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The Review and Herald Articles
for the Year 1908
(Vol. 85, #1)
Satan and his army were greatly discomfited and alarmed by the steady advancement made by the builders of the temple. The hosts of evil determined to put forth untiring effort to weaken and depress God's people by holding before them their imperfections of character. Satan well knew that if those who had long suffered because of transgression, could again be induced to disregard God's commandments, they would be brought once more under the bondage of sin. But the Lord, in infinite pity, strengthened his chosen people "with good words and comfortable words." In this crisis, he gave to his people a most forcible and impressive illustration of the work of Satan and the work of Christ, and the power of our Mediator to vanquish the accuser of his people. This is recorded in the third chapter of the prophecy of Zechariah.
In holy vision the prophet beholds Joshua the high priest, "clothed with filthy garments," standing before the Angel of the Lord, entreating the mercy of God in behalf of his people who are in deep affliction. Satan stands at his right hand to resist him. Because Israel had been chosen to preserve the knowledge of God in the earth, they had been, from their first existence as a nation, the special objects of Satan's enmity, and he had determined to cause their destruction. He could do them no harm while they were obedient to God; therefore he had bent all his power and cunning to enticing them into sin. Ensnared by his temptations, they had transgressed the law of God, and thus separated from the Source of their strength, and had been left to become the prey of their heathen enemies. They were carried into captivity to Babylon, and there remained for many years. Yet they were not forsaken of the Lord. His prophets were sent to them with reproofs and warnings. The people were awakened to see their guilt; they humbled themselves before God, and returned to him with true repentance. Then the Lord sent them messages of encouragement, declaring that he would deliver them from their captivity, and restore them to his favor. It was this that Satan was determined to prevent. A remnant of Israel had already returned to their own land, and Satan was seeking to move upon the heathen nations, who were his agents, to destroy them utterly.
As Joshua humbly pleads for the fulfilment of God's promises, Satan stands up boldly to resist him. He points to the transgressions of Israel as a reason why that people should not be restored to the favor of God. He claims them as his prey, and demands that they be given into his hands to be destroyed.
The high priest can not defend himself or his people from Satan's accusations. He does not claim that Israel are free from fault. In his filthy garments, symbolizing the sins of the people, which he bears as their representative, he stands before the Angel, confessing their guilt, yet pointing to their repentance and humiliation, relying upon the mercy of a sin-pardoning Redeemer, and in faith claiming the promises of God.
Then the Angel, who is Christ himself, the Saviour of sinners, put to silence the accuser of his people, declaring, "The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?" Israel had long remained in the furnace of affliction. Because of their sins they had been well-nigh consumed in the flame kindled by Satan and his agents for their destruction; but God had now set his hand to bring them forth. In their penitence and humiliation the compassionate Saviour will not leave his people to the cruel power of the heathen. "A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench."
As the intercession of Joshua is accepted, the command is given, "Take away the filthy garments from him," and to Joshua the Angel declares, "Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment." "So they set a fair miter upon his head, and clothed him with garments." His own sins and those of his people were pardoned. Israel were clothed with "change of raiment,"--the righteousness of Christ imputed to them. The miter placed upon Joshua's head was such as was worn by the priests, and bore the inscription, "Holiness to the Lord," signifying that notwithstanding his former transgressions, he was now qualified to minister before God in his sanctuary.
After thus solemnly investing him with the dignity of the priesthood, the Angel declared, "Thus saith the Lord of hosts: If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by." He would be honored as the judge or ruler over the temple and all its services; he should walk among attending angels, even in this life, and should at last join the glorified throng around the throne of God.
"Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the Branch." Here is revealed the hope of Israel. It was by faith in the coming Saviour that Joshua and his people received pardon. Through faith in Christ they were restored to God's favor. By virtue of his merits, if they walked in his ways and kept his statutes, they would be "men wondered at," honored as the chosen of Heaven among the nations of the earth. Christ was their hope, their defense, their justification and redemption, as he is the hope of his church today.
As Satan accused Joshua and his people, so in all ages he accuses those who are seeking the mercy and favor of God. In the Revelation he is declared to be "the accuser of our brethren," "which accused them before our God day and night." The controversy is repeated over every soul that is rescued from the power of evil, and whose name is registered in the Lamb's book of life. Never is one received from the family of Satan into the family of God without exciting the determined resistance of the wicked one. Satan's accusations against those who seek the Lord are not prompted by displeasure at their sins. He exults in their defective characters. Only through their transgression of God's law can he obtain power over them. His accusations arise solely from his enmity to Christ. Through the plan of salvation, Jesus is breaking Satan's hold upon the human family, and rescuing souls from his power. All the hatred and malignity of the arch-rebel is stirred as he beholds the evidence of Christ's supremacy, and with fiendish power and cunning he works to wrest from him the remnant of the children of men who have accepted his salvation.
He leads men into skepticism, causing them to lose confidence in God and to separate from his love; he tempts them to break his law, and then he claims them as his captives, and contests the right of Christ to take them from him. He knows that those who seek God earnestly for pardon and grace will obtain it; therefore he presents their sins before them to discourage them. He is constantly seeking occasion against those who are trying to obey God. Even their best and most acceptable services he seeks to make appear corrupt. By countless devices, the most subtle and the most cruel, he endeavors to secure their condemnation. Man can not meet these charges himself. In his sin-stained garments, confessing his guilt, he stands before God. But Jesus our Advocate presents an effectual plea in behalf of all who by repentance and faith have committed the keeping of their souls to him. He pleads their cause, and vanquishes their accuser by the mighty arguments of Calvary. His perfect obedience to God's law, even unto the death of the cross, has given him all power in heaven and in earth, and he claims of his Father mercy and reconciliation for guilty man. To the accuser of his people he declares, "The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan." These are the purchase of my blood, brands plucked from the burning. Those who rely upon him in faith receive the comforting assurance, "Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment." All that have put on the robe of Christ's righteousness will stand before him as chosen and faithful and true. Satan has no power to pluck them out of the hand of Christ. Not one soul that in penitence and faith has claimed his protection, will Christ permit to pass under the enemy's power. His word is pledged: "Let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me." The promise given to Joshua is made to all: "If thou wilt keep my charge, . . . I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by." Angels of God will walk on either side of them, even in this world, and they will stand at last among the angels that surround the throne of God.
The fact that the acknowledged people of God are represented as standing before the Lord in filthy garments should lead to humility and deep searching of heart on the part of all who profess his name. Those who are indeed purifying their souls by obeying the truth will have a most humble opinion of themselves. The more closely they view the spotless character of Christ, the stronger will be their desire to be conformed to his image, and the less will they see of purity or holiness in themselves. But while we should realize our sinful condition, we are to rely upon Christ as our righteousness, our sanctification, and our redemption. We can not answer the charges of Satan against us. Christ alone can make an effectual plea in our behalf. He is able to silence the accuser with arguments founded not upon our merits, but on his own.
Yet we should never be content with a sinful life. It is a thought that should arouse Christians to greater zeal and earnestness in overcoming evil, that every defect in character, every point in which they fail to meet the divine standard, is an open door by which Satan can enter to tempt and destroy them; and, furthermore, that every failure and defect on their part gives occasion to the tempter and his agents to reproach Christ. We are to exert every energy of the soul in the work of overcoming, and to look to Jesus for strength to do what we can not do of ourselves. No sin can be tolerated in those who shall walk with Christ in white. The filthy garments are to be removed, and Christ's robe of righteousness is to be placed upon us. By repentance and faith we are enabled to render obedience to all the commandments of God, and are found without blame before him. Those who shall meet the approval of God are now afflicting their souls, confessing their sins, and earnestly pleading for pardon through Jesus their Advocate. Their attention is fixed on him, and when the command is given, "Take away the filthy garments," and clothe him with "change of raiment," and "set a fair miter upon his head," they are prepared to give him all the glory of their salvation. (To be concluded.) Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #2)
Zechariah's vision of Joshua and the angel applies with peculiar force to the experiences of God's people in the closing up of the great day of atonement. The remnant church will be brought into great trial and distress. Those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, will feel the ire of the dragon and his hosts. Satan numbers the world as his subjects; he has gained control of the apostate churches. But here is a little company that are resisting his supremacy. If he could blot them from the earth, his triumph would be complete. As he influenced the heathen nations to destroy Israel, so in the near future he will stir up the wicked powers of earth to destroy the people of God. All will be required to render obedience to human edicts in violation of the divine law. Those who will be true to God and to duty will be menaced, denounced, and proscribed. They will be betrayed "both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends."
Their only hope is in the mercy of God; their only defense will be prayer. As Joshua was pleading before the Angel, so the remnant church, with brokenness of heart and earnest faith, will plead for pardon and deliverance through Jesus their Advocate. They are fully conscious of the sinfulness of their lives, they see their weakness and unworthiness; and as they look upon themselves, they are ready to despair. The tempter stands by to accuse them, as he stood by to resist Joshua. He points to their filthy garments, their defective characters. He presents their weakness and folly, their sins of ingratitude, their unlikeness to Christ, which has dishonored their Redeemer. He endeavors to affright the soul with the thought that their case is hopeless, that the stain of their defilement will never be washed away. He hopes so to destroy their faith that they will yield to his temptations, turn from their allegiance to God, and receive the mark of the beast.
Satan urges before God his accusations against them, declaring that they have by their sins forfeited the divine protection, and claiming the right to destroy them as transgressors. He pronounces them just as deserving as himself of exclusion from the favor of God. "Are these," he says, "the people who are to take my place in heaven, and the place of the angels who united with me? While they profess to obey the law of God, have they kept its precepts? Have they not been lovers of self more than of God? Have they not placed their own interests above his service? Have they not loved the things of the world? Look at the sins which have marked their lives. Behold their selfishness, their malice, their hatred toward one another."
The people of God have been in many respects very faulty. Satan has an accurate knowledge of the sins which he has tempted them to commit, and he presents these in the most exaggerated light, declaring, "Will God banish me and my angels from his presence, and yet reward those who have been guilty of the same sins? Thou canst not do this, O Lord, in justice. Thy throne will not stand in righteousness and judgment. Justice demands that sentence be pronounced against them."
But while the followers of Christ have sinned, they have not given themselves to the control of evil. They have put away their sins, and have sought the Lord in humility and contrition, and the divine Advocate pleads in their behalf. He who has been most abused by their ingratitude, who knows their sin, and also their repentance, declares, "The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan. I gave my life for these souls. They are graven upon the palms of my hands."
The assaults of Satan are strong, his delusions are terrible; but the Lord's eye is upon his people. Their affliction is great, the flames of the furnace seem about to consume them; but Jesus will bring them forth as gold tried in the fire. Their earthliness must be removed that the image of Christ may be perfectly reflected; unbelief must be overcome; faith, hope, and patience are to be developed.
At times, the Lord may seem to have forgotten the perils of his church, and the injury done to her by those who follow principles which he can not indorse. But God has not forgotten. Nothing in this world is so dear to the heart of God as his church. He marks every action of the members. It is not his will that worldly policy shall corrupt her record as a representative of heaven. Nothing so offends the heart of Christ as injury done those whom he died to save. His heart of love is grieved when the lame are turned out of the way by the crooked paths made by others. God does not leave his people to be overcome by Satan's temptations. He will chastise those who misrepresent him. But he will be gracious to all who sincerely repent. Christ loves his church. He will give all needed help to those who call upon him for strength for the development of Christlike character.
The people of God are sighing and crying for the abominations done in the land. With tears they warn the wicked of their danger in trampling upon the divine law, and with unutterable sorrow they humble themselves before the Lord on account of their own transgressions. The wicked mock their sorrow, ridicule their solemn appeals, and sneer at what they term their weakness. But the anguish and humiliation of God's people is unmistakable evidence that they are regaining the strength and nobility of character lost in consequence of sin. It is because they are drawing nearer to Christ, and their eyes are fixed upon his perfect purity, that they so clearly discern the exceeding sinfulness of sin. Their contrition and self-abasement are infinitely more acceptable in the sight of God than is the self-sufficient, haughty spirit of those who see no cause to lament, who scorn the humility of Christ, and who claim perfection while transgressing God's holy law. Meekness and lowliness of heart are the conditions for strength and victory. The crown of glory awaits those who bow at the foot of the cross. Blessed are these mourners; for they shall be comforted.
The faithful, praying ones are, as it were, shut in with God. They themselves know not how securely they are shielded. Urged on by Satan, the rulers of this world are seeking to destroy them; but could their eyes be opened, as were the eyes of Elisha's servant at Dothan, they would see the angels of God encamped about them, by their brightness and glory holding in check the hosts of darkness.
As the people of God afflict their souls before him, pleading for purity of heart, the command is given, "Take away the filthy garments" from them, and the encouraging words are spoken, "Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment." The spotless robe of Christ's righteousness is placed upon the tried, tempted, yet faithful children of God. The despised remnant are clothed in glorious apparel, nevermore to be defiled by the corruptions of the world. Their names are retained in the Lamb's book of life, enrolled among the faithful of all ages. They have resisted the wiles of the deceiver; they have not been turned from their loyalty by the dragon's roar. Now they are eternally secure from the tempter's devices. Their sins are transferred to the originator of sin. And the remnant are not only pardoned and accepted, but honored. A "fair miter" is set upon their heads. They are to be as kings and priests unto God. While Satan was urging his accusations, holy angels, unseen, were passing to and fro, placing upon them the seal of the living God. These are they that stand upon Mount Zion with the Lamb, having the Father's name written in their foreheads. They sing the new song before the throne, that song which no man can learn save the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. "These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile" for they are without fault before the throne of God."
Now is reached the complete fulfilment of those words of the Angel: "Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the Branch." Christ is revealed as the Redeemer and Deliverer of his people. Now indeed are the remnant "men wondered at," as the tears and humiliation of their pilgrimage give place to joy and honor in the presence of God and the Lamb. "In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #3)
Intimately associated with Joshua, the high priest, was Zerubbabel, governor of Judea. It was under the leadership of these two men that the remnant of Israel returned at the close of the seventy years' captivity. They also led out in the re-establishment of the ancient worship at Jerusalem. In the second year of Cyrus, Zerubbabel laid the cornerstone of the temple. It was Zerubbabel and Joshua who, in response to the messages of the Lord through Haggai and Zechariah, "rose up," with courage renewed, and once more "began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem." These men were true leaders, and "the spirit of all the remnant of the people" was largely influenced by the cheerful willingness with which they carried out the Lord's commands.
Immediately after Zechariah's vision of Joshua and the angel, given to the high priest as a personal testimony for his own encouragement and the encouragement of all the people of God, the prophet received a personal testimony regarding the work of Zerubbabel. "The angel that talked with me," Zechariah declares, "came again, and waked me, as a man that is waked 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 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. . . .
"Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof? 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? . . . Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth."
From the two olive trees the golden oil was emptied through the golden pipes into the bowl of the candlestick, and thence into the golden lamps that gave light to the sanctuary. So from the holy ones that stand in God's presence his Spirit is imparted to the human instrumentalities who are consecrated to his service. The mission of the two anointed ones is to communicate to God's people that heavenly grace which alone can make his Word a lamp to the feet and a light to the path.
In rebuilding the house of the Lord, Zerubbabel had been encompassed with manifold difficulties. In former years, adversaries had "weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building," "and made them to cease by force and power." But the Lord interposed in behalf of the faithful builders, and now he speaks through his prophet, Zechariah, to Zerubbabel, saying, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it."
Throughout the history of God's people, great mountains of difficulty, apparently insurmountable, have loomed up before those who were advancing in the opening providences of God. Such obstacles to progress are permitted by the Lord as a test of faith. When hedged about on every side, this is the time above all others to trust in God and in the power of his Holy Spirit. We are not to walk in our own strength, but in the strength of the Lord God of Israel. It is folly to trust in man or to make flesh our arm. We must trust in Jehovah; for in him is everlasting strength. The One who, in response to words and deeds of faith, made the way plain before his servant Zerubbabel, is able to clear away every obstacle devised by Satan to hinder the progress of his cause. Through the exercise of persevering faith, every mountain of difficulty may be removed.
Sometimes God trains his workers by bringing to them disappointment and apparent failure. It is his purpose that they shall learn to master difficulty. He seeks to inspire them with a determination to make every apparent failure prove a success.
Oftentimes men pray and weep because of the perplexities and obstacles that confront them. But if they will hold the beginning of their confidence steadfast unto the end, God will make their way clear. Success will come to them as they struggle against apparently insurmountable difficulties; and with success will come the greatest joy.
This was true of Zerubbabel; and for his encouragement he was given, through Zechariah, the assurance: "The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you. For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel, with those seven; they are the eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro through the whole earth."
The promise, "The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it," was literally fulfilled. "The elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia. And this house was finished on the third day of the month Adar [the twelfth month], which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king."
Shortly afterward, the restored temple was dedicated. "The children of Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the rest of the children of the captivity, kept the dedication of this house of God with joy, and offered at the dedication of this house of God an hundred bullocks, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs, and for a sin offering for all Israel, twelve he goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel."
This second temple did not equal the first in magnificence, nor was it hallowed by those visible tokens of the divine presence which pertained to the first temple. There was no manifestation of supernatural power to mark its dedication. No cloud of glory was seen to fill the newly erected sanctuary. No fire from heaven descended to consume the sacrifice upon its altar. The shekinah no longer abode between the cherubim in the most holy place; the ark, the mercy seat, and the tables of the testimony were not to be found therein. No voice sounded from heaven to make known to the inquiring priest the will of Jehovah.
And yet this was the building concerning which the Lord had declared by the prophet Haggai, "The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former." "I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts." For centuries afterward the Jews vainly endeavored to show wherein the promise of God, given by Haggai, had been fulfilled; yet eventually, when the Desire of all nations actually appeared and hallowed the precincts of the temple by his personal presence, pride and unbelief had blinded their minds to the true meaning of the prophet's words. The second temple was honored, not with the cloud of Jehovah's glory, but with the living presence of One in whom dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily,--God himself manifest in the flesh. The "Desire of all nations" had indeed come to his temple, when the Man of Nazareth taught and healed in the sacred courts. In the personal presence of Christ during his earthly ministry, and in this only, did the second temple exceed the first in glory.
Following the dedication of the house of God, the Israelites "set the priests in their divisions, and the Levites in their courses, for the service of God, which is at Jerusalem; as it is written in the book of Moses. And the children of the captivity kept the passover upon the fourteenth day of the first month. For the priests and the Levites were purified together, all of them were pure, and killed the passover for all the children of the captivity, and for their brethren the priests, and for themselves. And the children of Israel, which were come again out of captivity, and all such as had separated themselves unto them from all the filthiness of the heathen of the land, to seek the Lord God of Israel, did eat, and kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy: for the Lord had made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria unto them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #4)
The seventy years' captivity dated from the time when the Babylonian kings began to hold universal sway. God gave Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, much "majesty, and glory, and honor." "All people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down."
This same universal sway was exercised by Nebuchadnezzar's descendants until, nearly seventy years later, in the days of Belshazzar, because of the wickedness of the nation, the kingdom was "divided, and given to the Medes and Persians." Thus arose the second universal monarchy, Medo-Persia.
It was only about two years afterward that Cyrus, king of Medo-Persia, issued the remarkable decree providing for the restoration of all the Israelites, "the children of the captivity," to their home in the land of Canaan.
Nearly fifty thousand, under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Joshua, took advantage of this providential opportunity to return. These were, however, comparatively speaking, only a few, a mere "remnant," of all the Israelites scattered throughout the provinces of Medo-Persia. Many chose to remain in the land of their captivity, rather than to accompany their brethren, and to assist in restoring the temple services.
Nearly twenty years passed by. Many of the remnant who returned to Judea, had fallen into a backslidden condition, and were doing no more to restore the house of God than were their brethren living elsewhere in the Medo-Persian realm. But as the result of the appeals of Haggai and Zechariah, the returned exiles repented before God, and labored diligently to complete the temple. The Lord blessed them, and they were greatly prospered. Their efforts were brought to the notice of Darius Hystaspes, who was the monarch ruling at that time; and he was impressed to issue a second decree, fully as favorable as the one issued by Cyrus over twenty years before.
Thus did God, in mercy, provide another wonderful opportunity for the Jews in the Medo-Persian capital, and throughout the provinces, to return to the land whence they had been carried captive. And the Lord not only wrought a change of feeling in the hearts of men in authority, so that they favored the Jews in their realm; but he also inspired Zechariah, his prophetic messenger, to plead with them most earnestly to flee from their Babylonian surroundings, and return to Jerusalem.
"Ho, ho, come forth, and flee from the land of the north, saith the Lord: for I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heaven, saith the Lord. Deliver thyself, O Zion, that dwellest with the daughter of Babylon!"
How amazing is God's love, how infinite his compassion! He pleads with the wayward to return unto him. "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."
The Lord desired that those who had once named his name, but who now dwelt in Babylon, should become a praise in the earth, to the glory of his name. Nearly a century had passed by since, because of their sins, he had been compelled to allow them to be taken captive to Babylon. And yet their affliction was to be a means of salvation. Through the prophet Ezekiel, the Lord revealed his desire to save the transgressor, even by means of calamity. "I will bring him to Babylon," the Lord declared, "and will plead with him there for his trespass that he hath trespassed against me." In tender pity the Lord continued to plead with every suffering captive. Some chose to listen and to learn; these found salvation in the midst of affliction.
Those who listened to the pleadings of heavenly agencies, and repented with full purpose of heart, are likened by the prophet Ezekiel to "the highest branch of the high cedar," which was to be planted "upon an high mountain and eminent: in the mountain of the height of Israel." A remnant would return; and God gave every captive Israelite in Babylon an opportunity to form a part of this remnant.
It was those "whose spirit God had raised," who returned under the decree of Cyrus. But God ceased not to plead with the ones who voluntarily remained in the land of their exile; and, through manifold agencies, he made it possible for them also to return. But the vast number who failed to respond at the time of the decree of Cyrus, remained unimpressible to later influences working in their behalf. When Zechariah, in unmistakable language, warned them to flee from Babylon without delay, they heeded not the gracious invitation.
Conditions in the Medo-Persian realm rapidly changed. Darius Hystaspes, under whose reign the Jews were shown marked favor, was succeeded by Xerxes the Great, the Ahasuerus of the book of Esther. It was during his reign that the Jews of Medo-Persia, those who had failed of heeding God's warning message to flee for their lives, were called to face a terrible crisis. A few years before, God had provided a way of escape; but this had been passed by, and now all the Jews were brought face to face with death.
Haman the Agagite, an unscrupulous man high in authority in the Medo-Persian realm, was the one through whom Satan sought at this time to counterwork the purposes of God. Haman cherished bitter malice against Mordecai the Jew, a godly man who had done Haman no harm, but had simply refused to show him the reverence that belongs to God alone. Scorning "to lay hands on Mordecai alone," Haman plotted "to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai."
Misled by the false statements of Haman, Xerxes the Great was induced to issue an edict providing for the massacre of all the Jews "scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces" of the Medo-Persian kingdom. A certain day was appointed on which the Jews were to be destroyed and their property confiscated. Little did the king realize the far-reaching results that would have accompanied the complete carrying out of this decree. Satan himself, the hidden instigator of the scheme, was planning to rid the earth of those who preserved the knowledge of the true God.
"In every province, whithersoever the king's commandment and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes." The decrees of the Medes and Persians could not be revoked; apparently there was no hope; all the Israelites were doomed to destruction.
But the plots of the enemy were defeated by a Power that reigns among the children of men. In the providence of God, Esther, a Jewess who feared the Most High, had been made queen of the Medo-Persian kingdom. Mordecai was a near relative of hers. In their extremity, they decided to appeal to King Xerxes in behalf of their people. Esther was to venture into his presence as an intercessor. "Who knoweth," said Mordecai, "whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"
The crisis that Esther faced demanded earnest, quick action; but both she and Mordecai realized that unless God should work mightily in their behalf, all their own feeble efforts would be unavailing. So Esther took time for communion with God, the source of her strength, and the One in whose hand is the heart of every earthly ruler, to turn it whithersoever he will, as he turneth the rivers of water. "Go," Esther directed Mordecai, "gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish."
The events that followed in rapid succession,--the appearance of Esther before the king, the marked favor shown her, the banquets of the king and the queen with Haman as the only guest, the troubled sleep of the king, the public honor shown Mordecai, and the humiliation and fall of Haman upon discovery of his wicked plot against the Jewish people,--all these are parts of a familiar story. In a marvelous manner God wrought in behalf of his penitent people; and a counter-decree issued by the king, allowing them to fight for their lives, was rapidly communicated to every part of the realm by mounted couriers who were "hasted and pressed on by the king's commandment." "And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king's commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them."
On the day appointed for their destruction, "the Jews gathered themselves together in their cities throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, to lay hand on such as sought their hurt: and no man could withstand them; for the fear of them fell upon all people." Angels that excel in strength had been commissioned by God to protect his people while they gathered themselves together, and "stood for their lives."
The trying experiences that came to God's people in the days of Esther, were not peculiar to that age alone. The Revelator, looking down the ages to the close of time, declared by inspiration, "The dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." In the near future we shall see these words fulfilled, as the Protestant churches unite with the world and with the papal power against commandment-keepers. The same spirit that actuated those who persecuted the true church in ages past, will lead Protestants to pursue a similar course toward those who will maintain their loyalty to God. Church and state are now making preparations for the last great conflict.
The decree which is to go forth against the people of God will be very similar to that issued by Ahasuerus against the Jews in the time of Esther. The Protestant world today see, in the little company keeping the Sabbath, a Mordecai in the gate. His character and conduct, expressing reverence for the law of God, are a constant rebuke to those who have cast off the fear of the Lord, and are trampling upon his Sabbath; the unwelcome intruder must by some means be put out of the way.
The same masterful spirit that plotted against the faithful in ages past is still seeking to rid the earth of those who fear God and obey his law. Satan will excite indignation against the humble minority who conscientiously refuse to accept popular customs and traditions. Men of position and reputation will join with the lawless and the vile to take counsel against the people of God. Wealth, genius, education, will combine to cover them with contempt. Persecuting rulers, ministers, and church members will conspire against them. With voice and pen, by boasts, threats, and ridicule, they will seek to overthrow their faith. By false representations and angry appeals, they will stir up the passions of the people. Not having a "thus saith the Scriptures" to bring against the advocates of the Bible Sabbath, they will resort to oppressive enactments to supply the lack. To secure popularity and patronage, legislators will yield to the demand for Sunday laws. Those who fear God can not accept an institution that violates a precept of the decalogue. On this battlefield comes the last great conflict of the controversy between truth and error. And we are not left in doubt as to the issue. Now, as in the days of Esther and Mordecai, the Lord will vindicate his truth and his people.
Mordecai was advanced to the position of honor formerly occupied by Haman. He was "next unto King Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren;" and he sought to promote the welfare of his people. Thus did God bring his chosen people once more into favor at the Medo-Persian court, making possible the carrying out of his purpose to restore them to their own land. But it was not until several years later, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes I, the successor of Xerxes the Great, that any considerable number returned to Jerusalem to assist their brethren in the restoration, under the leadership and spiritual watchcare of Ezra. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #5)
About seventy years after the return of the first company of exiles under Zerubbabel and Joshua, Artaxerxes Longimanus came to the throne of Medo-Persia. The name of this king is connected with sacred history by a series of remarkable providences. It was during his reign that Ezra and Nehemiah lived and labored. Artaxerxes Longimanus is the one who issued the third and final decree for the restoration of Jerusalem, 457 B. C. While on the throne, he saw the return of a company of Jews under Ezra, the completion of the walls round about Jerusalem by Nehemiah and his associates, the reorganization of the temple services, and great religious reformations instituted by Ezra and Nehemiah. During the long period when Artaxerxes held universal sway, he often showed favor to God's people, and recognized in his trusted and well-beloved Jewish friends, Ezra and Nehemiah, men of God's appointment, raised up for special work.
The experience of Ezra while living among the Jews who remained in Babylon, was so unusual that it attracted the favorable notice of King Artaxerxes, with whom Ezra freely conversed regarding the power of the God of heaven, and his purpose in restoring his people to Jerusalem. Born of the sons of Aaron, Ezra, in addition to his priestly training, had acquired a familiarity with the writings of the magicians, the astrologers, and the so-called wise men of the Medo-Persian realm. But he was not satisfied with his spiritual condition. He longed to be in full harmony with God: he longed for wisdom to carry out God's will. And so he "prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it." This led him to apply himself diligently to a study of the history of God's people, as given in the writings of Old Testament prophets and kings. He was impressed by the Spirit of God to search the historical and poetical books of the Bible, to learn why the Lord had permitted Jerusalem to be destroyed, and his people to be carried captive into a heathen land.
Ezra gave special study to the experiences of God's chosen people, from the time the promise was made to Abraham, to the deliverance from Egyptian bondage and the exodus. He studied the instruction given them at the foot of Mount Sinai, and throughout the long period of the wilderness-wandering. As he learned more and still more concerning God's dealings with his children, and began to realize how sacred was the law given at Sinai, Ezra's heart was stirred as never before. He experienced a new and thorough conversion, and determined to master the records of Old Testament history, that he might use this knowledge, not for selfish purposes, but to bring blessing and light to his people. Some of the prophecies were about to be fulfilled; he would search diligently for the light that had been obscured.
Ezra took pains with his studies. He endeavored to gain a heart-preparation for the work he believed was appointed him. He sought God earnestly, that he might be a workman of whom his Lord would not be ashamed. He searched out the words that had been written concerning the duties of God's denominated people; and he found the solemn pledge made by the Israelites, that they would obey the words of the Lord; and the pledge that God, in return, had made, promising them his blessing as a reward of obedience..
With painstaking effort Ezra sought to arrive at the true sense of the Old Testament scriptures, and to revive their original meaning. He became thoroughly conversant with the writings of Moses. His desire to please God led him to strive earnestly to learn the true significance of the ten commandments. He searched for all those statements in sacred history that relate to the giving of the law on Mount Sinai, and to the laws written in books, which the Israelites had been directed to preserve carefully as the commands of God.
These laws contained in books were not a new revelation, but a repetition of the ceremonial laws given at Sinai. Before Moses left the children of Israel, at the command of God, to die in the land of Moab, the laws that had formerly been given were repeated and enlarged upon. Some methods for their enforcement were given; some precepts were explained, and the reasons why they had been given were made plain. Upon several occasions the judgments of God had fallen upon transgressors; the commands that had been transgressed at these times were repeated. Transgressors were to know that disobedience would surely bring the punishment of God.
Ezra inquired into the oracles of God diligently, that he might exert an influence in accordance with the expressed will of God. He felt that, for himself, he must do the will of the Lord; for only as he should bring his mind into harmony with truth could he be taught to labor in harmony with the Word of God. As he learned to yield his mind and will to the control of God, there were brought into his life the principles of true sanctification, which, in latter years, had a molding influence not only upon the minds of the youth who sought his instruction, but upon all others who associated with him.
God chose Ezra to be an instrument of good unto Israel, that the Lord might put honor upon the priesthood, the glory of which had been greatly eclipsed during the captivity. Ezra developed into a man of extraordinary learning, and became "a ready scribe in the law of Moses." These qualifications made him an eminent man in the Medo-Persian kingdom.
Ezra became a mouthpiece for God, educating those about him in the holy principles that govern in heaven. To live according to the commandments of God,--this was the rule of his life, his purpose. He first learned, and then he taught. He learned to conduct his own life in accordance with truth and righteousness; then he set himself to teach Israel the statutes and judgments of God. That which he learned of truth he communicated to others, in order that the same living influence might work in their lives. During the remaining years of his lifetime, whether near the court of the king of Medo-Persia or at Jerusalem, his principal work was that of a teacher. With painstaking care he taught the law of the Lord, and urged the importance of obedience. His example in word and deed carried with it a weight of influence; for the Spirit of God was with him. Teaching thus, he educated his fellow men in the knowledge of truth that would live through eternal ages. (To be Concluded.) Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #6)
The results of Ezra's timely effort to revive an interest in the study of Holy Writ, were given permanency by his painstaking, lifelong work of preserving and multiplying copies of the Old Testament Scriptures. During the captivity, the knowledge of God's will had to some extent been lost. Ezra gathered all the copies of the law that he could find, and had many copies of these made and distributed. The pure Word, thus diligently multiplied and placed in the hands of many people, gave knowledge that was of inestimable value.
As Ezra strove to promulgate the truths he had learned, his capabilities for labor increased and developed. He became a man of piety and zeal, because the truth was a sanctifying power in his soul. He was the Lord's witness to the world of what Bible truth is when revealed in the daily life of the receiver. His life, like the life of Christ, sowed the seeds of truth, by a revelation of the pure principles that can save the soul. Far happier would professed Christians be today if they would in the same way reflect the light of heaven upon the pathway of others, teaching in the life the statutes and judgments that rule in the heavenly courts.
Shall we let the example of Ezra teach us the use we should make of our knowledge of the Scriptures? The life of this servant of God should be an inspiration to us to serve the Lord with heart and mind and strength. We each have an appointed work to do, and this can be accomplished only by consecrated effort. We need first to set ourselves to know the requirements of God, and then to practise them. Then we can sow seeds of truth that will bear fruit unto eternal life.
Ezra's faith that God would do a mighty work for his people, led him to make known to King Artaxerxes his desire to return to Jerusalem that he might revive an interest in the study of God's Word, and assist his brethren in restoring and building up the holy city. Ezra declared that his entire trust was in the God of Israel, who was abundantly able to protect and care for his people. The king was deeply impressed. He well understood that the Israelites who wished to return, were going to Jerusalem in order that they might serve the living God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth; yet so great was the king's confidence in the integrity of Ezra, that he showed him marked favor. Artaxerxes not only granted him his request, but bestowed rich gifts for the temple service, made him a special representative of the Medo-Persian kingdom, and conferred on him extensive powers to carry out the purposes that were in his heart.
This decree of Artaxerxes Longimanus for the restoring and building of Jerusalem, is the third issued since the close of the seventy years' captivity. It is remarkable for the expressions it contains regarding the God of heaven; for the recognition it gives to the attainments of Ezra; and for the liberality of the grants made to the remnant people of God. Artaxerxes refers to Ezra as "the priest, the scribe, even a scribe of the words of the commandments of the Lord, and of his statutes to Israel;" "a scribe of the law of the God of heaven." The king united with his counselors in offering freely "unto the God of Israel, whose habitation is in Jerusalem;" and in addition to the bestowal of rich gifts, he made provision for meeting many heavy expenses by ordering that they be paid "out of the king's treasure house."
The king's special anxiety was to assist in carrying out the commands of the God of heaven. "Thou art sent of the king, and of his seven counselors," he declared to Ezra, "to inquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, according to the law of thy God which is in thine hand." And he further decreed: "Whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be diligently done for the house of the God of heaven: for why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons?"
Artaxerxes arranged for the restoration of the members of the priesthood to their ancient rites and privileges. In giving permission to the Israelites to return, he made particular mention of the priests and Levites, and he added: "We certify you, that, touching any of the priests and Levites, singers, porters, nethinims, or ministers of this house of God, it shall not be lawful to impose toll, tribute, or custom, upon them." He also arranged for the appointment of civil officers to govern the people justly, in accordance with the Jewish code of laws. "Thou, Ezra, after the wisdom of thy God that is in thine hand," he decreed, "set magistrates and judges, which may judge all the people that are beyond the river, all such as know the laws of thy God; and teach ye them that know them not. And whosoever will not do the law of thy God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed speedily upon him, whether it be unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment."
Thus, "according to the good hand of his God upon him," Ezra persuaded the king to make abundant provision for the return of all of the people of Israel, and of the priests and Levites, in the Medo-Persian realm, who were minded "of their own free will to go up to Jerusalem." What rejoicing this decree must have brought to those who had been uniting with Ezra in a study of God's purpose concerning his people! The sentiment of the hearts of many is expressed in the words of praise uttered by the servant of the Lord in devout thanksgiving to God for his wonderful providences. "Blessed be the Lord God of our fathers," Ezra exclaimed, "which hath put such a thing as this in the king's heart, to beautify the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem; and hath extended mercy unto me before the king, and his counselors, and before all the king's mighty princes." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #6)
In the work of soul saving, the Lord calls together laborers who have different plans and ideas and various methods of labor. But with this diversity of minds, there is to be revealed a unity of purpose. Oftentimes in the past the work which the Lord designed should prosper has been hindered because men have tried to place a yoke upon their fellow workers who did not follow the methods which they regarded as the best.
No exact pattern can be given for the establishment of schools in new fields. The climate, the surroundings, the condition of the country, and the means at hand with which to work, must all bear a part in shaping the work. The blessings of an all-round education will bring success in Christian missionary work. Through its means souls will be converted to the truth.
"Ye are the light of the world," Christ declares. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." God's work in the earth in these last days is to reflect the light that Christ brought into the world. This light is to dissipate the gross darkness of ages. Men and women in heathen darkness are to be reached by those who at one time were in a similar condition of ignorance, but who have received the knowledge of the truth of God's Word. These heathen nations will accept eagerly the efforts made to instruct them in a knowledge of God.
Very precious to God is his work in the earth. Christ and heavenly angels are watching in every moment. As we draw near to the coming of Christ, more and still more of missionary work will engage our efforts. The message of the renewing power of God's grace will belt the world. Those that will be sealed will be from every nation and kindred and tongue and people. From every country will be gathered men and women who will stand before the throne of God and before the Lamb in worship, crying, "Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb." But before this work can be accomplished, we must experience right here in our own country the work of the Holy Spirit upon our hearts.
God has revealed to me that we are in positive danger of bringing into our educational work the customs and fashions that prevail in the schools of the world. If the teachers are not guarded in their work, they will place on the necks of their students worldly yokes instead of the yoke of Christ. The plan of the schools we shall establish in these closing days of the work is to be of an entirely different order from those we have instituted in the past.
For this reason, God bids us establish schools away from the cities, where without let or hindrance, we can carry on the work of education upon plans that are in harmony with the solemn message that is committed to us for the world. Such an education as this can best be worked out where there is land to cultivate, and where the physical exercise taken by the students can be of such a nature as to act a valuable part in their character building, and to fit them for usefulness in the fields to which they will go.
God will bless the work of those schools that are conducted according to his design. When we were laboring to establish the educational work in Australia, the Lord revealed to us that this school must not pattern after any schools that had been established in the past. This was to be a sample school. The school was organized on the plans that God had given us, and he has prospered its work.
I have been shown that in our educational work we are not to follow the methods that have been adopted in our older established schools. There is among us too much clinging to old customs, and because of this we are far behind where we should be in the development of the third angel's message. Because men could not comprehend the purpose of God in the plans laid before us for the education of the workers, methods have been followed in some of our schools which have retarded rather than advanced the work of God. Years have passed into eternity with small results that might have shown the accomplishment of a great and sacred work. If the Lord's will had been done by the workers in earth as the angels do it in heaven, much that now remains to be done, would be already accomplished, and noble results would be seen to follow our missionary efforts.
The usefulness learned on the school farm is the very education that is most essential for those who go out as missionaries to many foreign fields. If this training is given with the glory of God in view, great results will be seen. No work will be more effectual than that done by those who, having obtained an education in practical life, go forth to mission fields with the message of truth, prepared to instruct as they have been instructed. The knowledge they have obtained in the tilling of the soil, in the erection of buildings, and in other lines of manual work, and which they carry with them to their field of labor, will make them a blessing even in heathen lands.
Before we can carry the message of present truth in all its fulness to other countries we must first break every yoke. We must come into the line of true education, walking in the wisdom of God, and not in the wisdom of the world. God calls for messengers who will be true reformers. We must educate, educate, to prepare a people who will understand the message, and then give the message to the world. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #7)
The decree of Artaxerxes was made in the seventh year of his reign, B.C. 457. Once more the dispersed of Judah were given opportunity to work out the purpose of God in restoring Zion. In the raising up of Ezra as a leader, God's providence was manifest. Some discerned this, and gladly took advantage of the privilege of returning under circumstances so favorable.
A general place of meeting was designated, and at the appointed time those who were desirous of going to Jerusalem assembled for the long journey. "I gathered them together to the river that runneth to Ahava," says Ezra, "and there abode we in tents three days."
The number who responded to the call to leave Babylon, was disappointingly small. Ezra had expected that a large number would return. But many of those who had acquired houses and lands, had no desire to sacrifice these possessions. They loved ease and comfort rather than hardship and privation, and were well satisfied to remain. Their example proved a hindrance to many who might otherwise have chosen to cast in their lot with God's people, and advance by faith.
As Ezra looked over the company assembled, he was surprised to find "none of the sons of Levi." Where were the members of the tribe that had been set apart for the sacred service of the temple? To the call, "Who is on the Lord's side?" the Levites should have been the first to respond. During the period of the captivity, and afterward, they had been granted many privileges. They had enjoyed fullest liberty to minister to the spiritual needs of their Jewish brethren in Babylon. Synagogues had been built, in which the priests conducted the worship of God, and instructed the people. The observance of the Sabbath, and the performance of sacred rights peculiar to the Jewish faith, had been freely allowed.
But with the passing of the years after the close of the captivity, conditions changed, and many new responsibilities rested upon the leaders in Israel. The temple at Jerusalem had been rebuilt and dedicated, and more priests were needed to carry on its services. There was pressing need of men of God to act as teachers of the people. And besides, the Jews remaining in Babylon were in danger of having their religious liberty restricted. Through the prophet Zechariah, as well as by their late experience in the troublous times of Esther and Mordecai, God had plainly warned his people to flee from Babylon. The time had come when it was perilous to dwell longer in the midst of heathen influences. In view of these changed conditions, the priests in Babylon should have been quick to discern in the call, "Who is on the Lord's side?" a special call to them to return to Jerusalem.
The king and his princes had done more than their part in opening the way for every one who feared God to return. They had provided abundant means for carrying forward the work of God; but where were the men? The sons of Levi failed at a time when their presence was greatly needed at Jerusalem, and when the influence of their decision to return would have led many others to follow their example. Their strange indifference is a sad revelation of the attitude of the Israelites in Babylon toward God's purposes for his people.
Once again Ezra addressed the Levites in Babylon with the words, "Who is on the Lord's side?" To emphasize the importance of quick action, he chose nine "chief men," and two "men of understanding," as special messengers to return and persuade their brethren to accompany them to Jerusalem.
While the travelers tarried, these trusted messengers hastened back to "Iddo the chief," and "his brethren the nethinims," with the plea, "Bring unto us ministers for the house of our God." This entreaty was heeded; a few halting souls made final decision to return. Ezra acknowledged with gratitude that "by the good hand of our God," his messengers succeeded in returning to the camp quickly with about forty priests, and two hundred twenty nethinims,--men upon whom he could depend as wise ministers and good teachers and helpers.
Those who expected to return with Ezra were now ready to start. Before them was a journey that would occupy several months. The men were taking with them their wives and children, and their substance, besides large treasures for the temple and its service. Ezra was aware that enemies lay in wait by the way to attack, plunder, and destroy him and his company; yet he had asked from the king no armed force for their protection.
Before setting out on the journey, he sought the protection of the Most High. "I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava," says Ezra, "that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to ask of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance." Earnest prayer was offered to God for his blessing upon the undertaking. Says Ezra: "I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him."
Under ordinary circumstances, it would have been wholly right and proper for Ezra to accept the offer of an armed escort. But in this instance, he had expressed himself to King Artaxerxes so freely regarding his steadfast confidence in the protecting care of the God of Israel, that he was ashamed to ask the king for protection. He believed that in view of all that had been said regarding the true God, the faith of the king in the power of God would be strengthened if the Israelites, on their part, would exercise faith.
In this matter, Ezra and his companies discerned an opportunity to magnify the name of God before the heathen; and so they determined to put their trust wholly in him. They knew that if they kept the law of the Lord continually before them, and practised this law, they would be protected by the breastplate of righteousness. They realized that if they wilfully chose to violate even one precept of the decalogue, they would be like a soldier without a breastplate,--unprotected from the assaults of Satan. "So we fasted," said Ezra, "and besought our God for this: and he was entreated of us."
By prayer and fasting, by self-examination and confession of sin, they sought to come into harmony with God and his holy law. They pleaded with the Lord to purge them from their sins. All harshness and impatience of spirit were put away. Self was crucified; the Lord God was exalted, and he alone. They knew that their strength was to be gained not in wealth, not in the power and influence of idolatrous men, but in the favor of God. Through conformity to his will, they hoped for success. They could not afford to lessen their influence over men, in behalf of the truth, by allowing unsanctified traits of character to obtain the mastery. Nor could they afford to create in the minds of their heathen friends a single doubt as to the sincerity of the profession of faith made by God's commandment-keeping people. They well knew that if they succeeded in their important mission, it would be because they had complied with the requirements of God, thus making it possible for his blessing to accompany them. Under these peculiar circumstances, they asked for no guard of soldiers. The heathen must not be given occasion to ascribe to the strength of man the glory that belonged to God alone.
But the blessing of God does not take the place of prudence and forethought. As a special precaution in safeguarding the treasure, Ezra "separated twelve of the chief of the priests,"--proved men, wise men of opportunity, men of faithfulness and determined fidelity,--"and weighed unto them the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, even the offering of the house of our God, which the king, and his counselors, and his lords, and all Israel there present, had offered." These men were solemnly charged to act as vigilant stewards over the treasure entrusted to their care. "Ye are holy unto the Lord," Ezra declared; "the vessels are holy also; and the silver and the gold are a freewill offering unto the Lord God of your fathers. Watch ye, and keep them, until ye weigh them before the chief of the priests and the Levites, and chief of the fathers of Israel, at Jerusalem, in the chambers of the house of the Lord.
"So took the priests and the Levites the weight of the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, to bring them to Jerusalem unto the house of our God."
The care exercised by Ezra in providing for the transportation and safekeeping of the Lord's treasure, is an object lesson worthy of thoughtful study. Only those whose trustworthiness had been proved, were chosen; and they were instructed plainly as to their responsibility before God. In the appointment of faithful officers to act as treasurers of the Lord's goods, Ezra recognized the necessity and value of order and organization in connection with the work of God.
During the few days that the Israelites had tarried to seek the Lord for protection and guidance, every provision was completed for the long journey. "We departed from the river of Ahava," Ezra writes, "on the twelfth day of the first month, to go unto Jerusalem: and the hand of our God was upon us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy, and of such as lay in wait by the way." They were on the way about four months, reaching Jerusalem "on the first day of the fifth month," in the seventh year of Artaxerxes. The multitude that accompanied Ezra--several thousand in all, including women and children--necessitated a slow journey, but all were preserved in safety.
The Lord wrought for the returning Jews. Even their enemies were restrained from doing them harm. None were able to intercept them, and their journey was a prosperous one.
This experience is a lesson to all those who have set their faces toward the New Jerusalem. The Christian pilgrim is to make his journey one of trust in the keeping power of God. There will always be enemies, emissaries of Satan, on the alert to hurt and destroy every soul who is not on guard, and who has not provided himself with the Christian armor of righteousness and peace.
Fellow pilgrim, let strict faithfulness and determined fidelity characterize your every act. Let every step of the journey to the New Jerusalem be taken with eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith. Those who will keep the way of the Lord, in strict obedience, will have the guardianship of heavenly angels as they travel Zionward. All self-seeking, all dissension and strife, will be put away. Unity and harmony will prevail.
May we take these experiences in the history of Israel to heart, consecrate ourselves anew to God, and live to the honor and glory of his name. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #8)
The coming of Ezra and his company to Jerusalem brought courage and hope into the hearts of many who had long labored under trying difficulties. Since the first company of exiles had returned with Zerubbabel and Joshua, over seventy years before, much had been accomplished in the work of restoration. The temple had been finished; the walls of the city had been partially repaired. Yet much remained undone. At times, the people had become disheartened, and had well-nigh ceased all effort to restore the city. Even during the years of comparative peace following the troublous times of Queen Esther, but little was done to upbuild the wall.
The indifference of many of the Israelites who had returned, is directly traceable to their violation of the plain precepts of the law given at Sinai. Some who had returned, remained faithful; but many of their children and children's children, lost sight of the law of heaven. The Mosaic code, given for the good of the people, was sadly disregarded. Sin was in the camp. Even some of the men who had been entrusted with sacred responsibilities, lived in open sin. Their course of action largely neutralized the efforts of others to advance the cause of God; for so long as flagrant violations of God's law were allowed to go on unrebuked, the blessing of heaven could not rest richly upon the people.
In the providence of God, those who returned with Ezra had sought the Lord earnestly, before undertaking their journey. They had humbled themselves before God, confessing their sins, and imploring forgiveness. With agony of soul they had pleaded for divine guidance and blessing. The experiences through which they had just passed, led them to realize that in God alone was their strength, and that sin, by separating them from the source of their power, would leave them weak and defenseless. Many of them had become strong in faith; and as these mingled with the discouraged and the indifferent, their influence for good was a powerful factor in the work of reform instituted soon afterward by Ezra.
On the fourth day after the arrival at Jerusalem, the treasures of silver and gold, with the vessels for the service of the sanctuary, were delivered by the treasurers in the hands of the temple officers. Every article was examined "by number and by weight." The delivery of the treasures was made in the presence of witnesses, with the utmost exactitude. Nothing had been lost. The care exercised in this transaction is an object lesson of the care with which the Lord would be pleased to have the affairs of his cause conducted at all times and in every place.
The children of the captivity who had returned with Ezra, "offered burnt offerings unto the God of Israel," for a sin offering, and as a token of gratitude and thanksgiving for the protection of holy angels during their journey. "And they delivered, the king's commissions unto the king's lieutenants, and to the governors on this side the river; and they furthered the people, and the house of God."
Ezra's arrival at Jerusalem was opportune. His brethren were in great need of the influence of his presence. Soon after his return, some of the chief men of Israel approached him with a serious complaint. Some of "the people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites," had so far lost sight of the holy character of the commands of Jehovah given them through Moses, that they had intermarried with the surrounding heathen peoples. "They have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons," Ezra was informed, "so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people" of heathen lands; "yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass."
In his study of the causes that led to the Babylonish captivity, Ezra had learned that the terrible apostasy of Israel was largely traceable to their mingling with the surrounding nations. Had they obeyed God's command to keep separate from the heathen, they would have been spared many sad and humiliating experiences. And so, when the servant of God was informed that notwithstanding the plain lessons of the past, men of prominence in Israel had dared transgress the laws given them as a safeguard against apostasy, his heart was made inexpressibly sad. "When I heard this thing," he says, "I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied.
"Then were assembled unto me every one that trembleth at the words of the God of Israel, because of the transgression of those that had been carried away; and I sat astonied until the evening sacrifice." The servant of God suffered intense agony of soul over the commission of sins so grievous by those who had had great light and privileges.
At the time of the evening sacrifice, Ezra arose, and, once more rending his garment and his mantle, he fell upon his knees, and unburdened his soul in earnest supplication to God. Spreading out his hands unto the Lord, he exclaimed, "O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens."
Ezra remembered the goodness of God in again giving his people a foothold in their native land, and he was overwhelmed with righteous indignation and with grief at the thought of their ingratitude.
"Since the days of our fathers," the humble suppliant continued, "have we been in a great trespass unto this day; and for our iniquities have we, our kings, and our priests, been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, and to a spoil, and to confusion of face, as it is this day. And now for a little space grace hath been showed from the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage. For we were bondmen; yet our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our God, and to repair the desolations thereof, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem.
"And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? for we have forsaken thy commandments, which thou hast commanded by thy servants the prophets. . . . And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass, seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such deliverance as this; should we again break thy commandments, and join in affinity with the people of these abominations? wouldest not thou be angry with us till thou hadst consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping? O Lord God of Israel, thou art righteous: for we remain yet escaped, as it is this day: behold, we are before thee in our trespasses: for we can not stand before thee because of this."
Ezra's language in this petition is that of true humiliation of soul, the contrition that prevails with God in prayer. Only the prayer of the humble enters into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. "Though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off." "To this man will I look," saith the Lord, "even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word."
The sorrow of Ezra and of his associates over the evils that had insidiously crept into the very heart of the Lord's work, wrought repentance. Many of those who had sinned, were deeply affected. "The people wept very sore." They had begun to realize, in a limited degree, the heinousness of sin, and the horror with which God regards it. The sacredness of the law spoken at Sinai was brought clearly before their minds, and many trembled at the thought of their transgressions.
One of the company, Shechaniah by name, acknowledged that all the words spoken by Ezra were true. "We have trespassed against our God," he confessed," and have taken strange wives of the people of the land: yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this thing." Shechaniah proposed that all who had transgressed, should make a covenant with God to forsake their lives of sin, and to be adjudged "according to the law." "Arise," he bade Ezra, "for this matter belongeth unto thee: we also will be with thee: be of good courage, and do it."
"Then arose Ezra, and made the chief priests, the Levites, and all Israel, to swear that they should do according to this word."
This was the beginning of a wonderful reformation. With infinite patience and tact, and with careful consideration for the rights and welfare of every individual concerned, Ezra and his associates labored to lead the repentant of Israel into a right way of living. Above all things else, Ezra was a teacher of the law; and as he gave personal attention to the examination of every case, he sought to impress upon the mind of the sinner the holiness of the law of heaven, and the blessings to be gained through obedience to this law. (To be concluded.) Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #9)
Wherever Ezra labored, there sprang up a revival in the study of the Holy Scriptures. Teachers were appointed to instruct the people; the law of the Lord was exalted and made honorable. The books of the prophets were searched, and the prophecies foretelling the coming of the Messiah brought hope and comfort to many a sad and weary heart.
More than two thousand years have passed by since Ezra "prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it;" yet this long lapse of time has not lessened the influence of his pious example. Throughout the centuries, the record of his life of consecration has been an inspiration to many who have determined to "seek the law of the Lord, and to do it." His steadfastness of purpose, his careful methods of study, his diligence in teaching the Holy Scriptures to the common people, his unwavering trust in God, his abhorrence of sin, his patience and kindly consideration in dealing with the erring,--these and other striking characteristics of his life have had an ennobling influence on the lives of many who have been impressed by the Holy Spirit to emulate his example. Ezra's motives were high and holy; all that he did was actuated by an intense love for souls. And to the end of time, the compassion and tenderness that he ever revealed toward those who had sinned either wilfully or through ignorance, should be an object lesson to all who seek to bring about reforms. God desires his servants to be as firm and unyielding as a rock, where right principles are involved; and yet, withal, they are to manifest the kindly sympathy and the forbearance revealed in the lives of Ezra and of Christ. Like Ezra, they are to teach transgressors the words of life, which contain principles that are the foundation of all rightdoing.
In this age of the world, when Satan is seeking through manifold agencies to blind the eyes of the people against the binding claims of the law of God, there is need of Ezras,--of men who can cause many to "tremble at the commandment of our God." There is need of true reformers who will point transgressors to the great Lawgiver, and teach them that the law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. There is need of men mighty in the Scriptures; men whose every word and act exalts the law of Jehovah; men who, in this time of apostasy and unbelief, labor to strengthen the faith of their fellow men in the law and the prophets. Teachers are needed, O, so much! to inspire hearts with reverence and love for the Holy Scriptures, which have been given for the admonition of us upon whom the ends of the world are come.
Often has the cause of God languished because of a lack of reverence for the precepts of Holy Writ. Often has the name of God been brought into dishonor by those who, while professing to be Christians, have neglected the study of the Word, and have allowed grievous sins to come into their lives.
God calls for a revival and a reformation. The words of the Bible, and the Bible alone, should be echoed from the pulpits of our land. In the sermons of many pulpits of today there is not that divine manifestation which awakens the conscience and brings life to the soul. The hearers can not say, "Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the Scriptures?" There are many who are crying out for the living God; many who are longing for the bread of life.. Let the Word of God speak to the people. Let them hear the voice of him whose word can renew the soul unto everlasting life.
God's servants are now to proclaim faithfully his Word in all lands, to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people; for the Lord has "set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth."
Today God is sending to his people the comforting message: "Fear not; for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him."
"There shall be an highway for the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt.
"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 comfortedst 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. 85, #10)
Christ's teachings are of a character to impress the mind with the superiority of eternal things, and to impregnate the present life with the interests of eternity.
"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth," the Saviour declared, "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."
"No man can serve two masters." As Christ visited the places where worldly gain was occupying men's thoughts and energies, and marked the worshipers at the shrine of Mammon, he said, "How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!" With the confidence of one who knew, he said, "Ye can not serve God and Mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
"Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (for after all these things do the Gentiles seek) for your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things."
The Lord looks with pity on those who allow themselves to be burdened with household cares and business perplexities. They are cumbered with much serving, and neglect the one thing essential. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness," the Saviour says, "and all these things shall be added unto you." That is, Look away from this world to the eternal. Put forth your most earnest endeavors to obtain those things upon which God places value, and which Christ gave his precious life that you might secure. His sacrifice has thrown open wide to you the gates of heavenly commerce. Lay up your treasure beside the throne of God, by doing with his entrusted capital the work that he desires done in the winning of souls to a knowledge of the truth. This will secure you eternal riches.
The possession of the Word of God places great responsibilities upon us; for it makes us accountable for the means that he entrusts to us. It is a great privilege to have money to invest in the cause of God; and that man is blessed who desires to place it where instead of ministering to selfish desires, it will help to work out the purposes of God. The offerings made to help carry out the plan of salvation, bring joy to the giver and glory to the One for whose sake they are made.
"God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." God gave Christ to the world. The Son of God laid aside his royal robe and kingly crown, and leaving his high command in heaven, came to earth as a man. Through the years of childhood and youth and manhood he was subject to poverty and to all the temptations that beset the human race.
When we think of the great gift of heaven for the redemption of a sinful world, and then consider the offerings that we can make, we shrink from drawing a comparison. The demands that might be made upon a whole universe could not compare with that one gift. Immeasurable love was expressed when one equal with the Father came to pay the price for the souls of men, and bring to them eternal life. Shall those who profess the name of Christ see no attraction in the world's Redeemer, be indifferent to the possession of truth and righteousness, and turn from the heavenly treasure to the earthly?
"And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. But every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God."
This gospel message is one of the most precious passages in the New Testament. When it is accepted, it yields in the lives of the receiver good deeds whose value is far above that of diamonds and gold. It has power to bring gladness and consolation into the earthly life, and to bestow eternal life upon the believer. O that we might have our understanding so enlightened by grace that we could take in its full meaning! The Father is saying to us, I will bestow upon you a treasure more precious than any earthly possession, a treasure that will make you rich and blessed forever.
In this life our possessions are limited, but the great treasure that God offers in his gift to the world, is unlimited. It comprehends every human desire, and goes far beyond our human calculations. In the great day of final decision, when every man shall be judged according to his deeds, every voice of self-justification will be hushed; for it will be seen that in his gift to the human race the Father gave all he had to give, and that they are without excuse who have refused to accept the gracious offering.
We have no enemy without that we need to fear. Our great conflict is with unconsecrated self. When we conquer self, we are more than conquerors through him who has loved us. My brethren, there is eternal life for us to win. Let us fight the good fight of faith. Not in the future, but now, is our probation. While it lingers, "seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things,"--the things which now so often serve Satan's purpose as snares to deceive and destroy,--"shall be added unto you." God's chosen ones must be gold, not wood, hay, and stubble. "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #11)
We have been instructed again and again that the character of the education that has long been current, can not stand the test of the Word of God. The subject of education is one that should interest every Seventh-day Adventist. The Lord says to us, Seventh-day Adventists are not to place themselves under the counsel and instruction of teachers who know not the truth for this time. The molding and fashioning of minds should not be left to men who have not comprehend the importance of a preparation for that life which measures with the life of God.
Some among our teachers have been charmed by the sentiments of infidel authors. In a representation given me I saw one holding in his hand one of these books and recommending it to our teachers as a book from which real help could be obtained along educational lines. Another was holding in his hand books of an altogether different character. He placed his hand upon the one who had recommended the infidel author, and said, "Advice of the kind you have given is opening the door for Satan with his sophistries to find easy entrance to your schools. These books contain sentiments that your students should be instructed to avoid. Human minds are easily charmed with studies that lead to infidelity. These books produce in the minds of the students a distaste for the study of the Word of God, which is eternal life to all who follow its instruction. Such books are not to find entrance in any school where the youth are being taught to be learners of the greatest of teachers."
With solemn voice the Speaker continued: "Do you find with these authors that which you can recommend as essential to true higher education? Would you dare recommend their study to students who are ignorant of their true character? Wrong habits of thought, when once accepted, become a despotic power that fastens the mind as in a grasp of steel. If many who have received and read these books had never seen them, but had accepted the words of the divine Teacher in their place, they would be far in advance of where they now are in a knowledge of the divine truths of the Word of God, which make men wise unto salvation. These books have led thousands where Satan led Adam and Eve--to a knowledge that God forbade them to have. Through their teachings, students have turned from the Word of the Lord to fables."
I am instructed to say to students, In your search for knowledge, climb higher than the standard set by the world; follow where Jesus has led the way. And to teachers I would say, Beware how you sow the seeds of unbelief in human hearts and minds. Cleanse yourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit. The crowning glory of Christ's attributes was his holiness. The angels bow before him in adoration exclaiming, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty. He is declared to be glorious in his holiness. Study the character of God. By beholding Christ, by seeking him in faith and prayer, you may become like him.
The standard of education in our schools is lowered as soon as Christ ceases to be the pattern of teachers and students. Teachers are to understand that their work is not to be confined to the knowledge contained in textbooks; it is to reach higher, far higher than it does. A course of self-discipline is to educate them to conform the character to the divine similitude. Self dies hard, but when the teachers have that wisdom that cometh from above, they will discern the true object of our educational work, and reforms will be made that will give the youth a training that is according to the Lord's plan of development and growth, and will fit them to become members of the family of heaven.
We need now to work in spiritual lines, seeking to purify ourselves from every defect of character. Christ must be formed within, the hope of glory. He must be received by every individual who would have an individual experience. We are to be rooted and grounded and established in the faith by the teachings of the Word. The truth has power to sanctify the receiver, and this work of sanctification will be accomplished for us as we have an individual knowledge of Christ, and learn to link up with him, and to walk by faith and prayer. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #12)
Sanitarium, Cal., Feb. 10, 1908.--"Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean. Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion. For thus saith the Lord, Ye have sold yourselves for naught; and ye shall be redeemed without money."
The Lord has instructed me to say to our churches: There is no safety in placing confidence in human wisdom or strength. "Whom shall he teach knowledge?" the prophet Isaiah asks; "and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breast. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: for with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear. But the word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.
"Wherefore hear the word of the Lord, ye scornful men, that rule this people which is in Jerusalem. Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves: therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place."
The figures here used by the prophet are representations of spiritual things. "Who among us," he asks, "shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil; he shall dwell on high: his place of defense shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure. Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off."
The Kingdom of Christ.--The government of the kingdom of Christ is like no earthly government. It is a representation of the characters of those who compose the kingdom. "Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God?" Christ asked, "or with what comparison shall we liken it?" He could find nothing on earth that would serve as a perfect comparison. His court is one where holy love presides, and whose offices and appointments are graced by the exercise of charity. He charges his servants to bring pity and lovingkindness, his own attributes, into all their office work, and to find their happiness and satisfaction in reflecting the love and tender compassion of the divine nature on all with whom they associate.
"Look unto Zion, the city of our solemnities," the prophet continues; "thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken. But there the glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby. For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; he will save us. . . . The inhabitants shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity."
"Be ye glad and rejoice forever in that which I create," the Lord exhorts; "for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.
"And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them.
"And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord."
The power of Christ alone can work the transformation in heart and mind that all must experience who would partake with him of the new life in the kingdom of God. "Except a man be born again," the Saviour said, "he can not see the kingdom of God." The religion that comes from God is the only religion that can lead to God. In order to serve him aright, we must be born of the divine Spirit. This will purify the heart and renew the mind, and give us a new capacity for knowing and loving God. It will give us willing obedience to all his requirements.
Privileges and Duties of Believers.--Every converted soul should labor for unity of spirit and action with the One who prayed that he and his disciples might be one. The followers of Christ do his cause decided injury when they follow the customs and habits of the world. The truth that is not lived, that is not imparted to others, loses its lifegiving power, its healing virtue. Every one must learn to work, and to stand in his place as a burden bearer. Every addition to the church should be one more agency for the carrying out of the great plan of redemption. The entire church, acting as one, blending in perfect union, is to be a living, active missionary agency, moved and controlled by the Holy Spirit.
Having acknowledged Christ as the Saviour of the world, the disciples were charged to prove before men their claims, by representing in their lives the beauty and purity of his character. They had been called to repentance, and had been baptized in his name. In his name they were to call others to repentance. And all who would accept the offer of forgiveness were to be baptized in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. By this ordinance believers were to be admitted to church fellowship; and from this time of open profession, a divine change was to be revealed in their lives. As members of Christ's church on earth they were to represent the principles of his church in heaven.
Speaking to his church, Christ said, "And I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." The professed Christian who is not a Christian in practise, is not included in this promise. It is only when the voice of the church becomes the voice of Christ, that the promise can be received in its fulness.
The upbuilding of the kingdom of God is retarded or urged forward according to the unfaithfulness or fidelity of human agencies. The work is hindered by the failure of the human to cooperate with the divine. Men may pray, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven;" but if they fail of acting out this prayer in their lives, their petitions will be fruitless.
Church Discipline.--Let none speak lightly of the duty of the church to administer censure and rebuke; neither let them criticize the action of the church when this painful task becomes necessary. Christ has given plain instruction regarding the duty of the church toward those who, while professing to be loyal members, are bringing dishonor to the cause of God by their course of action. "Every plant, which my Heavenly Father hath not planted," he says, "shall be rooted up." God has commanded that those who prove themselves unworthy of church fellowship shall be separated from his body. Those who speak against the exercise of this authority, speak against the authority of Christ.
The one who first brought temptation into the courts of heaven is constantly working against the peace and prosperity of the church on earth. To those who will listen to his words, Satan represents the authority of the church as harsh and lacking in sympathy, because it seeks to free the members from corrupting influences. It was Satan's purpose in heaven to dethrone God, and himself take the place of the Most High. He failed in this purpose, and was cast out from the heavenly courts; and since that time he has tried to instil in the hearts of men and women the belief that God is arbitrary and harsh in his dealings with his creatures.
The church does injustice to God when it allows to exist as part of itself elements that are bringing dishonor to his cause. In the responsibilities God has laid upon his church, he gives to each individual a part to act, with encouragement to draw upon the wisdom of God for his help. But there are those who depart from the way of the Lord, and who take sides with the tempter and his sympathizers; and there should be those in the church who in the fear of God will act with justice and righteousness and faithfulness in administering reproof. Ellen G. White.
(Vol. 85, #13)
The days in which we live are times that call for constant vigilance, times in which God's people should be awake to do a great work in presenting the light on the Sabbath question. They should arouse, and warn the inhabitants of the world that Christ is soon coming the second time with power and great glory.
Satan is actively at work in every place, calling men and women to his service. He is working vigilantly to bring in his soul destroying theories. Shall we be less earnest and active than he? God forbid; while the enemy of truth is using his powers to deceive and discourage, and to destroy the power of the messages that God would have come to his people, let those who have received the light discern the signs of the times and the fulfilment of prophecy, and arouse to earnest effort. O that I could say something to arouse those who profess to be the people of God to believe that the word of God is to stand forever!
This is a time for the Lord's servants to work with undiminished zeal to carry the third angel's message to all parts of the world. The work of this message is spreading far and near; yet we should not feel satisfied, but hasten to carry to thousands more the truth regarding the perpetuity of the law of Jehovah. From all our institutions of learning, from our publishing houses, from our sanitariums, the message is to be proclaimed. The people of God everywhere are to be aroused to cooperate in the great, grand work represented by the first, second, and third angel's messages. This last warning to the inhabitants of the earth is to make men see the importance God attaches to his holy law. So plainly is the truth to be presented, that no transgressor, hearing it, shall fail to discern the importance of obedience to the Sabbath commandment.
"The Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my Sabbaths ye shall keep: 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 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.
"And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon Mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God." There are abundant evidences of the immutability of God's law. It was written with the finger of God, never to be obliterated, never to be destroyed. The tables of stone are hidden by God, to be produced in the great judgment day, just as he wrote them.
I am instructed to say to our people, Gather together from the Scriptures the proofs that God has sanctified the Sabbath, and let the words of the Lord be read before the congregations, showing that all who turn aside from a plain "Thus saith the Lord" will be condemned. The Sabbath has been the test of the loyalty of God's people in all ages. "It is a sign between me and the children of Israel forever," the Lord declares.
In giving the word of God to the people, there is nothing to be argued. The word of the Lord is given for the observance of the seventh day; let this word be given to the people, and not the words of men. In so doing you throw the burden of responsibility upon those who reject it; and the arguments of opposers are arguments against the specifications of the word. While you exalt a "Thus saith the Lord," the controversy is not with the worker, but with God.
There is work for all to do in order that the simple truths of the Word of God may be made known. The words of Scripture should be printed and published just as they read. It would be well if the nineteenth and the greater portion of the twentieth chapters of Exodus, with verses twelve to eighteen of the thirty-first chapter, were printed just as they stand. Crowd these truths into small books and pamphlets, and let the word of God speak to the people. When a discourse concerning the law is preached that is right to the point, if you have any means of doing so, get it into a printed leaflet. Then when those who plead for Sunday laws meet you, place these leaflets in their hands. Tell them that you have no discussion over the Sunday question; for you have a plain "Thus saith the Lord" for the keeping of the seventh day.
The apostle Jude writes: "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained unto this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. . . . Remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; how that they told you that 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. But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life."
The people who profess to believe in the soon coming of Christ to judge the earth, should be thoroughly aroused to the situation. They should examine their own hearts and lives, to see if they stand in the position to which Jude, the servant of Christ, calls them. Physicians and ministers should be assured that they are themselves keeping the commandments of God; for this they must do if they would be saved in his kingdom. If we lose heaven, we lose everything. Then let us, in this time of proving, weed out from our characters everything that would exclude us from the city of God. Let us remember that our hearts and minds are to be purified by obedience to the truth.
I urge my brethren and sisters to read their Bibles as they have never yet read them. The evidences that we are in the last days are being given us right in our own ranks. Some who have become self-sufficient, and have rejected the counsel of the Lord, are being left to follow their own human judgment. Let those who have been influenced by the words and works of such, discern the signs of the times, and see in these men the very ones of whom the apostles have warned us. And as we see these predictions being fulfilled before our eyes, may we be led to a more earnest study of the Scriptures, and to a determination to believe and to teach the word of the living God. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #14)
A message from the Lord has been given me for the churches that claim to believe the truth for these days. I am bidden to say to you, Study carefully the parable of the talents. This parable, spoken by the lips of the greatest of teachers, was given us as an object lesson.
The light of present truth is a precious talent lent to God's people by him who is truth. It is not to be hoarded, but constantly imparted. The Lord desires that his professed people shall themselves profit by the truths received. It is given, first for their own development--of heart and mind and affections; then for the help and enlightenment of those in the darkness of unbelief.
In this age the Lord is sending his servants with no ordinary message, but with special truths that must come before believers of every rank and tongue. Many of our church members have never studied fully into the more sure word of prophecy, and do not understand the facts that have made us what we are. All should bring into exercise the powers of the intellect, that they may clearly understand the different phases of present truth, and especially the subjects of prophecy which were opened to us when the message of Christ's soon coming was first heralded.
We are living in a time when, the Word of God declares, Satan will come down with great power, to work with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish. He will work with such subtilty and power that, if it were possible, he would deceive the very elect. God's professed people need to heed the danger signals, and ever be on the watch.
A great danger threatens us in the influence of some who have not followed on step by step to know the Lord. False doctrines have come into our ranks in some places, doctrines that are creating a careless neglect to keep the way of the Lord. There are among us men who in the past God has used to his name's glory, but who are now being ensnared by Satan's deceptions. Many who once prized the truth, because they have refused to heed the instruction God has sent, have become independent and full of self-justification. These men are not to be entrusted as guides for us or for our youth.
"The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, Stand in the gate of the Lord's house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the Lord, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the Lord. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, are these."
The Jews flattered themselves that in spite of departure from him, the Lord would protect from injury their temple and those who worshiped in it. They put their trust in outward advantages, and overlooked the necessity of purity of character, which alone God could bless. "Trust ye not in lying words," the prophet declared, "saying, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, are these. For if ye thoroughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbor; if ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt: then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, forever and ever."
"Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Put your burnt offerings unto your sacrifices, and eat flesh. For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: but this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you. And they harkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward. Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day I have even sent unto you all my servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them: yet they harkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but hardened their neck: they did worse than their fathers."
When men's hearts are softened and subdued by the working of the Holy Spirit, they will give heed to counsel; but when they turn away from the admonitions of the Lord, their hearts gradually become hardened until all their religious service is tainted with self. When men thus turn away from reproofs and warnings because they do not want to hear or receive truth that condemns their course of action, the Lord leaves them to be led by other influences. Because they refuse the truth, he allows them to accept falsehoods which become snares to their own destruction. They are given over to blindness of eyes and hardness of heart.
I call upon our churches to heed the warnings that have been coming to us for years. Let us remember that God lives and reigns, and let this thought lead us to walk humbly and trustingly before him. Our chief study should be how we can best glorify God. The servant of God whose life and character reflect most of the likeness of Christ is the one who will bring to God the greatest honor.
My brethren and sisters, keep your lamps trimmed and burning. If you will cling steadfastly to a "Thus saith the Lord," you will learn the science of true education. Those teachings and questions that arise that have not for their authority a "Thus saith the Lord," let them be unrepeated by you. We need, dear people of God, a modest simplicity, and a great increase of faith. We need to have the soul temple cleansed, that the Holy Spirit may come in and take up his abode with us. We are to stand forth in the world to the praise of him who has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.
There comes to our people at this time the exhortation and warning: "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #15)
"And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"
The occasion was one on which Christ was surrounded by a large company of people. In the crowd were Pharisees and Sadducees, priests and lawyers, there in the hope of catching something in Christ's words that they might report to the Jewish authorities, and thus cause his work to cease. It was at the suggestion of these enemies that the lawyer asked the Saviour the question, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?"
As an open book Christ read the heart of the plotters, and looking at the lawyer, he asked, "What is written in the law? how readest thou?" And the lawyer answered, "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."
The lawyer had not obeyed this precept, and he knew it; but, desiring to justify himself, he asked, "Who is my neighbor?"
In reply Christ related an incident with which many of those present were familiar. "A certain man," he said, "went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
"And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked at him, and passed by on the other side.
"But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
"And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee."
In the word-picture which the Saviour draws for his hearers, a sharp contrast is drawn. A certain man in his journey is attacked by thieves, robbed and wounded, and then left by the roadside to die. A priest, passing that way, comes to the place where the man lies, and though seeing his need, passes on without rendering any aid. Another passes, a Levite, whose special office it was to care for the sick and suffering, but he, as he looks at the wounded man, does not think of his duty, but of self. He sees, where the clothing has been stripped from the man, that his naked body is bruised and bleeding; but instead of giving the help it is in his power to give, he hurries from the scene, leaving the sufferer to his misery.
Then a certain Samaritan comes to the place. And when he sees him, he has "compassion on him." He binds up his wounds; and when he has done all that he can for the sufferer in such a place, he sets him on his own beast, and, walking beside, leads the way to the nearest tavern. There he cares for the sick man through the night, and in the morning, places him in the care of the keeper of the inn, asking him to care for him until his return, when he will surely repay him.
The Samaritan fulfilled his duty to his fellow man. The priest and the Levite, in whose hearts selfishness reigned, proved themselves unkind and unmerciful. Self is a hard tyrant, and while this power rules in the life, we can not do unto others as we would have them do to us. To fulfil the golden rule, the life must be transformed, the human nature must become a partaker of the divine.
The people had listened with intense interest to the narrative, and when at its close the Saviour asked, "Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among thieves?" Many joined with the lawyer in answering, "He that showed mercy on him." Then said Jesus to the lawyer, "Go, and do thou likewise."
The parable of the good Samaritan outlines true missionary work, and in this work God's people are all to have a part. No one is excused who neglects the duty he owes to his fellow men. In doing this work we fulfil the law of God. The Lord has pledged himself to bless those who fulfil his command to love him supremely and their neighbor as themselves.
It is not talk, it is not profession, or claims to piety and godliness, that are of value with God, but it is the work of righteousness that reveals a Christlike character. To obey the law of God means to be quick to see the necessities of our fellow beings, and quick to help them without stopping to inquire, Do they believe the same doctrines that I believe? To obey God's law means to act as God's helping hand in relieving the necessities of suffering humanity, no matter what the religious belief of those in need. Those who do this work, and who are loyal to the principles of God's truth, are living the gospel.
The Lord takes careful notice of deeds of compassion and mercy shown by men to their fellow men. In his book of remembrance is written down every deed of mercy performed. "And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not."
The Saviour devoted more time and labor to healing the afflicted of their maladies than to preaching. His last injunction to his apostles, his representatives on the earth, was that they lay hands on the sick that they might recover. When the Master shall come again, he will commend those who have visited the sick and relieved the necessities of the afflicted. "I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat," he will say to those at his right hand. "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. . . . Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #16)
God has given me a message for his people. Those who claim to be Bible Christians, if they are daily under the converting power of the Holy Spirit, will cherish a spirit of brotherly kindness. Their words and actions will testify that they are followers of the lowly Jesus; their lives will be marked by a spirit of service.
There are among church members those whose habits and practises reveal that they have not come out fully from under the banner of rebellion. Brethren and sisters, this ought not so to be. The Lord wants us to appreciate the privilege we have of being good and of doing good. He wants us to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. It is our privilege to sit at the feet of him in whom is no sin, then to go forth to labor with him for the uplifting of our fellow men.
The blood-bought souls of Jesus Christ are to recognize the right of every man to be a sharer in the blessings of the gospel. Our fellow men have personal and social rights; they have claims upon our sympathy and love. The Lord makes a demand upon our services to help the needy and oppressed to the utmost of our ability. We are to learn to value souls as Christ values them, aside from all difference of circumstance and rank. Brethren, let us carry a burden for the weak and poor. Let us give them proof of our sympathy. And let us not withhold our encouragement from those who are laboring in hard portions of the Master's vineyard.
Every true Christian will be a missionary; for he will look upon himself as the servant of Christ. In that wonderful prayer of Christ recorded in the seventeenth chapter of John, the Saviour prayed, "As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world." As Christ was a missionary from a higher world to this, so his followers are to be missionaries, teaching the truth of the gospel by precept and example, showing men and women how to live righteous and godly lives in this present evil world.
"For this cause came I into the world," Christ declared to Pilate, "that I should bear witness unto the truth." No true disciple of Christ can be silent in regard to the message of truth. As missionaries of the cross, they will lift up Christ as the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
"Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth," the Saviour prayed. "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."
When the light that God sends to his people is appreciated, they will not walk in darkness. For them the true Light shines, and not for them alone, but for those also with whom they are brought into association. "A city that is set on a hill," Christ said, "can not be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
Brethren, does your light shine to all that are in the house? Or do you seek to hide your light when you are in the presence of worldlings? Remember that light is given you that through you others may receive its blessings. You are to let it shine in the words you speak, in the spirit you manifest, in the deeds you do. The light of truth received by you should make you Christ's representative, wherever you are.
The knowledge of the truth for this time brings with it a wonderful responsibility. It calls for the revelation of the grace of obedience, and a rising up from our former selfishness to a life of service for Christ. It appeals to us to be wholly on the Lord's side, to take our position for truth and righteousness. We all need to engage in the work of self-examination if we would be ready to meet the Lord when he comes. We need to learn to be Christians in the home, in every walk of life, to take up the cross, and bear it after Christ.
In our endeavors to form characters after the divine similitude, we shall meet with trial. There will be crosses to be borne, but in these experiences we may have the sympathies and help of heavenly angels. They are sent forth to minister unto them that shall be heirs of salvation. My brethren and sisters, lift the cross of self-denial and self-sacrifice. Cling closely to the precious Saviour. Let your daily life bring honor to God. By your words and your works reveal that you have one great object in view. Christ is soon coming, and souls are perishing in ignorance and sin. Let it be yours to give these souls the message of salvation. When the purifying, refining influence of the truth is felt in our own lives as it should be, we shall reveal in our works the fruits of righteousness.
Probationary time will soon close. We have but little longer in which to make known the truth for this time. That which we do must be done quickly, or it will be forever too late. Souls are perishing all around us without a knowledge of God and his last message of mercy to men. Now is our time to leave no opportunity unimproved to seek and to save the lost, no word unspoken that will shed light and knowledge on our fellow men. Brethren, labor on, while the day lasts. The night cometh when no man can work. If we refuse to do the work to which our knowledge of present truth calls us, who will do it? Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #17)
The work of the faithful minister is no child's play: earnest, untiring effort is required to wrench the prey from the hands of the enemy. But God will sustain his servants in the work that he himself has committed to their hands. Whatever the trials and difficulties that the ambassador of Christ may have to meet, it is his privilege to carry them all to God in prayer. He can weep between the porch and the altar, pleading, "Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach." And by the study of the Scriptures, and earnest, wrestling prayer, he may become "a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
Christ said to his disciples, as they toiled by the sea of Galilee, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." When the gospel net is cast, there should be watching by the net, with tears and earnest prayers. Let the workers determine not to let the net go until it is drawn ashore, with the fruit of their labor. Sometimes they may be compelled to say, with Peter, "We have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing;" but still it is the Master's command, as of old, "Cast the net on the right side of the ship;" work on in faith, and God will give success. Though at times we may feel discouraged as we see how many obstacles there are in the way of Christian living, and how slowly the work of God seems to advance, our duty remains the same.
The minister's duty is not done when he has preached the truth from the desk. As a shepherd of the flock, he should care for the sheep and the lambs, searching out the lost and straying, and bringing them back to the fold. He should visit every family, not merely as a guest to enjoy their hospitality, but to inquire into the spiritual condition of every member of the household. His own soul must be imbued with the love of God; then by kindly courtesy he may win his way to the hearts of all, and labor successfully for parents and children. He is to sow the seeds of truth beside all waters. Let him seek to keep the church alive by teaching its members how to labor with him for the conversion of sinners. This is good generalship; and the result will be found far better than if he should seek to perform the work alone.
To all our ministers I would say, Encourage your brethren to connect with you in all your labors. All the gifts and talents of the church are to be set to work. Let all desire on the part of any to have a controlling power be put away. There has been danger with some of marking out exactly what this or that man should do. Let the Lord do this work, and guide his own servants. "We are laborers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building." Give the Lord room to work human minds. Give the workers abundant freedom to work out the plans of God in harmony with their brethren. This will save much overwork for the few. Let the strong traits of character that would lead to the control of others be subdued by the grace of Christ. "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus."
The command comes to us as a people from the highest authority: "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee." The spirit of Christ will be upon all who will walk with God in humility of heart.
A constant effort to promote personal piety should be seen in all our public labors. It is harder to reach the hearts of men today than it was twenty years ago. The most convincing arguments may be presented, and yet sinners seem as far from salvation as ever. Ministers should not preach sermon after sermon on doctrinal subjects alone. Practical godliness should find a place in every discourse.
Dwell not on the negative points of questions that arise, but gather to your minds affirmative truths, and fasten them there by much study and earnest prayer and heart consecration. Keep your lamps trimmed and burning; and let bright rays shine forth, that men, beholding your good works, may be led to glorify your Father which is in heaven.
The Great Teacher held in his hand the entire map of truth, but he did not disclose it all to his disciples. He opened to them those subjects only which were essential for their advancement in the path to heaven. There were many things in regard to which his wisdom kept him silent. As Christ withheld many things from his first disciples, knowing that then it would be impossible for them to comprehend them, so today he withholds many things from us, knowing the capacity of our understanding.
When we are tempted to climb above the simplicity of the truth, we need to study Christ's method of teaching. We need to learn to talk as simply as Christ talked,--so simply that the little child and the unlearned can understand us. It was the simplicity with which Christ presented the word that drew hearts to him. Yet he spoke with assurance and power. Noblemen and some of the chief priests and rulers believed on his word.
We are to work as Christ worked. We are to move carefully. We are not to pour out ideas that contradict the light that God has given; neither are we to follow methods that are opposed to his will. Let us tread in Christ's footsteps. As we follow him, we may know that we are walking in the pathway of light. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #18)
I have felt that we do not pray as much as we should. There is nothing more needed in the work than the practical results of communion with God. We should hold convocations for prayer, asking the Lord to open the way for the truth to enter the strongholds where Satan has set up his throne, and dispel the shadow he has cast athwart the pathway of those whom he is seeking to deceive and destroy. We have the assurance, "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
We need a firm reliance upon God if we would be saved from the power of Satanic influences. If we will keep close to the teachings of the Word, its truths will be our safeguard from the delusions of these last days. We need to live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Why do we not rely more trustingly upon the grace and power of Christ? Why do we not believe with all our hearts? We have a Friend in the courts of heaven who assures us, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth."
The Christian church began its existence by praying for the Holy Spirit. It was in its infancy, without the personal presence of Christ. Just before his ascension Christ had commissioned the disciples to preach the gospel to the world. "Ye shall receive power," he said, "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." "Tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high."
In obedience to the word of their Master, the disciples returned to Jerusalem, and for ten days they prayed for the fulfilment of God's promise. These ten days were days of deep heart searching. The disciples put away all difference that had existed among them, and drew close together in Christian fellowship. As they prayed, they realized what a privilege they had had in being permitted to associate so closely with Christ. Sadness filled their hearts as they thought of how many times they had grieved his heart of love by their failure to understand the lessons that for their good he had been trying to teach them.
At the end of the ten days the Lord fulfilled his promise by a wonderful outpouring of his Spirit. When they were "all with one accord in one place" in prayer and supplication, the promised blessing came. "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."
In the heavenly courts, Christ, with the angels who had accompanied him to heaven, had been received. All the heavenly intelligences joined in this coronation service of their Lord. The pentecostal outpouring upon the disciples was heaven's communication to them that his inauguration was complete.
The multitude who had come together, when they heard the disciples "speak with other tongues," were amazed at the divine manifestation. Some were in doubt, and said one to another, "What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine." But this was the power of the Holy Spirit. "Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and harken unto my words: for these men are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; and it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: and on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: and I will show wonders in the heavens above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke: the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: and it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved."
"And the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread and of prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added unto the church daily such as should be saved."
Christ has made provision that his church shall be a transformed body. Illumined with the light of heaven, possessing the glory of Immanuel. It is his purpose that every Christian shall be surrounded with a spiritual atmosphere of light and peace. There is no limit to the usefulness of the one who, putting self aside, makes room for the working of the Holy Spirit upon the heart, and lives a life wholly consecrated to God.
What was the result of the outpouring of the Spirit upon the day of Pentecost?--The glad tidings of a risen Saviour were carried to the utmost bounds of the inhabited world. The hearts of the disciples were surcharged with the benevolence so full, so deep, so far-reaching, that it impelled them to go to the ends of the earth, testifying, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." As they proclaimed the truth as it is in Jesus, hearts yielded to the power of the message. The church beheld converts flocking to her from all directions. Backsliders were reconverted. Sinners united with Christians in seeking the pearl of great price. Those who had been the bitterest opponents of the gospel became its champions. The prophecy was fulfilled, that the weak shall be "as David," and the house of David "as the angel of the Lord." Every Christian saw in his brother the divine similitude of love and benevolence. One interest prevailed. One subject of emulation swallowed up all others. The only ambition of the believers was to reveal the likeness of Christ's character and to labor for the enlargement of his kingdom.
Notice that it was after the disciples had come into perfect unity, when they were no longer striving for the highest place, that the Spirit was poured out. They were of one accord. All differences had been put away. And the testimony borne of them after the Spirit had been given was the same. Mark the word: "The multitude of them that believed were of one heart and one soul." The spirit of Him who died that sinners might live animated the entire congregation of believers.
Christ declared that the divine influence of the Spirit was to be with his followers to the end of time. But the promise is not appreciated as it should be; and therefore its fulfilment is not seen as it might be. With many the promise of the Spirit is a matter little thought of; and the result is only what might be expected,--spiritual drought, spiritual darkness, spiritual declension and death. Minor matters occupy the attention, and the divine power which is necessary for the growth and prosperity of the church, and which would bring all other blessings in its train, is lacking, though offered in its infinite plentitude.
It is the absence of the Spirit that makes the gospel ministry so powerless. Learning, talent, eloquence, every natural or acquired endowment, may be possessed; but without the presence of the Spirit of God, no heart will be touched, no sinner won to Christ. On the other hand, if they are connected with Christ, if the gifts of the Spirit are theirs, the poorest and most ignorant of his disciples will have power that will tell upon hearts. God makes them channels for the outflowing of the highest influence in the universe.
My brethren and sisters, plead for the Holy Spirit. God stands back of every promise he has made. With your Bibles in your hands say, "I have done as thou hast said. I present thy promise, 'Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.'" Christ declares, "What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." "Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #19)
When a sense of the lovingkindness of God is constantly refreshing the soul, it will be revealed in the countenance by an expression of peace and joy. It will be manifest in the words and works. And the generous, holy spirit of Christ, working upon the heart, will yield in the life a converting influence upon others.
"I will mention the lovingkindness of the Lord," the prophet Isaiah declared, "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."
Have we not reason to talk of God's goodness, and to tell of his power? When friends are kind to us, we esteem it a privilege to thank them for their kindness. How much more should we count it a joy to return thanks to the Friend who has given us every good and perfect gift. Then let us, in every church, cultivate thanksgiving to God. Let us educate our lips to praise God in the family circle. Let us teach our children to offer praise and thanksgiving to God. Let our gifts and offerings declare our gratitude for the favors we daily receive. In everything we should show forth the joy of the Lord, and make known the message of God's saving grace.
In the second chapter of 1 Samuel is recorded the prayer of a consecrated woman who served and glorified God. She prayed: "My heart rejoiceth in the Lord, mine horn is exalted in the Lord: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation. There is none holy as the Lord: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God." Hannah's offering of thanksgiving for the answer to her prayer is a lesson to those who today receive answers to their requests. Do we not neglect to return praise and thanksgiving to God for his lovingkindness?
David declares, "I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live." God's goodness in hearing and answering prayer places us under heavy obligation to express our thanksgiving for the favors bestowed upon us. We should praise God much more than we do. The blessings received in answer to prayer should be promptly acknowledged. The record of them should be placed in our diary, that when we take the book in hand, we may remember the goodness of the Lord, and praise his holy name.
We grieve the spirit of Christ by our complaints and murmurings and repinings. We should not dishonor God by the mournful relation of trials that appear grievous. All trials that are received as educators will produce joy. The whole religious life will be uplifting, elevating, ennobling, fragrant with good words and works. The enemy is well pleased to have souls depressed, downcast, mourning, and groaning; he wants such impressions made as to the effect of our faith. But God designs that the mind shall take no low level. He desires every soul to triumph in the keeping power of the Redeemer. The psalmist says: "Give unto the Lord, O ye mighty, give unto the Lord glory and strength. Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness." "I will extol thee, O Lord; for thou hast lifted me up, and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me. O Lord my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me. . . . Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his. Give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness."
It is Satan's work to talk of that which concerns himself, and he is delighted to have human beings talk of his power, and of his workings through the children of men. Through indulgence in such conversation the mind becomes gloomy and sour and disagreeable. We may become channels of communication for Satan, through which words flow that bring no sunshine to any heart. But let us decide that this shall not be. If we look constantly to Jesus and become daily learners of him, we shall become like him in character. His teachings, faithfully followed, will qualify us for membership in the heavenly family. Then let us learn to put away all in us that is unlovely, and seek to become the true children of God.
All heaven is interested in our salvation. The angels of God, thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand, are commissioned to minister to them that shall be heirs of salvation. They guard us against evil, and press back the powers of darkness that are seeking our destruction. Have we not reason to be thankful every moment, thankful even when there are apparent difficulties in our pathway?
The Lord himself is our helper. "Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. . . . 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." This is the testimony that the Lord desires us to bear to the world. His praise shall continually be in our hearts and upon our lips.
The psalmist exclaims, "O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy; and gathered out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south. They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in. Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them. Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses. And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation. O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!" Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #20)
Never was there a time when Christian men and women, in all walks of life, were in so great need of clear spiritual eyesight as now. It is not safe to lose sight of Christ for one moment. His followers must pray, and believe, and love him fervently.
A very thorough work must be done in cleansing the soul temple from its natural depravity. The Christian must be wide-awake to resist the increeping of a spirit of licentiousness among those who claim to be sanctified. When our hearts are clean, washed, and made white by the blood of the Lamb, the work will go forward in our experience that was outlined in the wonderful prayer of Christ: "For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth."
What shall be said regarding the man who has been greatly blessed as a teacher of righteousness, yet who in time of temptation is betrayed into a sinful course? Satan in the form of a heavenly angel has come to him as he approached Christ in the wilderness of temptation, and he has gained the victory.
Coming to the Son of God, the great deceiver claimed to be commissioned by the Father with a message to the Saviour. He need no longer hunger. "If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread." But by such an act as this, Christ would have broken his promise that he would never exercise his divine power in order to escape any difficulty or suffering that man in his humility must meet. "It is written," he replied to the tempter, "man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."
Jesus met Satan with the words of Scripture. "It is written," he said. In every temptation the weapon of his warfare was the Word of God. Satan demanded of Christ a miracle as a sign of his divinity. But that which is greater than all miracles, a firm reliance upon a "thus saith the Lord," was a sign that could not be controverted. So long as Christ held to this position, the tempter could gain no advantage.
It was in the time of greatest weakness that Christ was assailed by the fiercest temptations. Thus Satan thought to prevail. By this policy he had gained the victory over man. When strength failed, and the will power weakened, and faith ceased to repose in God, then those who had stood long and valiantly for the right, were overcome. Moses was wearied with the forty years' wandering of Israel, when for the moment his faith let go its hold upon infinite power. He failed just upon the borders of the promised land. So with Elijah, who had stood undaunted before King Ahab; who had faced the whole nation of Israel, with the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal at their head. After that terrible day upon Carmel, when the false prophets had been slain, and the people had declared their allegiance to God, Elijah fled for his life before the threats of idolatrous Jezebel. Thus Satan has taken advantage of the weakness of humanity. And he will still work in the same way. Whenever one is encompassed with clouds, perplexed by circumstances, or afflicted by poverty or distress, Satan is at hand to tempt and annoy. He attacks our weak points of character. He seeks to shake our confidence in God, who suffers such a condition of things to exist. We are tempted to distrust God, to question his love. Often the tempter comes to us as he came to Christ, arraying before us our weakness and infirmities. He hopes to discourage the soul, and to break our hold upon God. Then he is sure of his prey. If we would meet him as Jesus did, we would escape many a defeat. By parleying with the enemy we give him an advantage.
"Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone."
Again, the temptation is prefaced with the insinuation of distrust, "If thou be the Son of God." Christ was tempted to answer the "if," but he refrained from the slightest acceptance of the doubt. He would not imperil his life, in order to give evidence to Satan. "It is written," he declared, "thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."
When Satan quoted the promise, "He shall give his angels charge over thee," he omitted the words, "to keep thee in all thy ways;" that is, in all the ways of God's choosing. Jesus refused to go outside the path of obedience. While manifesting perfect trust in his Father, he would not place himself, unbidden, in a position that would necessitate the interposition of his Father to save him from death. He would not force Providence to come to his rescue, and thus fail of giving man an example of trust and submission.
Jesus was victor in the second temptation, and now Satan manifests himself in his true character. But he does not appear as a hideous monster with cloven feet and bat's wings. He is a mighty angel, though fallen. He avows himself the leader of rebellion, and the god of this world.
Placing Jesus on a high mountain, Satan caused the kingdoms of the world, in all their glory, to pass in a panoramic view before him. The sunlight lay on templed cities, marble palaces, fertile fields, and fruit laden vineyards. The traces of evil were hidden. The eye of Jesus, so lately greeted by gloom and desolation, now gazed upon a scene of unsurpassed loveliness and prosperity. Then the tempter's voice was heard: "All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine."
The strength of this temptation to the Saviour was greater than the human mind can understand. Christ's mission could be fulfilled only through suffering. Before him was a life of sorrow, hardship, and conflict, and an ignominious death. He must bear the sins of the world. He must endure separation from the Father's love. Now the tempter offered to yield up the power he had usurped. Christ might deliver himself from the dreadful future by acknowledging the supremacy of Satan. But to do this was to yield the victory in the great controversy. It was in seeking to exalt himself above the Son of God, that Satan had sinned in heaven. Should he prevail now, it would be the triumph of rebellion.
Christ declared to the tempter, "Get thee behind me, Satan; for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." Satan had questioned whether Jesus were the Son of God. In his summary dismissal he had proof that he could not gainsay. Divinity flashed through suffering humanity. Satan had no power to resist the command. Writhing with humiliation and rage, he was forced to withdraw from the presence of the world's Redeemer. Christ's victory was as complete as had been Adam's failure.
So we may resist temptation, and force Satan to depart from us. Jesus gained the victory through submission and faith in God, and by the apostle he says to us, "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." We can not save ourselves from the tempter's power; he has conquered humanity, and when we try to stand in our own strength, we shall become a prey to his devices; but "the name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe." Satan trembles and flees before the weakest soul who finds refuge in that mighty name.
It is those who have had the most light that Satan most assiduously seeks to ensnare. He knows that if he can deceive them, they will, under his control, clothe sin with garments of righteousness, and lead many astray. I say to all, Be on your guard; for as an angel of light, Satan is walking in every assembly of Christian workers, and in every church, trying to win the members to his side. I am bidden to give to the people of God the warning, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #21)
"Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith." Some conscientious souls on reading this immediately begin to criticize their every feeling and emotion. But this is not correct self-examination. It is not the petty feelings and emotions that are to be examined. The life, the character, is to be measured by the only standard of character, God's holy law. The fruit testifies to the character of the tree. Our works, not our feelings, bear witness of us.
The feelings, whether encouraging or discouraging should not be made the test of the spiritual condition. By God's Word we are to determine our true standing before him. Many are bewildered on this point. When they are happy and joyous, they think that they are accepted by God. When a change comes, and they feel depressed, they think that God has forsaken them.
God does not look with favor upon those self-confident ones who loudly exclaim, "I am sanctified, I am holy, I am sinless." These are Pharisees who have no foundation for their assertion. Those who, because of their sense of utter unworthiness, dare scarcely lift up their eyes to heaven, are nearer to God than those who claim so much piety. They are represented by the publican, who, with his head on his breast, prayed, "God be merciful to me a sinner," and went to his house justified, rather than the self-righteous Pharisee.
But God does not desire us to go through life with a distrust of him. We owe our Heavenly Father a more generous view of his goodness than is accorded to him by our manifest distrust of his love. We have an evidence of his love--an evidence which amazes angels and is far beyond the comprehension of the wisest of human beings. "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." While we were yet sinners, God gave his Son to die for us. Can we doubt his goodness?
Behold Christ. Dwell upon his love and mercy. This will fill the soul with abhorrence for all that is sinful, and will inspire it with an intense desire for the righteousness of Christ. The more clearly we see the Saviour, the more clearly shall we discern our defects of character. Confess your sins to Christ, and with true contrition of soul cooperate with him by putting these sins away. Believe that they are pardoned. The promise is positive, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Be assured that the Word of God will not fail. He who has promised is faithful. It is as much your duty to believe that God will fulfil his word, and forgive you, as it is to confess your sins.
Exercise faith in God. How many there are who go through life under a cloud of condemnation! They do not believe God's Word. They have no faith that he will do as he has said. Many who long to see others resting in the pardoning love of Christ do not rest in it themselves. But how can they possibly lead others to show simple, childlike faith in the Heavenly Father when they measure his love by their feelings?
Let us trust God's Word implicitly, remembering that we are his sons and daughters. Let us train ourselves to believe his Word. We hurt the heart of Christ by doubting, when he has given us such evidences of his love. He laid down his life to save us. He says to us: "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."
Do you believe that he will do as he has said? Then, after you have complied with the conditions, carry no longer the burden of your sin. Let it roll upon the Saviour. Trust yourself with him. Has he not promised to give you rest? But to many he is obliged to say, sorrowfully, "Ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life." Many manufacture for themselves burdens which are grievous to bear.
Look steadfastly to Jesus. Behold him, full of grace and truth. He will make his goodness pass before you, while he hides you in the cleft of the rock. You will be enabled to endure the seeing of him who is invisible, and by beholding you will be transformed. Faith is not feeling. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. There is a form of religion which is nothing more than selfishness. It takes pleasure in worldly enjoyment. It is satisfied with contemplating the religion of Christ, and knows nothing of its saving power. Those who possess this religion regard sin lightly because they do not know Jesus. While in this condition they estimate duty very lightly. But a faithful performance of duty goes hand in hand with a right estimate of the character of God.
There is earnest work to do for the Master. Christ came to preach the gospel to the poor, and he sent his disciples forth to do the same work he came to do. So he sends forth his workers today. Sheaves are to be gathered for him from the highways and hedges. The tremendous issues of eternity demand of us something besides an imaginary religion, a religion of words and forms, where the truth is kept in the outer court, to be admired as we admire a beautiful flower; they demand something more than a religion of feeling, which distrusts God when trials and difficulties come. Holiness does not consist in profession, but in lifting the cross, doing the will of God. Saying, "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? will not secure for us an entrance into the kingdom of heaven. "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." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #22)
"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 work of salvation is a work of co-partnership, a joint operation. No man can work out his own salvation without the aid of the Holy Spirit. The cooperation of divine and human forces is necessary for the formation of right principles in the character. Man is to make the most strenuous efforts to overcome the tempter, to subdue natural passions; but he is wholly dependent upon God for success in the work of overcoming the propensities that are not in harmony with correct principles. Success depends wholly upon willing obedience to the will and way of God. Character develops in accordance with conformity to the divine plan. But man must work in Christ's lines. He must be a laborer together with God. He must submit to God's training, that he may be complete in Christ.
God has originated and proclaimed the principles on which divine and human agencies are to combine in temporal matters as well as all spiritual achievements. They are to be linked together in all human pursuits, in mechanical and agricultural labor, in mercantile and scientific enterprises. In all lines of work it is necessary that there be cooperation between God and man. God has provided facilities with which to enrich and beautify the earth. But the strength and ingenuity of human agencies are required to make the very best use of the material. God had filled the earth with treasure, but the gold and silver are hidden in the earth, and the exercise of man's powers is required to secure this treasure which God has provided. Man's energy and tact are to be used in connection with the power of God in bringing the gold and silver from the mines, and trees from the forest. But unless by his miracle working power God cooperated with man, enabling him to use his physical and mental capabilities, the treasures in our world would be useless.
We can not keep ourselves for one moment. "We are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation." We are utterly dependent upon God every moment of our lives.
God desires every human being in our world to be a worker together with him. This is the lesson we are to learn from all useful employment, making homes in the forest, felling trees to build houses, clearing land for cultivation. God has provided the wood and the land, and to man he has given the work of putting them in such shape that they will be a blessing. In this work man is wholly dependent upon God. The fitting of the ships that cross the broad ocean is not alone due to the talent and ingenuity of the human agent. God is the great Architect. Without his cooperation, without the aid of the higher intelligences, how worthless would be the plans of men. God must aid, else every device is worthless.
The human organism is the handiwork of God. The organs employed in all the different functions of the body were made by him. The Lord gives us food and drink, that the wants of the body may be supplied. He has given the earth different properties adapted to the growth of food for his children. He gives the sunshine and the showers, the early and the latter rain. He forms the clouds and sends the dew. All are his gifts. He has bestowed his blessings upon us liberally. But all these blessings will not restore in us his moral image, unless we cooperate with him, making painstaking effort to know ourselves, to understand how to care for the delicate human machinery. Man must diligently help to keep himself in harmony with nature's laws. He who cooperates with God in the work of keeping this wonderful machinery in order, who consecrates all his powers to God, seeking intelligently to obey the laws of nature, stands in his God-given manhood, and is recorded in the books of heaven as a man.
God has given man land to be cultivated. But in order that the harvest may be reaped, there must be harmonious action between divine and human agencies. The plow and other implements of labor must be used at the right time. The seed must be sown in its season. Man is not to fail of doing his part. If he is careless and negligent, his unfaithfulness testifies against him. The harvest is proportionate to the energy he has expended.
So it is in spiritual things. We are to be laborers together with God. Man is to work out his own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in him, both to will and to do of his good pleasure. There is to be co-partnership, a divine relation, between the Son of God and the repentant sinner. We are made sons and daughters of God. "As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God." Christ provides the mercy and grace so abundantly given to all who believe in him. He fulfils the terms upon which salvation rests. But we must act our part by accepting the blessing in faith. God works and man works. Resistance of temptation must come from man, who must draw his power from God. Thus he becomes a co-partner with Christ.
The infinitely wise and all-powerful God proposes cooperation with his frail, erring creatures, whom he has placed on vantage ground. On the one side there are infinite wisdom, goodness, compassion, power; on the other, weakness, sinfulness, absolute helplessness, poverty, dependence. We are dependent upon God, not only for life and all its blessings, but for our entrusted talents, and for all the resources required in the work we must do if we accept the invitation to work with God. Man's intellect, his understanding, his every valuable thought, the opportunities and privileges that are placed within his reach, all come from him who is the way, the truth, and the life. We have nothing of ourselves. Our success in the Christian life depends upon our cooperation with Christ, and our submission to his will. It is not a sign of pure, consecrated service for a worker to follow his own way. Every worker is to willingly obey his Leader, to receive and practise every word of God.
We are to be individual toilers. Character can not be bought or sold. It is formed by patient, continuous effort. Much patience is required in the striving for that life which is to come. We may all strive for perfection of character, but all who come into possession of it will earn it step by step, by the cultivation of the virtues which God commends. The Holy Spirit presents before man the agencies provided for his transformation. If he heeds the words, "Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me," he will receive help from a power that is infinite.
Man is given the privilege of working with God in the saving of his own soul. He is to receive Christ as his personal Saviour and believe in him. Receiving and believing is his part of the contract. This means abiding in Christ, showing in him at all times and under all circumstances a faith that works by love and purifies the soul from all defilement. Christ is the author of this faith, and he demands that it be constantly exercised.
The apostle Paul declares, "Ye are God's husbandry; ye are God's building." The material for the building is plainly specified in the words: "Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." Here we are shown how we may cooperate with God. Man is to work constantly upon the plan of addition, while God works on the plan of multiplication. Thus man grows in spirituality, until he presents to the world, to angels, and to men, such perfection of character that in the heavenly courts the words are spoken, "Ye are complete in him."
The plan of redemption was arranged in the councils between the Father and the Son. Then Christ pledged himself to render an account for man if he proved disloyal. He pledged himself to make an atonement which would unite every believing soul to God. He who lays his sins upon the substitute and surety, thus becoming a partaker of the divine nature, can unite with the apostle in saying: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places." "That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus." In his infinite love Christ devised the plan of salvation. This plan he stands ready to fulfil in behalf of all who will cooperate with him. In their behalf he says to the Father, Do not impute their sins to them, but lay them on me. Be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities remember no more. They have accepted my merits, and made peace with me; and they shall make peace with me. My righteousness is theirs, and for my sake bless them with all spiritual blessings. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #23)
In carrying forward the Lord's work at home and abroad, those in positions of responsibility must plan wisely so as to make the best possible use of men and of means. The burden of sustaining the work in many of the foreign fields must be largely borne by our conferences in the home land. These conferences should have means with which to assist in opening new fields, where the testing truths of the third angel's message have never yet penetrated. Within the past few years, doors have been thrown open as if by magic, and men and women are needed to enter these doors, and begin earnest work for the salvation of souls.
Our educational institutions can do much toward meeting the demand for trained workers for these mission fields. Wise plans should be laid to strengthen the work done in our training centers. Study should be given to the best methods for fitting consecrated young men and young women to bear responsibility, and to win souls for Christ. They should be taught how to meet the people, and how to present the third angel's message in an attractive manner. And in the management of financial matters, they should be taught lessons that will help them when they are sent to isolated fields where they must suffer many privations, and practise the strictest economy.
The Lord has instituted a plan whereby many of the students in our schools can learn practical lessons needful to success in afterlife. He has given us the privilege of handling precious books that have been dedicated to the advancement of our educational and sanitarium work. In the very handling of these books, the youth will meet with many experiences that will teach them how to cope with problems that await them in the regions beyond. During their school life, as they handle these books, many learn how to approach people courteously, and how to exercise tact in conversing with them on different points of present truth. As they meet with a degree of success financially, some will learn lessons of thrift and economy, which will be of great advantage to them when they are sent out as missionaries.
The student who takes up the work of selling "Christ's Object Lessons" and "Ministry of Healing" will need to study the book they expect to sell. As they familiarize their minds with the subject matter of the book in hand, and endeavor to practise its teachings, they will develop in knowledge and spiritual power. The messages in these books are the light that God has revealed to me to give to the world. The teachers in our schools should encourage the students to make a careful study of every chapter. They should teach these truths to their students, and seek to inspire the youth with a love for the precious thoughts the Lord has entrusted to us to communicate to the world.
Thus the preparation for handling these books, and the daily experiences gained while bringing them to the attention of the people, will prove an invaluable schooling to those who take part in this line of effort. Under the blessing of God, the youth will obtain a fitting up for service in the Lord's vineyard.
There is a special work to be done for our young people by those bearing responsibility in local churches throughout the conferences. When the church officers see promising youth, who are desirous of fitting themselves for usefulness in the Lord's service, but whose parents are unable to send them to school, they have a duty to perform in studying how to give help and encouragement. They should take counsel with parents and youth, and unite in planning wisely. Some youth may be best fitted to engage in home missionary work. There is a wide field of usefulness in the distribution of our literature, and in bringing the third angel's message to the attention of friends and neighbors. Other youth should be encouraged to enter the canvassing work, to sell our larger books. Some may have qualifications that would make them valuable helpers in our institutions. In many instances, if promising youth were wisely encouraged and properly directed, they could be led to earn their own schooling by taking up the sale of "Christ's Object Lessons" or "Ministry of Healing."
In selling these books, the youth would be acting as missionaries; for they would be bringing precious light to the notice of the people of the world. At the same time, they would be earning money to enable them to attend school, where they could continue their preparation for wider usefulness in the Lord's cause. In the school, they would receive encouragement and inspiration from teachers and students to continue their work of selling books; and when the time came for them to leave school, they would have received a practical training fitting them for hard, earnest, self-sacrificing labor that has to be done in many foreign fields, where the third angel's message must be carried under difficult and trying circumstances.
How much better is this plan, than for students to go through school without obtaining a practical education in field work, and, at the end of the course, leave under a burden of debt, with but little realization of the difficulties they will have to meet in new and untried fields! How hard it will be for them to meet the financial problems that are connected with the pioneer work in foreign lands! What a burden some one will have to carry until the debts incurred by students have been paid!
On the other hand, how much more might be gained, if the self-supporting plans were followed! The student would often be enabled to leave the educational institution, nearly or wholly free from personal indebtedness; the finances of the school would be in a more prosperous condition; and the lessons learned by the student while passing through these experiences in the home field would be of untold value to him in foreign fields.
Let wise plans now be laid to help worthy students to earn their own schooling by handling these books, if they so desire. Those who earn sufficient means in this way to pay their way through a course at one of our training schools, will gain a most valuable practical experience that will help fit them for pioneer missionary work in other fields.
A great work is to be done in our world in a short time, and we must study to understand and appreciate, more than we have in past years, the providence of God in placing in our hands the precious volumes, "Christ's Object Lessons" and "Ministry of Healing," as a means of helping worthy students to meet their expenses while in training, as well as a means of liquidating the indebtedness on our educational and medical institutions.
Great blessings are in store for us, as we wisely handle these precious books given us for the advancement of the cause of present truth. As we labor in accordance with the Lord's plan, we shall find that many consecrated youth will be fitted to enter the regions beyond as practical missionaries; and, at the same time, the conferences in the home field will have means with which to contribute liberally to the support of the work that shall be undertaken in new territory. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #24)
God has given us his Word as a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. Its teachings have a vital bearing on our prosperity in all the relations of life. Even in our temporal affairs it will be a wiser guide than any other counselor. Its divine instruction is the only way to success. There is no social position, no phase of human experience, for which the study of the Bible is not an essential preparation.
The Bible is the great standard of right and wrong, clearly defining sin and holiness. Its living principles, running through our lives like threads of gold, are our only safeguard in trial and temptation.
The Bible is a chart, showing us the waymarks of truth. Those who are acquainted with this chart will be enabled to tread with certainty in the path of duty, wherever they may be called to go.
The Bible contains a simple and complete system of theology and philosophy. It is the book that makes us wise unto salvation. It tells us how to reach the abode of eternal happiness. It tells us of the love of God as shown in the plan of redemption, imparting the knowledge essential for all,--the knowledge of Christ. He is the Sent of God; he is the Author of our salvation. But apart from the Word of God, we could have no knowledge that such a person as the Lord Jesus ever visited our world, nor any knowledge of his divinity, as indicated by his previous existence with the Father.
The Bible is not written for the scholar alone; on the contrary, it was designed for the common place. The great truths necessary for our salvation are made as clear as noonday, and none will mistake and lose their way except those who follow their own judgment instead of the plainly revealed will of God.
The Word of God strikes at every wrong trait of character, molding the whole man, internally and externally, abasing his pride and self-exaltation, leading him to bring the spirit of Christ into the smaller as well as the larger duties of life. It teaches him to be unswerving in his allegiance to justice and purity, and at the same time always to be kind and compassionate.
The appreciation of the Bible grows with its study. Whichever way the student may turn, he will find displayed the infinite wisdom and love of God. To him who is truly converted, the Word of God is the joy and consolation of the life. The Spirit of God speaks to him, and his heart becomes like a watered garden.
A Strengthener of the Intellect.--There is nothing more calculated to strengthen the intellect than a study of the Bible. No other book is so potent to elevate the thoughts, to give vigor to the faculties, as the broad, ennobling truths of the Bible. If God's Word were studied as it should be, men would have a breadth of mind, a nobility of character, that is rarely seen in these times.
No knowledge is so firm, so consistent, so far-reaching, as that obtained from a study of the Word of God. If there were not another book in the wide world, the Word of God, lived out through the grace of Christ, would make man perfect in this world, with a character fitted for the future, immortal life. Those who study the Word, taking it in faith as the truth, and receiving it into the character, will be complete in him who is all in all. Thank God for the possibilities set before humanity.
"Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope." "Meditate upon these things: give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all." "For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away; but the word of the Lord endureth forever." The time devoted to a study of God's Word and to prayer will bring a hundredfold return.
The Word of God is the living seed, and as this seed is sown in the mind, the human agent must give diligent care to the successive stages of its growth. How is this to be done?--After the Word has been prayerfully received, it is to be cherished, and practised in the daily life. It is to spring up and bear fruit, putting forth first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear.
The Spirit Necessary.--It is not enough to study the Bible as other books are studied. In order for it to be understood savingly, the Holy Spirit must move on the heart of the searcher. The same Spirit that inspired the Word must inspire the reader of the Word. Then will be heard the voice of heaven. "Thy Word, O God, is truth," will be the language of the soul.
The mere reading of the Word will not accomplish the result designed of heaven; it must be studied and cherished in the heart. The knowledge of God is not gained without mental effort. We should diligently study the Bible, asking God for the aid of the Holy Spirit, that we may understand his Word. We should take one verse, and concentrate the mind on the task of ascertaining the thought which God has put in that verse for us. We should dwell on the thought till it becomes our own, and we know "what saith the Lord."
There is but little benefit derived from a hasty reading of the Scriptures. One may read the Bible through, and yet fail to see its beauty, or to comprehend its deep and hidden meaning. One passage studied until its significance is clear to the mind, and its relation to the plan of salvation is evident, is of more value than the perusal of many chapters with no definite purpose in view, and no positive instruction gained. Keep your Bible with you. As you have opportunity, read it; fix the texts in your memory. Even while you are walking the streets, you may read a passage, and meditate upon it, thus fixing it in mind.
The life of Christ, that gives life to the world, is in his Word. It was by his word that Jesus healed disease and cast out demons; by his word he stilled the sea, and raised the dead; and the people bore witness that his word was with power. He spoke the word of God, as he had spoken to all the prophets and teachers of the Old Testament. The whole Bible is a manifestation of Christ. It is our source of power.
As our physical life is sustained by food, so our spiritual life is sustained by the Word of God. And every soul is to receive life from God's Word for himself. As we must eat for ourselves in order to receive nourishment, so we must receive the Word for ourselves. We are not to obtain it merely through the medium of another mind.
Yes, the Word of God is the bread of life. Those who eat and digest this Word, making it a part of every action and of every attribute of character, grow strong in the strength of God. It gives immortal vigor to the soul, perfecting the experience, and bringing joys that will abide forever. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #25)
God bids his people blend harmoniously in their service for him, that they may work in Christ's lines. This last message of warning must be brought to the world, and there are continual calls for those who will go forth and carry the message to the missionary fields that are calling for help. There are some who can not themselves go to these fields, but they can help with their means in support of the work.
Many can engage in the work of selling our periodicals. Thus they can earn means for the work in foreign fields while sowing seeds of truth in the byways and hedges in the home field. Such labor will be blessed of God, and it will not be done in vain.
Wherever you are, let your light shine forth. Hand our papers and pamphlets to those with whom you associate, when you are riding on the cars, visiting, conversing with your neighbors; and improve every opportunity to speak a word in season. The Holy Spirit will make the seed productive in some hearts.
As a people we should cultivate kindliness and courtesy in our association with those whom we meet. Let us avoid any abruptness of manner, and strive always to present the truth in an easy way. This truth means life, eternal life to the receiver. Study therefore to pass easily and courteously from subjects of a temporal nature to the spiritual and eternal. A most courteous manner characterized the work of the Saviour. Seek in the most gentle way to introduce your mission. While walking by the way, or seated by the wayside, you may drop into some heart the seed of truth.
I have words of encouragement to speak in regard to the special number of the Watchman, which the Southern Publishing House is soon to bring out. I shall rejoice to see our conferences help in this work by taking a large number of this issue for circulation. Let there be no forbiddings placed upon the effort, but let all take hold to give this temperance number a wide circulation.
There could be no better time than now for a movement of this kind, when the temperance question is creating such widespread interest. Let our people everywhere take hold decidedly to let it be seen where we stand on the temperance question. Let everything possible be done to circulate strong, stirring appeals for the closing of the saloon. Let this paper be made a power for good. Our work for temperance is to be more spirited, more decided.
Precious light will be given in the publications you scatter through the towns and cities. Your humble prayers, your unselfish activity, will be blessed of God, and the truth as it is in Jesus will come to those who need it. The words that Christ spoke to men while he was in the world, he will speak again through his humble faithful followers. Through them he will give to men the bread of life and the waters of salvation. Brethren, take up this work in humility of heart. The simplicity of true godliness will cause you to be respected, and will lead men and women to seek the source of your power. Believe, and you will receive the things you ask for.
The Woman's Christian Temperance Union is an organization with whose efforts for the spread of temperance principles we can heartily unite. The light has been given me that we are not to stand aloof from them, but, while there is to be no sacrifice of principle on our part, as far as possible we are to unite with them in laboring for temperance reforms. My husband and I in our labors, united with these temperance workers, and we had the joy of seeing several unite with us in the observance of the true Sabbath. Among them there is a strong prejudice against us, but we shall not remove this prejudice by standing aloof. God is testing us. We are to work with them when we can, and we can assuredly do this on the question of utterly closing the saloon.
As the human agent submits his will to the will of God, the Holy Spirit will make the impression upon the hearts of those to whom he ministers. I have been shown that we are not to shun the W. C. T. U. workers. By uniting with them in behalf of total abstinence, we do not change our position regarding the observance of the seventh day, and we can show our appreciation of their position regarding the subject of temperance. By opening the door, and inviting them to unite with us on the temperance question, we secure their help along temperance lines; and they, by uniting with us, will hear new truths which the Holy Spirit is waiting to impress upon hearts.
My brethren, be workers together with Christ. Make every possible effort in season and out of season to spread the light of present truth. The Lord has taught us how safe is the cable that anchors us to the living Rock. Here is an opportunity to labor for those who have truth on some points, but who on other points are not safely anchored. Keep in touch with the people wherever you can. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
"Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you." "Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, and waiting at the posts of my doors." "He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." "In that day I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul."
I entreat every soul to seek for true conversion of heart, and then labor for the salvation of precious souls. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #26)
Human beings belong to one great family,--the family of God. The Creator designed that they should respect and love one another, ever manifesting a pure, unselfish interest in one another's welfare. But Satan's aim has been to lead men to self first; any yielding themselves to his control, they have developed a selfishness that has filled the world with misery and strife, setting human beings at variance with one another. Selfishness is the essence of depravity, and because human beings have yielded to its power, the opposite of allegiance to God is seen in the world today. Nations, families, and individuals are filled with a desire to make self a center. Man longs to rule over his fellow men. Separating himself in his egotism from God and his fellow beings, he follows his unrestrained inclinations. He acts as if the good of others depended on their subjection to his supremacy.
Selfishness has brought discord into the church, filling it with unholy ambition. If Christians are sanctified through a belief in God's Word, why do they so often speak words that would bruise the hearts of others? Why do they acknowledge no law but the law of selfishness? Under the baleful influence of selfishness, men have lost the sense of what it means to love one another with a Christlike love.
Love for Christ unites man to his fellow man in unselfish interest. This is the science of benevolence. He whose heart is filled with the love that centers in God, realizes that he must deal justly and tenderly with his fellow beings because they have been redeemed by the blood of Christ. Supreme love for God leads us to seek the highest good of humanity.
Selfishness destroys Christlikeness filling man with self-love. It leads to continual departure from righteousness. Christ says, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." But self-love is blind to the perfection which God requires.
How great the love of God is! God made the world to enlarge heaven. He desired a larger family. And before man was created, God and Christ entered into a covenant that if he fell from his allegiance, Christ would bear the penalty of transgression. Man fell, but he was not left to the power of the destroyer. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." To the Redeemer was given all power to impart to fallen human beings for their benefit and blessing.
While on this earth, the Saviour was sorely tried. He was tempted in all points like as we are. He poured out his soul with strong crying and tears as he looked upon the backslidden condition of the people he had brought out of bondage. He saw them full of pride and self-exaltation, full of selfishness and covetousness. All this he must labor to overcome. He must live among them the life that God requires all his children to live. He must stand free from the slightest taint of impurity. Not in the least particular must he deviate from the principles of righteousness.
The gulf made by sin has been bridged. All may come boldly to the throne of grace, seeking help in every time of need. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. He took the place of the sinner, that he might present the repentant sinner to the Father, saying, "Lay his guilt on me. I have espoused his cause." Holding out his hands, bearing the marks of his crucifixion, the Saviour says, "I have graven that sinner upon the palms of my hands. No longer look upon him as guilty. Let him stand before thee guiltless; for I have borne his iniquity." At the cross, justice and mercy met together, and righteousness and peace kissed each other. God bowed his head in recognition of the completeness of the offering made for sin, and said, "It is enough."
As we contemplate the great love of God, shall not our hearts be subdued and softened, yea, broken? Shall we not be filled with patience, longsuffering, and love? Shall we not die to self?
Christ came to this world to reveal the love of God. His followers are to continue the work which he began. Let us strive to help and strengthen one another. Seeking the good of others is the way in which true happiness can be found. Man does not work against his own interest by loving God and his fellow men. The more unselfish his spirit, the happier he is, because he is fulfilling God's purpose for him. The breath of God is breathed through him, filling him with gladness. To him life is a sacred trust, precious in his sight because given by God to be spent in ministering to others.
"Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love. . . . If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath not seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God loves his brother also." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #27)
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 ruler, 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 keep 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 the 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 whitened 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 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 practices, 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. 85, #27)
Who can determine which one of a family will prove to be efficient in the work of God? There should be general education of all the members, and all our youth should be permitted to have the blessings and privileges of an education at our schools, that they may be inspired to become laborers together with God. They all need an education that they may be fitted for usefulness in this life, qualified for places of responsibility both in private and public life. There is great necessity of making plans that there may be a large number of competent workers; and many should fit themselves as teachers, that others may be trained and disciplined for the great work of the future. The church should take in the situation, and by their influence and means seek to bring about the much desired end. Let a fund be created by generous contributions for the establishment of schools for the advancement of educational work. We need men well trained, well educated to work in the interest of the churches. They should present the fact that we can not trust our youth to go to seminaries and colleges established by other denominations, but must gather them in where their religious training will not be neglected. God would not have us in any sense behind in educational work; our college should be far in advance in the highest kind of education.
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." "The entrance of thy word giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple." If we do not have schools for our youth, they will attend other seminaries and colleges, and will be exposed to infidel sentiments, cavilings and questionings concerning the inspiration of the Bible. There is a great deal of talk concerning higher education, and many suppose that this higher education consists wholly in an education in science and literature; but this is not all. The highest education includes the knowledge of the word of God, and is comprehended in the words of Christ, "That they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."
Though we have come short of doing what we might have done for our youth and children in the past, let us now repent and redeem the time. The Lord says, "If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword."-- Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #27)
The work of teachers is an important one. They should make the Word of God their meditation. God will communicate by his own Spirit to the soul. Pray as you study, "Lord, open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law." When the teacher will rely upon God in prayer, the Spirit of Christ will come upon him, and God will work through him by the Holy Spirit upon the minds of the students. The Holy Spirit fills the mind and heart with sweet hope, and courage, and Bible imagery, and this will be communicated to the students; the words of truth will grow in importance, and assume a breadth and fulness of meaning of which you have never dreamed. The beauty and riches of the Word of God have a transforming influence upon mind and character; the sparks of heavenly love will fall upon the hearts of the children as an inspiration. We may bring hundreds and thousands of children to Christ if we will work for them.
Let all to whom these words may come be melted and subdued. Let us in our educational work embrace far more than we have done of the children and youth, and there will be a whole army of missionaries raised up to work for God. I say again, Establish schools for the children where there are churches,--those who assemble to worship God.-- Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #27)
It is surprising to see how little is done by many parents to save their own children. Every family in the home life should be a church, a beautiful symbol of the church of God in heaven. If parents realize their responsibilities to their children, they would not under any circumstances scold and fret at them. This is not the kind of education any child should have. Many, many children have learned to be faultfinding, fretful, scolding, passionate children, because they were allowed to be passionate at home. Parents are to consider that they are in the place of God to their children, to encourage every right principle and to repress every wrong thought.
If in their own homes children are allowed to be disrespectful, disobedient, unthankful, and peevish, their sins lie at the door of the parents. It is the special work of fathers and mothers to teach their children with kindness and affection. They are to show that as parents they are the ones to hold the lines, to govern, and not to be governed by their children. They are to teach that obedience is required of them, and thus they educate them to submit to the authority of God.
Does not mother remember that she, herself had to learn in jots and tittles before she could be helpful? It is a wrong to children to refuse to teach them little by little. Keep these children with you. Let them ask questions, and in patience answer them. Give your little children something to do; and let them have the happiness of supposing they help you. There must be no repulsing of your children when trying to do proper things. If they make mistakes, if accidents happen, and things break, do not blame. Their whole future life depends upon the education you give them in their childhood years. Teach them that all their faculties of body and mind were given them to use, and that all are the Lord's, pledged to his service. To some of these children the Lord gives an early intimation of his will. Parents and teachers, begin to teach the children to cultivate their God-given qualities.-- Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #27)
In all our churches, and wherever there is a company of believers, church schools should be established; and in these schools there should be teachers with a true missionary spirit, for the children are to be trained to become missionaries. It is essential that the teachers be educated to act their part in instructing children of Sabbath-keepers not only in the sciences, but in the Scriptures. These schools, established in different localities, and conducted by God-fearing men and women, as the case demands, should be built upon the same principles as were the schools of the prophets.
I say again, Establish schools for the children wherever there are churches; where there are those who assemble to worship God, let there be schools for the children. Work as if you were working for your life to save children from being drowned in the polluting, corrupting influences of this life.
If people would encourage the church in which they are members, and establish small, humble school buildings in which to do service for God, they would accommodate their own children within their borders.
Therefore, in localities where there is a church, a school should be established if there are no more than six children to attend. A teacher should be employed who will educate the children in the truths of the Word of God, which are so essential for these last days, and which it is so important for them to understand. A great test is coming: it will be upon obedience or disobedience to the commandments of God.
There should be schools established wherever there is a church or company of believers. Teachers should be employed to educate the children of Sabbath-keepers.-- Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #28)
"Unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels."
The expression, "He that overcometh," indicates that there is something for every one of us to overcome. The overcomer is to be clothed in the white raiment of Christ's righteousness, and of him it is written: "I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels." O, what a privilege it is to be an overcomer, and to have our names presented before the Father by the Saviour himself! And when, as overcomers, we shall be "clothed in white raiment," the Lord will acknowledge our faithfulness as verily as in the days of the early Christian church he acknowledged the "few names even in Sardis" who had "not defiled their garments;" and we shall walk with him in white, for through his atoning sacrifice we shall be accounted worthy.
My dear friends, in view of these encouraging promises, how earnestly should we strive to perfect a character that will enable us to stand before the Son of God! Only those who are clothed in the garments of his righteousness will be able to endure the glory of his presence when he shall appear with "power and great glory."
It means much to be an overcomer. The besetments of the enemy and all his evil agencies must be firmly resisted. Every moment we must be on guard. Not for one instant are we to lose sight of Christ, and of his power to save in the hour of trial. Our hand must be placed in his, that we may be upheld by the power of his might.
We read further: "To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet; and to know that I have loved thee."
A battle is continually going on between the forces for good and the forces for evil, between the angels of God and the fallen angels. We are beset before and behind, on the right hand and on the left. The conflict that we are passing through is the last we shall have in this world. We are now in the midst of it. Two parties are striving for the supremacy. In this conflict we can not be neutral. We must stand either on one side or on the other. If we take our position on the side of Christ, if we acknowledge him before the world in word and work, we are bearing a living testimony as to whom we have chosen to serve and honor. In this important period of earth's history, we can not afford to leave any one in uncertainty as to whose side we are on.
The True Witness declares: "Behold, I have set before thee an open door." Let us thank God with heart and soul and voice; and let us learn to approach unto him as through an open door, believing that we may come freely with our petitions, and that he will hear and answer. It is by a living faith in his power to help, that we shall receive strength to fight the battles of the Lord with the confident assurance of victory.
"Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth." In this scripture is brought to view the hour of temptation that is to try them that dwell upon the earth. We are now living in this trying hour. There is no escape for any from this conflict. If in your life there are defective traits of character that you are not striving to overcome, you may be assured that the enemy will endeavor to take advantage of them; for he is watching vigilantly, seeking to spoil the faith of every one. In order to gain the victory over every besetment of the enemy, we must lay hold on a power that is out of and beyond ourselves. We must maintain a constant, living connection with Christ, who has power to give victory to every soul that will maintain an attitude of faith and humility. If we are self-sufficient, and think that we may go on just as we please, and yet hope to come out on the right side finally, we shall find that we have made a terrible mistake. As those who hope to receive the overcomer's reward, we must press forward in the Christian warfare, though at every advance we meet with opposition.
"Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown." Here again we are admonished to faithfulness, in view of the conflict. We must not yield any point that we have already gained. From now on till Jesus comes, the battle will wax fiercer and still fiercer. We shall have to meet and resist men who are regarded as very wise and learned, but who are not spiritually wise unto salvation. Our only hope of saving our own souls and of helping others to be saved, is to receive the righteousness of Jesus Christ. We are seeking for a crown, a crown of glory that fadeth not away. As overcomers we are to reign with Christ in the heavenly courts; and we are to overcome through the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.
"Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and " he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and " the name of the city of my God, which is New Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."
"And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth."
Those who profess to serve Christ, while in life they deny him, are not thoroughly converted, and are regarded by Christ as very offensive. To every such one he says. "I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
"As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."
It will profit us to study carefully the book of Revelation. There are in this book many precious truths that we should bring into our daily experience.
We are not to rest quietly, with the thought that the devil will have nothing to do with us; but we can have the assurance that we shall not be left helpless, to be overcome by him. Yet if we, like many others, put forth no special efforts to resist him, he will work to lead us away from the truth. If we give him the least encouragement, he will not wait for a further invitation to come into our hearts. He will take possession of the mind, and then, although we may even think that we are being wonderfully led by the Lord, we shall be deceived. Our minds have been bought with an infinite price, and we can not afford to give them over to the control of the enemy. We have no right to follow impulse, and regard it as the guidance of heaven. We must have evidence that we are receiving the stamp of the divine character, such as will be acknowledged in the heavenly courts.
The Lord desires us to know what is our work in this world. Those who have come into right relation to God will have a living experience in carrying out his purposes. They will be enabled to help those who are tempted. Angels of God will open the way before them, and as they follow the leadings of the Holy Spirit, they will work for their neighbors and friends.
If, while professing to know the truth, we lead others away from Christ by our example, there rests upon us a terrible accountability. It is a sad truth that some are carrying out plans and methods of their own devising, believing these to be right, when in reality they are working contrary to the purposes of God. Because they fail of maintaining a living connection with God, they are led by a spirit that is at enmity with God and his work. O that these deceived souls may yet repent and be converted!
Why should we be so particular in regard to our life conduct? O, there is a world lying in darkness, waiting for the Light of life, a world for whom Christ has given his life! In his plans for the redemption of the fallen race, Jesus came to the earth, and was subject to the same temptations wherewith man is beset. No one will be called to pass through temptations so severe as were those our Saviour endured. Because of this, our great High Priest knows how to succor those who are tempted. He knows how to sympathize with us when in our great need we call for help. There are severe trials before every one of us, yet we need not fail. In the hour of temptation, Christ will not leave his children, but will send his angels to minister unto us. He will answer our prayers for deliverance. (To be concluded.) Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #29)
The Lord desires us to pray much, and to maintain a firm hold in his divine power. His blessings are to be sought, not merely for our own benefit, but for the benefit of our fellow men. In view of the power of our influence for good or for ill, we can not afford to deviate from the right way; for if we do wrong, we may lead some one else astray. "Make straight paths for your feet," writes the apostle Paul, "lest that which is lame be turned out of the way." If with clear, sanctified vision, we keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus, and walk by faith, we shall not stumble and fall. By beholding, we shall become changed into the likeness of the divine.
Our Saviour laid aside his royal robe and kingly crown, and left the glories of heaven to come to this world. He clothed his divinity with humanity. He designed that the fallen humanity might touch his humanity, and receive from him power to be partakers of the divine nature, and to overcome the corruption that is in the world through lust. He is our pattern, and I beseech of you, my brethren, to lay hold of the power that is ours through the union of the divine and the human in Christ. He overcame for us, and we may claim his merits. We may plead his power, his virtue. And as we cooperate with him, and live in harmony with his law, he will cleanse our natures from sin, and impart to us his righteousness.
The world is to be warned of the impending judgments of God that precede the second coming of Christ. Those who know the truth should be taught to labor earnestly for their neighbors and friends. Special efforts must be put forth in behalf of those who do not know the truth. As we ourselves learn more and more how to overcome through the blood of the Lamb, and through the word of our testimony, we shall labor to help those who are weak, and who have been unable to overcome.
There are many who have never heard from the Word the reasons for our faith; and yet some of our ministers feel a burden to hover over little companies of believers in an effort to hold them together. The best way to hold them together is to induce them to maintain a living connection with God, and to exert their influence in seeking to draw others to him. It is our work to help others to place their feet upon the right foundation, and to understand their duty through a prayerful study of the Scriptures.
Satan knows that his time is short, and he is putting forth every effort in his power to destroy our faith in God and in his Word. His agencies are following us constantly, seeking to induce us to follow his plans, and to take a wrong course in word and deed. But if we will grasp the power that Christ offers, seeking the Lord diligently, and watching unto prayer, we shall have all power and wisdom to meet the attacks of the enemy.
Many of our people do not seem to realize that the time has come for every one to take his stand positively on the side of Jesus Christ and the heavenly angels. By their indifference, by carelessness in word and act, they leave themselves open to the molding influences of the enemy. They seem asleep as regards the issues that are now before the world.
A View of the Conflict.--I wish to read to you the description of a scene that passed before me not many years ago. This is published in "Testimonies for the Church," Vol. VIII, pages 41-43:--
"In vision I saw two armies in terrible conflict. One army was led by banners bearing the world's insignia; the other was led by the bloodstained banner of Prince Emmanuel. Standard after standard was left to trail in the dust, as company after company of the Lord's army joined the foe, and tribe after tribe from the ranks of the enemy united with the commandment-keeping people of God. An angel flying in the midst of heaven put the standard of Emmanuel into many hands, while a mighty general cried out with a loud voice: 'Come into line. Let those that are loyal to the commandments of God and the testimony of Christ now take their position. Come out from among them, and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean, and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and you shall be my sons and daughters. Let all who will come up to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty.'
"The battle raged. Victory alternated from side to side. Now the soldiers of the cross gave way, 'as when a standardbearer fainteth.' Isa. 10:18. But their apparent retreat was but to gain a more advantageous position. Shouts of joy were heard. A song of praise to God went up, and angels voices united in the song, as Christ's soldiers planted his banner on the walls of fortresses till then held by the enemy. The Captain of our salvation was ordering the battle, and sending support to his soldiers. His power was mightily displayed, encouraging them to press the battle to the gates. He taught them terrible things in righteousness, as he led them to step by step, conquering and to conquer.
"At last the victory was gained. The army following the banner with the inscription, 'The commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus,' was gloriously triumphant. The soldiers of Christ were close beside the gates of the city, and with joy the city received her King. The kingdom of peace and joy and everlasting righteousness was established.
"Now the church is militant. Now we are confronted with a world in midnight darkness, almost wholly given over to idolatry. But the day is coming in which the battle will have been fought, the victory won. The will of God is to be done on earth, as it is done in heaven. Then the nations will own no other law than the law of heaven. All will be a happy, united family; clothed with the garments of praise and thanksgiving,--the robe of Christ's righteousness. All nature, in its surpassing loveliness, will offer to God a constant tribute of praise and adoration. The world will be bathed in the light of heaven. The years will move on in gladness. The light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold greater than it is now. Over the scene the morning stars will sing together, and the sons of God will shout for joy, while God and Christ will shout in proclaiming, 'There shall be no more sin, neither shall there be any more death.'
"This is the scene that is presented to me. But the church must and will fight against seen and unseen foes. Satan's agencies in human form are on the ground. Men have confederated to oppose the Lord of hosts. These confederacies will continue until Christ shall leave his place of intercession before the mercy seat, and shall put on the garments of vengeance. Satanic agencies are in every city, busily organizing into parties those opposed to the law of God. Professed saints and avowed unbelievers take their stand with these parties. This is not time for the people of God to be weaklings. We can not afford to be off our guard for one moment.
"'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.'"
As I see representations of the terrible conflict that is now waging, and realize that those who are victorious will be with their Lord forevermore, I feel as if I can not spare myself. I must do all I can to help others win the victory and the crown of life. I am now in my eighty-first year, and yet I can not lay down the burden. My pen is in my hand almost constantly, except when I am in attendance at some meeting. I am always glad when I can have the privilege of speaking to a company of people, in the hope that the words I speak will be received, and will exert an influence for good upon life and character.
Since my return from Australia, I have felt a great burden for the work in Oakland. Frequently the Lord has revealed to me, as an indication of unfaithfulness on the part of his people, the little that is being done in our large cities. In the campmeetings and tent meetings that have been held in Oakland, I have stood before our own people, and with most earnest entreaties have labored to persuade them to give the truth to those who know it not. But many in our churches say, "We want your labors; we want you to preach to us." Let those who believe the truth, go out and preach it. Let them practise it before their neighbors. The Lord calls upon you, my brethren, to gain a deep, living experience in the things of God. There are sacrifices that we must make. Shall we let the multitudes who know nothing of the truth, perish in their sins, unwarned? Satan is planning to hold these souls fast. He is seeking to hedge up our opportunities for reaching them. But the God of heaven is also at work in their behalf. As you seek to labor for them, his angels will go before you to prepare their hearts, and the same heavenly agencies will go with you as you visit them, to tell them of the sin-pardoning Saviour.
Who will now carry this burden? In view of the great needs all about us, who can be content to hover over our own churches, neither gaining nor imparting strength? Let those who have a living connection with God, go out and labor for unbelievers. We do not call for those who are half asleep to go in their present condition, but we beseech them to awake, to lay hold of the arm of infinite strength, and then go forth speaking the words of life.
Let us now seek God with all the heart, that we may find him. For your soul's sake, I ask you to resist the devil. The promise is that he will flee from you. Put on the whole armor of righteousness, and press the battle to the gates. Heavenly angels will be with you to minister to your needs. You can speak the words of truth, and they will make an impression upon the heart.
How many of those present will now take a position on the Lord's side, enlisting to fight the good warfare? Ask the Saviour to anoint your eyes with the heavenly eyesalve, that you may have spiritual discernment. Break with the enemy, and come into line with the soldiers of Jesus Christ, and with heavenly angels. Here is a world perishing in sin. I beg of you, for Christ's sake, to work along right lines.
Are there those who will pledge themselves to live a life of prayer, ceasing to find fault, ceasing to criticize their brethren, and striving henceforth to be colaborers with Christ Jesus? There are souls to be saved, and we can not afford to lay stumblingblocks in one another's way. Now we ask you to seek the Lord with all the heart. Will those who are determined to cut loose from every temptation of the enemy, and to seek for heaven above, signify such determination by rising to their feet. [Nearly all of the congregation present responded.]
We desire that every one of you shall be saved. We desire that for you the gates of the city of God shall swing back on their glittering hinges, and that you, with all the nations who have kept the truth, may enter in. There we shall give praise and thanksgiving and glory to Christ and to the Father evermore, even forever and ever. May God help us to be faithful in his service during the conflict, and overcome at last, and win the crown of life eternal.
[Praying] My Heavenly Father, I come to thee at this time, just as I am, poor and needy, and dependent upon thee. I ask thee to give me and give this people the grace that perfects Christian character. Wilt thou have compassion upon this people? Let thy light shine into the chambers of the mind, and into the soul temple. My Saviour, thou hast given thy life to purchase thine inheritance, that, as overcomers, they may enter the kingdom of God, where they shall go no more out forever. Bless those who have signified their desire to serve thee. Put thy Spirit upon them.
I ask thee, Heavenly Father, to let thy Holy Spirit come to this people. May thy salvation be revealed. Touch their hearts, and make them very tender. Soften them by thy Holy Spirit, and help them to see the work to be done for their neighbors, and for souls that are perishing all around them. O awaken them to their responsibilities! May they wash their robes of character, and make them white in the blood of the Lamb. Wilt thou encircle them in the arms of thy mercy? Plead with them through the impressions of thy Holy Spirit, that they may try to let their light shine to those that have not known the truth. Put thy church in order, O Lord, that they may labor for souls.
My Saviour, reveal thyself to this people. Let thy love be expressed--O let it be revealed! Hold thy people, that Satan may not have his will and way with them. Help them to press through all opposition, that at last they may lay their crowns at the feet of Jesus in the city of God; and thy name shall have all the glory. Amen. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #30)
The Lord has instructed me to say to his people that he demands a deeper consecration on their part, in every conference, in every church, in every household. Said the messenger: Speak to the leading men, saying, You should give to the people an example of what may be done by the human agent in holy living by coming into close relation to God. Do all in your power to send home the messages of warning that have been given. Wake up the watchmen; for their unbelief has paralyzed the efforts of many who would become workers.
"As the days of Noe were, 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. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 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. 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."
"Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?" I repeat this. Many among professedly Christian teachers and pious men are not such at heart. They have not been purifying their souls by obeying the truth. And because the religious experience of many has been only a profession, meat has not been given in due season, and God has been greatly displeased. Blessed is that servant, the Lord declares, whom his Lord when he comes shall find faithful. "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 lesson is being fulfilled all around us and right in our midst. In the indifference and boasting of men and women today, the words of the evil servant are being repeated, "My Lord delayeth his coming." In our large cities every kind of wickedness imaginable is being revealed, and yet among the masses, yes, even among the scoffers, there are some who are listening for the trumpet to give the signal of alarm. But they listen in vain. The appropriate warnings have not been given. Is it not high time that the messengers should awake, and give the warning message that is to prepare the world for the judgments that are right upon us?
Let there be an awakening, and heartfelt confessions of sin. Let there be a seeking after God. Let the shepherds throw off the lethargy that is upon them. Wake up, brethren, for Christ's sake wake up! Let earnest, organized efforts be made that light may go forth to those in darkness, who are eating and drinking with those who are befogged with skepticism.
Our sinful condition of lukewarmness has been coming on for years. We are far behind in following the instructions given to enter the cities, and erect memorials for the cause of present truth. For many years the instruction has been repeated to us regarding the work to be done in the cities; yet there seems to be a deathlike slumber upon many ministers and people. There are a few who have been doing all in their power, but the burden of this work has not been borne upon the hearts of our people; they are not urged to cooperate, and to set in order the things that remain, that are ready to die.
At our meetings held in the cities, and at our campmeetings, we do not ask for great demonstrations, but we ask that the men who come before the people to present the truth shall be in earnest, and shall reveal that God is with them. There must be a special seeking after God, that the work of the meeting may be carried on under the deep movings of the Holy Spirit. There must be no mingling of the wrong with the right. In the past we have had abundant evidence that God will work through those who place themselves wholly on his side; and this evidence will again be given. We must have at our campmeetings Christians of the class of whom it was said, "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." Those who seek the Lord in humility of heart will be uplifted and refreshed.
Avoid the Errors of the Past.--Those who take hold of the work at this time are not to repeat the mistakes that have been made in the past, when men have sought to control and rule their fellow workers. God forbids that this spirit shall come into his work. Another message than this is to be borne. Those who have felt a burden to place yokes on the necks of their brethren who desired to labor, are called upon to repent and be converted. "Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near." The message of the third angel is to go forth with a loud voice. Wake up the watchmen; leave them not to settle back in their deathlike slumber.
By words and works some have declared, "My Lord delayeth his coming," and the thief is preparing to steal in and destroy their goods. O that our brethren would awake to the situation! Every presentation possible may be made to them, but unless the plowshare of truth shall plow up the fallow ground of the heart, there will be no thorough work done. Hearts that are hard will not be broken until there is deep and sincere repentance. Unless there is a thorough reconversion, some will fall back into the same ways that have been followed for the past eight years.
A Word to the Wavering.--Of those who are constantly working to undermine faith in the message God is sending to his people, I am instructed to say, "Come out from among them, and be ye separate." Come into the light, brethren, and lead others to the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Those who in faith accept the leadings of the Spirit of God will see where their dangers lie, and will make decided moves in the right direction.
There are some who have not accepted the messages God has sent, and these have sown the seeds of unbelief until tares have sprung up and multiplied. Those who themselves have a tottering faith are constantly working to weaken the faith of those who come within the reach of their influence. Those who have stood directly in the way of the work of God for the past fifteen years, are not to be sustained or given influence.
Now, brethren and sisters, is your time to obtain an experience that will be invaluable to you in the future. But there can be no compromise. Those who desire to be accepted as workers in the future of this cause, must advance step by step heavenward. "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #31)
The great and wonderful work of the last gospel message is to be carried on now as it has never been before. The world is to receive the light of truth through an evangelizing ministry of the Word in our books and periodicals. Our publications are to show that the end of all things is at hand. I am bidden to say to our publishing houses, Lift up the standard; lift it up higher. Proclaim the third angel's message, that it may be heard by all the world. Let it be seen that "here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." Let our literature give the message as a witness to all the world.
Our workers should now be encouraged to give their first attention to books that deal with the evidences of our faith, which teach the doctrines of the Bible, and will prepare a people to stand in the trying times before us. Having brought a people to the enlightenment of the truth by prayerful labor in Bible instruction, and through a wise use of our publications, we are to teach them to become laborers in word and doctrine. We are to encourage them to scatter the books that deal with Bible subjects, and whose teachings will prepare a people to stand, having their loins girded with truth, and their lamps burning.
We have been asleep, as it were, regarding the work that may be accomplished by the circulation of well prepared literature. Let us now, by the wise use of periodicals and books, preach the Word with determined energy, that the world may understand the message that Christ gave to John on the Isle of Patmos. Let every human intelligence who professes the name of Christ testify, The end of all things is at hand; prepare to meet thy God.
Our publications should go everywhere. Let them be issued in many languages. The third angel's message is to be given through this medium and through the living teacher. You who believe the truth for this time, wake up. It is our duty now to bring in all the means possible to help those who understand the truth to proclaim it. Part of the money that comes in from the sale of our publications should be used to increase our facilities for the production of more literature that will open blind eyes and break up the fallow ground of the heart.
There is danger of our brethren entering into commercialism, and becoming so engrossed in worldly business that the truths of the Word of God in their purity and power are not brought into the life. The love of trade and gain is becoming more and more prevalent. My brethren, let your souls be truly converted. If ever there was a time when we needed to understand our responsibilities, it is now, when truth is fallen in the streets, and equity can not enter. Satan has come down with great power, to work with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; and everything that can be shaken will be shaken, and those things that can not be shaken will remain. The Lord is coming very soon, and we are entering into scenes of calamity. Satanic agencies, though unseen, are working to destroy human life. But if our life is hid with Christ in God, we shall see of his grace and salvation. Christ is coming to establish his kingdom on the earth. Let our tongues be sanctified, and used to glorify him. Let us work now as we have never worked before. We are exhorted to "be instant in season, out of season." We are to make openings for the presentation of the truth. We are to improve every opportunity of drawing souls to Christ.
As a people we are to be reconverted, our lives sanctified to declare the truth as it is in Jesus. In the work of scattering our publications, we can speak of a Saviour's love from a warm and throbbing heart. God alone has the power to forgive sins; if we do not speak this message to the unconverted, our neglect may prove their ruin. Blessed, soul saving, Bible truths are published in our papers. There are many who can help in the work of selling our periodicals. The Lord calls upon all of us to seek to save perishing souls. Satan is at work to deceive the very elect, and now is our time to work with vigilance. Our books and papers are to be brought before the notice of the people; the gospel of present truth is to be given to our cities without delay. Shall we not arouse to our duties?
If we are making the life and teachings of Christ our study, every passing event will furnish a text for an impressive discourse. It was thus the Saviour preached the gospel in the highways and byways; and as he spoke, the little group that listened to him swelled to a great company. Present day evangelists are to be workers together with Christ. These, just as verily as the first disciples, have the assurance: "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."
The work to be carried on by the people of God is declared in the words of inspiration: "Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare the way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight." "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."
God invites all men to the fullest investigation of the claims of his law. His Word is sacred and infinite. The cause of truth is to go forth as a lamp that burneth. Earnest study of the Word of God will reveal the truth. Sin and wrong will not be sustained, but the law of God will be vindicated. "Thus saith the Lord, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth bread to the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light to the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house." Christians are to seek their light from the Word of God, and then in faith go forth to give that light to those who sit in darkness. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #32)
In the night of March 2, 1907, many things were revealed to me regarding the value of our publications on present truth, and the small effort that is being made by our brethren and sisters in the churches for their wide circulation.
I have been repeatedly shown that our presses should now be constantly employed in publishing light and truth. This is a time of spiritual darkness in the churches of the world. Ignorance of divine things has hidden God and the truth from view. The forces of evil are gathering in strength. Satan flatters his co-workers that he will do a work that will captivate the world. While partial inactivity has come upon the church, Satan and his hosts are intensely active. The professed Christian churches are not converting the world; for they are themselves corrupted with selfishness and pride, and need to feel the converting power of God in their midst before they can lead others to a purer or higher standard.
An Encouraging Experience.--The afternoon of March 2 I spent in counsel with Brother and Sister S. N. Haskell, discussing the work in Oakland, and their plans to go East to spend some time in South Lancaster. After our visit I was weary, and retired early. I was suffering with rheumatism in my left side, and could get no rest because of the pain. I turned from side to side, trying to find ease from the suffering. There was a pain in my heart that portended no good for me. At last I fell asleep.
About half-past nine I attempted to turn myself, and as I did so, I became aware that my body was entirely free from pain. As I turned from side to side, and moved my hands, I experienced an extraordinary freedom and lightness that I can not describe. The room was filled with light, a most beautiful, soft, azure light, and I seemed to be in the arms of heavenly beings.
This peculiar light I have experienced in the past in times of special blessing, but this time it was more distinct, more impressive, and I felt such peace, peace so full and abundant no words can express it. I raised myself into a sitting posture, and I saw that I was surrounded by a bright cloud, white as snow, the edges of which were tinged with a deep pink. The softest, sweetest music was filling the air, and I recognized the music as the singing of the angels. Then a Voice spoke to me, saying, "Fear not; I am your Saviour. Holy angels are all about you."
"Then this is heaven," I said, "and now I can be at rest. I shall have no more messages to bear, no more misrepresentations to endure. Everything will be easy now, and I shall enjoy peace and rest. O, what inexpressible peace fills my soul! Is this indeed heaven? Am I one of God's little children? and shall I always have this peace?"
The Voice replied. "Your work is not yet done."
Again I fell asleep, and when I awoke, I heard music, and I wanted to sing. Then some one passed my door, and I wondered if that person saw the light. After a time the light passed away, but the peace remained.
After a while I fell asleep again. This time I seemed to be in a council meeting where our book work was being discussed. There were a number of our brethren present, leaders in our work, and Elder Haskell and his wife were there consulting together and with the brethren about the circulation of our books, tracts, and periodicals.
Elder Haskell was presenting strong reasons why the books which contain the knowledge that has been communicated to Sister White,--the books containing the special message to come to the world at this present time,--should be more freely circulated. "Why," he inquired, "do not our people appreciate and circulate more widely the books bearing the divine credentials? Why is not a specialty made of the books containing the warnings regarding Satan's work? Why do we not give greater effort to circulating the books that point out Satan's plans to counterwork the work of God, that uncover his plans and point out his deceptions? The moral evils of his deceptions are to be removed by opening the eyes of the people so that they shall discern the situation and the dangers of our times; so that they shall make diligent effort to lay hold by faith upon Christ and his righteousness."
A messenger from heaven stood in our midst, and he spoke words of warning and instruction. He made us clearly understand that the gospel of the kingdom is the message for which the world is perishing, and that this message, as contained in our publications already in print, and those yet to be issued, should be circulated among the people who are nigh and afar off.
Dangers in Speculative Study.--The light of truth which God designs shall come to the people of the world at this time is not that which the world's men of learning are seeking to impart; for these men in their research often arrive at erroneous conclusions, and in their study of many authors become enthused with theories that are of satanic origin. Satan, clothed in the garb of an angel of light, presents for the study of the human mind subjects which seem very interesting, and which are full of scientific mystery. In the investigation of these subjects, men are led to accept erroneous conclusions, and to unite with seducing spirits in the work of propounding new theories which lead away from the truth.
There is danger that the false sentiments expressed in the books that they have been reading will sometimes be interwoven by our ministers, teachers, and editors with their arguments, discourses, and publications, under the belief that they are the same in principle as the teachings of the Spirit of truth. The book "Living Temple" is an illustration of this work, the writer of which declared in its support that its teachings were the same as those found in the writings of Mrs. White. Again and again we shall be called to meet the influence of men who are studying sciences of satanic origin, through which Satan is working to make a nonentity of God and of Christ.
The Father and the Son each have a personality. Christ declared, "I and my Father are one." Yet it was the Son of God who came to the world in human form. Laying aside his royal robe and kingly crown, he clothed his divinity with humanity, that humanity through his infinite sacrifice might become partakers of the divine nature, and escape the corruption that is in the world through lust.
Christ was tempted in all points as man is tempted, but at no time did he bring against the tempter a railing accusation. To every temptation he presented the Word of the Lord. "It is written" was his never-failing weapon. We, as the representatives of Christ, are to meet every thrust of the enemy with the Word of the living God. Never should we allow ourselves to follow the trail of the serpent by using his scientific arguments. Satan can never gain advantage of the child of God who relies on the Word of God as his defense.
Our Counselor impressed deeply on our minds that God's commandment-keeping people must be sanctified through the truth, and that truth must ever be given the foremost place. We must not forget that Satan still lives to exercise his deceptive power through false science.
Christ was the Majesty of heaven, the Prince of life; yet he humbled himself as a man, and became obedient to every law of God. He passed over the ground that every man must tread who takes his name, and came forth from his trial pure and untainted by sin. He was our example in all things.
The first advent of Christ and his life of ministry are not studied as they should be. His life was one of self-denial, in which truth in all its noble qualities was expressed. He lived to bless humanity by every good word and work. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #33)
The work of bookmaking is a grand and good work; but it has not always stood in the high and holy position that God designed it should occupy, because self has been interwoven with the work of some who have engaged in it. The book work should be the means of quickly giving the sacred light of present truth to the world. The publications that come forth from our presses today are to be of such a character as to strengthen every pin and pillar of the faith that was established by the Word of God and by the revelations of his Spirit.
The truth that God has given for his people in these last days should keep them firm when there come into the church those who present false theories. The truth that has stood firm against the attacks of the enemy for more than half a century must still be the confidence and comfort of God's people.
Our evidence to non-professors that we have the truth of the Word of God will be given in a life of strict self-denial. We must not make a mockery of our faith, but ever keep before us the example of him who, though he was the Prince of heaven, stooped to a life of self-denial and sacrifice to vindicate the righteousness of his Father's word. Let us each resolve to do our best, that the light of our good works may shine forth to the world.
Unity and Progress.--Perfect agreement should exist in the plans laid for the publication of our books and periodicals, that the light which they contain may be quickly carried everywhere, to the nominal churches and to the world. Much more should have been accomplished in the sale of our books than we see accomplished today.
Our ministers should call upon the church members to let the truth triumph. "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising." Unity and love will accomplish wonderful things for the believers. Will not our churches arouse, and give the last warning message to the world?
Our Relief Books.--"Christ's Object Lessons" is a book that speaks for itself, and it has accomplished a good work. As it has been sold, and the object of its sale related, money has been received that has relieved the indebtedness of our schools. But more than this, many by reading the book have been blessed by its lessons of truth, and many more will be blessed by reading it.
The book "Ministry of Healing" may do the same work for our sanitariums and health institutions that "Christ's Object Lessons" has done for our schools. This book contains the wisdom of the Great Physician. To me it has been a great privilege to donate my work on these books to the cause of God. In the future there should be a much greater effort made to increase their sale.
Lift the Debts.--God designs that we shall learn lessons from the failures of the past. It is not pleasing to him to have debts rest upon his institutions. We have reached the time when we must give character to the work by refusing to erect large and costly buildings. We are not to copy the mistakes of the past, and become more and more involved in debt. We are rather to endeavor to clear off the indebtedness that still remains on our institutions. Our churches can help in this matter if they will. Those members to whom the Lord has given means can invest their money in the cause without interest or at a low rate of interest, and by their freewill offerings they can help to support the work. The Lord asks you to return cheerfully to him a portion of the goods he has lent you, and thus become his almoners.
Another View of the Book Work.--Afterward we were in campmeetings and in large meetings in our churches, where the ministers presented clearly the perils of the times in which we live, and the great importance of making haste in the circulation of our literature. In response to these appeals, the brethren and sisters came forward and purchased many books. Some took a few, and some purchased large quantities. Most of the purchasers paid for the books they took. A few arranged to pay afterward.
Because books were being sold at low prices, some being specially reduced for the occasion, many were purchased, and some by persons not of our faith. They said, "It must be that these books contain a message for us. These people are willing to make sacrifices in order that we may have them, and we will secure them for ourselves and our friends."
But dissatisfaction was expressed by some of our own people. "A stop must be put to this work," one said, "or our business will be spoiled." As one brother was carrying away an armful of books, a canvasser laid his hand upon his arm, and said, "My brother, what are you doing with so many books?" Then I heard the voice of our Counselor saying, "Forbid them not." This is a work that should be done. The end is near. Already much time has been lost, when these books should have been in circulation. Sell them far and near. Scatter them like the leaves of autumn. This work is to continue without the forbiddings of any one. Souls are perishing out of Christ. Let them be warned of his soon appearing in the clouds of heaven.
Some of the workers continued to appear much cast down. One was weeping, and said, "These are doing the publishing work an injustice by purchasing these books at so low a price; besides, this work is depriving us of some of the revenue by which our work is sustained." The Voice replied, "You are meeting with no loss. These workers who take the books at reduced prices could not obtain so ready sale for them except it be at this so-called sacrifice. Many are now purchasing for their friends and for themselves who otherwise would not think of buying."
A Caution.--Then instruction was given to Elder Haskell that in his anxiety to supply the people with the precious truth contained in his books, in his desire that all should feel that the books are worth more than they cost, and that all should be encouraged to give them a wide circulation, he was selling his books too cheap, and thus making his own burden too heavy.
Our Counselor said, "The books should be sold in such a way that the author will not be left barehanded, and that the publishing house shall have a proper margin so that it will have means to carry on its work."
A Parable for Our Study.--"The kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder," Christ declared, "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 good man 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 thou not 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: for many be called, but few chosen."
The value of service to God is measured by the Spirit in which it is rendered, rather than by the length of time spent in labor.
I am very desirous that the light contained in my books shall come to every soul possible; for God has sent the message for all. These books contain precious lessons in Christian experience. I would not dare forbid that these books be sold on special occasions at a low price, lest I should hinder the reading of the book, and thus withhold the light from some soul who might be converted to the truth. I have no forbiddings to place on the work of circulation of our books. Let the light be placed on the candlestick, that it may give light to all that are in the house.
A Lesson in Commercialism.--"And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
"And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them. And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased, and said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?" Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #34)
In carrying forward the Lord's work at home and abroad, those in positions of responsibility must plan wisely, so as to make the best possible use of men and of means. The burden of sustaining the work in many of the foreign fields must be largely borne by our conferences in the home land. These conferences should have means with which to assist in opening new fields, where the testing truths of the third angel's message have never yet penetrated. Within the past few years, doors have been thrown open as if by magic; and men and women are needed to enter these doors, and begin earnest work for the salvation of souls.
Our educational institutions can do much toward meeting the demand for trained workers for these mission fields. Wise plans should be laid to strengthen the work done in our training centers. Study should be given to the best methods for fitting consecrated young men and young women to bear responsibility and to win souls for Christ. They should be taught how to meet the people, and how to present the third angel's message in an attractive manner. And in the management of financial matters, they should be taught lessons that will help them when they are sent to isolated fields where they must suffer many privations and practise the strictest economy.
The Lord has instituted a plan whereby many of the students in our schools can learn practical lessons needful to success in afterlife. He has given them the privilege of handling precious books that have been dedicated for the advancement of our educational and sanitarium work. In the very handling of these books, the youth will meet with many experiences that will teach them how to cope with problems that await them in the regions beyond. During their school life, as they canvass for these books, many may learn how to approach people courteously, and how to exercise tact in conversing with them on different points of present truth. And as they meet with a degree of success financially, some will learn lessons of thrift and economy, which will be of great advantage to them when they are sent out as missionaries.
The students who take up the work of selling "Christ's Object Lessons" and "Ministry of Healing" will need to study the book they expect to sell. As they familiarize their minds with the subject matter of the book in hand, and endeavor to practise its teachings, they will develop in knowledge and spiritual power. The messages in these books contain the light that God has revealed to me to give to the world. The teachers in our schools should encourage the students to make a careful study of every chapter. They should teach these truths to their students, and seek to inspire the youth with a love for the precious thoughts the Lord has entrusted to us to communicate to the world.
Thus the preparation for handling these books, and the daily experiences gained while bringing them to the attention of the people, will prove an invaluable schooling to those who take part in this line of effort. Under the blessing of God, the youth will obtain a fitting-up for service in the Lord's vineyard.
There is a special work to be done for our young people by those bearing responsibility in local churches throughout the conferences. When the church officers see promising youth who are desirous of fitting themselves for usefulness in the Lord's service, but whose parents are unable to send them to school, they have a duty to perform in studying how to give help and encouragement. They should take counsel with parents and youth, and unite in planning wisely. Some youth may be best fitted to engage in home missionary work. There is a wide field of usefulness in the distribution of our literature, and in bringing the third angel's message to the attention of friends and neighbors. Other youth should be encouraged to enter the canvassing work, to sell our larger books. Some may have qualifications that would make them valuable helpers in our institutions. And in many instances, if promising youth were wisely encouraged and properly directed, they could be led to earn their own schooling by taking up the sale of "Christ's Object Lessons" or "Ministry of Healing."
In selling these books, the youth would be acting as missionaries; for they would be bringing precious light to the notice of the people of the world. At the same time they would be earning money to enable them to attend school, where they could continue their preparation for wider usefulness in the Lord's cause. In the school, they would receive encouragement and inspiration from teachers and students to continue their work of selling books; and when the time came for them to leave school, they would have received a practical training fitting them for the hard, earnest, self-sacrificing labor that has to be done in many foreign fields, where the third angel's message must be carried under difficult and trying circumstances.
How much better is this plan than for students to go through school without obtaining a practical education in field work, and, at the end of their course, leave under a burden of debt, with but little realization of the difficulties they will have to meet in new and untried fields! How hard it will be for them to meet the financial problems that are connected with pioneer work in foreign lands! And what a burden some one will have to carry until the debts incurred by the student have been paid!
On the other hand, how much might be gained, if the self-supporting plan were followed! The student would often be enabled to leave the educational institution, nearly or wholly free from personal indebtedness; the finances of the school would be in a more prosperous condition; and the lessons learned by the student while passing through these experiences in the home field would be of untold value to him in foreign fields.
Let wise plans now be laid to help worthy students to earn their own schooling by handling these books, if they so desire. Those who earn sufficient means in this way to pay their way through a course at one of our training schools, will gain a most valuable practical experience that will help fit them for pioneer missionary work in other fields.
A great work is to be done in our world in a short time, and we must study to understand and appreciate, more than we have in past years, the providence of God in placing in our hands the precious volumes, "Christ's Object Lessons," and "Ministry of Healing," as a means of helping worthy students to meet their expenses while in training, as well as a means of liquidating the indebtedness on our educational and medical institutions.
Great blessings are in store for us, as we wisely handle these precious books given us for the advancement of the cause of present truth. And as we labor in accordance with the Lord's plan, we shall find that many consecrated youth will be fitted to enter the regions beyond as practical missionaries; and, at the same time, the conferences in the home field will have means with which to contribute liberally to the support of the work that shall be undertaken in new territory. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #35)
In connection with our campmeetings in past years, God's servants have improved many precious opportunities for instructing our people in practical methods of presenting the saving truths of the third angel's message to their friends and acquaintances. Many have been taught how to labor as self-supporting missionaries in their home communities. Many have returned home from these annual gatherings, to labor with greater zeal and intelligence than hitherto.
It would be pleasing to God if far more of this practical instruction were given the church members who attend our campmeetings, than has usually been given in years past. Our general workers and our brethren and sisters in every conference should remember that one of the objects of our annual gatherings is that all may gain a knowledge of practical methods of personal missionary work. This phase of our campmeetings is outlined in "Testimonies for the Church," Volume VI, as follows:--
"God has committed to our hands a most sacred work, and we need to meet together to receive instruction, that we may be fitted to perform this work. We need to understand what part we shall individually be called upon to act in building up the cause of God in the earth, in vindicating God's holy law, and in lifting up the Saviour as 'the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." John 1:29. We need to meet together and receive the divine touch that we may understand our work in the home. Parents need to understand how they may send forth from the sanctuary of the home their sons and daughters so trained and educated that they will be fitted to shine as lights in the world. We need to understand in regard to the division of labor, and how each part of the work is to be carried forward. Each one should understand the part he is to act, that there may be harmony of plan and of labor in the combined work of all."-- Pages 32, 33.
"Properly conducted, the campmeeting is a school where pastors, elders, and deacons can learn to do more perfect work for the Master. It should be a school where the members of the church, old and young, are given opportunity to learn the way of the Lord more perfectly, a place where believers can receive an education that will help them to help others. . . .
"The best help that ministers can give the members of our churches is not sermonizing, but planning work for them. Give each one something to do for others. Help all to see that as receivers of the grace of Christ they are under obligation to work for him. And let all be taught how to work. Especially should those who are newly come to the faith be educated to become laborers together with God. If set to work, the despondent will soon forget their despondency; the weak will become strong, the ignorant intelligent, and all will be prepared to present the truth as it is in Jesus. They will find an unfailing helper in him who has promised to save all that come unto him."-- Pages 49, 50.
In some of our conferences, the leaders have hesitated to introduce these practical methods of instruction. Some are naturally inclined to sermonize rather than to teach. But on such occasions as our annual campmeetings, we must never lose sight of the opportunities afforded for teaching the believers how to do practical missionary work in the place where they may live. In many instances it would be well to set apart certain men to carry the burden of different lines of educational work at these meetings. Let some help the people to learn how to give Bible readings and to conduct cottage meetings. Let others bear the burden of teaching the people how to practise the principles of health and temperance, and how to give treatments to the sick. Still others may labor in the interests of our periodical and book work. And let chosen workers take a special interest in teaching many how to handle "Christ's Object Lessons" and "Ministry of Healing."
Many have never learned how to sell the books dedicated to the advancement of our institutional work. But such should not excuse themselves. They should study diligently how they may do their part faithfully in connection with the circulation of these precious books. Our schools and sanitariums must be conducted on a high plane of efficiency, and a solemn responsibility rests upon us all to help place these institutions on vantage ground by giving the relief books a wide circulation. God will be glorified by every one who takes an active interest in the work of placing these books in the hands of the multitudes who are in need of the saving truths of the gospel.
The opportunity we have of doing good by striving to carry out the Lord's plan for the relief of our schools and sanitariums, has been presented to me over and over again in connection with the Southern California Conference. The conditions there are unusually favorable for a long-continued effort to push the sale of "Christ's Object Lessons" and "Ministry of Healing." Our brethren and sisters in Southern California should never weary of this plan for raising money to meet the debts that have accumulated. The students of the Fernando School, and the nurses of the three sanitariums that have been established, can ill afford to lose the precious experiences in missionary work that come to those who handle the relief books. And the conference can ill afford to lose the results, spiritual as well as financial, that would accompany a continued effort of this sort.
But years have passed, and students who should have been gaining rich experiences in actual missionary work, have not been encouraged to launch out heartily in the sale of "Christ's Object Lessons." Church members in many places have daily met with strangers,--tourists, men and women of means and influence,--and yet such opportunities as these for circulating "Christ's Object Lessons" and "Ministry of Healing" have been allowed to pass by unimproved. Many honest-hearted persons who could have been reached by diligent, wholehearted effort, have not been given the light of the third angel's message. And all the while, money that was needed to found new institutions and to support laborers in mission fields, has been gathered for the benefit of one of our schools.
Had the Lord's plan been followed, his name would have been glorified, and many spiritual victories would have been won. Those having means would have been more able and willing to come up to the help of the Lord when he was leading out in an extraordinary manner in the establishment of strong medical missionary centers in the vicinity of great thoroughfares of travel. Students would have received a training that would have greatly increased their efficiency as practical missionaries at home and abroad.. Churches would have been revived with spiritual blessings. Many would have been won to the truth, and these would have brought into the cause their influence and their means.
In such places as Southern California, where thousands of tourists, many of them in search of health and strength, are constantly coming and going, special and continuous efforts should be put forth to scatter the bright rays of light and truth. The books, "Ministry of Healing" and "Christ's Object Lessons," are peculiarly adapted for use in tourist centers, and everything possible should be done to place copies of these works in the hands of those who have leisure and inclination to read. Especially do those who are seeking for restoration of health, need the book. "Ministry of Healing." Every favorable opportunity for reaching this class is to be improved.
My heart has rejoiced as I have learned of a revival of the relief work in Southern California during the past few months. At Loma Linda some of the nurses have been given a special training for the work of selling "Ministry of Healing;" and as they have visited homes in the neighboring cities and villages, the blessing of heaven has rested richly upon them, and favorable impressions have been made in behalf of our people and their work.
At the Fernando School, the teachers have recently led out in reviving an interest in the sale of "Christ's Object Lessons." Bands of students, after prayerful study of the book, have visited Los Angeles in company with their teachers, and have gained a sound, solid experience which they prize above silver and gold. This kind of work is, in fact, one of the means God has ordained for giving our youth a missionary training; and those who neglect to improve such opportunities lose out of their lives a chapter of experience of the highest value. By entering heartily into this work, students can learn how to approach with tact and discretion men and women in all walks of life, how to deal with them courteously, and how to lead them to give favorable consideration to the truths contained in the books that are sold.
Our greatest burden should be, not the raising of money, but the salvation of souls; and to this end we should do all in our power to teach students how to lead souls to a knowledge of the third angel's message. When we are successful in the work of soul saving, those who are added to the faith will, in turn, use their ability in giving the truth to others. When we labor diligently for the salvation of our fellow men, God will prosper our every effort.
To the presidents of conferences, and to others in positions of leading responsibility, I would say: Let us do all in our power to impress upon the teachers connected with our educational institutions the great value of the blessings in store for those who seek diligently to make the best possible use of the gift, "Christ's Object Lessons." Let us encourage the teachers to unite with many of their students in a prayerful study of this book, preparatory to going out with them into active field work. Let us help the educators to understand their responsibility in this matter. Let us do all we can to revive the "Christ's Object Lessons" work, and to inaugurate plans for an active campaign with "Ministry of Healing."
As teachers and students engage heartily in this line of work, they will gain an experience that will fit them to do valuable service in connection with our campmeetings. Through the instruction that they can give to the believers in attendance, and through the sale of many books in the places where such meetings are held, those who have been in the school will be able to do their part in reaching the multitudes who need to be given the third angel's message. Let teachers and students nobly bear their share of the burden of showing our own people how to communicate the message to their friends and neighbors.
When we follow plans of the Lord's devising, we are "laborers together with God." Whatever our position,--whether presidents of conferences, ministers, teachers, students, or lay members,--we are held accountable by the Lord for making the most of our opportunities to enlighten those in need of present truth. And one of the principal agencies he has ordained for our use is the printed page. In our schools and sanitariums, in our home churches, and particularly in our annual campmeetings, we must learn to make a wise use of this precious agency. With patient diligence, chosen workers must instruct our people how to approach unbelievers in a kindly, winning way, and how to place in their hands literature in which the truth for this time is presented with clearness and power.
My brethren and sisters, let us not become weary in well-doing. During his earthly ministry, Christ traveled on foot from place to place. Wearied, as he ofttimes was his human nature taxed to the uttermost, yet he was ever ready to heal all who came unto him, and to teach them the way of life eternal. Though often physically exhausted, he left not his work. There was a world to be saved. He made every sacrifice possible, in order that light and truth might shine forth.
The Lord God of Israel desires us to link up in holy union with himself, and exercise the living faith that works by love and purifies the soul. He desires that we shall be a working corps of laborers endowed with adaptability for his service; and to such he promises power to win a glorious victory for him. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #36)
(An Appeal to Ministers, Physicians, and Teachers in Southern California)--The men who stand as leaders in any part of the solemn work of the last gospel message must cultivate and cherish broad views and ideas. It is the privilege of all who bear responsibilities in the work of the gospel to be apt learners in the school of Christ. The professed follower of Christ must not be led by the dictates of his own will; his mind must be trained to think Christ's thoughts, and enlightened to comprehend the will and way of God. Such a believer will be a follower of Christ's methods of work.
Our brethren should not forget that the wisdom of God has made provision for our schools in a way that will bring blessing to all who participate in the enterprise. The book, "Christ's Object Lessons," was donated to the educational work, that the students and other friends of the schools might handle these books, and by their sale raise much of the means needed to lift the school indebtedness. But this plan has not been presented to our schools as it should have been; the teachers and students have not been educated to take hold of this book and courageously push its sale for the benefit of the educational work.
Long ago the teachers and students in our schools should have learned to take advantage of the opportunity to raise means by the sale of "Christ's Object Lessons." In selling these books the students will serve the cause of God, and, while doing this, by the dissemination of precious light, they will learn invaluable lessons in Christian experience. All our schools should now come into line, and earnestly endeavor to carry out the plan presented to us for the education of the workers, for the relief of the schools, and for the winning of souls to the cause of Christ.
In the cities of Riverside, Redlands, and San Bernardino a mission field is open to us that we have as yet only touched with the tips of our fingers. A good work has been done there as far as our workers have had encouragement to do it; but there is need of means to carry the work forward successfully. It was God's purpose that by the sale of "Ministry of Healing" and "Christ's Object Lessons" much means should be raised for the work of our sanitariums and schools, and that our people would thereby be left more free to donate of their means for the opening of the work in new missionary fields. If our people will now engage in the sale of these books as they ought, we shall have much more means to carry the work in the way the Lord designed.
Wherever the work of selling "Christ's Object Lessons" has been taken hold of in earnest, the book has done good. And the lessons that have been learned by those who have engaged in this work, have well repaid their efforts. And now our people should all be encouraged to take part in this special missionary effort. Light has been given me that in every possible way instruction should be given to our people as to the best methods of presenting these books to the people.
I have been instructed that at our large gatherings, workers should be present who will teach our people how to sow the seeds of truth. This means more than instructing them how to sell the Signs of the Times and other periodicals. It includes thorough instruction in how to handle such books as "Christ's Object Lessons" and "Ministry of Healing." These are books which contain precious truths, and from which the reader can draw lessons of highest value.
Why was not some one appointed at your campmeeting [in 1907] to present the interests of this line of work to our people? In your failure to do this, you lost a precious opportunity to place large blessings within the reach of the people, and you also lost an opportunity of raising means for the relief of our institutions. My brethren, let us encourage our people to take up this work without further delay.
There are some who have had experience in the sale of health foods who should now interest themselves in the sale of our precious books; for in them is food unto eternal life. Los Angeles has been presented to me as a very fruitful field for the sale of "Christ's Object Lessons" and "Ministry of Healing." The thousands of transient residents and visitors would be benefited by the lessons they contain, and those who bear responsibilities in our sanitariums should act wisely in this matter, encouraging all, nurses, helpers, and students, to gather by this means as much as possible of the money required to meet the expenses of the different institutions.
Why are our people so slow to understand what the Lord would have them do? Our leading workers should prepare beforehand to use their opportunities at our large and small gatherings to present these books to our people, and call for volunteers who will engage in their sale. When this work is entered into with the earnestness which our times demand, the indebtedness which now rests upon our schools will be greatly lessened. And then the people who are now being called upon to give largely of their means to support these institutions, will be free to turn a larger part of their offerings to missionary work in other needy places, where special efforts have not yet been made.
Great good will result from bringing these books to the attention of the leaders in the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. We should invite these workers to our meetings, and give them an opportunity to become acquainted with our people. Place these precious books in their hands, and tell them the story of their gift to the cause, and its results. Explain how, by the sale of "Ministry of Healing," patients may be brought to the sanitarium for healing who could never get there unaided; and how through this means assistance will be rendered in the establishment of sanitariums in places where they are greatly needed. If our sanitariums are wisely managed by men and women who have the fear of God before them, they will be a means of bringing us in connection with workers in the Women's Christian Temperance Union, and these workers will not be slow to see the advantage of the medical branch of our work. As a result of their contact with our medical work, some of them will learn truths that they need to know for the perfection of Christian character.
One point that should never be forgotten by our workers is that the Lord Jesus Christ is our chief director. He has outlined a plan by which the schools may be relieved of their indebtedness; and he will not vindicate the course of those who lay this plan aside for lack of confidence in its success. When his people will come up unitedly to the help of his cause in the earth, no good thing that God has promised will be withheld from them.
In places like Los Angeles, where the population is constantly changing, wonderful opportunities are presented for the sale of our books. A great loss has been sustained because our people have not more fully embraced this opportunity. Why should not the teachers and students from the San Fernando School make Los Angeles a special field for the sale of "Object Lessons"? If with earnestness and faith they will work out the plan that has been given us for the use of this book, angels of God will attend their steps, and the blessing of heaven will be upon their efforts.
It would have been an excellent thing if the teachers of the San Fernando School had, during the vacation, availed themselves of this opportunity to push the work with "Christ's Object Lessons." They would have found a blessing in going out with the students and teaching them how to meet the people, and how to introduce the book. The story of the gift of the book and its object would lead some to have a special interest in the book and in the school for which it is sold.
Why have not the teachers in our schools done more of this work? If our people would only realize it, there is no more acceptable work to be done in the home field than to engage in the sale of "Object Lessons;" for while they are thus helping to carry out the Lord's plan for the relief of our schools, they are also bringing the precious truths of the Word of God to the attention of the people.
The indifference that has been manifested by some toward this enterprise is displeasing to God. He desires that it shall be recognized by all our people as his method of relieving our schools from debt. It is because this plan has been neglected that we now feel so keenly our lack of means for the advancing work. Had the schools availed themselves of the provision thus made for them, there would be more money in the school treasury, and more money in the hands of his people to relieve the necessities of other needy departments of the cause, and, best of all, teachers and students would have received the very lessons that they needed to learn in the Master's service.
I send you these lines because I see that there is need of a deeper intuition, a wider perception, on the part of our medical and educational workers, if they would get all the benefit that God intends shall come to them through the use of "Object Lessons" and "Ministry of Healing." I ask you, my brethren, to read these words to our people, that they may learn to show the spirit of wisdom, and of power, and of a sound mind. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #36)
To know one's self is great knowledge. True self-knowledge will lead to a humility that will allow the Lord to train the mind, and mold and discipline the character. The grace of humility is greatly needed by the workers for Christ in this period of the world's history. No teacher can do acceptable work who does not bear in mind his own deficiencies and who does not drop out from his reckoning all plans that will weaken his spiritual life. When teachers are willing to drop out from their work everything that is unessential for the life eternal, then they can be said indeed to be working out their salvation with fear and trembling, and to be building wisely for eternity.
I am instructed to say that some of our teachers are far behind in an understanding of the kind of education needed for this period of earth's history. This is not a time for students to be gathering up a mass of knowledge that they can not take with them to the school above. Let us carefully weed out from our course of study all that can be spared, that we may have room in the minds of the students in which to plant the seeds of righteousness. This instruction will bear fruit unto eternal life.
Every teacher should be a daily learner in the school of Christ, lest he lose the sense of what constitutes true physical, mental, and moral excellence. No one should place himself as a teacher of others who is not constantly working out his own salvation by receiving and imparting an all-round education. The true teacher will educate himself in moral excellence, that by precept and example he may lead souls to understand the lessons of the Great Teacher. No one should be encouraged to do the work of teaching who will be satisfied with a low standard. No one is fitted to teach the grand mysteries of godliness till Christ is formed within, the hope of glory.
Every teacher needs to receive the truth in the love of its sacred principles; then he can not fail of exerting an influence that is purifying and uplifting. The teacher whose soul is stayed upon Christ will speak and act like a Christian. Such a one will not be satisfied until the truth cleanses his life from every unessential thing. He will not be satisfied unless his mind is day by day molded by the holy influences of the Spirit of God. Then Christ can speak to the heart, and his voice, saying, "This is the way; walk ye in it," will be heard and obeyed.
The teacher who has a right understanding of the work of true education, will not think it sufficient now and then to make casual reference to Christ. With his own heart warm with the love of God, he will constantly uplift the Man of Calvary. His own soul imbued with the Spirit of God, he will seek to fasten the attention of the students upon the pattern Christ Jesus, the chiefest among ten thousand, the One altogether lovely.
The Holy Spirit is greatly needed in our schools. This divine agency comes to the world as Christ's representative. It is not only the faithful and true witness of the Word of God, but it is the searcher of the thoughts and purposes of the heart. It is the source to which we must look for efficiency in the restoration of the moral image of God in man. The Holy Spirit was eagerly sought for in the schools of the prophets; its transforming influence was to bring even the thoughts into harmony with the will of God, and establish a living connection between earth and heaven.
Teachers, if you will open your hearts to the indwelling of the Spirit of God, if you will welcome the heavenly guest, God will make you laborers together with him. In cooperation with the Master Teacher, the spirit of selfishness will be expelled, and wonderful transformations will take place.
In the night season these words were spoken to me: "Charge the teachers in our schools to prepare the students for what is coming upon the world." The Lord has been waiting long for our teachers to walk in the light he has sent them. There is need of a humbling of self, that Christ may restore the moral image of God in man. The character of the education given must be greatly changed before it can give the right mold to our institutions. It is only when intellectual and moral powers are combined for the attainment of education, that the standard of the Word of God is reached.
These words were clearly and forcibly spoken: "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. Press together; press together, and love as brethren. Pray together." The Lord has paid the price of his own blood for the salvation of the world. He suffered every indignity that men could devise and Satan could invent, in order to carry out the plan of salvation. Let not the teacher seek to exalt self, but let him see the necessity of learning of Christ daily, and making him the pattern. For teachers and students our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ should be the only example.
Bear in mind that the Lord will accept as teachers only those who will be gospel teachers. A great responsibility rests upon those who attempt to teach the last gospel message. They are to be laborers together with God in the training of human minds. The teacher who fails to keep the Bible standard always before him, misses an opportunity of being a laborer together with God in giving to the mind the mold that is essential for a place in the heavenly courts. Ellen G. White.
(Vol. 85, #37)
When connected with other lines of gospel effort, medical missionary work is a most effective instrument by which the ground is prepared for the sowing of the seeds of truth, and the instrument also by which the harvest is reaped. Medical missionary work is the helping hand of the gospel ministry. So far as possible, it would be well for evangelical workers to learn how to minister to the necessities of the body as well as the soul; for in doing this, they are following the example of Christ. Intemperance has well-nigh filled the world with disease, and the ministers of the gospel can not spend their time and strength in relieving all in need of help. The Lord has ordained that Christian physicians and nurses shall labor in connection with those who preach the Word. The medical missionary work is to be bound up with the gospel ministry.
In no place is there greater need of genuine gospel medical missionary work than among the colored people in the South. Had such a work been done for them immediately after the proclamation of freedom, their condition today would have been very different. Medical missionary work must be carried forward for the colored people. Sanitariums and treatment rooms should be established in many places. These will open doors for the entrance of Bible truth.
This work will require devoted men and means, and much wise planning. Years ago we should have been training colored men and women to care for the sick. Plans should now be made to do a quick work. Let promising colored youth--young men and young women of good Christian character--be given a thorough training for this line of service. Let them be imbued with the thought that in all their work they are to proclaim the third angel's message. Strong, intelligent, consecrated colored nurses will find a wide field of usefulness opening before them.
The Lord Jesus is our example. He came to the world as the servant of mankind. He went from city to city, from village to village, teaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing the sick. Christ spent more time in healing than in teaching.
As our example, Christ linked closely together the work of healing and teaching, and in this our day they should not be separated. In our schools and sanitariums, nurses should be trained to go out as a medical missionary evangelists. They should unite the teaching of the gospel of Christ with the work of healing.
The Lord has instructed us that with our training schools there should be connected small sanitariums, that the students may have opportunity to gain a knowledge of medical missionary work. This line of work is to be brought into our schools as part of the regular instruction. Huntsville has been especially pointed out as a school in connection with which there should be facilities for thoroughly training consecrated colored youth who desire to become competent nurses and hygienic cooks. Let us rejoice that the managers of our Huntsville school are now planning to carry out this instruction without further delay. Let us help them make Huntsville a strong training center for medical missionary workers.
The colored medical missionary worker stands on vantage ground. In the providence of God, a wide field of usefulness is open to him. He is permitted to enter where others are refused admission. In his consistent daily life of self-denial and self-sacrifice, he may exert a quiet yet far-reaching influence in behalf of the truth for this time. And he will not lack opportunity for testifying of the saving grace by which his life is being constantly transformed into the likeness of the great Medical Missionary.
To many of the colored people, the difficulties against which they have to contend seem almost insurmountable. But there are those who will not give up. All who are conscientiously and in the fear of God trying to acquire an education are to be helped and encouraged. There is talent among the colored race, and this talent will be developed where least expected. Every advantage possible is to be given to the colored youth who are capable of becoming useful workers in the Lord's vineyard. There are those who with proper training can be prepared to conduct sanitariums for colored people. In all cases they will need, at times, the assistance of white workers, but their talents will tell greatly for the success of the work.
O, that we might catch a glimpse of the work God desires us to accomplish for the colored people in the South! Could the veil be removed, could we but realize the distressing condition of thousands suffering from physical and spiritual maladies, how earnestly would we plan to train suitable colored workers to go forth to minister to the needs of their own race! How gladly would we come up to the help of the Lord, by giving freely of our means for the establishment and maintenance of training centers where colored youth could be fitted for helpful service as true medical missionary evangelists! May God enable us to discern the opportunities now afforded us to lay broad plans for carrying forward this line of work in a manner befitting its importance.
Those who are able to relieve the sick of their temporal infirmities, will often find ready access to hearts. Grateful for the loving ministry performed in their behalf, many will gladly listen to words of spiritual comfort and consolation. Their hearts will be susceptible to the influence of the Holy Spirit, as the consecrated medical missionary opens the Scriptures of truth, and brings to their attention the special warning message for this time. Many will decide to yield their all to the Lord.
Such a work as this is sadly needed in the cities of the South. Thousands of colored people have drifted into these congested centers. In many, many families, want and misery and deep spiritual poverty prevail. For such classes as these, the medical missionary evangelist is peculiarly fitted. But work of this character can not be undertaken unless the workers are first trained, and then supplied with needed facilities. Means is needed for the prosecution of such work. And in the privilege of contributing to the support of his cause in the earth, God has graciously given us opportunity to participate in the rewards of those who engage in this line of service.
Soon the work of God in the earth will close triumphantly. Soon those who have remained steadfast unto the end will be granted an abundant entrance into the kingdom of our Lord. As the opportunities for service are now presented, shall we not quickly respond, giving freely of our means for the support of the closing work? It is now our privilege to return unto the Lord his own, in freewill gifts and offerings; soon we shall receive the reward of the faithful.
Of all the joys that await the redeemed in the earth made new, one of the highest will be the privilege of mingling our voices with the voices of those whom we have helped to save, in praise and adoration to the One who put into our hearts a desire to give. As God hath prospered us, let us now do all in our power to further the interests of his kingdom. Soon "the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #38)
The necessities of the times demand that most earnest efforts be put forth for the advancement of the third angel's message. Evil angels are endeavoring by every ingenious method to counterwork the work of God. Heavenly agencies are laboring to make effective the message of light and truth. Yet at such a time a lack of consecration and faith is manifest among God's people that is grieving the Holy Spirit. Many of our workers seem to be sleeping.
To many the Bible is as a lamp without oil, because the knowledge of the Word is turned into channels of speculation that bring misunderstanding and confusion to minds. This has been done by some to such a degree as to give occasion for those who are watching us to make of none effect the message of truth. I am instructed to ask our leading men and ministers, Are you laborers together with God? or do you place your own interpretation upon the Word? It is the duty of every worker to ask himself the question, Whom am I serving? Beware, brethren, lest self be interwoven with your exposition of the Word. Beware lest you lead any soul to a misunderstanding of the Word. The Lord now calls for the truth to be presented in its simplicity, that all, even the most ignorant, may understand its requirements.
The psalmist writes: "Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord. Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart. They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways. Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently. O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes! Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments. I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments. I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly.
"Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Blessed art thou, O Lord: teach me thy statutes. With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth. I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches. I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word."
Let the young men and women study these words, and encourage a spirit that will desire to heed the way of the Lord.
David continues: "Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word. Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law. . . . Teach me, O Lord, the way of thy statutes; and I will keep it unto the end. Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I will observe it with my whole heart. Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight. Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness. Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way. Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear. Turn away my reproach which I fear: for thy judgments are good. Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness."
Such prayers as this the Lord's servants should be continually offering to him. This prayer reveals a consecration to God of heart and mind; it is the consecration that God is asking us to make.
The Word of God brings plainly to view two classes of people, the wise and the foolish. Let those who profess to know the truth for these last days take heed that they be not found among the foolish, whose lamps are going out because they have failed to supply themselves with the holy oil, the spirit and grace of Christ. Through the agency of the two anointed ones who stand by the Lord of the whole earth, provision has been made that every soul may be abundantly supplied.
Unless there is a connection with heavenly agencies, the strong, pure influence which should be exerted by every worker in the field will be lacking. They will be no more prepared to do the work which the Lord expects them to do than were the foolish virgins prepared to answer the call, "Behold, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him." The Holy Spirit will not be represented in their labors. They have the form of the truth; they have the lamp, but they have no oil in their vessels. The power of a godly example is lacking. There is no living experience to give power to the truth presented.
If the influence of heavenly agencies is not combined with human effort, the word of truth presented will be ineffective. Great zeal may be manifested, but if the daily example is not a living, powerful influence for good, the zeal will be worthless. Unless the Spirit of God accompanies the worker to correct every unsanctified way, his work will be superficial and weak.
Spiritual things, the apostle Paul declares, are spiritually discerned. "Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; but have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the eyes of them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us."
I am instructed to say to many professed believers, Unless you look upon your religious experience in an altogether different light than you have, you are going to meet with keen disappointment. The righteousness of Christ is revealed from faith to faith; that is, from your present faith to an increased understanding of the faith which works by love and purifies the soul. Those who endure trial for the truth's sake, who make sacrifices to help those in need, do so because of the presence of the love of God in the soul. When men and women give themselves unreservedly to the exercise of unselfish works, it is because the grace of Christ is in the heart, molding the life to his example. But if the heart is destitute of the Spirit of God, if it does not possess the rich grace of God, there is no oil in the vessel with the lamp, there is no treasure in the earthen vessel.
Those who are genuinely converted will not act like the worldling, but their experience will answer to the words of the apostle Paul when he declared: "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith." When Christ imparts to any the blessings of his grace, he lays the recipients under special obligation to place their capabilities and powers at the service of God. They are called so to relate themselves to the work of the Master, that they will reveal in all their actions that they are converted. In their reverence and homage for the character of Christ, they will reproduce that character in their own, thus testifying to the attributes of the Father.
There is need that we study carefully the evidence we give in our own lives that we are Christians. On the part of some, evidence has been given of an unchristian spirit. They have revealed that they need a reconversion if they would not be disappointed in the great day of final award.
There are troublous times before us, when everything that can be shaken will be shaken. For this conflict with the powers of evil we are bidden to arm ourselves with all the armor of God, "above all," the apostle exhorts, "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."
We have reason for great thankfulness that we have the perfect example of the life of Christ. As he did, so day by day we are to obey the word of the Lord. Let us cultivate a grateful spirit. Let us make sure work for eternity. The humility and benevolence of Christ's life revealed in ours, is the testimony we give to the world that we are his disciples. Through a life of obedience and self-sacrifice we are to reveal the love of God for fallen man.
Those who would have the life that measures with the life of God, must be workers in this life. They must watch unto prayer. They must not fail nor be discouraged. By faith they must work out their own salvation. By faith and complete submission to the will of God, they must become partakers of God's love and doers of his will. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #39)
The story of a crucified and risen Saviour is the great central theme of the Word of God. In the Psalms, in the prophecies, in the gospels, and in the epistles, God has by revelation made prominent the vital truths concerning the agreement between the Father and the Son in providing for the salvation of a lost race.
Christ was crucified to save the world. For his enemies, for a race in rebellion against God, our Saviour suffered the most excruciating agonies that human flesh could endure. He has made ample provision for sinners, that they need not perish. In the light of his death-agony on the cross, we may know that whosoever will truly repent and receive him as a personal Saviour will receive everlasting life.
Our highest privilege is to honor Jesus Christ. We need now, in this year 1908, a continual spirit of submission to the will and requirements of God. His Word is plain. If we will seek for a personal experience in submitting to its requirements, we may appropriate the promise, "The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way." As we study the Word prayerfully, with an obedient heart, the Holy Spirit will be with us to make upon our minds the correct application.
This is a privilege that the world can not receive or understand; for they have not the "Spirit of truth, whom," Christ declared, "the world can not receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him." But to his disciples he says, "Ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." You have the mind of Christ.
In the parable of the marriage of the king's son, Jesus relates how, after earnest efforts, "the wedding was furnished with guests." He continues: "When the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: and he said unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen."
It has been repeatedly revealed to me that many professing Christians will, in the time of the final test, be greatly disappointed. Many, many will fail to provide themselves with that righteousness of Christ represented in the parable by the wedding garment. They have trusted in their own righteousness, and have not manifested the humility of Jesus Christ. They may be seated at the supper table with others, but Christ will recognize them, and will say to them, "How camest thou in hither not having on a wedding garment?"
Unless those who profess to be Christians become sanctified through the truth, and learn to reveal the likeness of Christ in words, in deeds, in spirituality, in their relation to their fellow men, the great day of test and trial will find them unprepared to enter through the golden gates into the city of God. And unless they can now be made to feel their great need, they will not have a spirit to seek for the essential righteousness of Christ.
When called before King Belshazzar to explain the mysterious writing on the wall, Daniel reminded the king of matters with which he was familiar, but which had not taught him the lesson of humility that might have saved him. "O thou king," said the prophet, "the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honor: and for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down. But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him: and he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will."
Then the enormity of Belshazzar's guilt was thus emphasized: "And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knowest all this; but hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them, and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is and whose are all thy ways hast thou not glorified: then was the part of the hand sent from him; and this writing was written.
"And this is the writing that was written, Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin. This is the interpretation of the thing: Mene, God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. Tekel; Thou are weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. Peres; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians."
The Lord does not suffer wicked practises to go on without sending reproof and warning. There are men in high places who know of the reproofs, of warnings, of judgment sent, who know the example of God's dealings with others who have been disobedient, yet who have not sought to correct their ways before God. They have endeavored rather to make of none effect the messages that God has sent. They have continued to exalt themselves, and to carry out their own ways in defiance of the words of God. They have not been ignorant of the right way, but they have allowed their eyes to be blinded. In pronouncing judgment upon these, God will say, as he said to the wicked king, "Thou . . . hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this."
Many have continued in a wicked course of action, until the Lord Jesus can not accept their services unless there is a genuine conversion. His people today have no excuse for turning away from the counsels of his Spirit. In his Word, he has given us examples that should be warnings to us, yet although we have known all this, many of God's people have not taken heed to the warnings of God.
"Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
"Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.
"Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."
Among the many discordant elements, some have been unable to discern the voice of God in the messages of warning and reproof that have been sent for the guidance of the church.
Men who have refused to walk in the plain counsel of the Lord, are not the ones who should be entrusted with the care of his sheep and lambs. Those who, while professing to believe the truth, resist the Holy Spirit, making light of the message from heaven, will surely be punished for their transgressions. They will not in the future have greater evidence of the truth of these messages than has been given in the past. The Lord forbids that they should be entrusted with responsibilities that they might have borne, had they heeded the messages that the Lord in mercy sent them.
The angel of the Lord instructed me, "Go, stand before my people, and speak to them the words that I will give you for church members and for unbelievers. I will give you tongue and utterance. You have been called from the needy field in Australia to bear a living testimony that, if heeded, will be the salvation of many souls. New agents must occupy the field you have left. I have a work for you among a people, many of whom have followed their own evil course, and refuse to come to the light."
Christ was the greatest missionary this world has ever known. The Word has been made flesh, and dwelt among us as a minister of healing to both soul and body. His work is to be carried forward in the earth today. The only work worthy of our attention in this world is the advancement of the kingdom of God. To those who will unite as agents of Christ in the carrying forward of his work in the earth, the promise is sure that they shall receive souls for their hire.
The salvation of fallen and sinful humanity is a grand cooperative work, in which every being from the loftiest angel to the lowliest saint has his appointed place. The innumerable company of angels are united with us, in cooperation with God and Jesus Christ, in the work of saving souls. Think of this, you who feel no burden to be united with Christ, that his church may be revealed as a body of laborers together with God.
Let all draw together in unity, their dependence placed upon Christ Jesus. "Ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular." The truth is a sanctifying, unifying power. We are baptized into one body, and united through the sanctification of the Holy Spirit. In carrying forward the work of the Lord, there will not be one indifferent member. If one member suffers, all the others will suffer with him. If one member receives a rich blessing, all the members will rejoice with him.
The Lord of heaven and earth is the strength of his people. He is the light and life of every truly converted soul. His Spirit, working with its quickening power, will be recognized by its inspiration, and its abiding influence. Christ our Lord identifies himself with the members of his church. It is this union of the human and the divine that convicts the world. Through the blessed union of those who are sanctified body, soul, and spirit, the truth is magnified. All are to blend in keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace.
To the principalities and powers in heavenly places is made known by the church the manifold wisdom of God. Were all who profess to be church members truly converted, what a power for truth and holiness would be manifested. They would be laborers together with God in leading souls to Christ. There can be no repining when Christ is formed within, the hope of glory.
The message I have to bear is that a much higher standard must be reached by God's people. I entreat all to heed this warning. I dare not cease to "cry aloud," and "spare not," and show God's people "their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins." It is time that we all understood our true position, and that we give, in righteous characters, the evidence that we possess the truth. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #40)
Many are spiritually weak because they look at themselves instead of at Christ. Looking at themselves, and seeing only discouragement and unworthiness, they forget that God is waiting to make them agencies for the blessing of the world, and that angels are waiting to be colaborers with them.
Christ is the great storehouse from which on every occasion we may draw strength and happiness. Why, then, do we withdraw our eyes form his sufficiency to look on and bemoan our weakness? Why do we forget that he is ready to help us in every time of need? We dishonor him by talking of our inefficiency. Instead of looking at ourselves, let us constantly behold Jesus, daily becoming more and more like him, more and more able to talk of him, better prepared to avail ourselves of his kindness and helpfulness, and to receive the blessings offered us. As we thus live in communion with him, we grow strong in his strength, a help and a blessing to those around us.
Christ has made every provision for us to be strong. He has given us his Holy Spirit, whose office is to bring to our remembrance all the promises that Christ has made, that we may have peace and a sweet sense of forgiveness. If we will but keep our eyes fixed on the Saviour, and trust in his power, we shall be filled with a sense of security; for the righteousness of Christ will become our righteousness.
If we would only do as the Lord desires us to, our hearts would become as sacred harps, every chord of which would sound forth praise and gratitude to the Redeemer sent by God to take away the sin of the world. With joy we would be able to say, "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom also we have access by faith into the grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also; knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope; and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us."
When temptations assail you, as they surely will, when care and perplexity surround you, when, distressed and discouraged, you are almost ready to yield to despair, look, O look, to where with the eye of faith you last saw the light; and the darkness that encompasseth you will be dispelled by the bright shining of his glory. When sin struggles for the mastery in your soul, and burdens the conscience, when unbelief clouds the mind, go to the Saviour. His grace is sufficient to subdue sin. He will pardon us, making us joyful in God.
Looking at self, we see only weakness, and we forget God's purpose for us. We forget that he placed on us so high a value that he gave Christ to die for us. O, after all that has been done for us, how can we disappoint Christ by failing to live the life that he has made it possible for us to live? Let us no longer talk of our inefficiency and lack of power. Forgetting the things that are behind, let us press forward in the heavenward way. Let us neglect no opportunity that, if improved, will make us more useful in God's service. Then like threads of gold, holiness will run through our lives, and the angels, beholding our consecration, will repeat the promise, "I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir." All heaven rejoices when weak, faulty human beings give themselves to Jesus, to live his life. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #41)
To know one's self is great knowledge. True self-knowledge will lead to a humility that will allow the Lord to train the mind, and mold and discipline the character. The grace of humility is greatly needed by the workers for Christ in this period of the world's history. No teacher can do acceptable work who does not bear in mind his own deficiencies, and does not drop out from his reckoning all plans that will weaken his spiritual life. When teachers are willing to drop out from their work everything that is unessential for the life eternal, then they can be said indeed to be working out their salvation with fear and trembling, and to be building wisely for eternity.
I am instructed to say that some of our teachers are far behind in an understanding of the kind of education needed for this period of earth's history. This is not a time for students to be gathering up a mass of knowledge that they can not take with them to the school above. Let us carefully weed out from our course of study all that can be spared, that we may have room in the minds of the students in which to plant the seeds of righteousness. This instruction will bear fruit unto eternal life.
Every teacher should be a daily learner in the school of Christ, lest he lose the sense of what constitutes true physical, mental, and moral excellence. No one should place himself as a teacher of others who is not constantly working out his own salvation by receiving and imparting an all-round education. The true teacher will educate himself in moral excellence, that by precept and example he may lead souls to understand the lessons of the Great Teacher. No one should be encouraged to do the work of teaching who will be satisfied with a low standard. No one is fitted to teach the grand mysteries of godliness till Christ is formed within, the hope of glory.
Every teacher needs to receive the truth in the love of its sacred principles; then he can not fail of exerting an influence that is purifying and uplifting. The teacher whose soul the truth cleanses, refines, and ennobles, whose heart is stayed upon Christ, will speak and act like a Christian. Such an one will not be satisfied until the truth cleanses his life from every unessential thing. He will not be satisfied unless his mind is day by day being molded by the holy influences of the Spirit of God. Then Christ can speak to the heart, and his voice, saying, "This is the way, walk ye in it," will be heard and obeyed.
The teacher who has a right understanding of the work of true education, will not think it sufficient now and then to make casual reference to Christ. With his own heart warm with the love of God, he will constantly uplift the man of Calvary. His own soul imbued with the Spirit of God, he will seek to fasten the attention of the students upon the pattern Christ Jesus, the chiefest among ten thousand, the One altogether lovely.
The Holy Spirit is greatly needed in our schools. This divine agency comes to the world as Christ's representative. He is not only the faithful and true witness to the Word of God, but he is the searcher of the thoughts and purposes of the heart. He is the source to which we must look for efficiency in the restoration of the moral image of God in man. The Holy Spirit was eagerly sought for in the schools of the prophets; his transforming influence was to bring even the thoughts into harmony with the will of God, and establish a living connection between earth and heaven.
Teachers, if you will open your hearts to the indwelling of the Spirit of God, if you will welcome the heavenly Guest, God will make you laborers together with him. In cooperation with the Master Teacher, the spirit of selfishness will be expelled, and wonderful transformations will take place. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #41)
"And when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another." You are not to expose yourself when it is not necessary for the glory of God, and have your life cut short when there is no occasion. When you are endangered because of the spirit of persecution, seek another refuge. This is what Jesus did, and there are other places besides the one in which you are, where God will manifest his power through your efforts for the salvation of souls.-- Mrs. E. G. White, in Review and Herald, May 3, 1892.
(Vol. 85, #42)
"Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ."
"Grace be to you." We owe everything to God's free grace. Grace in the covenant ordained our adoption. Grace in the Saviour effected our redemption, our regeneration, and our exaltation to heirship with Christ. Not because we first loved him, did God love us; but "while we were yet sinners," Christ died for us, making full and abundant provision for our redemption. Although by our disobedience we have merited God's displeasure and condemnation, yet he has not forsaken us, leaving us to grapple with the power of the enemy. Heavenly angels fight our battles for us, and, cooperating with them, we may be victorious over the powers of evil.
We should never have learned the meaning of this word "grace," had we not fallen. God loves the sinless angels, who do his service, and are obedient to all his commands; but he does not give them grace. These heavenly beings know naught of grace; they have never needed it, for they have never sinned. Grace is an attribute of God shown to undeserving human beings. We ourselves did not seek after it, but it was sent out in search of us.
God rejoices to bestow this grace upon all who hunger for it, not because we are worthy, but because we are so utterly unworthy. Our need is the qualification which gives us the assurance that we shall receive this gift.
"And peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ." Every man's experience testifies to the truth of the words of Scripture: "The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it can not rest. . . . There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked." Sin has destroyed our peace. While self is unsubdued, we can find no rest. The masterful passions of the heart no human power can control. We are as helpless here as were the disciples to control the raging storm. But he who spoke peace to the billows of Galilee has spoken the word of peace for every soul. However fierce the tempest, those who turn to Jesus with the cry, "Lord, save us," will find deliverance. His grace, which reconciles the soul to God, quiets the strife of human passion, and in his love the heart is at rest. "He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven." "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." "The work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever."
Whoever consents to renounce sin, and open his heart to the love of Christ, becomes a partaker of this heavenly peace. There is no other ground of peace than this. The grace of Christ, received into the heart, subdues enmity; it allays strife, and fills the soul with love. He who is at peace with God and his fellow men can not be made miserable. Envy will not be in his heart; evil surmisings will find no room there; hatred can not exist. The heart that is in harmony with God is a partaker of the peace of heaven, and will diffuse its blessed influence on all around. The spirit of peace will rest like dew upon hearts weary and troubled with worldly strife.
Christ's followers are sent to the world with the message of peace. Whoever, by the quiet, unconscious influence of a holy life, shall reveal the love of Christ; whoever, by word or deed, shall lead another to renounce sin, and yield his heart to God, is a peacemaker.
And "blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God." The spirit of peace is evidence of their connection with heaven. The sweet savor of Christ surrounds them. The fragrance of the life, the loveliness of the character, reveal to the world the fact that they are children of God. Men take knowledge of them, that they have been with Jesus. "Every one that loveth is born of God." "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his;" but "as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God."
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," the apostle continues, "who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ." What is there left for us to ask, that is not included in this merciful, abundant provision? Through the merits of Christ we are blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. It is our privilege to draw nigh to God, to breathe in the atmosphere of his presence. If we keep ourselves in close union with the common, cheap, sensual things of this earth, Satan will interpose his shadow, so that we shall fail to discern the blessedness of the promises and assurances of God, and so shall fail to be strengthened to attain to a high spiritual standard. Nothing short of abiding in the presence of Christ will bring peace, freedom, courage, and power.
"According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love." There can be no misunderstanding here, unless there is wilful blindness. We are to be holy and without blame before him in love. The condition on which we receive an increase of grace is that we improve upon the light we already have. If we would find, we must go on continually seeking; if we would receive, we must ask; if we would have the door opened, we must knock.
"God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." In this text the two agencies in the salvation of man are revealed,--the divine influence, the strong, living faith of those who follow Christ. It is through the sanctification of the Spirit and the belief of the truth, that we become laborers together with God. God waits for the cooperation of his church. He does not design to add a new element of efficiency to his Word; he has done his great work in giving his inspiration to the Word. The blood of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the divine Word, are ours. The object of all this provision of heaven is before us; and it depends upon us to lay hold of the promises God has given, and become laborers together with him.
Sanctification is the work, not of a day or of a year, but of a lifetime. The struggle for conquest over self, for holiness and heaven, is a lifelong struggle. Without continual effort and constant activity, there can be no advancement in the divine life, no attainment of the victor's crown.
Paul's sanctification was the result of a constant conflict with self. He said, "I die daily." His will and his desires every day conflicted with duty and the will of God. Instead of following inclination, he did God's will, however crucifying to his own nature.
God leads his people on step by step. The Christian life is a battle and a march. In this warfare there is no release; the effort must be continuous and persevering. It is by unceasing endeavor that we maintain the victory over the temptations of Satan. Christian integrity must be sought with resistless energy, and maintained with a resolute fixedness of purpose.
There is a science of Christianity to be mastered,--a science as much deeper, broader, higher, than any human science as the heavens are higher than the earth. The mind is to be disciplined, educated, trained; for we are to do service for God in ways that are not in harmony with inborn inclination. There are hereditary and cultivated tendencies to evil that must be overcome. Our hearts must be educated to become steadfast in God. We are to form habits of thought that will enable us to resist temptation.. By a life of holy endeavor and firm adherence to the right, the children of God are to seal their destiny.
God has "predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved."
The word that was spoken to Jesus at the Jordan, embraces humanity. God spoke to Jesus as our representative. With all our sins and weaknesses, we are not cast aside as worthless. "He hath made us accepted in the Beloved." The glory that rested upon Christ is a pledge of the love of God for us. It tells us of the power of prayer,--how the human voice may reach the ear of God, and our petitions find acceptance in the courts of heaven. By sin, earth was cut off from heaven, and alienated from its communion; but Jesus has connected it again with the sphere of glory. His love has encircled man, and reached the highest heaven. The light which fell from the open portals upon the head of our Saviour, will fall upon us as we pray for help to resist temptation. The voice which spoke to Jesus says to every believing soul, "This is my beloved child, in whom I am well pleased."
"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." Our Redeemer has opened the way, so that the most sinful, the most needy, the most oppressed and despised, may find access to the Father. All may have a home in the mansions which Jesus has gone to prepare. "These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth, and shutteth, and no man openeth; . . . Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #43)
"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, . . . that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, . . . the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace."
Such are the words in which "Paul the aged," "the prisoner of Jesus Christ," writing from his prison house at Rome, endeavored to set before his brethren that which he found language inadequate to express in its fulness,--"the unsearchable riches of Christ,"--the treasure of grace freely offered to the fallen sons of men. The plan of redemption was laid by a sacrifice, a gift. Says the apostle: "Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich." "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son." Christ "gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity." And as the crowning blessing of redemption, "the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
"In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: that we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory."
Christ, by his sacrifice paying the penalty of sin, would not only redeem man, but recover the dominion which man had forfeited. All that was lost by the first Adam will be restored by the second. The prophet says, "O Tower of the flock, the stronghold of the daughter of Zion, to thee shall it come, even the first dominion." And Paul points forward to the "redemption of the purchased possession." God created the earth to be the abode of holy, happy beings. That purpose will be fulfilled when, renewed by the power of God, and freed from sin and sorrow, it shall become the eternal home of the redeemed.
A fear of making the future inheritance seem too material has led many to spiritualize away the very truths which lead us to look upon it as our home. Christ assured his disciples that he went to prepare mansions for them in the Father's house. Those who accept the teachings of God's Word will not be wholly ignorant concerning the heavenly abode. And yet "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." Human language is inadequate to describe the reward of the righteous. It will be known only to those who behold it. No finite mind can comprehend the glory of the paradise of God.
In the Bible the inheritance of the saved is called a country. There the heavenly Shepherd leads his flock to fountains of living waters. The tree of life yields its fruit every month, and the leaves of the tree are for the service of the nations, There are ever-flowing streams, clear as crystal, and beside them waving trees cast their shadows upon the paths prepared for the ransomed of the Lord. There the widespreading plains swell into hills of beauty, and the mountains of God rear their lofty summits. On those peaceful plains, beside those living streams, God's people, so long pilgrims and wanderers, shall find a home.
"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God." What love, what matchless love, that, sinners and aliens as we are, we may be brought back to God, and adopted into his family! We may address him by the endearing name, "Our Father," which is a sign of our affection for him, and a pledge of his tender regard and relationship to us. And the Son of God, beholding the heirs of grace, "is not ashamed to call them brethren." They have even a more sacred relationship to God than have the angels who have never fallen.
All the paternal love which has come down from generation to generation through the channel of human hearts, all the springs of tenderness which have opened in the souls of men, are but as a tiny rill to the boundless ocean, when compared with the infinite, exhaustless love of God. Tongue can not utter it; pen can not portray it. You may meditate upon it every day of your life; you may search the Scriptures diligently in order to understand it; you may summon every power and capability that God has given you, in the endeavor to comprehend the love and compassion of the Heavenly Father; and yet there is an infinity beyond. You may study that love for ages; yet you can never fully comprehend the length and the breadth, the depth and the height, of the love of God in giving his Son to die for the world. Eternity itself can never fully reveal it. Yet as we study the Bible, and meditate upon the life of Christ and the plan of redemption, these great themes will open to our understanding more and more. And it will be ours to realize the blessing which Paul desired for the Ephesian church, when he prayed "that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe."
Christ's redeemed ones are his jewels, his precious and peculiar treasure. "They shall be as the stones of a crown,"--"the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints." In them "he shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied." Christ looks upon his people in their purity and perfection as the reward of all his sufferings, his humiliation, and his love, and the supplement of his glory,--Christ the great center, from whom radiates all glory. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #44)
There are many professed Christians who know not Christ by an experimental knowledge. They are not converted; for self is the all-absorbing theme of their life. They do not sit at the feet of Jesus, as did Mary, and learn of him. They are not ready for Christ's coming. They are Christians only in name.
O, how my heart aches for these poor deceived, unprepared souls! As I stand before congregations, and see the self-sufficient, self-righteous ones, and know that they are not preparing themselves to do acceptable work for Christ, and to meet him in peace, my heart is burdened for them. What can I say to them that will arouse them to a sense of their true condition? I long to reveal Christ so plainly that they will behold him, and cease to center their attention on self.
In the night season I was in a company of people whose hearts were filled with vanity and conceit, and Christ was hid from their eyes. Suddenly, in loud, clear accents, the words were heard, "Jesus is coming to take to himself those who on this earth have loved and served him, to be with him in his kingdom forever." Many of those in the company went forth in their costly apparel to meet him. They kept looking at their dress. But when they saw his glory, and realized that their estimation of one another had been so largely measured by outward appearance, they knew that they were without the robe of Christ's righteousness, and that the blood of souls was on their garments.
When Christ took his chosen ones, they were left; for they were not ready. In their lives, self had been given the first place; and when the Saviour came, they were not prepared to meet him.
I awoke with the picture of their agonized countenances stamped on my mind. I can not efface the impression. I wish I could describe the scene as it was presented to me. O, how sad was the disappointment of those who had not learned by experience the meaning of the words, "Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God"!
The treasure of the grace of Christ is of more value than gold or silver or costly array. When my sisters catch a glimpse of what Christ has suffered in their behalf, that they might become children of God by adoption, they will no longer be satisfied with worldly pride and self-love. No longer will they worship self, but God will be the object of their supreme regard.
My heart aches as I am shown how many there are who make self their idol. Christ has paid the redemption price for them. To him belongs the service of all their powers. But their hearts are filled with self-love, and with the desire for self-adorning. They give no thought to the words, "Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." Self-gratification is hiding God from their view. They have no desire to walk before God in meekness and lowliness. They are not looking to Jesus, not praying that they may be changed into his likeness. Their cases are represented by the man who came to the king's banquet clothed in his common citizen dress. He had refused to make the preparation required by the king. The garment provided for him at great cost he disdained to wear. To the king's demand, "How camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment?" he could answer nothing. He was speechless; for he was self-condemned.
Among those to whom bitter disappointment will come at the day of final reckoning will be some who have been outwardly religious, who apparently have lived Christian lives, but whose lives have been marked by selfishness. They pride themselves on their morality, their influence, their ability to stand in a higher position than others, their knowledge of the truth; and they think that these will win for them the commendation of Christ. "Lord," they plead, "we have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets." "Have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name have done many wonderful works?"
But Christ says, "I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me." "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."
There is no discussion; the time for that is past. The irrevocable sentence is pronounced. They are shut out from heaven by their own unfitness for its companionship.
"Therefore 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 rains descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it."
We know not what is before us, and our only safety is in walking with Christ, our hand in his, our hearts filled with perfect trust. Has he not said, "Let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me"? Let us keep close to the Saviour. Let us walk humbly with him, filled with his meekness. Let self be hid with him in God. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #45)
The themes of redemption are momentous themes, and only those who are spiritually minded can discern their depth and significance. It is our safety, our joy, to dwell upon the truths of the plan of salvation. Faith and prayer are necessary in order that we may behold the deep things of God.
Our minds are so bound about by narrow ideas that we catch but limited views of the experience it is our privilege to have. How little do we comprehend what is meant by the apostle Paul when he says, "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, . . . that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man." Why is it that many who profess to have faith in Christ have no strength to stand against the temptations of the enemy?--It is because they are not strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man. The apostle prays "that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God." If we had this experience, we should know something of the cross of Calvary. We would know what it means to be partakers with Christ in his sufferings. The love of Christ would constrain us, and though we would not be able to explain how the love of Christ warmed our hearts, we would manifest his love in fervent devotion to his cause.
Paul opens before the Ephesian church, in the most comprehensive language, the marvelous power and knowledge they might possess as sons and daughters of the Most High. It was theirs "to be strengthened with all might by his Spirit in the inner man," to be rooted and grounded in love," to "comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge." But the prayer of the apostle reaches the climax of privilege when he prays that "ye might be filled with all the fulness of God."
Here are revealed the heights of attainment that we may reach through faith in the promises of our Heavenly Father, when we fulfil his requirements. Through the merits of Christ, we have access to the throne of infinite power. "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" The Father gave his Spirit without measure to his Son, and we also may partake of its fulness. Jesus says: "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?"
The Lord appeared of old to Abraham, and said, "I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward." This is the reward of all who follow Christ. Jehovah Emmanuel--he in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge--to be brought into sympathy with him, to possess him, as the heart opens more and more to receive his attributes; to know his love and power, to possess the unsearchable riches of Christ to comprehend more and more "what is the length, and breadth, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God."--this is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and "their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord."
The heart that has once tasted of the love of Christ, cries out continually for a deeper draft; and as you impart, you will receive in richer and more abundant measure. Every revelation of God to the soul increases the capacity to know and to love. The continual cry of the heart is, More of thee, and ever the Spirit's answer is, Much more; for our God delights to do "exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think." To Jesus, who emptied himself for the salvation of lost humanity, the Holy Spirit was given without measure. So it will be given to every follower of Christ when the whole heart is surrendered for his indwelling. Our Lord himself has given the command, "Be filled with the Spirit," and this command is also a promise of its fulfilment. It was the good pleasure of the Father that in Christ should "all the fulness dwell;" and "in him ye are made full."
The life of Christ was a life charged with a divine message of the love of God, and he longed intensely to impart this love to others in rich measure. Compassion beamed from his countenance, and his conduct was characterized by grace and humility, love and truth. Every member of his church militant must manifest the same qualities, if he would join the church triumphant. The love of Christ is so broad, so full of glory, that in comparison to it, everything that man esteems so great dwindles into insignificance. When we obtain a view of it, we exclaim, O the depth of the riches of the love that God bestowed upon men in the gift of his only begotten Son!
When we seek for appropriate language in which to describe the love of God, we find words too tame, too weak, too far beneath the theme, and we lay down our pen and say, "No, it can not be described." We can only say, with the beloved disciple, "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God." It is the mystery of God in the flesh, God in Christ, divinity in humanity. Christ bowed down in unparalleled humility, that in his exaltation to the throne of God he might also exalt those who believe in him to a seat with him upon his throne.
To all who are willing for self to be humbled are given God's promises:--
"I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and will proclaim the name of Jehovah before thee."
"Call upon me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not."
"Exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think," will be given unto us "the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him," that we may be able to "comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge," that we may be "filled with all the fulness of God."
"Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things that God hath prepared for them that love him." Only through his Word can a knowledge of these things be gained; and even this affords but a partial revelation. But there every power will be developed, every capability increased. The grandest enterprises will be carried forward, and the highest ambitions realized. And still there will arise new heights to surmount, new wonders to admire, new truths to comprehend, fresh objects to call forth the powers of body and mind and soul. All the treasures of the universe will be open to the study of God's children. With unutterable delight we shall enter into the joys and the wisdom of unfallen beings. We shall share the treasures gained through ages and ages spent in contemplation of God's handiwork. And the years of eternity, as they roll, will continue to bring more glorious revelations. "Exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think," will be, forever and ever, the impartation of the gifts of God. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #46)
Paul, urging the Ephesians to preserve unity and love, writes: "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all."
The apostle exhorts his brethren to manifest in their lives the power of the truth which he had presented to them. By meekness and gentleness, forbearance and love, they were to exemplify the character of Christ and the blessings of his salvation. There is but one body, one Spirit, one Lord, one faith. As members of the body of Christ, all members are to be animated by the same spirit and the same hope.
Harmony and union existing among men of varied dispositions is the strongest witness that can be borne that God has sent his Son into the world to save sinners. It is our privilege to bear this witness. Our characters must be molded in harmony with his character, our wills must be surrendered to his will.
In the first disciples was presented a marked diversity. They were to be the world's teachers, and they represented widely varied types of character. There were Levi Matthew the publican, called from a life of business activity, and subservience to Rome; the zealous Simon, the uncompromising foe of the imperial authority; the impulsive, self-sufficient, warmhearted Peter, with Andrew his brother; Judas the Judean, polished, capable, and mean-spirited; Philip and Thomas, faithful and earnest, yet slow of heart to believe; James the less and Jude, of less prominence among the brethren, but men of force, positive both in their faults and in their virtues; Nathanael, a child in sincerity and trust; and the ambitious, loving hearted sons of Zebedee.
In order successfully to carry forward the work to which they had been called, these disciples, differing so widely in natural characteristics, in training, and in habits of life, needed to come into unity of feeling, thought, and action. This unity it was Christ's object to secure. To this end he sought to bring them into unity with himself. The burden of his labor for them is expressed in his prayer to the Father, "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 know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me."
For these disciples the mission of Christ finally accomplished its purpose. Little by little his example and his lessons of self-abnegation molded their characters. His death destroyed their hope of worldly greatness. The fall of Peter, the apostasy of Judas, their own failure in forsaking Christ in his anguish and peril, swept away their self-sufficiency. They saw their own weakness; they saw something of the greatness of the work committed to them; they felt their need of their Master's guidance at every step.
They knew that his personal presence was no longer to be with them, and they recognized, as they had never recognized before, the value of the opportunities that had been theirs to walk and talk with the Sent of God. Many of his lessons, when spoken, they had not appreciated or understood; now they longed to recall these lessons, to hear again his words. With what joy now came back to them his assurance:--
"It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him." "All things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you." And "the Comforter . . . whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to you remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." "All things that the Father hath are mine." "When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth. . . . He shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you."
The disciples had seen Christ ascend from them on the Mount of Olives. And as the heavens received him, there had come back to them his parting promise, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." They knew that his sympathies were with them still. They knew that they had a representative, an advocate, at the throne of God. In the name of Jesus they presented their petitions, repeating his promise, "Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you." Higher and higher they extended the hand of faith, with the mighty argument, "It is Christ that died, yea, rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us."
Faithful to his promise, the divine One, exalted in the heavenly courts, imparted of his fulness to his followers on earth. His enthronement at God's right hand was signalized by the outpouring of the Spirit upon his disciples. By the work of Christ these disciples had been led to feel their need of the Spirit; under the Spirit's teaching they received their final preparation, and went forth to their lifework.
No longer were they ignorant and uncultured. No longer were they a collection of independent units or of discordant and conflicting elements. No longer were their hopes set on worldly greatness. They were of "one accord," of "one mind and one soul." Christ filled their thoughts. The advancement of his kingdom was their aim. In mind and character they had become like their Master; and men "took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus."
Then there was such a revelation of the glory of Christ as had never before been witnessed by mortal man. Multitudes who had reviled his name and despised his power confessed themselves disciples of the crucified. Through the cooperation of the divine Spirit the labors of the humble men whom Christ had chosen, stirred the world.
"When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. . . . And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."
Here we are shown that God gives to every man his work, and in doing this work, man is fulfilling his part of God's great plan. Every faithful worker will minister for the perfecting of the saints. All who have been benefited by the labors of God's servant, should, according to their ability, unite with him in working for the salvation of souls. This is the work of all true believers, ministers, and people. They should keep the grand object ever in view, each seeking to fill his proper position in the church, and all working together in order, harmony, and love.
There is nothing selfish or narrow in the religion of Christ. Its principles are diffusive and aggressive. It is represented by Christ as the bright light, as the saving salt, as the transforming leaven. With zeal, earnestness, and devotion, the servants of God will seek to spread far and near the knowledge of the truth; yet they will not neglect to labor for the strength and unity of the church. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #46)
Parents are in a great degree responsible for the mold given to the characters of their children. They should aim at symmetry and proportion. There are few well-balanced minds, because parents are wickedly negligent of their duty to stimulate weak traits and repress wrong ones. They do not remember that they are under the most solemn obligation to watch the tendencies of each child; that it is their duty to train their children to right habits and right ways of thinking.
Sometimes parents wait for the Lord to do the very work that he has given them to do. Instead of restraining and controlling their children as they should, they pet and indulge them, and gratify their whims and desires. When these children go out from their early homes, it is with characters deformed by selfishness, with ungoverned appetites, with strong self-will; they are destitute of courtesy or respect for their parents, and do not love religious truth or the worship of God. They have grown up with traits that are a lifelong course to themselves and to others. Home is made anything but happy if the evil weeds of dissension, selfishness, envy, passion, and sullen stubbornness are left to flourish in the neglected garden of the soul.
To many education means a knowledge of books; but "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." The true object of education is to restore the image of God in the soul. The first and most precious knowledge is the knowledge of Christ; and wise parents will keep this fact ever before the minds of their children. Should a limb be broken or fractured, parents will try every means that love or wisdom can suggest to restore the affected member to comeliness and soundness. This is right, it is their duty; but the Lord requires that still greater tact, patience, and persevering effort be employed to remedy blemishes of the soul. That father is unworthy of the name who is not to his children a Christian teacher, ruler, and friend, binding them to his heart by the strong ties of sanctified love,--a love which has its foundation in duty faithfully performed.-- Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #47)
(Reading for Sabbath, December 12.)--"And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel." Zech. 3:1-3.
Here we find a representation of the people of God of today. As Joshua stood before the angel, "clothed with filthy garments," so we stand in the presence of Christ, clothed in garments of unrighteousness. Christ, the angel before whom Joshua stood, is now interceding for us before his Father, as he is here represented as interceding for Joshua and his people who were in deep affliction; and Satan now, as then, stands by to resist his efforts.
Ever since his fall, it has been the work of Satan to oppose Christ's efforts to redeem the race. In the Bible he is called an accuser of the brethren. It is said that he accuses them before God day and night. Pointing to their sins, as he did to the filthy garments of Joshua, he says: "They profess to be thy children; but they do not obey thee. See the traces of sin upon them. They are my property."
This is the argument that he employs concerning God's people in all ages. He pleads their sinfulness as the reason why Christ's restraining power should not hold him back from exercising his cruelty upon them to its fullest extent. But to the accuser of his people the Saviour says, "The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; . . . is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? Have I not thrust my own hand into the fire to gather this brand from the burning?"
So long as the people of God preserve their fidelity to him, so long as they cling by living faith to Jesus, they are under the protection of heavenly angels, and Satan will not be permitted to exercise his hellish arts upon them to their destruction. But those who separate themselves from Christ by sin are in great peril. If they continue to disregard the requirements of God, they know not how soon he may give them over to Satan, and permit him to do to them according to his will. There is, therefore, the greatest necessity of keeping the soul free from defilement, and the eye single to the glory of God; of thinking soberly and watching unto prayer continually.
Satan is now more earnestly engaged in playing the game of life for souls than at any previous time; and unless we are constantly on our guard, he will establish in our hearts, pride, love of self, love of the world, and many other evil traits. He will also use every possible device to unsettle our faith in God and in the truths of his Word. If we have not a deep experience in the things of God, if we have not a thorough knowledge of his Word, we shall be beguiled to our ruin by the errors and sophistries of the enemy. False doctrines will sap the foundations of many, because they have not learned to discern truth from error. Our only safeguard against the wiles of Satan is to study the Scriptures diligently, to have an intelligent understanding of the reasons of our faith, and faithfully to perform every known duty. The indulgence of one known sin will cause weakness and darkness, and subject us to fierce temptation.
Joshua is represented as pleading with the Angel. Are we engaged in the same work? Are our supplications ascending to God in living faith? Are we opening the door of the heart to Jesus, and closing every means of entrance to Satan? Are we daily obtaining clearer light, and greater strength, that we may stand in Christ's righteousness? Are we emptying our hearts of all selfishness, and cleansing them, preparatory to receiving the latter rain from heaven?
Now is the time when we are to confess and forsake our sins, that they may go beforehand to judgment and be blotted out. Now is the time to "cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." It is dangerous to delay this work. Satan is even now seeking by disasters upon sea and land to seal the fate of as many as possible. What is the defense of the people of God at this time?--It is a living connection with heaven. If we would dwell in safety from the noisome pestilence, if we would be preserved from dangers seen and unseen, we must hide in God; we must secure the protecting care of Jesus and holy angels. In these days of peril, the Lord would have us walk before him in humility. Instead of trying to cover our sins, he would have us confess them, as Joshua confessed the sins of ancient Israel. We profess to be the depositaries of God's law. We profess to be building up "the old waste places," and to be raising up "the foundations of many generations." If this great and solemn work has indeed been committed to us, how important that we depart from all iniquity!
The third angel's message is to lighten the earth with its glory; but only those who have withstood temptation in the strength of the Mighty One will be permitted to act a part in proclaiming it when it shall have swelled into the loud cry.
As the intercession of Joshua was accepted, the command was given to those that stood by, "Take away the filthy garments from him." And unto Joshua the Angel said, "Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. . . . So they set a fair miter upon his head, and clothed him with garments." Even so will all those who come to Jesus in penitence and faith receive the robe of Christ's righteousness.
As we approach the perils of the last days, the temptations of the enemy become stronger and more determined. Satan has come down in great power, knowing that his time is short; and he is working "with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish." The warning comes to us through God's Word that, if it were possible, he would deceive the very elect.
Wonderful events are soon to open before the world. The end of all things is at hand. The time of trouble is about to come upon the people of God. Then it is that the decree will go forth forbidding those who keep the Sabbath of the Lord to buy or sell, and threatening them with punishment, and even death, if they do not observe the first day of the week as the Sabbath.
"And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book." By this we see the importance of having our names written in the book of life. All whose names are registered there will be delivered from Satan's power, and Christ will command that their filthy garments be removed, and that they be clothed with his righteousness. "And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him."
In the time of trouble, Satan stirs up the wicked, and they encircle the people of God to destroy them. But he does not know that "pardon" has been written opposite their names in the books of heaven. He does not know that the command has been given, "Take away the filthy garments" from them, clothe them with "change of raiment," and set "a fair miter" upon their heads.
If we could only see the many dangers from which we are daily preserved by the holy angels, instead of complaining of our trials and misfortunes, we would talk continually of the mercies of God. How precious in the sight of God are his people!
The exhortation of the prophet is, "Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, O nation not desired; before the decree bring forth, before the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the Lord come upon you." "Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger."
In view of what is soon to come upon the earth, I entreat you, brethren and sisters, to walk before God in all meekness and lowliness of mind, remembering the care that Jesus has for you. All the meek of the earth are exhorted to seek him. Those who have wrought his judgments are to seek him. Let self break in pieces before God. It is hard to do this; but we are warned to fall upon the rock and be broken, else it will fall upon us, and grind us to powder. It is to the humble in heart that Jesus speaks; his everlasting arms encircle them, and he will not leave them to perish by the hands of the wicked.
What is it to be a Christian?--It is to be Christlike; it is to do the works of Christ. Some fail on one point, some on another. Some are naturally impatient. Satan understands their weakness, and manages to overcome them again and again. But let none be discouraged by this. Whenever little annoyances and trials arise, ask God in silent prayer to give you strength and grace to bear them patiently. There is a power in silence; do not speak a word until you have sent up your petition to the God of heaven.. If you will always do this, you will soon overcome your hasty temper, and you will have a little heaven here to go to heaven in.
God wants his people to cleanse their hands and purify their hearts. Will it make them unhappy to do this? Will it bring unhappiness into their families if they are kind and patient, courteous and forbearing?--Far from it. The kindness they manifest toward their families will be reflected upon themselves. This is the work that should be carried forward in the home. If the members of a family are not prepared to dwell in peace here, they are not prepared to dwell in the family that shall gather around the great white throne. Sin always brings darkness and bondage; but right-doing will bring peace and holy joy.
The work of overcoming is a great work. Shall we take hold of it with energy and perseverance? Unless we do, our "filthy garments" will not be taken from us. We need never expect that these will be torn from us violently; we must first show a desire to rid ourselves of them. We must seek to separate sin from us, relying upon the merits of the blood of Christ; and then in the day of affliction, when the enemy presses us, we shall walk among the angels. They will be like a wall of fire about us; and we shall one day walk with them in the city of God.
When tempted to sin, let us remember that Jesus is pleading for us in the heavenly sanctuary. When we put away our sins and come to him in faith, he takes our names on his lips, and presents them to his Father, saying, "I have graven them upon the palms of my hands; I know them by name." And the command goes forth to the angels to protect them. Then in the day of fierce trial he will say, "Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast." What are the chambers in which they are to hide?--They are the protection of Christ and holy angels. The people of God are not at this time all in one place. They are in different companies, and in all parts of the earth; and they will be tried singly, not in groups. Every one must stand the test for himself.
There has never been a time when the people of God have had greater need to claim his promises than now. Let the hand of faith pass through the darkness, and grasp the arm of infinite power. While we speak of the necessity of separating from sin, remember that Christ came to our world to save sinners, and that "he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him." It is our privilege to believe that his blood is able to cleanse us from every spot and stain of sin. We must not limit the power of the Holy One of Israel. He wants us to come to him just as we are, sinful and polluted. His blood is efficacious. I entreat you not to grieve his Spirit by continuing in sin. If you fall under temptation, do not become discouraged. This promise comes ringing down along the line to our time: "If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." I feel that for this one promise a continual song of thanksgiving ought to go forth from the lips of mortals. Let us gather up these precious jewels of promise, and when Satan accuses us of our great sinfulness, and tempts us to doubt the power of God to save, let us repeat the words of Christ, "Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #47)
(Reading for Thursday, December 17.)--Before offering himself as the sacrificial victim, Christ sought for the most essential and complete gift to bestow upon his followers, a gift that would bring within their reach the boundless resources of grace. "I will pray the Father," he said, "and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world can not receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you orphans: I will come to you."
Before this the Spirit had been in the world; from the very beginning of the work of redemption he had been moving upon men's hearts. But while Christ was on earth, the disciples had desired no other helper. Not until they were deprived of his presence would they feel the need of the Spirit, and then he would come.
The Holy Spirit is Christ's representative, but divested of the personality of humanity, and independent thereof. Cumbered with humanity, Christ could not be in every place personally. Therefore it was for their interest that he should go to the Father, and send the Spirit to be his successor on earth. No one could then have any advantage because of his location or his personal contact with Christ. By the Spirit the Saviour would be accessible to all. In this sense he would be nearer to them than if he had not ascended on high.
The Comforter is called "the Spirit of truth." His work is to define and maintain the truth. He first dwells in the heart as the Spirit of truth, and thus he becomes the Comforter. There is comfort and peace in the truth, but no real peace or comfort can be found in falsehood. It is through false theories and traditions that Satan gains his power over the mind. By directing men to false standards, he misshapes the character. Through the Scriptures the Holy Spirit speaks to the mind, and impresses truth upon the heart. Thus he exposes error, and expels it from the soul. It is by the Spirit of truth, working through the Word of God, that Christ subdues his chosen people to himself.
In describing to his disciples the office work of the Holy Spirit, Jesus sought to inspire them with the joy and hope that inspired his own heart. He rejoiced because of the abundant help he had provided for his church. The Holy Spirit was the highest of all gifts that he could solicit from his Father for the exaltation of his people. The Spirit was to be given as a regenerating agent, and without this the sacrifice of Christ would have been of no avail. The power of evil had been strengthening for centuries, and the submission of men to this satanic captivity was amazing. Sin could be resisted and overcome only through the mighty agency of the third person of the Godhead, who would come with no modified energy, but in the fulness of divine power. It is the Spirit that makes effectual what has been wrought out by the world's Redeemer. It is by the Spirit that the heart is made pure. Through the Spirit the believer becomes a partaker of the divine nature. Christ has given his Spirit as a divine power to overcome all hereditary and cultivated tendencies to evil, and to impress his own character on his church.
Of the Spirit, Jesus said, "He shall glorify me." The Saviour came to glorify the Father by the demonstration of his love; so the Spirit was to glorify Christ by revealing his grace to the world. The very image of God is to be reproduced in humanity. The honor of God, the honor of Christ, is involved in the perfection of the character of his people.
"When he [the Spirit of truth] is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment." The preaching of the Word will be of no avail without the continual presence and aid of the Holy Spirit. This is the only effectual teacher of divine truth. Only when the truth is accompanied to the heart by the Spirit, will it quicken the conscience or transform the life. One might be able to present the letter of the Word of God, he might be familiar with all its commands and promises; but unless the Holy Spirit sets home the truth, no souls will fall on the Rock and be broken. No amount of education, no advantages, however great, can make one a channel of light without the cooperation of the Spirit of God. The sowing of the gospel seed will not be a success unless the seed is quickened into life by the dew of heaven. Before one book of the New Testament was written, before one gospel sermon had been preached after Christ's ascension, the Holy Spirit came upon the praying apostles. Then the testimony of their enemies was, "Ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine."
Christ has promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to his church, and the promise belongs to us as much as to the first disciples. But like every other promise, it is given on conditions. There are many who believe and profess to claim the Lord's promise; they talk about Christ and the Holy Spirit, yet receive no benefit. They do not surrender the soul to be guided and controlled by divine agencies. We can not use the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is to use us. Through the Spirit God works in his people "to will and to do of his good pleasure." But many will not submit to this. They want to manage themselves. This is why they do not receive the heavenly gift. Only to those who wait humbly upon God, who watch for his guidance and grace, is the Spirit given. The power of God awaits their demand and reception. This promised blessing, claimed by faith, brings all other blessings in its train. It is given according to the riches of the grace of Christ, and he is ready to supply every soul according to the capacity to receive.
When the Spirit of God takes possession of the heart, it transforms the life. Sinful thoughts are put away, evil deeds are renounced; love, humility, and peace take the place of anger, envy, and strife. Joy takes the place of sadness, and the countenance reflects the joy of heaven. No one sees the hand that lifts the burden, or beholds the light descend from the courts above. The blessing comes when by faith the soul surrenders itself to God. Then that power which no human eye can see, creates a new being in the image of God.
The Holy Spirit is the breath of spiritual life in the soul. The impartation of the Spirit is the impartation of the life of Christ. It imbues the receiver with the attributes of Christ. Only those who are thus taught of God, those who possess the inward working of the Spirit, and in whose life the Christlife is manifested, are to stand as representative men, to minister in behalf of the church.
The religion that comes from God is the only religion that will lead to God. In order to serve him aright, we must be born of the divine Spirit. This will purify the heart and renew the mind, giving us a new capacity for knowing and loving God. It will give us a willing obedience to all his requirements. This is true worship. It is the fruit of the working of the Holy Spirit. By the Spirit every sincere prayer is indited, and such prayer is acceptable to God. Wherever a soul reaches out after God, there the Spirit's working is manifest, and God will reveal himself to that soul. For such worshipers he is seeking. He waits to receive them, and to make them his sons and daughters.
God takes men as they are, and educates them for his service, if they will yield themselves to him. The Spirit of God, received into the soul, will quicken all its faculties. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the mind that is devoted unreservedly to God, develops harmoniously, and is strengthened to comprehend and fulfil the requirements of God. The weak, vacillating character becomes changed to one of strength and steadfastness. Continual devotion establishes so close a relation between Jesus and his disciple that the Christian becomes like him in mind and character. Through a connection with Christ he will have clearer and broader views. His discernment will be more penetrative, his judgment better balanced. He who longs to be of service to Christ is so quickened by the lifegiving power of the Sun of Righteousness that he is enabled to bear much fruit to the glory of God.
The first disciples went forth preaching the Word. They revealed Christ in their lives. And the Lord worked with them, "confirming the word with signs following." These disciples prepared themselves for their work. Before the day of Pentecost they met together, and put away all differences. They were of one accord. They believed Christ's promise that the blessing would be given, and they prayed in faith. They did not ask for a blessing for themselves merely; they were weighted with the burden for the salvation of souls. The gospel was to be carried to the uttermost parts of the earth, and they claimed the endowment of power that Christ had promised. Then it was that the Holy Spirit was poured out, and thousands were converted in a day.
So it may be now. Instead of man's speculations, let the Word of God be preached. Let Christians put away their dissensions, and give themselves to God for the saving of the lost. Let them in faith ask for the blessing, and it will come. The outpouring of the Spirit in apostolic days was the "former rain," and glorious was the result. But the latter rain will be more abundant.
All who consecrate soul, body, and spirit to God, will be constantly receiving a new endowment of physical and mental power. The inexhaustible supplies of heaven are at their command. Christ gives them the breath of his own spirit, the life of his own life. The Holy Spirit puts forth its highest energies to work in heart and mind. The grace of God enlarges and multiplies their faculties, and every perfection of the divine nature comes to their assistance in the work of saving souls. Through cooperation with Christ they are complete in him, and in their human weakness they are enabled to do the deeds of Omnipotence. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #49)
"Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savor."
Christ gave his life that all who would might be freed from sin, and reinstated in the favor of the Creator. It was the anticipation of a redeemed, holy universe that prompted Christ to make this great sacrifice. Are we followers of God as dear children? or are we servants of the prince of darkness? Are we worshipers of Jehovah, or of Baal? of the living God, or of idols? No outward shrines may be visible, there may be no image for the eye to rest upon; yet we may be practising idolatry. It is as easy to make an idol of cherished ideas or objects as to fashion gods of wood or stone. Thousands have a false conception of God and his attributes. They are as verily serving a false god as were the servants of Baal. God is a God of truth. Justice and mercy are the attributes of his throne. He is a God of love, of pity, and tender compassion. Thus he is represented in his Son, our Saviour. He is a God of patience and longsuffering. If such is the being whom we adore, and whose character we are seeking to imitate, we are worshiping the true God.
If we are following Christ, his merits, imputed to us, come up before the Father as sweet odor. And the graces of our Saviour's character, implanted in our hearts, will shed around us a precious fragrance. The spirit of love, meekness, and forbearance, pervading our life, will have power to soften and subdue hard hearts, and win to Christ bitter opposers of the faith.
"God so loved . . . that he gave,"--"gave his only begotten Son,"--that we should not perish, but have everlasting life. "Christ . . . hath loved us, and hath given himself for us." If we love, we shall give. "Not to be ministered unto, but to minister," is the great lesson which we are to learn and to teach. Next to the angelic beings, the human family, formed in the image of God, are the noblest of his created works. God desires them to become all that he has made it possible for them to be, and to do their very best with the powers he has given them. Life is mysterious and sacred. It is the manifestation of God himself, the source of all life. Precious are its opportunities, and earnestly should they be improved.
"Ye were sometimes darkness," the apostle continues: "but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth); proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." Those who have learned of Christ will have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. In speech, as in life, they will be simple, straightforward, and true; for they are preparing for the fellowship of those holy ones in whose mouth "was found no guile."
Many are deceived as to their true condition before God. They congratulate themselves upon the wrong acts that they do not commit, and forget to enumerate the good and noble deeds which God requires of them, but which they have neglected to perform. It is not enough that they are trees in the garden of God. They are to answer his expectations by bearing fruit. He holds them accountable for their failure to accomplish all the good which they could have done, through his grace strengthening them. In the books of heaven they are registered as cumberers of the ground. Yet the case of this class is not utterly hopeless. With those who have slighted God's mercy and abused his grace, the heart of longsuffering love yet pleads. "Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, . . . redeeming the time, because the days are evil."
The followers of Christ are to be co-workers with their Master; they must be "blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom," says Paul, "ye shine as lights in the world." We are to receive the bright beams from the Sun of Righteousness, and by our good works let them shine forth to others in clear, steady rays, never fitful, never growing dim. We can not be sure that we are doing no harm to those about us, unless we are exerting a positive influence to lead them heavenward.
This is a time when every member of the church should be waiting, watching, and working. Through faith in Christ we should be alive to God; and every man, woman, and child who has a knowledge of the truth should be able to discern the signs of the times. The weakness and inefficiency of the church must pass away. Creative power from above must impart life to the human agents whom God would use, that they may be able to cooperate with divine intelligences. The church to whom God has imparted this endowment of heavenly truth must not remain dead in trespasses and sins.
The True Witness, the Spirit of the living God, is inspecting the assembly of those who have had great spiritual light and advantages, and the testimony is that in the church of God there is great waste in energy misapplied, in talents perverted to wrong uses, in strength unemployed; and the abilities that God has bestowed upon his people are degenerating because they are not used for seeking and saving those who are lost. The world around us is stirred from beneath with earnest activity in evil works, but is apparently dead to all that pertains to their eternal interests. But although this seems to be the condition of those around us, and there is little to encourage us to hope for the conversion of souls, God requires those to whom he has committed his truth for these last days, to present the Word to the fallen children of Adam, both in the world and among the churches. We are to be waiting, watching, working. It is most inconsistent for the church, to whom has been opened the treasure of truth, to be dull, worldly, and indifferent. Casting away all unbelief, we should by faith put every capability and every power into exercise.
The command of God is addressed to all the members of the church to use their powers in his service. Though the instrument may be weak, it is the power of God that will accomplish the work. Paul may plant, and Apollos may water, but it is God who gives the increase. There is a great work to do; and the Spirit of the living God must enter into the living messenger, that the truth may go with power. Without the Holy Spirit, without the breath of God, there is torpidity of conscience, loss of spiritual life. Unless there is genuine conversion of the soul to God; unless the vital breath of God quickens the soul to spiritual life; unless the professors of truth are actuated by heaven-born principles, they are not born of the incorruptible seed, which liveth and abideth forever. Unless they trust in the righteousness of Christ as their only security; unless they copy his character, labor in his spirit, they are naked; they have not on the robe of righteousness. The dead are often made to pass for the living; for those who are working out what they term salvation after their own ideas, have not God working in them to will and to do of his good pleasure.
It is an eternal law of Jehovah that he who accepts the truth is to make it his first work to proclaim the truth. But who is it that makes the burden of perishing sinners his own? Among God's people today there is a fearful lack of the sympathy that should be felt for souls unsaved. We talk of Christian missions, the sound of our voice is heard; but do we feel Christ's tender heart longing for those outside the fold? Unless our hearts beat in unison with the heart of Christ, how can we understand the sacredness and importance of the work to which we are called by the words, "Watch for . . . souls, as they that must give account"?
God is waiting for men and women to awake to their responsibilities. He is waiting for them to link themselves with him. Let them mark the signal of advance, and no longer be laggards in working out the will of the Lord.
Let the gospel message ring through our churches, summoning them to universal action. Let the members of the church have increased faith, gaining zeal from their unseen, heavenly allies, from a knowledge of their exhaustless resources, from the greatness of the enterprise in which they are engaged, and from the power of their Leader. Those who place themselves under God's control, to be led and guided by him, will catch the steady trend of the events ordained by him to take place. Inspired by the Spirit of him who gave his life for the life of the world, they will no longer stand still in impotency, pointing to what they can not do. Putting on the armor of heaven, they will go forth to the warfare, willing to do and dare for God, knowing that his omnipotence will supply their need. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #50)
Concerning the obligations resting upon husbands and wives, and the attitude they should sustain to each other, the apostle Paul writes: "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives."
Like every other one of God's good gifts entrusted to the keeping of humanity, marriage has been perverted by sin: but it is the purpose of the gospel to restore its purity and beauty. In both the Old and the New Testament the marriage relation is employed to represent the tender and sacred union that exists between Christ and his people, the redeemed ones whom he has purchased at the cost of Calvary. "Fear not," he says; "thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel." "Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you."
Paul, writing to the Ephesian Christians, declares that the Lord has constituted the husband the head of the wife, to be her protector, the houseband, binding the members of the family together, even as Christ is the head of the church, and the savior of the mystical body. Therefore he says: "As the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church."
The grace of Christ, and this alone, can make this institution what God designed it should be,--an agent for the blessing and uplifting of humanity. And thus the families of earth, in their unity and peace and love, may represent the family of heaven. The condition of society presents a sad comment upon heaven's ideal of this sacred relation. Yet even for those who have found bitterness and disappointment where they had hoped for companionship and joy, the gospel of Christ offers a solace. The patience and gentleness which his Spirit can impart, will sweeten the bitter lot. The heart in which Christ dwells will be so filled, so satisfied, with his love that it will not be consumed with longing to attract sympathy and attention to itself. And through the surrender of the soul to God, his wisdom can accomplish what human wisdom fails to do. Through the revelation of his grace, hearts that were once indifferent or estranged may be united in bonds that are firmer and more enduring than those of earth,--the golden bonds of a love that will bear the test of trial.
However carefully and wisely marriage may have been entered into, few couples are completely united when the marriage ceremony is performed. The real union of the two in wedlock is the work of the after-years.
As life, with its burden of perplexity and care, meets the newly wedded pair, the romance with which imagination so often invests marriage disappears. Husband and wife learn each other's character as it was impossible to learn it in their previous association. This is a most critical period in their experience. The happiness and usefulness of their whole future life depend upon their taking a right course now. Often they discover in each other unsuspected weaknesses and defects; but the hearts that love has united will discern excellences also heretofore unknown. Let all seek to discover the excellences rather than the defects. Often it is our own attitude, the atmosphere that surrounds ourselves, which determines what will be revealed to us in another. There are many who regard the expression of love as a weakness, and they maintain a reserve that repels others. This spirit checks the current of sympathy. As the social and generous impulses are repressed, they wither, and the heart becomes desolate and cold. We should beware of this error. Love can not long exist without expression. Let not the heart of one connected with you starve for the want of kindness and sympathy.
Though difficulties, perplexities, and discouragements may arise, let neither husband nor wife harbor the thought that their union is a mistake or a disappointment. Determine to be all that it is possible to be to each other. Continue the early attentions. In every way encourage each other in fighting the battles of life. Study to advance the happiness of each other. Let there be mutual love, mutual forbearance. Then marriage, instead of being the end of love, will be as it were the very beginning of love. The warmth of true friendship, the love that binds heart to heart, is a foretaste of the joys of heaven.
Let each give love, rather than exact it. Cultivate that which is noblest in yourselves, and be quick to recognize the good qualities in each other. The consciousness of being appreciated is a wonderful stimulus and satisfaction. Sympathy and respect encourage the striving after excellence, and love itself increases as it stimulates to nobler aims.
Neither the husband nor the wife should merge his or her individuality in that of the other. Each has a personal relation to God. Of him each is to ask, "What is right?" "What is wrong?" "How may I best fulfil life's purpose?" Let the wealth of your affection flow forth to him who gave his life for you. Make Christ first and last and best in everything. As your love for him becomes deeper and stronger, your love for each other will be purified and strengthened.
The spirit that Christ manifests toward us is the spirit that husband and wife are to manifest toward each other. "As Christ also hath loved us," "walk in love." "As the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it."
Neither the husband nor the wife should attempt to exercise over the other an arbitrary control. Do not try to compel each other to yield to your wishes. You can not do this and retain each other's love. Be kind, patient and forbearing, considerate and courteous. By the grace of God you can succeed in making each other happy, as in your marriage vow you promised to do.
Forbearance and unselfishness mark the words and acts of all who live the new life in Christ. As you seek to live his life, striving to conquer self and selfishness, and to minister to the needs of others, you will gain victory after victory. Thus your influence will bless the world.
Men and women can reach God's ideal for them if they will take Christ as their helper. What human wisdom can not do, his grace will accomplish for those who give themselves to him in loving trust. His providence can unite hearts in bonds that are of heavenly origin. Love will not be a mere exchange of soft and flattering words. The loom of heaven weaves with warp and woof finer, yet more firm, than can be woven by the looms of earth. The result is not a tissue fabric, but a texture that will bear wear and test and trial. Heart will be bound to heart in the golden bonds of a love that is enduring. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #51)
There are many who do not understand the conflict that is going on between Christ and Satan over the souls of men. They do not realize that if they would stand under the bloodstained banner of Prince Emmanuel, they must be willing to be partakers of his conflicts, and wage a determined war against the powers of darkness.
When thinking on the conflict, Paul writes to his Ephesian brethren exhorting them to "be strong," not feeble, not wavering, tossed to and fro like the waves of the sea. But in what are they to be strong? In their own might?--No. "Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might." He says, "Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against 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."
The gaining of eternal life will ever involve a struggle, a conflict. We are continually to be found fighting the good fight of faith. We are soldiers of Christ; and those who enlist in his army are expected to do difficult work, work which will tax their energies to the utmost. We must understand that a soldier's life is one of aggressive warfare, of perseverance and endurance. For Christ's sake we are to endure trials.
Victories are not gained by ceremonies or display, but by simple obedience to the highest General, the Lord God of heaven. He who trusts in this Leader will never know defeat. Obedience to God is liberty from the thraldom of sin, deliverance from human passion and impulse. Man may stand conqueror of himself, conqueror of his own inclinations, conqueror of principalities and powers, and of the "rulers of the darkness of this world," and of "spiritual wickedness in high places."
From the days of Adam to our own time, our great enemy has been exercising his power to oppress and destroy. He is now preparing for his last campaign against the church. All who seek to follow Jesus will be brought into conflict with this relentless foe. The more nearly the Christian imitates the divine Pattern, the more surely will he make himself a mark for the attacks of Satan. All who are actively engaged in the cause of God, seeking to unveil the deceptions of the evil one, and to present Christ before the people, will be able to join in the testimony of Paul, in which he speaks of serving the Lord with all humility of mind, with many tears and temptations.
Satan assailed Christ with the fiercest and most subtle temptations; but he was repulsed in every conflict. Those battles were fought in our behalf; those victories made it possible for us to conquer. Christ will give strength to all who seek it. No man without his own consent can be overcome by Satan. The tempter has no power to control the will or force the soul to sin. He may distress, but he can not contaminate. He can cause agony, but not defilement. The fact that Christ has conquered should inspire his followers with courage to fight manfully the battle against sin and Satan.
Now the church is militant, now we are confronted with a world in midnight darkness, almost wholly given over to idolatry. But the day is coming in which the battle will have been fought, the victory won. The will of God is to be done on earth, as it is done in heaven. Then the nations will own no other law than the law of heaven. All will be a happy, united family, clothed with the garments of praise and thanksgiving,--the robe of Christ's righteousness. All nature in its surpassing loveliness will offer to God a constant tribute of praise and adoration. The world will be bathed in the light of heaven. The years will move on in gladness. The light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold greater than it is now. Over the scene the morning stars will sing together, and the sons of God will shout for joy, while Christ and God will unite in proclaiming, "There shall be no more sin, neither shall there be any more death."
This is the scene that is presented to me. But the church must and will fight against seen and unseen foes. Satanic agencies in human form are on the ground. Men have confederated to oppose the Lord of hosts. These confederacies will continue until Christ shall leave his place of intercession before the mercy seat, and shall put on the garments of vengeance. Satanic agencies are in every city, busily organizing into parties those opposed to the law of God. Professed saints and avowed unbelievers take their stand with these parties. This is no time for the people of God to be weaklings. We can not afford to be off our guard for one moment.
"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."
"This I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God."
"Let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: . . . stand fast in one spirit, . . . striving together for the faith of the gospel; and in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake."
There are revealed in these last days visions of future glory, scenes pictured by the hand of God, and these should be dear to his church. What sustained the Son of God in his betrayal and trial?--He saw of the travail of his soul, and was satisfied. He caught a view of the expanse of eternity, and saw the happiness of those who through his humiliation should receive pardon and everlasting life. He was wounded for their transgressions, bruised for their iniquities. The chastisement of their peace was upon him, and with his stripes they were healed. His ear caught the shout of the redeemed. He heard the ransomed ones singing the song of Moses and the Lamb.
We must have a view of the future, and of the blessedness of heaven. Stand on the threshold of eternity, and hear the gracious welcome given to those who in this life cooperated with Christ, regarding it as a privilege and an honor to suffer for his sake. As they unite with the angels, they cast their crowns at the feet of their Redeemer, exclaiming, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing. . . . Honor and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever."
There the redeemed ones greet those who directed them to the uplifted Saviour. They unite in praising him who died that human beings might have the life that measures with the life of God. The conflict is over. All tribulation and strife are at an end. Songs of victory fill all the heaven as the redeemed stand around the throne of God. All take up the joyful strain, "Worthy, worthy is the Lamb that was slain, and lives again, a triumphant conqueror."
"I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb."
"These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth upon the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." "And there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."
Will you catch the inspiration of the vision? Will you let your mind dwell upon the picture? By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #52)
The grace of Christ and his righteousness are offered to men as a free gift. The apostle Paul, writing by the Holy Spirit, says: "God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace ye are saved), and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God."
The thought that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, not because of any merit on our part, but as a free gift from God, is a precious thought. The enemy of God and man is not willing that this truth should be clearly presented; for he knows that if the people receive it fully, his power will be broken. If he can control minds, so that doubt and unbelief and darkness shall compose the experience of those who claim to be the children of God, he can overcome them with temptation. The simple faith that takes God at his word should be encouraged. God's people must have that faith which will lay hold of divine power; "for by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God." Those who believe that God for Christ's sake has forgiven their sins should not, through temptation, fail to press on to fight the good fight of faith. Their faith should grow stronger until their Christian life, as well as their words, shall declare, "The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."
Faith is trusting God,--believing that he loves us, and knows best what is for our good. Thus instead of our own way, it leads us to choose his way. In place of our ignorance, it accepts his wisdom; in place of our weakness, his strength; in place of our sinfulness, his righteousness. Our lives, ourselves, are already his; faith acknowledges his ownership and accepts its blessing. Truth, uprightness, purity, have been pointed out as secrets of life's success. It is faith that puts us in possession of these principles. Every good impulse or aspiration is the gift of God; faith receives from God the life that alone can produce true growth and efficiency.
How to exercise faith should be made very plain. To every promise of God there are conditions. If we are willing to do his will, all his strength is ours. Whatever gift he promises is in the promise itself. "The seed is the word of God." As surely as the oak is in the acorn, so surely is the gift of God in his promise. If we receive the promise, we have the gift.
Faith that enables us to receive God's gifts, is itself a gift, of which some measure is imparted to every human being. It grows as it is exercised in appropriating the Word of God. In order to strengthen faith, we must often bring it in contact with the Word.
How often those who trusted the Word of God, though in themselves utterly helpless, have withstood the power of the whole world,--Enoch, pure in heart, holy in life, holding fast his faith in the triumph of righteousness, against a corrupt and scoffing generation; Noah and his household against the men of his time, men of the greatest physical and mental strength and the most debased in morals; the children of Israel at the Red Sea, a helpless, terrified multitude of slaves, against the mightiest army of the mightiest nation on the globe; David, a shepherd lad, having God's promise of the throne, against Saul, the established monarch, bent on holding fast his power; Shadrach and his companions in the fire, against Nebuchadnezzar on the throne; Daniel among the lions, against his enemies in the high places of the kingdom; Jesus on the cross, against the Jewish priests and rulers forcing even the Roman governor to work their will; Paul in chains, led to a criminal's death, against Nero, the despot of the world's empire.
Such examples are not found in the Bible alone. They abound in every record of human progress. The Vaudois and the Huguenots, Wyclif and Huss, Jerome and Luther, Tyndale and Knox, Zinzendorf and Wesley, with multitudes of others, have witnessed to the power of God's Word against human power and policy in support of evil. These are the world's true noblemen. They are its royal line.
As the plan of redemption begins and ends with a gift, so it is to be carried forward. The same spirit of sacrifice which purchased salvation for us, will dwell in the hearts of all who become partakers of the heavenly gift. Says the apostle Peter: "As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." Said Jesus to his disciples as he sent them forth, "Freely ye have received, freely give." In him who is fully in sympathy with Christ, there can be nothing selfish or exclusive. He who drinks of the living water will find that it is "in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." The Spirit of Christ within him is like a spring welling up in the desert, flowing to refresh all, and making those who are ready to perish eager to drink of the water of life. It was the same spirit of love and self-sacrifice which dwelt in Christ that impelled the apostle Paul to his manifold labors. "I am debtor," he says, "both to the Greeks, and to the barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise." "Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ."
Our Lord designed that his church should reflect to the world the fulness and sufficiency that we find in him. We are constantly receiving of God's bounty, and by imparting of the same we are to represent to the world the love and beneficence of Christ. While all heaven is astir, dispatching messengers to all parts of the earth to carry forward the work of redemption, the church of the living God are also to be colaborers with Jesus Christ. We are members of his mystical body. He is the head, controlling all the members of the body. Jesus himself, in his infinite mercy, is working on human hearts, effecting spiritual transformations so amazing that angels look on with astonishment and joy. The same unselfish love that characterizes the Master is seen in the character and life of his true followers. Christ expects that men will become partakers of his divine nature while in this world, thus not only reflecting his glory, to the praise of God, but illuminating the darkness!
of earth with the radiance of heaven. Thus will be fulfilled the words of Christ, "Ye are the light of the world."
"We are laborers together with God,"--"stewards of the manifold grace of God." The knowledge of God's grace, the truths of his Word, and temporal gifts as well,--time and means, talent and influence,--are all a trust from God to be employed to his glory and for the salvation of men.
Wherever there is an impulse of love and sympathy, wherever the heart reaches out to uplift and bless others, there is revealed the working of God's Holy Spirit. In the depths of heathenism, men who have no knowledge of the written law of God, who have never even heard the name of Christ, have been kind to his servants, protecting them at the risk of their own lives. Their acts show the working of a divine power. The Holy Spirit has implanted the grace of Christ in the heart of the savage, quickening his sympathies contrary to his nature, contrary to his education. The "Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world," is shining in his soul; and this light, if heeded, will guide his feet to the kingdom of God.
No distinction on account of nationality, race, or caste, is recognized by God. He is the Maker of all mankind. All men are of one family by creation, and all are one through redemption. Christ came to demolish every wall of partition, to throw open every compartment of the temple, that every soul may have free access to God. His love is so broad, so deep, so full, that it penetrates everywhere. It lifts out of Satan's circle the poor souls who have been deluded by his deceptions. It places them within reach of the throne of God, the throne encircled by the rainbow of promise. In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free. All are brought nigh by his precious blood. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 85, #53)
Christ is represented as dwelling by his Spirit in his people; and believers as "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom all the building fitly framed together, groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord; in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit." "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord," Paul says, "beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace. There is one body, and one spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all."
From eternal ages it was God's purpose that every created being, from the bright and holy seraph to man, should be a temple for the indwelling of the Creator. Because of sin, humanity ceased to be a temple for God. Darkened and defiled by evil, the heart of man no longer revealed the glory of the divine One. But by the incarnation of the Son of God, the purpose of heaven is fulfilled. God dwells in humanity, and through saving grace the heart of man becomes again his temple.
God designed that the temple at Jerusalem should be a continual witness to the high destiny open to every soul. But the Jews had not understood the significance of the building they regarded with so much pride. They did not yield themselves as temples for the divine Spirit. The courts of the temple at Jerusalem, filled with the tumult of unholy traffic, represented all too truly the temple of the heart, defiled by the presence of sensual passion and unholy thoughts. In cleansing the temple from the world's buyers and sellers, Jesus announced his mission to cleanse the heart from the defilement of sin,--from the earthly desires, the selfish lusts, the evil habits that corrupt the soul. "The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fuller's soap: and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver."
"Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." No man can of himself cast out the evil throng that have taken possession of the heart. Only Christ can cleanse the soul temple. But he will not force an entrance. He comes not into the heart as to the temple of old; but he says, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him." He will come, not for one day merely; for he says, "I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and . . . they shall be my people." "He will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea." His presence will cleanse and sanctify the soul, so that it may be a holy temple unto the Lord, and "an habitation of God through the Spirit."
By this beautiful and impressive figure, God's Word shows the regard he places in our physical organism, and the responsibility resting upon us to preserve it in the best condition. Our bodies are Christ's purchased possession, and we are not at liberty to do with them as we please. Man has done this. He has treated his body as if its laws had no penalty. Through perverted appetite its organs and powers have become enfeebled, diseased, crippled. And these results which Satan has brought about by his own specious temptations, he uses to taunt God with. He presents before God the human body that Christ has purchased as his property; and what an unsightly representation of his Maker man is! Because man has sinned against his body, and corrupted his ways, God is dishonored.
When men and women are truly converted, they will conscientiously regard the laws of life that God has established in their being, thus seeking to avoid physical, mental, and moral feebleness. Obedience to these laws must be made a matter of personal duty. We ourselves must suffer the ills of violated law. We must answer to God for our habits and practises. Therefore the questions for us is not, "What will the world say?" but, "How shall I, claiming to be a Christian, treat the habitation God has given me? Shall I work for my highest temporal and spiritual good by keeping my body as a temple for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, or shall I sacrifice myself to the world's ideas and practises?"
"Know ye not . . . that ye are not your own? for ye are bought with a price." What a price has been paid for us! Behold the cross and the victim uplifted upon it. Look at those hands, pierced with cruel nails. Look at his feet, fastened with spikes to the tree. Christ bore our sins in his own body. That suffering, that agony, is the price of your redemption. Know you not that he loved us, and gave himself for us, that we in return should give ourselves to him? Why should not love to Christ be expressed by all who received him by faith, as verily as his love has been expressed for us for whom he died?
"Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." "There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." Christ the Word, the revelation of God,--the manifestation of his character, his law, his love, his life,--is the only foundation upon which we can build a character that will endure.
We build on Christ by obeying his word. It is not he who merely enjoys righteousness, that is righteous, but he who does righteousness. Holiness is not rapture; it is the result of surrendering all to God; it is doing the will of our Heavenly Father. Religion consists in doing the words of Christ; not doing to earn God's favor, but because, all undeserving, we have received the gift of his love. Christ places the salvation of man, not upon profession merely, but upon faith that is made manifest in works of righteousness. "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." Not those whose hearts are touched by the Spirit, not those who now and then yield to its power, but they that are led by the Spirit, are the sons of God.
To live by the word of God means the surrender to him of the whole life. There will be felt a continual sense of need and dependence, a drawing out of the heart after God. Prayer is a necessity; for it is the life of the soul. Family prayer, public prayer, have their place; but it is secret communion with God that sustains the soul life. It was in the mount with God that Moses beheld the pattern of that wonderful building that was to be the abiding place of God's glory. It is in the mount with God,--in the secret place of communion,--that we are to contemplate his glorious ideal for humanity. Thus we shall be able so to fashion our character building that to us may be fulfilled his promise. "I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." By Mrs. E. G. White.