Bibles. Study not the philosophy contained in many books, but study the philosophy of the word of the living God. Compared with this, other literature is of little consequence. Do not fill your minds with so many things that are cheap and unsatisfying. In the word of God is spread before you the richest banquet. This is the Lord's table, abundantly provided, whereof you may eat and be satisfied.
We need, during this week of prayer, to come to God in confidence. We must put away the darkness that would interpose between our souls and God. We must cultivate perfect trust in God, and make him our counselor. His love must be cultivated in the heart. Thanksgiving and praise should be offered to God. He wants the whole mind. "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord." God's word is full of assurances of what he will do for us if we will come to him and ask in faith. Faith is essential. It surrounds the soul with the atmosphere that pervades heaven. This is the rest that Christ has promised to all who come to him.
We ask you, brethren and sisters, to render to God offerings of thanksgiving for all his blessings. This includes not only the fruit of the lips, but the entire being; for this is the Lord's purchased possession. We must understand that the garden of the heart is to be cultivated. The weeds of selfishness are to be diligently uprooted.
As we cultivate the soil day by day, we may learn precious spiritual lessons. The fallow ground of the heart must be broken up. It must be warmed by the rays of the sun, and purified by the air. Then the seed, to all appearance lifeless and inactive, is to be dropped into the soil prepared for its reception. Trees also are to be planted, and cultivated with care. And after man has done his part, God's miracle-working power gives life and vitality to the things placed in the soil. Man is not to overlook the power of God, nor is he to neglect his part of the work, appointed to him by God. Man is not to be slothful. His industry is essential if he would have a harvest. And so it is with the work to be done in the human heart and mind. "The seed is the word of God." "He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man."
Christ is the author of all truth. He came down from heaven to give to the world the bread of life. "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." And yet how little do men understand the relation of earthly and heavenly things! And must the veil remain ever upon our eyes?--No, indeed. God designs that in this probationary time, man may comprehend the truths of his word. They are revealed to us and to our children. A treasure house of precious jewels is opened to the minds of all who will search the word of God.
The Lord would have us become diligent learners of the things of his kingdom, and he would have us understand that as we receive knowledge, a responsibility rests upon us to go to work to communicate to others that which we have received. We must present the truth as it is in Jesus. Having received great light, and united with the church to do the service of God, we must labor to scatter the good seed, and thus in other minds and hearts prepare the way for the operation of the Spirit of God.
O, why do those who know the truth remain in a state of indifference to the wants of others? Why do they bring no sheaves to the Master? Why do they look to others to do the work which God has given them to do? I wish that every soul could have the experience that I had last night, and hear the words of counsel, reproof, and encouragement falling from the lips of the divine Teacher. He said: "The leaves of the tree of life are proffered you. They are sweeter than honey and the honeycomb. Take them, eat them, and your faintheartedness will pass away. Are you thirsty? Come. Whosoever shall drink of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst."
"And in that day thou shalt say, O Lord, I will praise thee: though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortest me. Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation. And in that day shall ye say, Praise the Lord, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted. Sing unto the Lord; for he hath done excellent things: this is known in all the earth. Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion: for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #43)
On Wednesday morning, June 1, I met with the students in the school chapel. I read to them important words of counsel and instruction, and I was impressed by the Holy Spirit to encourage them to exercise faith in God. I knew that if the eyes of teachers and students were opened, they would see that the Lord Jesus was among them, and that they were honored by the presence of the greatest Teacher that the world has ever known. The Saviour is watching the development of character. He is weighing moral worth. With what pleasure he looks upon the students, both old and young, who are daily hearing the instruction from his written word!
The students in our schools should value the privilege of knowing the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he has sent. The moment we glance inquiringly toward Christ, seeking his grace, he advances to us. He encourages us to behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. As soon as we sincerely desire conformity to Christ's likeness, the Lord, by his Holy Spirit, begins to transcribe that likeness on the heart. He who commanded the light to shine out of darkness is willing and longing to shine in every heart, to give each one the light of the knowledge of his glory in the face of Jesus Christ.
I told the students that in his providence the Lord had directed us to this place, and had established us here in the woods, away from the large cities and their influences, which are constantly ensnaring the young. The Lord designs that this shall be a center to which our youth shall be brought to receive the highest education,--that which they can take with them into the eternal world. This education is to be gained by obtaining a knowledge of truth, eternal truth.
Every moment of time is precious, too precious to be idled away. Our time is to be employed in useful labor. Cheerfulness and joy are to be cultivated and cherished; but commonness, nonsense, and idle words are to be put away and avoided. Here students are to obtain a symmetrical education by learning to use, with equality and faithfulness, brain and nerve, bone and muscle, conscience and will power,--all consecrated to God. This is God's design regarding our school. As students seek to obtain this education, they will become familiar with various kinds of physical labor, with various lines of study, and with various phases of Christian experience, including intelligent effort to help others, and to seek and to save those for whom Christ gave his life.
We desire to make our school what God has revealed that it should be. We must not forget that God has guided in the matter of its location, the selection of its teachers, and the general plan of its work. We must remember that this school is not to pattern after any other school; but that we are carefully to study the word of God, to learn what the school will become if we receive and act upon the instruction found in that word.
In each one of our schools, Satan will seek to become the guide of teachers and students. He will introduce the thought that amusements are essential. He would be pleased to have students who are preparing to become missionaries accept the idea that amusements are essential to health. But the Lord has provided a better way. God has provided useful employments for the development of health, and these useful employments will also qualify students to be a help to themselves and to others.
Physical strength and valuable education are to be obtained in chopping and clearing, in planting and cultivating the various crops; in caring for the domestic animals, and in helping to erect necessary buildings. Later on, a printing press should be connected with our school, that students may learn how to set type, and how to operate a printing press. Tent making should also be established, and students should be taught this work.
For the lady students there are many employments that should be provided, that they may have a comprehensive and practical education. They should be taught cooking, dressmaking, and gardening. Flowers should be cultivated, and strawberries planted. Thus, while being educated in useful labor, they will have healthful outdoor exercise. Later on, bookbinding and a variety of other trades should be established. These will not only furnish healthful exercise, but will impart knowledge of great value. Today the world's greatest curse is idleness.
It is a matter of great importance that students obtain an education that will fit them for successful business life. We must not be satisfied with the one-sided education given in many schools. The common branches must be thoroughly mastered, and bookkeeping should be considered one of the most important studies. All who expect to engage in the work of the Lord should learn how to keep accounts. A knowledge of bookkeeping should be regarded as important as a knowledge of grammar. In the world there are many who have made a failure in business, and are considered dishonest, who are true at heart, but have failed to succeed because they did not know how to keep accounts.
It is also very essential that students understand the principles of physiology and the art of nursing the sick; for the world is full of sickness, and they should be prepared to minister to the sick wherever they go.
There should be awakened and cherished in the minds of students a desire to help one another, and also a determination to help those within the range of their influence outside of the school. Living treasures of light are received from the Bible studies; and the students, by their effort to impart to others the light that they have received, will increase their store of knowledge. In their effort to benefit others, they will receive special help from divine agencies. As they impart grace, they will receive grace for grace; for they are doing the appointed work. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." Heavenly angels are commissioned to cooperate with those who seek to obey this instruction. It is the divine intelligences that make the impressions on human hearts. If we ask in humility and faith, God will impart to us wisdom and grace to work in harmony with these agencies. "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."
The students in our schools must be thoroughly educated in regard to true science. The God of heaven sent his Son into our world to give lessons which contain the true science. But were Christ in our world today, he would say to many teachers, as he said to the Pharisees, "Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also." "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made." The science of education is to be found in the words spoken by Christ and his inspired servants. Teachers and students are to bring the word of God into every study, into all their physical labors, and into every plan and purpose of life. By a living connection with God, they may surround their souls with an atmosphere that is Christlike. If they are emptied of self, if they are humble and contrite before God, a wholesome, lifegiving atmosphere will pervade the school.
But we can not serve Christ, we can not wear his yoke and bear his burdens, unless we learn in his school how to love one another. When love is cherished in the heart, self dies, and Christ lives in the soul. To all who fully consecrate themselves to God, the heavenly oil is communicated. But neither students nor teachers can meet their God-given responsibilities unless they consecrate themselves to God, unless they are willing to be led by the Holy Spirit. The mind of teachers and students is finite and faulty unless they receive the holy oil that flows from the two olive trees into the hearts of the workers who are under submission to God. "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts."
Our students are now deciding their eternal destiny. They are deciding whether they will be fitted for the companionship of angels. If they do the will of God, they will be crowned with glory and honor, and have eternal life. If they are converted daily, they can work for their associates in the school, and for others. They show that they can be relied upon. They refuse to be vessels unto dishonor, but are vessels unto honor.
After I had spoken to the students for nearly an hour, opportunity was given for them to speak. Nearly all bore testimony to the goodness and mercy of God, mingled with thanksgiving for the blessings enjoyed during the present school year. It was evident that the faithful work of the teachers, and especially the instruction given in the Bible classes, was not in vain. As precious seed sown in good ground, it was springing up, and promised to bear a rich harvest. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #44)
There was a large attendance at our meetings on Sabbath, June 4. Besides the families of the Avondale church, there were about forty present from Dora Creek, making a congregation, old and young, of over two hundred. The weather was excellent, and about thirty took their dinner under the large gum trees near the church. This was the last Sabbath of the week of prayer, and the time appointed for the bringing in of the annual offerings for missions.
During the week, envelopes had been distributed, in which the gifts to missions might be enclosed; and on the envelope was a place for the name of the giver, and for the reference to a Scripture text expressing the thought accompanying the gift. A similar provision was made for gifts to the school.
At the opening of the meeting a psalm of thanksgiving was read, and then invitation was given for each one to read the text that had been selected to accompany his gift. Then prayer was offered that God would accept our offerings and our praise; the gifts were collected; and the article on consecration, written by Brother A. T. Jones, was read. The Scripture texts and the article on consecration made a deep impression on all; and from this day, changes were wrought in many lives.
In the afternoon I spoke from 2 Corinthians 8 and 9. These chapters, speaking of the joyful giving of churches that were in deep poverty, and giving instruction regarding the principles that should govern Christian benevolence and ministry, seemed to be very appropriate. We are surrounded with difficulties and with poverty, yet we may have the joy of giving. As we read the chapters, we felt that our people could understand them. We knew that nearly all who had bestowed their gifts had not given from their abundance, but that they had given as a result of self-denial, and with a desire to do what was within their power. To all such the sixth verse of the ninth chapter comes as a precious promise: "But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully."
The promises, the encouragement, and the instruction in these chapters are the words of inspiration; they are the voice of God speaking to us today. When every one will do to the utmost of his ability, giving in faith and love, and with an appreciation of the infinite sacrifice made for us, the Lord will receive the gifts, and will make his gifts to abound toward us so that we shall lose nothing.
The Lord knows all the thoughts of our hearts. He understands all our circumstances, and the self-denials and sacrifices made for the advancement of his work in the earth. He saw how willingly and earnestly the people of this place entered heart and soul into the work of helping to finish the buildings required for our first term of school.
There are times when much is to be gained by a united, prompt, and persistent effort. The time for opening our school had been appointed; but our brethren throughout the colonies were looking for a postponement. They had waited long for the school to open, and were discouraged. There was much work yet to be done on the buildings, and our funds were exhausted. Therefore the builders said that the work could not be done at the appointed time. But we said there must be no delay. The school must be opened at the time named. So we laid the matter before the church, and called for volunteers. Thirty men and women offered themselves for the work; and although it was hard for them to spare the time, a strong company continued at the work day after day till the buildings were completed, cleaned, and furnished, ready to be used at the day set for opening the school.
When the time came for this meetinghouse to be built, there was another test of faith and loyalty. We had a council to consider what should be done. The way seemed hedged about with difficulties. Some said: "Enclose a small building, and when money shall come in, enlarge; for we can not possibly complete at this time such a house as we desire." Others said, "Wait till we have money with which to build a commodious house." This we thought to do; but the word of the Lord came to me in the night season, "Arise, and build without delay."
We then decided that we would take hold of the work, and walk out by faith to make a beginning. The very next night there came from South Africa a draft for two hundred pounds. This was a gift from Brother and Sister Lindsay, of Cape Town, to help us in building the meetinghouse. Our faith had been tested, we had decided to begin the work, and now the Lord put into our hands this large gift with which to begin. With this encouragement the work was begun in earnest. The school board gave the land and one hundred pounds. Two hundred pounds was received from the Union Conference, and the members of the church gave what they could. Friends outside of the church helped, and the builders gave a part of their time, which was as good as money. Thus the work was completed, and we have this beautiful house, capable of seating four hundred people. We thank the Lord for this house in which to worship him. He understands all the strait places through which we were brought. When difficulties arose, Elder Haskell, who was superintending the work, would call the workmen together, and they would pray earnestly for God's blessing upon themselves and the work. The Lord heard prayer, and the house was completed in seven weeks.
To Brother and Sister Lindsay, we say now, as we said when the draft arrived: We thank you for helping us in the beginning by the gift of one thousand pounds for the purchase of our school land, and we thank you for again coming to our assistance. And we give honor and praise to Him who has committed to you this treasure, and that he has put it into your hearts to respond to the necessities of his work in this place. And to our brethren and sisters here, who have sacrificed and labored for the building of this house, we say: "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: as it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth forever."
"He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them," said Jesus, "he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him." Here faith and works are combined. The one who loves, obeys: the love of the heart shapes the conduct. When the Lord speaks to us, saying, "Go forward," it is not for us to stand and talk of difficulties, but promptly to obey, knowing that God understands the nature of every difficulty. If those in his service will stop talking unbelief and magnifying difficulties, and will move forward in humble obedience, God, in his providence, will cooperate with the finite efforts of man, and thus testify to the world of his omnipotence.
Thus God will encourage his faithful stewards who are ready to put all their energies and God-given endowments to the very best use. As all learn the lesson of faithfully rendering to God what is his due, he, through his providences, will enable some to bring princely offerings, as Sister Wessels and her children have done, laying upon the altar of God their offerings in Christian liberality. He will enable others to present smaller offerings; and the small offerings and the large are acceptable to him, if given with an eye single to his glory. "Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness; being enriched in everything to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God. For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God."
As the promises and principles were presented to the people, many hearts were cheered; and some who had made small offerings, with which they were not satisfied, brought additional gifts after the meeting.
The closing meeting of our special season of thanksgiving and prayer was held Sunday afternoon. Again our meetinghouse was well filled. The friendly visits and invitations from our brethren had encouraged a number of families to come from a distance to this afternoon meeting, who could not readily travel so far in the evening. Our teams had brought about twenty-five from Dora Creek; and just before the service, they held a consultation with our church officers, which led to a decision to rent a cottage for meetings, and to establish regular services there, Sabbath morning and Sunday afternoon.
As I spoke to the people, my spirit was stirred again to urge upon students, and church members not in the school, to arouse, and obtain all they possibly could of an intelligent knowledge of the Scriptures, and then bring this knowledge into their practical life. The church is to be a shining light, a blessing to others. Said Christ, "I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit."
I felt an earnest desire that our people should see and appreciate the missionary fields right around us. "Say ye not, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together."
And so it is today. There is work to do everywhere in the fields within our sight, if we would but lift up our eyes and look. God's servants must throw off all inclination to sloth. Lay firm hold of the work given you, and hold it fast. "Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." The work requires physical, mental, and moral power. If we do not cultivate the ability to impart to others, we shall soon lose our power to do the work required at this time; but if we exercise our talents in God's service, heavenly angels will be close by our side to help us.
The Offerings.--By Sunday afternoon it was known that the gifts to the mission fund and to the school amounted to about two hundred and twenty-five dollars. We all desired to bring it to two hundred and fifty; and the students in the school, who had very little money to give, proposed to give a day's labor. This proposition was presented to the whole school; and it was arranged to suspend school the next day, that all the students might be free to give one day's labor to the cause of missions. The young men took a job of clearing, and the young women made one hundred and fifty pounds of granola. All united in the work, and worked with a will. When the results of this day's labor were turned into cash, we found that our united gifts had reached the desired amount,--two hundred and fifty dollars. We all wish it were a hundred times more; but we are glad to have had a part in doing this much for the cause we love. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #45)
"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."
Before the fall, not a cloud rested upon the minds of our first parents to obscure their clear perception of the character of God. They were perfectly conformed to the will of God. For a covering, a beautiful light, the light of God, surrounded them. The Lord visited the holy pair, and instructed them through the works of his hands. Nature was their lesson book. In the garden of Eden the existence of God was demonstrated in the objects of nature that surrounded them. Every tree of the garden spoke to them. The invisible things of God were clearly seen, being understood by the things which were made, even his eternal power and Godhead.
But while it is true that God could thus be discerned in nature, this does not favor the assertion that after the fall a perfect knowledge of God was revealed in the natural world to Adam and his posterity. Nature could convey her lessons to man in his innocence; but transgression brought a blight upon nature, and intervened between nature and nature's God. Had Adam and Eve never disobeyed their Creator, had they remained in the path of perfect rectitude, they could have known and understood God. But when they listened to the voice of the tempter, and sinned against God, the light of the garments of heavenly innocence departed from them; and in parting with the garments of innocence, they drew about them the dark robes of ignorance of God. The clear and perfect light that had hitherto surrounded them had lightened everything they approached; but deprived of that heavenly light, the posterity of Adam could no longer trace the character of God in his created works.
The things of nature upon which we look today give us but a faint conception of Eden's beauty and glory; yet the natural world, with unmistakable voice, proclaims the glory of God. In the things of nature, marred as they are by the blight of sin, much that is beautiful remains. One omnipotent in power, great in goodness, in mercy, and love, has created the earth, and even in its blighted state it inculcates truths in regard to the skilful Master Artist. In this book of nature opened to us,--in the beautiful, scented flowers, with their varied and delicate coloring,--God gives to us an unmistakable expression of his love. After the transgression of Adam, God might have destroyed every opening bud and blooming flower, or he might have taken away their fragrance, so grateful to the senses. In the earth, seared and marred by the curse, in the briers, the thistles, the thorns, the tares, we may read the law of condemnation; but in the delicate color and perfume of the flowers, we may learn that God still loves us, that his mercy is not wholly withdrawn from the earth.
Nature is filled with spiritual lessons for mankind. The flowers die only to spring forth into new life; and in this we are taught the lesson of the resurrection. All who love God will bloom again in the Eden above. But nature can not teach the lesson of the great and marvelous love of God. Therefore, after the fall, nature was not the only teacher of man. In order that the world might not remain in darkness, in eternal spiritual night, the God of nature met us in Jesus Christ. The Son of God came to the world as the revelation of the Father. He was that "true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." We are to behold "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."
In the person of his only begotten Son, the God of heaven has condescended to stoop to our human nature. To the question of Thomas, Jesus said: "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, 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; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake."
The most difficult and humiliating lesson that man has to learn is his own inefficiency in depending upon human wisdom, and the sure failure of his own efforts to read nature correctly. Sin has obscured his vision, and of himself he can not interpret nature without placing it above God. He can not discern in it God, or Jesus Christ, whom he has sent. He is in the same position as were the Athenians, who erected their altars for the worship of nature. Standing in the midst of Mars Hill, Paul presented before the people of Athens the majesty of the living God in contrast with their idolatrous worship.
"Ye men of Athens," he said, "I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, To the Unknown God. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshiped with men's hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: for in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device."
Those who have a true knowledge of God will not become so infatuated with the laws of matter or the operations of nature as to overlook, or refuse to acknowledge, the continual working of God in nature. Nature is not God, nor was it ever God. The voice of nature testifies of God, but nature is not God. As his created work, it simply bears a testimony to God's power. Deity is the author of nature. The natural world has, in itself, no power but that which God supplies. There is a personal God, the Father; there is a personal Christ, the Son. And "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high."
The psalmist says: "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard." Some may suppose that these grand things in the natural world are God. They are not God. All these wonders in the heavens are only doing the work appointed them. They are the Lord's agencies. God is the superintendent, as well as the Creator, of all things. The divine Being is engaged in upholding the things that he has created. The same hand that holds the mountains and balances them in position, guides the worlds in their mysterious march around the sun.
There is scarcely an operation of nature to which we may not find reference in the word of God. The word declares that "he maketh his sun to rise," and "the rain to descend." He "maketh grass to grow upon the mountains. . . . He giveth snow like wool: he scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes. He casteth forth his ice like morsels: . . . he sendeth out his word, and melteth them: he causeth his wind to blow, and the waters flow." "He maketh lightnings for the rain; and bringeth the wind out of his treasuries."
These words of Holy Writ say nothing of the independent laws of nature. God furnishes the matter and the properties with which to carry out his plans. He employs his agencies that vegetation may flourish. He sends the dew and the rain and the sunshine, that verdure may spring forth, and spread its carpet over the earth; that the shrubs and fruit trees may bud and blossom and bring forth. It is not to be supposed that a law is set in motion for the seed to work itself, that the leaf appears because it must do so of itself. God has laws that he has instituted, but they are only the servants through which he effects results. It is through the immediate agency of God that every tiny seed breaks through the earth, and springs into life. Every leaf grows, every flower blooms, by the power of God.
The physical organism of man is under the supervision of God; but it is not like a clock, which is set in operation, and must go of itself. The heart beats, pulse succeeds pulse, breath succeeds breath, but the entire being is under the supervision of God. "Ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building." In God we live and move and have our being. Each heartbeat, each breath, is the inspiration of him who breathed into the nostrils of Adam the breath of life,--the inspiration of the ever-present God, the great I AM.
The ancient philosophers prided themselves on their superior knowledge. Let us read the inspired apostle's understanding of the matter. "Professing themselves to be wise," he says, "they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. . . . Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator." In its human wisdom the world can not know God. Its wise men gather an imperfect knowledge of God from his created works, and then in their foolishness they exalt nature and the laws of nature above nature's God. Those who have not a knowledge of God through an acceptance of the revelation he has made of himself in Christ, will obtain only an imperfect knowledge of him in nature; and this knowledge, so far from giving elevated conceptions of God, and bringing the whole being into conformity to his will, will make men idolaters. Professing themselves to be wise, they will become fools.
Those who think they can obtain a knowledge of God aside from his Representative, whom the Word declares is "the express image of his person," will need to become fools in their own estimation before they can be wise. It is impossible to gain a perfect knowledge of God from nature alone; for nature itself is imperfect. In its imperfection it can not represent God, it can not reveal the character of God in its moral perfection. But Christ came as a personal Saviour to the world. He represented a personal God. As a personal Saviour, he ascended on high; and he will come again as he ascended to heaven,--a personal Saviour. He is the express image of the Father's person. "In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #46)
The great plan of redemption was laid before the foundation of the world. Christ did not stand alone in this wondrous undertaking for the ransom of man. In the councils of heaven, before the world was created, the Father and the Son covenanted together that if man proved disloyal to God, Christ, one with the Father, would take the place of the transgressor, and suffer the penalty of justice that must fall upon him. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." What a price was this for heaven to pay to ransom the transgressor of the law of Jehovah!
Christ did not come to change the Sabbath of the fourth commandment; he did not come to weaken or set aside the law of God in one particular: he came to express in his own person the love of God, and to vindicate every precept of the holy law. Instead of abrogating the law to meet man in his fallen condition, Christ maintained its sacred dignity.
The Lord does not save sinners by abrogating his law, the foundation of his government in heaven and earth. God is a judge, the guardian of justice. The transgression of his law in a single instance, in the smallest particular, is sin. God can not dispense with his law, he can not do away with its smallest item, in order to pardon sin. The justice, the moral excellence, of the law must be maintained and vindicated before the heavenly universe. And that holy law could not be maintained at any smaller price than the death of the Son of God.
Christ bore sin in man's behalf, that the sinner might have another trial, with all its opportunities and advantages. "Whosoever committeth sin," says John, "transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him."
When Christ gave the sermon on the mount, the Pharisees were present, watching every word. The Saviour read their hearts; he knew that they were bracing themselves to resist light. Their prejudice against him was strengthening. They were saying in their hearts, "He is doing away the law. We will have no such teaching." But while they were bottling up their wrath, there fell on their startled ears the answer to their unspoken thought: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
This is the judgment pronounced in the kingdom of heaven. Some have thought that the commandment-breaker will be there, but will occupy the lowest place. This is a mistake. Sinners will never enter the abode of bliss. The commandment-breaker, and all who unite with him in teaching that it makes no difference whether men break or observe the divine law, will by the universe of heaven be called least among the human agencies. For not only have they been disloyal themselves, but they have taught others to break the law of God. Christ pronounces judgment upon those who claim to have a knowledge of the law, but who, by precept and example, lead souls into confusion and darkness. They are teaching for doctrines the commandments of men, and making void the law of God through their traditions. "For I say unto you [my disciples], That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven."
"Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." As long as heaven and earth remain, not one jot nor tittle shall pass from the law. As long as the canopy of heaven is above our heads, and the earth beneath our feet, there should be no argument nor controversy over this question. Until the heavens and the earth remove, you may be sure that the law of Jehovah will hold its exalted place.
"Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbade him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness." In "fulfilling" all righteousness, Christ did not bring all righteousness to an end. He fulfilled all the requirements of God in repentance, faith, and baptism, the steps of grace in genuine conversion. He did this as an example, that we should follow in his steps. In his humanity, Christ filled up the measure of the law's requirements. And this he did as an example to us. He was the head of humanity, its substitute and surety. Human beings, by uniting their weakness to the strength of his divine nature, may become partakers of his character.
Satan will use every subtle argument to deceive men and women as he did in Eden to deceive Adam and Eve. "Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?" Satan said to Eve. "And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil."
Adam and Eve both ate of the fruit, and obtained a knowledge which, had they obeyed God, they would never have had,--an experience in disobedience and disloyalty to God,--the knowledge that they were naked. The garment of innocence, a covering from God, which surrounded them, departed; and they supplied the place of this heavenly garment by sewing together fig leaves for aprons.
This is the covering that the transgressors of the law of God have used since the days of Adam and Eve's disobedience. They have sewed together fig leaves to cover their nakedness, caused by transgression. The fig leaves represent the arguments used to cover disobedience. When the Lord calls the attention of men and women to the truth, the making of fig leaves into aprons will be begun, to hide the nakedness of the soul. But the nakedness of the sinner is not covered. All the arguments pieced together by all who have interested themselves in this flimsy work will come to naught.
The Lord Jesus Christ has prepared a covering, the robe of his own righteousness, that he will put on every repenting, believing soul who by faith will receive it. Said John, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." Sin is the transgression of the law; but Christ died to make it possible for every man to have his sins taken away. A fig-leaf apron will never cover our nakedness. Sin must be taken away, the garment of Christ's righteousness must cover the transgressor of God's law. Then when the Lord looks upon the believing sinner, he sees, not the fig leaves covering him, but his own robe of righteousness, which is perfect obedience to the law of Jehovah.
Christ came to give an example of the perfect conformity to the law of God required of all, from Adam, the first man, down to the last man who shall live on the earth. He declared that his mission was not to destroy the law, but to fulfil it in perfect and entire obedience. In this way he magnified the law, and made it honorable. In his life he revealed its spiritual nature. In the sight of heavenly beings, of worlds unfallen, and of a disobedient, unthankful, unholy world, he fulfilled the far-reaching principles of the law. He came to demonstrate the fact that humanity, allied by living faith to divinity, can keep all the commandments of God. He came to make plain the immutable character of the law, to declare that disobedience and transgression can never be rewarded with eternal life. He came as a man to humanity, that humanity might touch humanity, while divinity laid hold upon the throne of God. But in no case did he come to lessen the obligation of men to be perfectly obedient. He did not destroy the validity of the Old Testament Scriptures. He fulfilled that which was predicted by God himself. He came, not to set men free from that law, but to open a way whereby they might obey that law, and teach others to do the same. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #47)
"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations." Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of this event: "Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him."
In his teachings, Christ sought to impress men with the certainty of the coming judgment, and with its publicity. This is not the judgment of a few individuals, or even of a nation, but of a whole world of human intelligences, of accountable beings. It is to be held in the presence of other worlds, that the love, the integrity, the service, of man for God, may be honored to the highest degree. There will be no lack of glory and honor. The Son of man will come in the clouds of heaven with his own glory, with the glory of his Father, and the glory of the holy angels. The law of God will be revealed in its majesty; and those who have stood in defiant rebellion against its holy precepts will understand that the law that they have discarded, and despised, and trampled underfoot is God's standard of character. Vividly before the mind of every commandment-keeper, and before every transgressor, will be brought the scene when the Sabbath was first given to man in Eden. Those who have ministered in word and doctrine; who by smooth words and fair speeches have taught that the law of God is no longer binding, that the Sabbath of the fourth commandment was given for the Jews only; who have educated their hearers to show contempt for the warnings sent by the Lord's prophets and apostles and delegated servants, will have brought to their minds the scenes of Sinai in all their grandeur,--God the Father, and the holy angels, the blackness and darkness, the lightning's blazing flash, the thunder, the tempest, the earthquake, the sound of the trumpet waxing louder and louder, and the voice of God proclaiming his holy law.
The glory of this scene has faded from the minds of those who ought to have kept it in remembrance; but when the transactions of the last great day take place, the law of God will assert its high authority, pronouncing guilty of transgression every man who has disregarded a "Thus saith the Lord." Those who have had the light of truth presented before them, but have accepted the fables manufactured by the prince of darkness, will then understand the words of Christ: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
In this speck of a world, the heavenly universe manifests the greatest interest: for Jesus paid an infinite price for the souls of its inhabitants. The world's Redeemer has bound earth to heaven by ties of intelligence; for the redeemed of the Lord are here. Yet we come in contact with the busy activity of our cities, we mingle with the multitude in the crowded thoroughfares, we enter marts of trade and walk the streets; and through all, from morning till evening, the people act as if business, sport, and pleasure were all there is to life,--as if this world were all there is to occupy the mind. How few contemplate the unseen agencies!
All heaven is intensely interested in the human beings who are so full of activity, and yet have no thought for the unseen, whose thoughts are not upon the word of God and its instruction. If men would appropriate the word of God, they would be assured that there are agencies for good and evil observing their every word and deed. These are in every assembly for business, in councils, and in meetings for the worship of God. In these public assemblies there are more listeners than can be seen with the natural sight. These unseen agencies are co-laborers with God or with Satan, and they work more mightily and more constantly than do men. Sometimes the heavenly intelligences draw aside the curtain that hides the unseen world, that our minds may be withdrawn from the hurry and rush, and consider that there are witnesses to all we do and say, when engaged in business, or when we think ourselves alone.
The Lord would have us understand that these mighty ones who visit our world have borne an active part in the work which we have called our own. These heavenly beings are ministering angels, and they frequently disguise themselves in the form of human beings, and as strangers converse with those who are engaged in the work of God. In the lonely places they have been the companions of the traveler in peril. In tempest-tossed ships they have spoken words to allay fear and inspire hope in the hour of danger. Many, under different circumstances, have listened to the voices of the inhabitants of other worlds. Time and again have they been the leaders of armies. They have been sent forth to cleanse away pestilence. They have eaten at the humble board of families, and often have they appeared as weary travelers in need of shelter for the night.
We need to understand better than we do the work of these angel visitants. It would be well for us, as children of God, to consider that heavenly beings hear our words, and behold our works. Heavenly angels are cooperating with us in every good work, and thus earth is connected with heaven.
"The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son." "He hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man." In his super-added humanity consists the reason of Christ's appointment. God has committed all judgment unto the son, for without controversy he is God manifest in the flesh.
God designed that the Prince of sufferers in humanity should be judge of the whole world. He who came from the heavenly courts to save man from eternal death; he whom men despised, rejected, and upon whom they heaped all the contempt of which human beings, inspired by Satan, are capable; he who submitted to be arraigned before an earthly tribunal, and who suffered the ignominious death of the cross,--he alone is to pronounce the sentence of reward or of punishment. He who submitted to the suffering and humiliation of the cross here, in the counsel of God is to have the fullest compensation, and ascend the throne acknowledged by all the heavenly universe as the King of saints. He has undertaken the work of salvation, and shown before unfallen worlds and the heavenly family that the work he has begun he is able to complete. It is Christ who gives men the grace of repentance; his merits are accepted by the Father in behalf of every soul that will help to compose the family of God.
In that day of final punishment and reward, both saints and sinners will recognize in him who was crucified the Judge of all living. Every crown that is given to the saints of the Most High will be bestowed by the hands of Christ,--those hands that cruel priests and rulers condemned to be nailed to the cross. He alone can give to men the consolation of eternal life.
A sign in the heavens was given to the wise men of the East who were searching for Christ. To shepherds who were keeping their flocks on the hills of Bethlehem, the angel host appeared. All heaven recognized the advent of Christ. Unseen angels were present in the judgment hall. When Christ was scourged with the cruel thongs, they could scarcely endure the sight. Angels of heaven were present at his death. The darkness that covered the earth at his crucifixion concealed the company of heaven's powerful agencies; but the earth quaked beneath the tread of the heavenly throng. The rocks were rent. For three hours the earth was shrouded in impenetrable darkness; nature with her dark robes hid the sufferings of the Son of God.
And will Christ's second coming be wanting in glory?--No; he comes to triumph. At his death, creation shrouded itself in darkness, and all nature sympathized with his sorrow and humiliation. At his second appearing, nature will testify her triumph. Many think lightly of Christ now. They despise and reject him, and say, "Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning." But we read, "He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him." The same Jesus whose atonement has been rejected, whose followers have been despised and reviled, will be revealed from heaven "in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power." "And all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him."
Solemn will be the day of final decision. In prophetic vision the apostle John describes it: "And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works." Then is it not of tremendous importance to us, individually, that our works be right works? Probationary time is granted us, opportunities and privileges are given us, to make our calling and election sure. How we should prize this precious time, and improve every talent God has given, that we may be faithful stewards over ourselves, keeping our souls in the love of God! We must have simple, increasing faith. We must depend upon God; for we "are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation."
The apostle says: "The kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every freeman, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?"
Too well do the unprepared inhabitants of earth know what to expect. Satan can not pay a ransom for their souls; and poor, deluded, professed Christians, who have been content to let the ministers search the Scriptures for them, see that they will receive as their works have been. Those, too, who have wrested the Scriptures, and taught for doctrines the commandments of men, see that they must answer for the souls of those who have been led into error and apostasy. A wail of agony and despair reaches heavenward, but it echoes back to earth. Louder, far louder, than any human cry, is the last trumpet's sound; and far above all is heard the voice of Omnipotence: "Depart from me, ye that work iniquity." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #48)
As God's people, we have a special work to do. All who have submitted their will to the will of God are to become laborers together with him. The invitation of Christ is: "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." All who respond to this invitation receive the assurance of him who is the way, the truth, and the life. If they will yoke up with Christ, they will become laborers together with God.
There are but two classes of persons in our world,--those who receive Christ, and those who reject him. All who receive him believe in him. John declares, "As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." But many have a spurious religion, and all the professions of Christianity in the world will not elevate the soul with God. His word declares: "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 can not 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."
Are we obedient or disobedient to the commandments of God? Have we made Christ our personal Saviour? Have we put on the robe of Christ's righteousness? These are the questions that decide the soul's salvation. Said Christ: "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. . . . Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And 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."
Let us seriously ask ourselves the question, Have I come to Christ? Have I put my neck under the yoke of Christ? Have I learned in the school of Christ his meekness and lowliness of heart? All who are doers of the Word build securely on the rock Christ Jesus. When the follower of Christ places implicit trust in the word of God, and yields obedience to it, his duty will be made plain to him. He will regard his talents as consecrated to the Giver, and will use them in laboring together with God.
The apostle Paul says: "We are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work."
Here are presented the two great forces that are to cooperate in the work of saving souls: the strong, loving, working faith of the human agent is to unite with divinity. This is what Christ means when he says, 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." This is the condition of the partnership. We must be laborers together with God in seeking and saving the lost. Christ said, "I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." And we are not to be idle nor indifferent. Souls are perishing around us. It behooves all who claim to believe Christ to show their faith by their works. As soon as we leave the black banner of Satan, and stand under the bloodstained banner of Prince Immanuel, there is earnest work for us to do.
It is at the peril of our souls that we are willingly ignorant of the conditions under which we have enlisted in the army of the Lord. We are to be co-workers with Christ in seeking to save that which is lost. As God's professed people, we are to have an experimental knowledge of him. We are to search for the doctrine of Christ, armed with faith, and employing whatever resources God has provided. Diligent, prayerful search is essential. We must search for the truth as for hid treasure.
There must be well-organized effort and unity in our cooperation with Christ. Love must pervade the church. All evil speaking and bearing of false witness is disloyalty to God and to his cause. There must be unity of action; love and disinterested benevolence must be revealed. "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" Mutual love and confidence constitute forces that will be a power for good. Satan sees this, and he manages to sow tares among the wheat. God designs that his people shall press together; and all who have the mind of Christ will do this.
If our piety is sound and healthy, we shall have nothing to fear from open opposers; but there are deceivers,--those who sow the tares while men sleep. We want to be sure on which side we are working; for the crisis is upon us. We have no time now to work with divided interest. We must work with one spirit, even with the mind of Christ; and if we do this, new life will come into the church. If God, the great Master Worker, is with us, we shall withstand the great temptations that are to try us, and shall remain loyal and true to principle. We shall achieve victories which the littleness of our faith has led us to regard as impossible.
God calls upon every sincere believer to find his place in the work. Wake up, brethren! for Christ's sake, wake up! Kindle your tapers at the divine altar. God calls you to set your houses in order. Let personal piety pervade your homes. Let your influence tell on the side of righteousness and truth. Let every talent be put into exercise. God calls for a wise and unreserved cooperation with the principles of truth. He calls for active, whole-souled workers.
The call must be made, Who will be on the Lord's side? let him come over with the loyal and the true. The law of God, which binds us to render firm and undivided obedience to our Maker, tolerates no easy fellowship with the careless, the lax, unconverted, who demonstrate that the truth has no power upon the heart and character, whose influence is not to gather with Christ, but to separate from him. Our churches must be purified from impiety, from many things that have accumulated to hinder the advancement of the work. "By their fruits," said Christ, "ye shall know them."
"We are laborers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building." God has chosen to bring to perfection nothing in the plan of salvation without the cooperation of the human with the divine. He could save the human race only through his Son, who combined humanity with divinity. In his divine plan of salvation, God gave his only begotten Son that every voice may be silent upon the point that it is not possible for humanity to keep the law of God. In Christ, divinity and humanity bore every test of temptation; in him, humanity is exalted and honored. In Christ, man is privileged to become a partaker of the divine nature.
The part we are called to act in the work may be small and inferior; but that part is indispensable to the victory we are to gain over the world, the flesh, and the devil, through the intercession of Christ as our Advocate with the Father. The fragrant incense of the merits of Christ gives to the believing soul the virtues of his character. Thus it is that the cooperation of divine energy and merit with man makes him a complete overcomer in every sense, and elevates humanity in the scale of moral value with God.
We are not to think that we can honor God in any line except through the merits of Christ. We are to bear in mind that man, with his finite capabilities can accomplish nothing. Every organ of the human machinery is dependent upon God for its action. Everything required to keep the being in health, God supplies. "Know ye not," says the apostle, "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. Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; and ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's."
In everything that tends to the sustenance of man is seen the concurrence of divine and human effort. "The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof;" yet the Lord graciously causes the earth to produce for the benefit of man. But man must cooperate with God. He must prepare the soil, and sow the seed. He must act a part in the work to show his appreciation of the bountiful provision God has made. And the Lord takes care of the seed sown, giving sunshine and showers, dew and clouds. Without these agencies there would be no increase. And thus it is in every business pursuit, every department of study and science. We must have the power of divinity to unite with us, or our human efforts will be a failure.
Whenever man accomplishes anything in spiritual or temporal lines, he should bear in mind that he does it only through the cooperation of his Maker. There is great necessity of our seeking the Lord in our dependence. Too much confidence has been placed in man, too much reliance on human inventions. However sure man may be of his knowledge and his capabilities, he must, before he can cooperate with God, become meek and lowly in heart; he must wear Christ's yoke, and carry Christ's burdens. Immeasurably inferior is the part which the human agent sustains; but if he is linked up with the divinity of Christ, he can do all things through the strength that Christ imparts. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #49)
In the prayer of Christ recorded in the seventeenth chapter of John is plainly defined the relation that it is the privilege of man to sustain to God. This prayer has instruction for every soul who will heed its lessons. If the people of God will have no other gods before the Lord, if they will refuse to have their minds diverted to strange gods that are no gods, they will respond to that prayer. They will not allow themselves to act contrary to its teachings. Those who claim to be followers of Christ will honor and exalt the work of their Leader. Will our people work away from this prayer, or will they work to it, answering to their duty as intelligent beings?
"I have given them thy word," Christ prayed; "and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth."
We need to take these words home to our hearts. Our minds need not dwell so largely upon what the world is doing. Our question should be, What am I individually doing to let my light shine forth to the world? What am I doing to dispel its moral darkness? Should we not eat and drink the words of Christ? His word is truth, which he represents by his flesh and blood, which he has given for the life of the world.
"As thou hast sent me into the world," Christ continued, "even so have I also sent them into the world." Would we understand Christ's purpose in sending us into the world? He says: "Ye are the light of the world." "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." This is our work. Our earnest activities are to be signalized before the world by an unselfish life and a purified character.
A great responsibility rests upon all who in this age of the world's history claim to be followers of Christ. The example of Christ is before us. "For their sakes," he said, "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; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in 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."
Why do not those who have the word of God work out its glorious principles? It rests upon us not merely to use the great gift of speech in the service of the Master, but to bring glory to God by a consistent life and a godly conversation. The fallen world needs the light of heavenly sanctification demonstrated in a glorified character; and it is our duty, before the heavenly universe and a fallen world, to reach the perfect unity which this prayer presents. It is our duty to reflect the light of heaven upon a world that is under the scepter of Satan.
Who among us are arousing themselves to understand the wonderful science of salvation? The unity of the people of God constitutes their credentials to the world that they stand on vantage ground; that they are members of the royal family, children of the heavenly King. To those who cultivate this unity, the promise is given that God will love them as he loves his only begotten Son. What an exalted position those will occupy whose life here responds to the life of Christ! Christ declares: "The glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one. . . . 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."
As a part of God's great heritage, we are to represent the character of those who shall compose the family of God. Said Christ: "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." When so much is at stake, shall we not, for Christ's sake, exercise our talent of speech in expressing our love and devotion and wholeheartedness for Christ,--in revealing to others the love that Christ has expressed for all the world?
Again, Christ said: "As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 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. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another."
These blessed assurances are for every one who will respect them, and who will, in character, reveal to the world their interpretation. "If ye love me," Christ said, "keep my commandments." If we are doers of the Word, we can come to God with full assurance of faith, saying, "Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope." When we zealously obey God's word from the heart, we may make that word our plea. The Lord always works in accordance with his word.
The weakness of our Christian experience is wholly due to the perversity of the human heart. The Lord has prepared great things for those who will partake of his likeness. He is longing to represent himself in the individual members of his church, if they will walk, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. But he can not strengthen and bless a people who are full of self, and who have no room for him. There are many who will not comply with the conditions of salvation, because they desire to keep the world and its advantages first; and those things that are greater than any worldly consideration are treated with indifference. This constant slipping down into a worldly current, while bearing the name of Christians, is dishonoring to God. If our actions reveal that we do not believe God's word, we can receive nothing from Christ. Our prayers are insincere. God says, "Let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord."
The religion of the Bible calls for a deep earnestness, that will exalt the spiritual and eternal. Christ taught the truth. He taught as One who knew that man could reach a higher standard in divine things. He knew that all whom he addressed had the power given them of God to respond to the divine requirements. His call was: "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."
Man will find rest in complying with the conditions of the invitation. And the call is not to a few, but to all. Christ is the Redeemer of the world. His greatest message to the world was, "Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." "If any man will come after me," he said, "let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." Jesus accepted that cross, with all its humiliation and suffering, that he might make it possible for every member of the human family to follow in his footsteps. He requires of human beings nothing which, in his own humanity, he has not himself borne. He knows that the strength of man in itself is wholly inefficient; but he also knows that the provision made is ample and abundant, able to strengthen him, and make him capable of responding to the call.
When human beings turn aside from the righteousness of Christ to exalt their fellow men, and lay their laurels at their feet, they lose their view of Christ. And when the men thus raised to a pinnacle have not discernment to understand the requirements of the word of God; when, with all their capabilities, they can not read their duty to their God; when they can not discern that the invitation, "Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart," is for them; when they take a path that leads away from Christ in any line, they encourage disobedience rather than obedience. All the high and honorable positions that they may gain by disobedience, they will sometime know to be the path over which Satan has traveled before them.
The earnestness that Christ reveals in this matter should not be disregarded. He urges all to unite with him, that their interests may be wrapped up in him, and that they may become one with the Father. Then man will not take glory to himself or to any of his fellow men. God alone will receive the glory. There are heights which we all have the privilege of reaching, but they can be gained only by partaking of the humility of the Redeemer. In yoking up with Christ, man becomes a constant worker with God; and through Christ he is strengthened to rise to the heights to which God calls him. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #50)
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord."
This was the most solemn denunciation ever uttered against Jerusalem. After denouncing the hypocrisy of the Jewish leaders, who, while they worshiped the temple, were working with a hatred inspired by Satan to destroy the only One who made the temple sacred, Christ bade adieu to the once hallowed courts. He quitted the temple forever, declaring, "Your house is left unto you desolate."
Henceforth a cloud blacker than sackcloth hung over the once favored nation. Looking into the future, Christ saw the gates of Jerusalem burst open by the Roman legions. He saw the walls broken, and the beautiful stones, which had been laid with artistic skill one upon another, torn down, so that not one was left standing. The Arm strong to save had become strong to smite.
Solemn judgments had been pronounced against Jerusalem by the prophets. Its iniquity and crime had once caused it to be destroyed, and its people carried captive to Babylon. In their humiliation, many sought the Lord with repentance and confession; and when they returned from captivity, they seemed for a time to reform. In his mercy, God forgave them, and gave them his blessing. "I will not contend forever," he declares, "neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made. For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him: I hid me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart. I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners. I create the fruit of the lips. Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord; and I will heal him."
But the leaders of the people did not remain converted. They did not, as faithful sentinels, keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment. Again and again the word of the Lord through his prophets was rejected. Then God sent his only begotten Son with a message of mercy; but they refused to receive him, and said, "This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours." Christ "came unto his own, and his own received him not."
The time of the greatest responsibility for the Jewish people was when Christ was among them. And had they but known it, this was also the time of their greatest privilege and blessing. But they refused every overture of mercy, and rejected the Son of God, and thus made themselves guilty of the greatest of all sins.
Christ charged the whole nation with this sin. In rejecting my servants and prophets, he said, you have not only rejected them, but the Son of God, whose you are by creation and by redemption. You would none of my counsel, you despised all my reproof. If you are destroyed, you yourselves will be responsible. I have offered you help because I loved you, but you would not come unto me, that you might have life.
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" You have refused to see in me a merciful Saviour, offering your redemption. When God's heavy judgments fall upon you, you will still refuse to see in me a sin-pardoning Saviour. But you will one day long for the Deliverer who was once among you, and whom you would not receive.
Thus with power and authority our Lord reproved the Jewish nation. "Ye shall not see me henceforth," he continued, "till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." When the Jewish people see Christ again, they will ask no sign. That day will not be to them a day of joy, although, as they see the One they rejected, the acknowledgment will come from their lips, with overwhelming power, "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." When Christ comes in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory, they will praise him whom they once cursed; but it will then be too late.
Jerusalem was lost because of its obstinate refusal to acknowledge the truth. This the world is doing today. Men refuse to see the truth that is plainly revealed in the word of God. A "Thus saith the Lord" is regarded as of no account, while the words of men are given great authority. And as the inhabitants of Jerusalem were punished, so will those be punished who refuse to receive truth. God would have us realize that by the city of Jerusalem a world is represented. Christ's utterances regarding the destruction of Jerusalem are ever to be connected with the more terrible destruction of the world.
The disciples were unable to understand Christ's words with reference to the temple. They called his attention to its massive stones, saying, "Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here." The stones of the temple were of the purest marble, of perfect whiteness, and the pillars supporting the porches were of massive dimensions. How such stones could be overthrown, the disciples could not comprehend. They could not understand words which doomed to destruction the walls that had withstood the devastation of armies. Their ideas were vague, and it was difficult for the Lord to make his lessons intelligible to them.
As the attention of the rejected One was called to the magnificence of the temple, what must have been his thoughts! The view before him was indeed beautiful; but he said, sadly: I see it all, and the buildings are indeed wonderful. You point to these stones as apparently indestructible, but listen to my words. I tell you solemnly that the day will come when there shall not be left one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down. Forty years after Christ uttered this prediction, his words were fulfilled to the letter. In the siege of Jerusalem it is stated that more than a million people perished, and that many were led into captivity.
Christ's words had been spoken in the hearing of a large number of people; but when he was again alone, Peter, James, John, and Andrew came to him, saying, "Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?"
In his answer, Jesus did not take up separately the destruction of Jerusalem and the last great day of his coming. He mingled the description of these two events. When he spoke of the destruction of Jerusalem, his words referred also to the final destruction that will take place when the Lord rises out of his place to punish the world for its iniquity. The entire chapter in which are recorded Christ's words regarding this, is a warning to all who shall live during the last scenes of this earth's history.
Turning to his disciples, Christ said, "Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many." Many false Messiahs will appear, claiming to work miracles, and declaring that the time for the deliverance of the Jewish nation has come. These will mislead many.
These words were fulfilled. Between the death of Christ and the siege of Jerusalem, many false Christs appeared. But this warning is given also to those who live in this age of the world. The same deceptions practised prior to the destruction of Jerusalem will again be practised. The same events that took place at the overthrow of Jerusalem will take place again.
"And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet." Prior to the destruction of Jerusalem, men wrestled for the supremacy. Emperors were murdered. Those standing next to the throne were slain. "All these things must come to pass, but the end [of the Jewish nation as a nation] is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows." As the rabbis see these signs, Christ said, they will declare that they are God's judgments on the nations for holding his chosen people in bondage. They will say that these signs are the tokens of the advent of the Messiah. Be not deceived; they are the beginning of his judgments. The Jewish people have looked to themselves. They have not repented and been converted, that I should heal them. The signs that they argue as tokens of their release from bondage are signs of their destruction.
(Vol. 75, #51)
"Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted," Christ continued, "and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another." All this the Christians suffered. Fathers and mothers betrayed their children; children betrayed their parents; friends delivered their friends to the Sanhedrin. Until he himself was converted, Saul of Tarsus was exceedingly bitter against all who believed in Christ. He then began to preach Christ and him crucified, and the enemies of the gospel caused him and Silas to be whipped, and thrown into prison.
Through the apostles, God gave the Jewish people a last opportunity to repent. But they turned away from every entreaty. In the arrest, the trial, and the imprisonment of his witnesses, God manifested himself. He gave them words to speak, and a tongue and voice with which to vindicate the truth and acknowledge him as the Son of God. They were men of whom the world was not worthy, yet their judges pronounced on them the death sentence. They were not allowed to live and serve their God. By killing them, the Jews crucified afresh the Son of God.
So it will be again. But it is over the seventh-day Sabbath that the battle will be fought. The authorities of this world will rise up in their pride and power to make laws to restrict religious liberty. They will assume a right that is God's alone, and, like Nebuchadnezzar, will think that they can force the conscience, which only God can control. Even now they are making a beginning, and this they will carry forward till they reach a boundary over which they can not step. Then God will interpose in behalf of his loyal, commandment-keeping people.
Christ told his disciples that they would be delivered up to councils; but he told them, also, that they were not to be anxious as to how they should vindicate the truth; for he would give them a mouth and wisdom that all their adversaries could not gainsay nor resist. These words were fulfilled at the trial of Stephen, and at the trial of Paul, who made Felix tremble as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come.
Whenever persecution takes place, the spectators make decisions either for or against Christ. Because of persecution, many will be offended. The principles of the truth cut directly across their practise, and they will stumble and fall, apostatizing from the faith they once advocated. Many who have professed to love the truth will then show that they have no vital union with the True Vine. They will be cut away, as branches that bear no fruit, and will be bound up with unbelievers, scoffers, and mockers.
Those who apostatize in time of trial will bear false witness and betray their brethren, to secure their own safety. They will tell where their brethren are concealed, putting the wolves on their track. Christ has warned us of this, that we may not be surprised at the cruel, unnatural course pursued by friends and relatives. "Little children, it is the last time," John writes, "and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us."
"And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many." False Christs did arise, deceiving the people, and leading great numbers into the desert. Magicians and sorcerers, claiming miraculous power, drew the people after them into the mountain solitudes. But this prophecy was also spoken for the last days. Companies inspired by Satan will be formed to deceive and delude. This will be a sign of the second advent.
"And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place (whoso readeth, let him understand), then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains [let there be no presumptuous dallying]: let him which is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house: neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day." Forty years afterward, at the siege of Jerusalem, the Christians obeyed this warning; and not a Christian perished in the destruction of the city.
"Pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day." Christ made the Sabbath, and he never abolished it. The Sabbath was not rendered null and void by the crucifixion, as many claim. Christ's death on the cross is an unanswerable argument in favor of the changeless character of every precept of God's holy law.
"Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets," Christ said; "I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil." As the head of the human family, he lived every precept, every jot, every tittle, of the law. He lived in humanity the life that he requires his followers to live, and therefore there is no excuse for any one to fail of reaching the standard of perfection.
Christ emphasizes his words: "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." So long as the heavens and the earth remain, so long will the Sabbath of the fourth commandment hold its claim on the human family.
The Sabbath was given to the world as the memorial of creation. "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy," God says. "Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it."
God gave explicit directions concerning his Sabbath. "Verily my Sabbaths ye shall keep," he declared; "for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you. . . . Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever doeth any work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel forever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh he rested, and was refreshed."
But human lawmakers speak, saying: Verily, the first day of the week shall ye keep, because it is the world's sabbath. The churches keep this day holy, and those under our supervision shall keep it also, because it is so ordained on our statute books. We have chosen Sunday as the sabbath, and men must keep it.
But this day so universally exalted is a spurious sabbath, a common working day. It is accepted in the place of the day that the Lord has blessed and sanctified; but the sure result of this course may be seen in the punishment which fell upon Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron. As priests of God, these men had been commanded to offer always the fire of God's own kindling, which was kept burning before God day and night. This was ever to be strictly observed. But Nadab and Abihu drank wine too freely; and because of this their minds were not keen, but confused, and they were unable to distinguish between the sacred and the common. They took their censers, "and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord."
God has given full directions regarding his law, so that none need be left in darkness, unless they choose darkness rather than light. But the apostasy of the Jewish nation represents the apostasy that will be made by the world in the last days. Just as the Jews chose darkness in regard to the message that Christ came to the world to bring, so men today are choosing darkness. Sanctified and blessed by God, the Sabbath was designed to be the great memorial of creation, and a blessing to mankind. But men are trampling it underfoot. It is the test of today, as Christ was the test when he was in our world in human form. It will ever stand unmoved, a rock of offense to the Christian world, as was Christ to the Jewish nation. As the rejection of Christ decided the eternal destiny of the Jews, so the rejection of God's holy memorial will decide the fate of many professing Christians.
Men may ignore the Sabbath, they may trample it under their feet; but they can not make it less binding upon them. No one has any excuse for accepting the rubbish that has been piled upon the Sabbath of the Lord. No one has any excuse for accepting a human sabbath, created by him whom God designates as the "man of sin," who shall think to change times and laws. He thinks to, but he does not do it; although he may think thus to show his supremacy over God, he can not change God's law; this is God's prerogative only. God is over all kings and rulers. He is God, and besides him there is none else.
The statutes of the Lord are to be reverenced and obeyed. God is supreme authority; and when his law is set aside as a matter of no consequence, the transgressor must surely bear the results of his own sin, though God bears long with him. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 75, #52)
"Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be."
Here, again, the warning regarding the destruction of Jerusalem is blended with the warning of the second advent. The disciples heard Christ's words, but they did not then fully understand them. It was necessary for the Holy Spirit to guide them into all truth, bringing to their remembrance all things that Christ had said to them. They could not understand why he connected the perils of the overthrow of Jerusalem with the perils of the last days. But those who live in this age may understand Christ's warning, and should place it in the period where it belongs. The gospel must be carried to every kingdom under heaven, and then shall the end come.
Christ knew that the disciples could not comprehend the instruction he had given them in answer to their question, "When shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" He knew the terrible future of the once-chosen people of God; but he knew, also, that his disciples could not then fully understand his description of the fearful scenes to be enacted at the destruction of Jerusalem. In his answer, the two events--the destruction of Jerusalem, and the end of the world--were merged into one. It was in mercy to his disciples that Christ blended these events, leaving them to study out the meaning for themselves.
Christ had made every effort to keep his disciples informed in regard to the truth. He had given them every opportunity to know the truth. He had invited them to put their confidence in him as the Messiah, and in his mission and work, but they had not yet a proper understanding of the nature of his kingdom. They were thrilled with distress as they listened to his lamentation over Jerusalem; but they did not realize the true meaning of his words. Had Christ opened the future to them as he saw it, they would have been unable to endure the scene. To the last, they looked for a temporal kingdom, to be established at Jerusalem. Christ's revelation of the scenes to take place at the destruction of Jerusalem, they associated with his personal coming, when he himself would punish the Jews, but would also free them from Roman bondage. He had told them definitely that he would come a second time, and they thought that probably his judgments would fall upon those who had rejected his love. He would then, they thought, lay low every stone in the temple; for they believed that no earthly power could do this.
But long before Christ's second coming, retribution fell upon the apostate nation, which was still further to show its hatred against Christ by its treatment of his followers.
From the destruction of Jerusalem, Christ passed on to a much greater event,--the last link in the chain of this earth's history,--the coming of the Son of God in majesty and glory. "Immediately after the tribulation of those days," he said, "shall the sun be darkened and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, when they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."
Christ gave special directions in regard to this event. "Now learn a parable of the fig tree," he said; "when his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: so likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation [the generation that saw the signs] shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away."
"But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." Christ plainly said that he himself could not make known the day or the hour of his second appearing. Had he been at liberty to make this time known, what need would there have been for him to exhort his followers to maintain an attitude of earnest watchfulness, living, working, and waiting as if their time was not their own, but the Lord's; cultivating fidelity, faith, and love; and purifying the soul through the truth?
Christ told his disciples that the time of his coming was involved in secrecy; yet notwithstanding this, there have been and will be those who claim to know when this great event will take place. Very earnest they are in trying to map out the future, which the Lord has placed in a thick cloud; and notwithstanding their failures, they continue their work. But their reasoning is false, and the Lord has warned them off the ground they occupy; for the coming of the Son of man is God's mystery. "Secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever."
"But as the days of Noe were," Christ continued, "so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." Christ does not here bring to view a temporal millennium,--a thousand years in which all are to prepare for eternity. He tells us that as it was in Noah's day, so will it be when the Son of man comes.
How was it in Noah's day?--"God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." Had man cooperated with God, there would have been no Cain-worshipers. Abel's example of obedience would have been followed. Men might have worked out the will of God. They might have obeyed his law, and in obedience they would have found salvation. God and the heavenly universe would have helped them to retain the divine likeness. Longevity would have been preserved; and God would have delighted in the work of his hands. But the inhabitants of the antediluvian world turned from Jehovah, refusing to do his will. They followed their unholy imagination and perverted ideas. "God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, . . . Make thee an ark of gopherwood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. . . . And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and everything that is in the earth shall die."
Remember the warning, "As the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." It was because of the wickedness of the inhabitants of the old world, that they were destroyed; and today the world is following in the same way. No flattering signs of millennial glory are to be seen. Human lawmakers open their law books, and pronounce sentence against those who do not keep their laws. But those who frame and enforce these laws are themselves transgressors of God's law, and their transgression is filling the earth with wickedness. Betting, horse racing, gambling, dissipation, lustful practises, untamable passions, are fast filling the earth with violence and moral pollution. Bank failures ruin thousands of families. Widows and orphans are left to starve. Every species of indulgence prevails. Men have become so infatuated with vice that they will not listen to warnings or appeals.
"Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. . . . Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
This is the day of the Lord's preparation. He says: "Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame." The great work from which the mind should not be diverted, is the consideration of our safety in the sight of God. The storm is coming, relentless in its fury. Are we prepared to meet it? Are our feet on the Rock of Ages? Are we one with Christ, as he is one with the Father? Mrs. E. G. White.