20 “ ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him and he with Me’ ”
14 “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,
‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.
20 For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.
10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? 11 Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness.
13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
8 To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make all see what isthe fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ;
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
14 But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whomthe world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.
15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.
“The message to the Laodicean church applies most decidedly to those whose religious experience is insipid, who do not bear decided witness in favor of the truth.”
5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
8 ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth,
And honor Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened usas seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
17 “Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects;
Therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty.
18 For He bruises, but He binds up;
He wounds, but His hands make whole.
19 He shall deliver you in six troubles,
Yes, in seven no evil shall touch you.
12 Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O LORD,
And teach out of Your law,
15 The rod and rebuke give wisdom,
But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.
16 When the wicked are multiplied, transgression increases;
But the righteous will see their fall.
17 Correct your son, and he will give you rest;
Yes, he will give delight to your soul.
6 Come, and let us return to the LORD;
For He has torn, but He will heal us;
He has stricken, but He will bind us up.
17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—
24 Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!
4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.
18 “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
25 “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish.3 Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.
6 “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’7 Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘No,lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.
11 “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ 12 But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’
13 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.
18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.
7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,
3 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. 2 And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORDrebuke you, Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?”
3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel.
4 Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, “Take away the filthy garments from him.” And to him He said, “See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.”
5 And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.”So they put a clean turban on his head, and they put the clothes on him. And the Angel of the LORD stood by.
7 Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” 8 And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
9 Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.”
30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
“Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth.” How can the truth be laid out before our people that they will every one arouse from the lethargy which has been upon them, and come to a realization of the times in which we are living? How shall we present the need of greater zeal and more determined earnestness in searching the Scriptures, so that they may dig in the mines of truth and bring forth the treasures of God’s word? It is not safe for us as reformers to repeat the history of the Reformers in every particular; for after those to whom God gave light advanced to a certain knowledge, many of them ceased to be reformers. We must not for a moment think that there is no more light and truth to be given us, and become careless, and let the sanctifying power of the truth leak out of our hearts by our attitude of satisfaction in what we have already attained. We are not to fold our hands in complacency, and say, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.”
It is a fact that we have the truth, and we must hold with tenacity to the positions that cannot be shaken; but we must not look with suspicion upon any new light which God may send, and say, Really, we cannot see that we need any more light than the old truth which we have hitherto received, and in which we are settled. While we hold to this position, the testimony of the True Witness applies to our cases its rebuke, “And knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” Those who feel rich and increased with goods and in need of nothing, are in a condition of blindness as to their true condition before God, and they know it not. But the True Witness declares, “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 eye-salve, that thou mayest see.”
What is it that constitutes the wretchedness, the nakedness of those who feel rich and increased with goods?—It is the want of the righteousness of Christ. In their own righteousness they are represented as clothed with filthy rags, and yet in this condition they flatter themselves that they are clothed upon with Christ’s righteousness. Could deception be greater? As is represented by the prophet, they may be crying, “The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are we,” while their hearts are filled with unholy traffic and unrighteous barter. The courts of the soul-temple may be the haunt of envy, pride, passion, evil surmising, bitterness, and hollow formalism. Christ looks mournfully upon his professed people who feel rich and increased in the knowledge of the truth, and who are yet destitute of the truth in life and character and unconscious of their destitute condition. In sin and unbelief, they lightly regard the warnings and counsels of his servants, and treat his ambassadors with scorn and contempt, while their words of reproof are regarded as idle tales. Discernment seems to have departed, and they have no power to discriminate between the light which God sends them and the darkness that comes from the enemy of their souls.
The voice of the True Witness calls to his chosen people, “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.” We have tried to arouse our brethren to the fact that the Lord has rich blessings to bestow upon us as a people. The people of God have lost much by not maintaining the simplicity of the truth as it is in Jesus. This simplicity has been crowded out, and forms and ceremonies and a round of busy activities in mechanical work have taken its place. Pride and lukewarmness have made the professed people of God an offense in his sight. Boastful self-sufficiency and complacent self-righteousness have masked and concealed the beggary and nakedness of the soul; but with God all things are naked and manifest. Yet Jesus is going from door to door, standing in front of every soul-temple, proclaiming, “I stand at the door, and knock.” As a heavenly merchantman, he opens his treasures, and cries, “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.” The gold he offers is without alloy, more precious than that of Ophir; for it is faith and love. The white raiment he invites the soul to wear is his own robes of righteousness, and the oil for anointing is the oil of his grace, which will give spiritual eyesight to the soul in blindness and darkness, that he may distinguish between the workings of the Spirit of God and the spirit of the enemy. Open your doors, says the great Merchantman, the possessor of spiritual riches, and transact your business with me. It is I, your Redeemer, who counsels you to buy of me.
Those to whom God has intrusted sacred truths should be far in advance of what they are; they should have grown in grace and in the knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus. All who practice the truth will be right and shining lights amid a crooked and perverse nation. Whatever light God sends us, let us be open to receive it, immediately recognizing the voice that says, “Buy of me.” Great weakness has been brought upon the church which he has blessed with great light, because their character and work have not corresponded to the light that God has given them. They have misrepresented the truth, and by their attitude have lulled the people to sleep, so that those with whom they have associated have no real sense of the times in which they are living.
The people of God have educated themselves in such a way that they have come to look to those in positions of trust as guardians of truth, and have placed men where God should be. When perplexities have come upon them, instead of seeking God, they have gone to human sources for help, and have received only such help as man can give. If as brave soldiers of Jesus Christ, they had borne their burden, doing their work with courage, with fidelity, and in faith, they would have received great blessings. Christ has sounded the invitation, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest;” but instead of carrying their perplexities and difficulties to Jesus, as he has told them to do, they have laid their burdens upon human souls, and have looked to human beings and human counsels, and they have received accordingly; for God removes his wisdom from men who are looked up to as God. Those who occupy positions of trust are greatly injured when they are tempted by their brethren to think that they must always be consulted by the workers, and that the people should bring to them their difficulties and trials. It is a mistake to make men believe that the workers for Christ should make no move save that which has first been brought before some responsible man. Men must not be educated to look to men as to God. While it is necessary that there be a counseling together and a unity of action among the laborers, one man’s mind and one man’s judgment must not be the controlling power.
When Jesus went away, he intrusted to men his work in all its varied branches, and every true follower of Christ has some work to do for him, for which he is responsible to his own Master, and that work he is expected to do with fidelity, waiting for command and direction from his Leader. We are the responsible agents of God, and have been invested with the goods of heaven, and we should have an eye single to the glory of Him who has called us. On our part there should be a faithful execution of duty, doing our appointed task to the full measure of our intrusted capability. No living being can do our work for us. We must do our work through a diligent use of the intellect which God has given, gaining in knowledge and efficiency as we make progress in our work. God never designed that another should do our thinking, while we leave our mental powers to rust through inaction. God has never designed that one man should be crushed under the burden, should be loaded down with various kinds of work as a cart pressed beneath the sheaves, while another should go free of all burden and responsibility. The president of the Conference is not to do the thinking for all the people. He has not an immortal brain, but has capabilities and powers like any other man. And to every man God has given his work. When men place the president of the Conference in the place of God, and make him the depositary of all their difficulties, the bearer of all their burdens and troubles, and the adviser in all their plans and in all their perplexities, they are doing that which is exactly opposite to what Christ has told them to do.
20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
2 I sleep, but my heart is awake;
It is the voice of my beloved!
He knocks, saying,
“Open for me, my sister, my love,
My dove, my perfect one;
For my head is covered with dew,
My locks with the drops of the night.”
3 I have taken off my robe;
How can I put it on again?
I have washed my feet;
How can I defile them?
4 My beloved put his hand
By the latch of the door,
And my heart yearned for him.
5 I arose to open for my beloved,
And my hands dripped with myrrh,
My fingers with liquid myrrh,
On the handles of the lock.
21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
12 saying with a loud voice:
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
To receive power and riches and wisdom,
And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”
“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”
I am instructed to say that these words are applicable to Seventh-day Adventist churches in their present condition. The love of God has been lost, and this means the absence of love for one another. Self, self, self, is cherished, and is striving for the supremacy. How long is this to continue? Unless there is a reconversion, there will soon be such a lack of godliness that the Church will be represented by the barren fig tree. Great light has been given to her. She has had abundant opportunity for bearing much fruit. But selfishness has come in, and God says, “I will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”
Jesus looked upon the pretentious, fruitless fig tree, and with mournful reluctance pronounced the words of doom. And under the curse of an offended God, the fig tree withered away. God help His people to make an application of this lesson while there is still time.
Just before His ascension, Christ said to His disciples, “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.” God’s people today are not fulfilling this commission as they should. Selfishness prevents them from receiving these words in their solemn significance.
In many hearts there seems to be scarcely a breath of spiritual life. This makes me very sad. I fear that aggressive warfare against the world, the flesh, and the devil has not been maintained. Shall we cheer on, by a half-dead Christianity, the selfish, covetous spirit of the world, sharing its ungodliness and smiling on its falsehood?—Nay! By the grace of God let us be steadfast to the principles of truth, holding firm to the end the beginning of our confidence. We are to be “not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.” One is our Master, even Christ. To Him we are to look. From Him we are to receive our wisdom. By His grace we are to preserve our integrity, standing before God in meekness and contrition, and representing Him to the world.
Sermons have been in great demand in our churches. The members have depended upon pulpit declamations instead of on the Holy Spirit. Uncalled for and unused, the spiritual gifts bestowed on them have dwindled into feebleness. If the ministers would go forth into new fields, the members would be obliged to bear responsibilities, and by use their capabilities would increase.
God brings against ministers and people the heavy charge of spiritual feebleness, saying, “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 spew 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.” God calls for a spiritual revival and a spiritual reformation. Unless this takes place, those who are lukewarm will continue to grow more abhorrent to the Lord, until He will refuse to acknowledge them as His children.
A revival and a reformation must take place, under the ministration of the Holy Spirit. Revival and reformation are two different things. Revival signifies a renewal of spiritual life, a quickening of the powers of mind and heart, a resurrection from spiritual death. Reformation signifies a reorganization, a change in ideas and theories, habits and practices. Reformation will not bring forth the good fruit of righteousness unless it is connected with the revival of the Spirit. Revival and reformation are to do their appointed work, and in doing this work they must blend.
“Ye are not your own; for ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Christ gave His life for a fallen race, leaving us an example that we should follow in His steps. To him who does this will be spoken the words of approval, “Well done, good and faithful servant; ... enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
The word of the Lord never represses activity. It increases man’s usefulness by guiding his activities in the right direction. The Lord does not leave man without an object of pursuit. He places before him an immortal inheritance, and gives him ennobling truth, that he may advance in a safe and sure path, in pursuit of that which is worth the consecration of his highest capabilities,—a crown of everlasting life.
Man will increase in power as he follows on to know the Lord. As he endeavors to reach the highest standard, the Bible is as a light to guide his footsteps homeward. In that word he finds that he is a joint heir with Christ to an eternal treasure. The Guidebook points him to the unsearchable riches of heaven. By following on to know the Lord, he is securing never-ending happiness. Day by day the peace of God is his reward, and by faith he sees a home of everlasting sunshine, free from all sorrow and disappointment. God directs his footsteps, and keeps him from falling.
God loves His Church. There are tares mingled with the wheat, but the Lord knows His own. “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. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”
Shall not the counsel of Christ have an effect on the churches? Why halt, ye who know the truth, between two opinions? “If the Lord be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him.” Christ’s followers have no right to stand on the ground of neutrality. There is more hope of an open enemy than of one who is neutral.
Let the Church respond to the words of the prophet, “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.”
God’s people have lost their first love. They must now repent and make steady advancement in the path of holiness. God’s purposes reach to every phase of life. They are immutable, eternal; and at the time appointed they will be executed. For a time it may seem that Satan has all the power in his hands; but our trust is in God. When we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us, and will work with mighty power to accomplish His gracious purposes.
God rebukes His people for their sins, that He may humble them, and lead them to seek His face. As they reform, and His love revives in their hearts, His loving answers will come to their requests. He will strengthen them in reformatory action, lifting up for them a standard against the enemy. His rich blessing will rest upon them, and in bright rays they will reflect the light of heaven. Then a multitude not of their faith, seeing that God is with His people, will unite with them in serving the Redeemer.
“To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” The solemn question should come home to every member of our churches, How are we standing before God, as the professed followers of Jesus Christ? Is our light shining forth to the world in clear, steady rays? Have we, as a people solemnly dedicated to God, preserved our union with the Source of all light? Are not the symptoms of decay and declension painfully visible in the midst of the Christian churches of today? Spiritual death has come upon the people that should be manifesting life and zeal, purity and consecration, by the most earnest devotion to the cause of truth. The facts concerning the real condition of the professed people of God, speak more loudly than their profession, and make it evident that some power has cut the cable that anchored them to the Eternal Rock, and that they are drifting away to sea, without chart or compass.
What is to be done? The True Witness points out the only remedy: “Repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” Christ will cease to take your name upon his lips in his intercession with the Father, unless there is a decided change in the life and characters of those who have wandered from the living God, and forsaken his service. Jesus declares, “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 spew 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.” And yet the case is not altogether beyond remedy. The Mediator has not left them hopeless. He says, “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.”
Although the oil in the lamps is almost consumed, and they have not been replenished, still you have not yet reached that desperate position described in the parable of the foolish virgins. They slumbered long, until their lamps were gone out, and they had made no provision for the time of need; and when the Bridegroom came, they were seeking, too late, to replenish their lamps: for the door was shut, and they were left to outer darkness and despair. But the counsel of the True Witness is full of encouragement and comfort. The churches may yet obtain the gold of truth, faith, and love, and be rich in heavenly treasure. “Buy of me gold that thou mayest be rich, and white raiment that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear.” The white raiment is the righteousness of Christ that may be wrought into the character. Purity of heart, purity of motive, will characterize every one who is washing his robe, and making it white in the blood of the Lamb.
Today let the question come home to the heart of every one who professes the name of Christ, “Dost thou believe in the Son of God?” Not, “Do you admit that Jesus is the Redeemer of the world?” Not to soothe your conscience and the consciences of others by saying, “I believe,” and think that is all there is to be done. But do you believe with all your heart that Jesus is your Saviour? Do you bring him into your life, and weave him into your character, until you are one with Christ? Many accept Jesus as an article of belief, but they have no saving faith in him as their sacrifice and Saviour. They have no realization that Christ has died to save them from the penalty of the law which they have transgressed, in order that they may be brought back to loyalty to God. Do you believe that Christ, as your substitute, pays the debt of your transgression? Not, however, that you may continue in sin, but that you may be saved from your sins; that you, through the merits of his righteousness, may be re-instated to the favor of God. Do you know that a holy and just God will accept your efforts to keep his law, through the merits of his own beloved Son who died for your rebellion and sin?
You may say that you believe in Jesus, when you have an appreciation of the cost of salvation. You may make this claim, when you feel that Jesus died for you on the cruel cross of Calvary; when you have an intelligent, understanding faith that his death makes it possible for you to cease from sin, and to perfect a righteous character through the grace of God, bestowed upon you as the purchase of Christ’s blood. The eyes of fallen men may be anointed with the eye-salve of spiritual comprehension, and they may see themselves as they really are,—poor, and miserable, and blind, and naked. They may be brought to realize their need of repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
The plan of salvation is not appreciated as it should be. It is not discerned or comprehended. It is made altogether a cheap affair; whereas to unite the human with the divine, required an exertion of Omnipotence. It was necessary that a great condescension should be made on the part of God in behalf of fallen man, who had transgressed the unchangeable law of Jehovah. Christ, by clothing his divinity with humanity, elevates humanity in the scale of moral value to an infinite worth. But what a condescension on the part of God, and on the part of his only begotten Son, who was equal with the Father! All this had to be done because God’s law had been transgressed.
So great has been the spiritual blindness of men, that they have sought to make of none effect the word of God. They have declared by their traditions, that the great plan of redemption was devised, in order to abolish, and make of none effect, the law of God; when Calvary is the mighty argument that proves the immutability of the precepts of Jehovah. The fact that God had to give his only begotten Son to die for a race condemned by the law, is sufficient to prove that the law could not be altered one jot or tittle. The professed Christian world is indeed in need of eye-salve, that they may see the character of God and his law. Their prayer should be as was David’s of old, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.”
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” Has there been a departure from God? then there must be a returning unto him; there must be a doing of the first works; there must be a close examination of the life. The state of the character must be compared with the great moral standard of righteousness. There must be a searching out of the peculiar sins which have been offensive to God, which have dishonored his name, and quenched the light of his Spirit, and killed the first love from the soul. Whether it has been pride, sensuality, or turning the grace of Christ into lasciviousness, it must be thoroughly repented of, and forsaken.
There are many who profess to be Christians, while they are living a sinful, immoral life; but their profession will not cover them in the day of God. There is a large class who trample upon God’s law, who break its precepts, and teach others to do the same, terming it a “yoke of bondage;” while with words they exalt Jesus, and talk of being saved by grace. These are the ones who are turning the grace of Christ into lasciviousness. All such teaching has a tendency to enfeeble the moral tone of the religious world, and accounts for the miserable, heartless, outward form that is taking the place of the genuine piety that God desires in his people. How many come under the condemnation of the words of Christ! “I would that thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew 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.”
We are impressed with these words when we hear men who are trampling on the precepts of Heaven, making the claim that they are sanctified and sinless. They make high professions, but they refuse to search the Scriptures, that they may know what is truth. On one occasion a minister was brought to our notice who claimed that he was sinless. He declared that he was inspired by the Holy Ghost; and yet he would not read a word concerning present truth. He said the Lord taught him, and he had no need to depend on the word of life. He affirmed that the agitation of the Sabbath question was bringing men into bondage, rather than into liberty; and that all he wanted was the freedom of Christ,—the blessed faith of Christ. He professed to be filled with Christ. But could we receive the testimony of this man as truth? What is the language of the True Witness? “Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased in goods, and have need of nothing, and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Paul asks, “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid.”
Are not such teachers the pretenders to whom Christ referred when he said, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits.” “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.” God’s will is expressed in his holy law. This is the only correct standard of righteousness, and if a man’s character stands in harmony with the Lord’s standard, his testimony may be received and relied upon; but if he stands in opposition to the requirements of God, he measures himself and others by his own finite, fallible standard, and may claim as much as does the pope of Rome. In the light of the royal law, his character may be lacking in every essential qualification of purity and righteousness. He has torn down the true detector of sin, and has trampled it in the dust. He claims great spiritual riches,—wants nothing that he has not, and boasts of the grace of Christ, which he has turned into lasciviousness. These characters will multiply, and by smooth words and deceptive speeches will deceive the unwary and those who do not try the professions of men by the great Tester of character.
The world’s Redeemer declares, “I have kept my Father’s commandments.” “I counsel thee,” saith the True Witness, “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.” Christ’s righteousness will not cover the unrighteousness of any one. “All unrighteousness is sin,” and “sin is the transgression of the law,” therefore, those who are breaking the law of God and teaching others to break it, will not be covered with the garments of Christ’s righteousness. He came not to save men in their sins; but from their sins. “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected; hereby know we that we are in him.” These utterances are weighty, and should be duly considered. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned [transgressed the law], we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” “My little children, these things I write unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” We need an advocate with the Father, because it is the Father’s law that we have broken. We need to repent of our transgression, and return to our allegiance to God. “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins: and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not; whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.” Here it is plainly stated that whosoever abideth in Christ will not be a transgressor of the law of God.
“Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness, is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the Devil; for the Devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the Devil.” He was manifested to destroy, not the royal law of God, but “the works of the Devil.” “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the Devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God.” “And he that keepeth his commandments, dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the spirit which he hath given us.” “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”
How bitterly do many of the ministers who stand in the sacred desk denounce the royal law of God, and many of them profess to be wholly sanctified to his service. They are of the class who break the law, and teach others to do the same; but does not Jesus say, “Whosoever shall break one of the least of these commandments and teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven?” The True Witness presents encouragements to all who are seeking to walk in the path of humble obedience, through faith in his name. He declares, “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.” These are the words of our Substitute and Surety. He who is the divine Head of the church, the mightiest of conquerors, would point his followers to his life, his toils, his self-denials, his struggles, and sufferings, through contempt, through rejection, ridicule, scorn, insult, mockery, falsehood, up the path of Calvary to the scene of the crucifixion, that they might be encouraged to press on toward the mark for the prize and reward of the overcomer. Victory is assured through faith and obedience. Let us make an application of the words of Christ to our own individual cases. Are we poor, and blind, and wretched, and miserable? Then let us seek the gold and white raiment that he offers. The work of overcoming is not restricted to the age of the martyrs. The conflict is for us, in these days of subtle temptation to worldliness, to self-security, to indulgence of pride, covetousness, false doctrines, and immorality of life. “By their fruits ye shall know them,” and every church is to bear the test of God’s law. Shall we stand before the proving of God?