(All Bible texts are in the NKJV Bible unless otherwise indicated)
18 Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.
13 As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.”
15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.”
6 And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.”
9 I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, 4 who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; 5 of whom arethe fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.
6 But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, 7 nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.” 8 That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed. 9 For this is the word of promise: “At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son.”
10 And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac 11 (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), 12 it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.”
12 it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.”
14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! 15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.”
4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,
4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,
10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble;
8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
17 For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” 18 Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.
19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?” 20 But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?
22 What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, 24 even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
25 As He says also in Hosea:
“I will call them My people, who were not My people,
And her beloved, who was not beloved.”
23 Then I will sow her for Myself in the earth,
And I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy;
Then I will say to those who were not My people,
‘You are My people!’
And they shall say, ‘You are my God!’”
26 “And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them,
‘You are not My people,’
There they shall be called sons of the living God.”
10 “Yet the number of the children of Israel
Shall be as the sand of the sea,
Which cannot be measured or numbered.
And it shall come to pass
In the place where it was said to them,
‘You are not My people,’
There it shall be said to them,
‘You are sons of the living God.’
2 When the Lord began to speak by Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea:
“Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry
And children of harlotry,
For the land has committed great harlotry
By departing from the Lord.”
9 Then God said:
“Call his name Lo-Ammi,
For you are not My people,
And I will not be your God.
11 I will also cause all her mirth to cease,
Her feast days,
Her New Moons,
All her appointed feasts.
12 “And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees,
Of which she has said,
‘These are my wages that my lovers have given me.’
So I will make them a forest,
And the beasts of the field shall eat them.
13 I will punish her
For the days of the Baals to which she burned incense.
She decked herself with her earrings and jewelry,
And went after her lovers;
But Me she forgot,” says the Lord.
14 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
Will bring her into the wilderness,
And speak comfort to her.
15 I will give her her vineyards from there,
And the Valley of Achor as a door of hope;
She shall sing there,
As in the days of her youth,
As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.
16 “And it shall be, in that day,”
Says the Lord,
“That you will call Me ‘My Husband,’
And no longer call Me ‘My Master,’
17 For I will take from her mouth the names of the Baals,
And they shall be remembered by their name no more.
18 In that day I will make a covenant for them
With the beasts of the field,
With the birds of the air,
And with the creeping things of the ground.
Bow and sword of battle I will shatter from the earth,
To make them lie down safely.
19 “I will betroth you to Me forever;
Yes, I will betroth you to Me
In righteousness and justice,
In lovingkindness and mercy;
24 even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
25 As He says also in Hosea:
“I will call them My people, who were not My people,
And her beloved, who was not beloved.”
26 “And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them,
‘You are not My people,’
There they shall be called sons of the living God.”
27 Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel:
“Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea,
The remnant will be saved.
28 For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness,
Because the Lord will make a short work upon the earth.”
29 And as Isaiah said before:
“Unless the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed,
We would have become like Sodom,
And we would have been made like Gomorrah.”
2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart.
30 What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; 31 but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. 32 Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone.
33 As it is written:
“Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense,
And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”
41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.
6 Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture,
“Behold, I lay in Zion
A chief cornerstone, elect, precious,
And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.”
7 Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient,
“The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone,”
“A stone of stumbling
And a rock of offense.”
They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.
26 He shall cry to Me, ‘You are my Father,
My God, and the rock of my salvation.’
Said John Wesley, referring to the charges against himself and his associates: "Some allege that the doctrines of these men are false, erroneous, and enthusiastic; that they are new and unheard-of till of late; that they are Quakerism, fanaticism, popery. This whole pretense has been already cut up by the roots, it having been shown at large that every branch of this doctrine is the plain doctrine of Scripture interpreted by our own church. Therefore it cannot be either false or erroneous, provided the Scripture be true." "Others allege, 'Their doctrine is too strict; they make the way to heaven too narrow.' And this is in truth the original objection, (as it was almost the only one for some time,) and is secretly at the bottom of a thousand more, which appear in various forms. But do they make the way to heaven any narrower than our Lord and His apostles made it? Is their doctrine stricter than that of the Bible? Consider only a few plain texts: 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy mind, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength.' 'For every idle word which men shall speak, they shall give an account in the day of judgment.' 'Whether ye eat, or drink, or whatever ye do, do all to the glory of God.'
"If their doctrine is stricter than this, they are to blame; but you know in your conscience it is not. And who can be one jot less strict without corrupting the word of God? Can any steward of the mysteries of God be found faithful if he change any part of that sacred depositum? No. He can abate nothing, he can soften nothing; he is constrained to declare to all men, 'I may not bring down the Scripture to your taste. You must come up to it, or perish forever.' This is the real ground of that other popular cry concerning 'the uncharitableness of these men.' Uncharitable, are they? In what respect? Do they not feed the hungry and clothe the naked? 'No; that is not the thing: they are not wanting in this: but they are so uncharitable in judging! they think none can be saved but those of their own way.'"--Ibid., vol. 3, pp. 152, 153.
The spiritual declension which had been manifest in England just before the time of Wesley was in great degree the result of antinomian teaching. Many affirmed that Christ had abolished the moral law and that Christians are therefore under no obligation to observe it; that a believer is freed from the "bondage of good works." Others, though admitting the perpetuity of the law, declared that it was unnecessary for ministers to exhort the people to obedience of its precepts, since those whom God had elected to salvation would, "by the irresistible impulse of divine grace, be led to the practice of piety and virtue," while those who were doomed to eternal reprobation "did not have power to obey the divine law."
Others, also holding that "the elect cannot fall from grace nor forfeit the divine favor," arrived at the still more hideous conclusion that "the wicked actions they commit are not really sinful, nor to be considered as instances of their violation of the divine law, and that, consequently, they have no occasion either to confess their sins or to break them off by repentance."--McClintock and Strong, Cyclopedia, art. "Antinomians." Therefore, they declared that even one of the vilest of sins, "considered universally an enormous violation of the divine law, is not a sin in the sight of God," if committed by one of the elect, "because it is one of the essential and distinctive characteristics of the elect, that they cannot do anything that is either displeasing to God or prohibited by the law."
These monstrous doctrines are essentially the same as the later teaching of popular educators and theologians--that there is no unchangeable divine law as the standard of right, but that the standard of morality is indicated by society itself, and has constantly been subject to change. All these ideas are inspired by the same master spirit--by him who, even among the sinless inhabitants of heaven, began his work of seeking to break down the righteous restraints of the law of God.
The doctrine of the divine decrees, unalterably fixing the character of men, had led many to a virtual rejection of the law of God. Wesley steadfastly opposed the errors of the antinomian teachers and showed that this doctrine which led to antinomianism was contrary to the Scriptures. "The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men." "This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave Himself a ransom for all." Titus 2:11; 1 Timothy 2:3-6. The Spirit of God is freely bestowed to enable every man to lay hold upon the means of salvation. Thus Christ, "the true Light," "lighteth every man that cometh into the world." John 1:9. Men fail of salvation through their own willful refusal of the gift of life.
My mind has been burdened in regard to the condition of the church in this place. When the mission fields in this country were opened before me, I was shown many things in every branch of the mission that needed a different mold. There was much need of exalting the standard in this place in many respects before a correct and saving influence could go forth to other places. As the truth has been presented here, it has taken persons from the world and from the churches and brought them together in church capacity; but not all who have professed to believe the truth are sanctified through it.
One matter has troubled me exceedingly; that is your manner of keeping the Sabbath. While some have been urging their manmade test upon the people, the claims of the fourth commandment have been held very lightly. The blessing of God cannot rest upon this church until there is a reformation on this point. Those who teach the Word should take a higher position in regard to the Lord’s claims. They should be careful that in no way they belittle the requirements of God, but that their example is such as will lead the people to correct views and practices. Because the fourth commandment is so widely disregarded, we are to be the more earnest and decided in seeking to honor this precept of God’s holy law. The third angel’s message is what we are to present to the world. Here God has a test for us; and if we come up to the standard, we shall be a peculiar people.
The Sabbath draws a separating line between us and the world, not faintly, but in plain, distinct colors. To those who have received the light of this truth, the Sabbath is a test; it is not a human requirement, but God’s test. It is what will distinguish between those who serve God and those who serve Him not; and upon this point will come the last great conflict between truth and error. All who profess to keep God’s law should stand united in the sacred observance of His holy Sabbath.
Among our people generally in these kingdoms the Sabbath has not stood in the exalted position where God has placed it. The world is the instrument that sifts the church and tests the genuineness of its members. The world holds out inducements that, when accepted, place the believer where his life is not in harmony with his profession. Some of our brethren, engaged in business, have not kept the Sabbath according to the commandment. Some have been in partnership with unbelievers, and the influence of these Sabbathbreaking associates has had it effect upon them. Some have been so blinded that they could not discern the dangers in such connections; but it is only the greater because unperceived. While one partner is professedly observing the Sabbath, the other, with the laborers employed, is carrying on the business of the firm. The Sabbathkeeper, though not outwardly engaged in labor, cannot keep his thoughts from business matters. He may be drawn into settling accounts, receiving or paying out money, or by sharing the profits of Sabbath labor he becomes a violator of the commandment. While he professes to keep the Sabbath, he does not keep it. The Lord looks upon him as a transgressor. He will not accept the gifts and sacrifices of those who are thus disregarding His requirements. Even in business relations we cannot, without involving principle, connect ourselves with those who are not loyal to God. The general whom worldlings serve is in deadly opposition to the Prince of life. Satan works through his subjects to ensnare the followers of Christ. The principles of the Christian are diverse from those of the ungodly. What the one party feels that conscience forbids, the other allows. And this not merely in regard to religious matters, but in business transactions. One acts from selfish motives, regardless of God’s law or the faith of those connected with him; and if the other sincerely loves God and the truth, there must be either a sacrifice of principle or frequent and painful differences. A man who has not a daily experience in the things of God will be very likely to choose an easy, compromising course; but one who has a true sense of spiritual things, and regards the salvation of the soul as the very first consideration, will have a continual struggle to guard against yielding to the influence of his ungodly associate, and he will be constantly pained by the conflict. He has great difficulties to meet. To sacrifice the principles of his faith in the slightest particular places him on the enemy’s ground; thus he separates himself from God, and he fails of that spiritual growth which is his privilege.
Redemption was purchased for us at an infinite cost, and its reality and its magnitude we should keep every before us. Man has a continual battle with his own heart, with the world, the flesh, and the devil, that are constantly seeking to interpose between him and his God. The only safe course for the followers of Christ is to give heed to the inspired injunction, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? or what communion hath light with darkness?” [2 Corinthians 6:14.] “Come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean, and I will receive you.” [Verse 17.]
Some of the people have been sending their children to school on the Sabbath. And some have tried to justify their course by quoting the words of Christ, “It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath day.” [Matthew 12:12.] But the same reasoning would prove that men may labor on the Sabbath because they must earn bread for their children; and there is no limit, no boundary line, to show what should and what should not be done. Had these dear brethren possessed greater spirituality, had they realized the binding claims of God’s law as every one of us should, they would have known their duty and need not have been walking in darkness. They cannot enjoy the approval of God while they place their children where it is impossible for them to obey the fourth commandment. They should endeavor to make some arrangements with the authorities whereby their children can be excused from attendance at school upon the seventh day. If this fails, then their duty is plain—to obey God’s requirements at whatever cost. Whenever it can be done, our people should establish schools of their own. If, after they have plainly stated their faith, the officer of justice comes to their doors and compels their children to attend school, then they should faithfully instruct the children, and as soon as possible remove to some place where there are different laws, and they can be free to keep the commandments of God.
Still some will urge that the Lord is not so particular in His requirements as we would have them believe. They profess to keep the Sabbath; but in order to keep their business moving forward, some things must be attended to on the seventh day. If they were to observe the Sabbath so strictly, they would suffer much loss, and they claim that a departure from the exact letter of the commandment is excusable for them. Others urge the difficulty of giving their children an education if they do not send them to school on the Sabbath, and the danger of being brought in conflict with the laws of the land. But here is just where the test is coming, whether we will honor the law of God above the requirements of men. Here is where we are to prove our loyalty. God does not consult our convenience in regard to His commandments. He expects us to obey them, and to teach them to our children, as did Abraham. Abraham commanded his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord, and this was why such great blessings were pronounced upon him and his posterity.
When the destroying angel was about to pass through the land of Egypt and smite the first-born of both man and beast, the Israelites were directed to bring their children into the house with them, and to strike the doorpost with blood; and none were to go out of the house, for all that were found among the Egyptians would be destroyed with them. We should take this lesson to ourselves. Again the destroying angel is to pass through the land. There is to be a mark placed upon God’s people, and that mark is the keeping of His holy Sabbath. We are not to follow our own will and judgment, and flatter ourselves that God will come to our terms. Suppose an Israelite had neglected to place the sign of blood upon his door, saying that the angels of God would be able to distinguish between the Hebrews and the Egyptians: would the heavenly sentinels have stood to guard that dwelling? That which looks unimportant to you may be of the highest consequence in God’s special plans for the preservation of your life or the salvation of your soul. God tests our faith by giving us some part to act in connection with His interposition in our behalf. To those who comply with the conditions, His promise will be fulfilled. But all that venture to depart from His instructions, to follow a way of their own choosing, will perish with the wicked when His judgments are visited upon the earth.
If parents allow their children to receive an education with the world and make the Sabbath a common day, then the seal of God cannot be placed upon them. They will be destroyed with the world; and will not their blood rest upon the parents? We are faithfully to teach our children God’s commandments; we should bring them into subjection to parental authority and then by faith and prayer commit them to God, and He will work with our efforts, for He has promised it. And when the overflowing scourge shall pass through the land, they, with us, may be hidden in the secret of the Lord’s pavilion.
The Lord suffered His people Israel to go into bondage in Egypt because they did not walk in His ways, but dishonored Him by their continual transgressions. Here, subjected to oppression and hard servitude, they could not keep God’s Sabbath, and by their long mingling with a nation of idolaters their faith became confused and corrupted. Association with the ungodly and unbelieving will have the same influence upon those who believe the present truth, unless they keep the Lord ever before them so that His Spirit shall be their shield.
When the Israelites cried unto God in their distress, He heard them and wrought through Moses for their deliverance. Pharaoh saw the mighty working of the Spirit of God; he saw the miracles which the Lord performed by His servant; but he refused obedience to God’s command. The rebellious king had proudly inquired, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go.” [Exodus 5:2.] And as the judgments of God fell more and more heavily upon him, he persisted in stubborn resistance. By rejecting light from heaven, he became hard and unimpressible. The providence of God was revealing His power, and these manifestations, unacknowledged, were the means of hardening Pharaoh’s heart against greater light. Those who exalt their own ideas above the plainly specified will of God are saying, as did Pharaoh, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice?” Every rejection of light hardens the heart and darkens the understanding; and thus men find it more and more difficult to distinguish between right and wrong, and they become bolder in resisting the will of God.
The Lord brought Israel from Egypt, that they might keep His Sabbath, and He gave them special directions how to keep it. The instructions given to Moses were recorded for the benefit of all who should live upon the earth to the close of time. God has spoken; let us listen to His words and obey them. When the manna was given, the people were tested upon God’s law. Then said the Lord to the children of Israel through Moses, “I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in My law or no. ... And it came to pass that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. And he said unto them, This is that which the Lord hath said, Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.” [Exodus 16:4, 22, 23.] Notwithstanding this special direction of God, some did go out to gather manna on the seventh day, but they found none; and the Lord said unto Moses, “How long refuse ye to keep My commandments and My laws?” [Verse 28.].
That there might be no mistake in the matter, the Father and the Son descended upon Mount Sinai, and there the precepts of His law were spoken in awful grandeur in the hearing of all Israel.
The fourth commandment is explicit. We are not to do our own work upon the Sabbath. God has given man six days for labor, but He has reserved the seventh to Himself, and He has pronounced a blessing upon those who keep it holy. On the sixth day all needful preparation for the Sabbath is to be made. “Bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe.” “To morrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord.” [Verse 23.] All purchases should be made, and all our cooking should be done, on Friday. Let baths be taken, shoes be blacked, and clothing be put in readiness. The sick require care upon the Sabbath; and whatever it may be necessary to do for their comfort is an act of mercy, and not a violation of the commandment. God does not desire the sacrifice of health, even on the Sabbath. But nothing of our own work should be permitted to encroach upon holy time.
Sunday is generally made a day of feasting and pleasure-seeking; but the Lord would have His people give the world a higher, holier example. Upon the Sabbath there should be a solemn dedication of the family to God. The commandment includes all within our gates; all the inmates of our house are to lay aside their worldly business and employ the sacred hours in devotion. Let all unite to honor God upon His holy day.
God calls upon the workers in this mission to elevate the standard and to show their regard for His requirements by honoring the Sabbath. Christiania is an important point in our mission fields: it is the great center of our work for the Scandinavian peoples. From this place the publications are sent out, and the laborers go forth to proclaim the commandments of God; and it is of the greatest importance that a right influence he exerted by this church, both by precept and example. The standard must not be placed so low that those who accept the truth shall transgress God’s commandments while professing to obey them. Better, far better, would it be to leave them in darkness until they could receive the truth in its purity.
There are those who are watching this people to see what is the influence of the truth upon them. The children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light; when the claims of the fourth commandment are set before them, they look to see how it is regarded by those who profess to obey it. They study the life and character of its advocates to learn whether these are in harmony with their profession of faith; and upon the opinions thus formed, many are influenced very largely in the acceptance or rejection of the truth. If this people will conform their lives to the Bible standard, they will be indeed a light in the world, a city set upon a hill.
But those who have decided to make their own standard, to be their own criterion, will take positions that will lead the uninformed astray. While professing to love the truth, some betray worldliness in their faith and experience. There is a vein of unbelief running through their experience, because they do not keep near to Jesus, the Light of the world. The cross of Christ is but partially lifted by them. They have not made an entire surrender of their own will and ways to God. They do not love self-denial and are unwilling to conform in every respect to His requirements. They know but little of fervent love or true gratitude to God, and they are satisfied with their attainments, though they have but little knowledge of the Scriptures.
From the first, some in Christiania have bargained that they will come so far in their faith, and no further. They only decided to hold with the church and the world; and unless they are converted, when these separate, they will be swept in with the world. With some, business has come first; it has been a mental reservation with them; and when it comes in conflict with the truth, it is more afflicting with them to give up their idol than to retain a wicked heart. Conscience is on the side of the truth, but their hearts are with the world, and Satan makes speedy work with all such when the test comes. All who venture to choose their own way before God’s requirements are on dangerous ground. When the Lord comes closer to them with startling truths and warning, saying, “Thou art the man” [2 Samuel 12:7], and urging them to separate from the world, Satan takes the words right out of their hearts and minds. They see no real force in them; their feelings rise up against God, and in their hearts, if not with their lips, they say, like Pharaoh, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice?” [Exodus 5:2.] Many will be deceived to the last because they feel themselves all-sufficient. May God pity the ones whose influence has helped to cause this deathlike slumber.
Many claim that it is consistent to pursue a course which will save them loss or inconvenience, and by which they can avoid ridicule. So might Noah have reasoned when he built that immense boat on dry land. So might the children of Israel have reasoned when the Lord gave them special directions as to what they should do. Whoever will enter the strait gate and travel the narrow path cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in will find obstacles to hinder his progress. Brethren, if you go forward toward heaven, the world will rub hard against you. At every step you will have to urge your way against Satan and his evil angels, and against all who transgress God’s law. Earthly authorities will interpose. You will meet tribulations, bruising of the spirit, hard speeches, ridicule, persecutions. Men will require your conformity to laws and customs that would render you disloyal to God. Here is where God’s people find the cross in the way to life. But if the Sabbath of the fourth commandment is sacred, if it is indeed, as brought to view in the third angel’s message, the sign between God and His people, we must be careful in every word and in every act to show God honor. If God’s requirements are binding, you must obey them all, or you will be found with the rebellious at last. The strong force of the downward current will sweep you off your feet, unless you are united to Christ as the limpet to the rock.
God calls upon His people to come out from the world and to be separate. “For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Beliel? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” “Having these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” [2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1.]
Let none continue to transgress, flattering themselves that their way is as good as God’s way. This was what Satan suggested to Eve in Eden. By this means he caused the fall of man, and he is still urging the same deception. There are very many in the churches who are deceiving their own souls. They reach a standard of their own creating. They think that religion consists in going to church to hear sermons and to have a good, happy feeling. If their emotions are stirred, and a few tears are shed, this is positive evidence to them that they are Christians. Upon these feelings, and a general belief that Jesus is the Saviour of the world, they base their hope of salvation. They do not comprehend that if they ever reach heaven it must be by daily self-denial and conflict. Many whose names are on the church books know no more about practical godliness than the veriest sinner. This fair-weather Christianity will not do in the time towards which we are rushing. Under the sun of scorching trial, all such will be found withered away. A new life is talking possession of Satan’s agencies. The test of temptation will reveal whether we are truly the sons and daughters of God. “By their fruits ye shall know them.” [Matthew 7:20.] And the trials here will not be so severe as that of the final judgment. It is not best to meet the Lord unprepared and to find that all our superficial goodness weighs nothing with Him.
We stand on the threshold of great and solemn events. Prophecy is fast fulfilling. A new life is descending from on high and taking possession of God’s people. Some souls will have to advance fast or they will have to be left far behind in darkness. The judgment is hastening. The Word of God is rebuking, warning, and entreating men to reach the Bible standard, but Satan has brought about such a condition of things in our churches that it will be most difficult to bring them to their senses and arouse them to see their God-given responsibilities. If they will with real contrition of heart confess their sins, they may, through watchfulness and prayer, come off conquerors. But they must look beyond earthly gain, away from worldly advantages, to the great beyond. They must hesitate at no sacrifice for Christ’s sake, who has paid for them the penalty of the law transgressed. We are now living in the solemn period of the antitypical day of atonement. In the type, the sins of the people were, on the atonement day, to be called to mind and repented of. It was a time of humiliation and affliction of soul. The greatest care was enjoined, that every part of the service be attended to with becoming reverence, lest the anger of the Lord be displayed. The high priest was required to make the most careful and solemn preparation, and he must guard himself with the utmost diligence from all contamination. How much more, while the antitypical atonement is going on in heaven, should those who minister in sacred things be holy. “Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord.” [Isaiah 52:11.] Said Christ, “I sanctify Myself that they also may be sanctified.” [John 17:19.] Those who are sent to the people in Christ’s stead should be men of God, pure in life, pure in conversation, ensamples to the flock. They have a solemn work before them, “warning every man and teaching every man, in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” “Whereunto I also labor, striving according to His working, which worketh in me mightily.” [Colossians 1:28, 29.]
Let God's word be the guide and the rule of life. Let that word, expressing His revealed commands, be obeyed. God summons everyone to put forth all his powers as a responsible being, to do His plainly specified will. If you do this, you will show it. Grappling with your own inherent defects of character, which are at war with spiritual advancement, is proof that you are doing your part of the work.
Let none say a state of feeling is upon them in undue attachments, unlawful love, that they cannot break away from. It is a deception. You cherish the evil; you strengthen it. You love it better than you love truth, purity, righteousness. You do not take hold of divine help, wrenching yourselves from hurtful and dangerous associations. You tamely give yourselves to the working of an evil way, as though you had no free moral agency. Study God's word prayerfully, meet its demands firmly, resolutely, as did Joseph and Daniel. Lay hold upon the help God has promised you.
Will God compel your obedience, will He compel your will? Never. The Lord has furnished you with capacities, with intelligence, with reason. He has sent from heaven His only-begotten Son to open the way for you, and to place within your reach immortality. What account can you render to God for your weakness, your disobedience, your impurity, your evil thoughts and evil works?
God has appointed means, if we will use them diligently and prayerfully, that no vessel shall be shipwrecked, but outride the tempest and storm, and anchor in the haven of bliss at last. But if we despise and neglect these appointments and privileges, God will not work a miracle to save any of us, and we will be lost as were Judas and Satan.
Do not think that God will work a miracle to save those weak souls who cherish evil, who practice sin; or that some supernatural element will be brought into their lives, lifting them out of self into a higher sphere, where it will be comparatively easy work, without any special effort, any special fighting, without any crucifixion of self; because all who dally on Satan's ground for this to be done will perish with the evildoers. They will be suddenly destroyed, and that without remedy.
If God has made provision for man to have eternal life, He has means to meet the requirement that man shall practice holiness in this life. All who would evidence that they have a hold on the future life will give practical demonstrations in their life, their character, that they are living in newness of life, in purity and holiness here, following that which is revealed.
The way to heaven has been laid open at infinite cost to the Father and the Son. Are we individually walking in that way, complying with the conditions? Are you in the way? Are you following the Leader, the Light of life?
There is an election of individuals and a people, the only election found in the word of God, where man is elected to be saved. Many have looked at the end, thinking they were surely elected to have heavenly bliss; but this is not the election the Bible reveals. Man is elected to work out his own salvation with fear and trembling. He is elected to put on the armor, to fight the good fight of faith. He is elected to use the means God has placed within his reach to war against every unholy lust, while Satan is playing the game of life for his soul. He is elected to watch unto prayer, to search the Scriptures, and to avoid entering into temptation. He is elected to have faith continually. He is elected to be obedient to every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God, and that he may be, not a hearer only, but a doer of the word. This is Bible election.
Because great light has been given, because men have, as did the princes of Israel, ascended to the mount and been privileged to have communion with God, and been allowed to dwell in the light of His glory—for these thus favored to think that they can afterward sin, and corrupt their ways before God, and still keep on as though doing God's will, as though God would not mark sin against them because they have been thus honored of God, is a fatal deception. The great light and privileges bestowed require returns of virtue and holiness corresponding with the light given them. Anything short of this, God will not accept.
But these great manifestations by God should never lull to security or carelessness. They should never give license to licentiousness, or cause the recipients to feel that God will not be critical with them, because they think He is dependent on their ability and knowledge to act a part in the great work. All these advantages given by God are His means to throw ardor into the spirit, zeal into effort, and rigor into the carrying out of His holy will.
You, my brethren, fold your hands, and drift into evil practices, and then wait for God to work a miracle to change your characters and compel you to be pure and holy men. Will you expose yourselves wantonly to temptation, expecting God to force your mind and inclinations that you may not be corrupted? Will you take the viper to your bosom, expecting God to put a spell upon it so it will not poison you with its venomous sting? Will you drink poison, expecting God to provide an antidote?
While, under God, we are to use means in the saving of our own souls, we are not to depend on what we can do alone, thinking that will be able to save us. While we must work with heart and soul and might, we must do it all in and through Jesus. But truth as it is in Jesus must be brought into the heart and into the life, into the home and into the church. God will use the channels He has provided for the flowing through of His grace.
Oh, that my brethren would be men according to God's estimate of men, and take their places in the great web of humanity, realizing that they are a part of God's great whole in creation, in redemption! Only be men, and then you make a decided advance in being Christians.
The means is provided, and no one will have any excuse for sin. If you fail of overcoming, there are reasons for this. Ye will not obey God's revealed will; ye will not pray; ye will not strive; ye will not fight evil habits and unholy thoughts. Are ye stronger than God? Can ye, dare ye, contend with the Eternal? If you are not proof against God's judgments, proof against His vengeance, then go on no longer in your own evil ways. Arise and make a stand against Satan. Be doing something, and do it now. Repent now, confess, forsake. A day of fire and storm is about to burst on our world. Conform your life to the simple prescriptions of the word of God. Seek the aid of God's Spirit by prayer, by watching thereunto, and ye will come off more than conquerors through Him who hath loved us. Read 1 John 4:10.
No finite mind can fully comprehend the character or the works of the Infinite One. We cannot by searching find out God. To minds the strongest and most highly cultured, as well as to the weakest and most ignorant, that holy Being must remain clothed in mystery. But though "clouds and darkness are round about Him: righteousness and judgment are the foundation of His throne." Psalm 97:2, R.V. We can so far comprehend His dealing with us as to discern boundless mercy united to infinite power. We can understand as much of His purposes as we are capable of comprehending; beyond this we may still trust the hand that is omnipotent, the heart that is full of love.
The word of God, like the character of its Author, presents mysteries that can never be fully comprehended by finite beings. But God has given in the Scriptures sufficient evidence of their divine authority. His own existence, His character, the truthfulness of His word, are established by testimony that appeals to our reason; and this testimony is abundant. True, He has not removed the possibility of doubt; faith must rest upon evidence, not demonstration; those who wish to doubt have opportunity; but those who desire to know the truth find ample ground for faith.
We have no reason to doubt God's word because we cannot understand the mysteries of His providence. In the natural world we are constantly surrounded with wonders beyond our comprehension. Should we then be surprised to find in the spiritual world also mysteries that we cannot fathom? The difficulty lies solely in the weakness and narrowness of the human mind.
The mysteries of the Bible, so far from being an argument against it, are among the strongest evidences of its divine inspiration. If it contained no account of God but that which we could comprehend; if His greatness and majesty could be grasped by finite minds, then the Bible would not, as now, bear the unmistakable evidences of divinity. The greatness of its themes should inspire faith in it as the word of God.
The Bible unfolds truth with a simplicity and an adaptation to the needs and longings of the human heart that has astonished and charmed the most highly cultivated minds, while to the humble and uncultured also it makes plain the way of life. "The wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein," Isaiah 35:8. No child need mistake the path. Not one trembling seeker need fail of walking in pure and holy light. Yet the most simply stated truths lay hold upon themes elevated, far-reaching, infinitely beyond the power of human comprehension,--mysteries that are the hiding of His glory, mysteries that overpower the mind in its research,--while they inspire the sincere seeker for truth with reverence and faith. The more we search the Bible, the deeper is our conviction that it is the word of the living God, and human reason bows before the majesty of divine revelation.
God intends that to the earnest seeker the truths of His word shall be ever unfolding. While "the secret things belong unto the Lord our God," "those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children." Deuteronomy 29:29. The idea that certain portions of the Bible cannot be understood has led to neglect of some of its most important truths. The fact needs to be emphasized, and often repeated, that the mysteries of the Bible are not such because God has sought to conceal truth, but because our own weakness or ignorance makes us incapable of comprehending or appropriating truth. The limitation is not in His purpose, but in our capacity. Of those very portions of Scripture often passed by as impossible to be understood, God desires us to understand as much as our minds are capable of receiving. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God," that we may be "throughly furnished unto all good works," 2 Timothy 3:16, 17.
It is impossible for any human mind to exhaust even one truth or promise of the Bible. One catches the glory from one point of view, another from another point; yet we can discern only gleamings. The full radiance is beyond our vision.
As we contemplate the great things of God's word, we look into a fountain that broadens and deepens beneath our gaze. Its breadth and depth pass our knowledge. As we gaze, the vision widens; stretched out before us we behold a boundless, shoreless sea.
Such study has vivifying power. The mind and heart acquire new strength, new life.
This experience is the highest evidence of the divine authorship of the Bible. We receive God's word as food for the soul, through the same evidence by which we receive bread as food for the body. Bread supplies the need of our nature; we know by experience that it produces blood and bone and brain. Apply the same test to the Bible; when its principles have actually become the elements of character, what has been the result? what changes have been made in the life? "Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17. In its power, men and women have broken the chains of sinful habit. They have renounced selfishness. The profane have become reverent, the drunken sober, the profligate pure. Souls that have borne the likeness of Satan have been transformed into the image of God. This change is itself the miracle of miracles. A change wrought by the word, it is one of the deepest mysteries of the word. We cannot understand it; we can only believe, as declared by the Scriptures, it is "Christ in you, the hope of glory." Colossians 1:27.