"The light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." 2 Corinthians 4:6.
God In Nature
Before the entrance of sin not a cloud rested upon the minds of our first parents to obscure their perception of the character of God. They were perfectly conformed to the will of God. For a covering a beautiful light, the light of God, surrounded them. This clear and perfect light illuminated everything which they approached.
Nature was their lessonbook. In the Garden of Eden the existence of God was demonstrated, His attributes were revealed, in the objects of nature that surrounded them. Everything upon which their eyes rested spoke to them. The invisible things of God, "even His everlasting power and divinity," were clearly seen, being understood by the things that were made.
Results of Sin
But while it is true that in the beginning God could be discerned in nature, it does not follow that after the Fall a perfect knowledge of God was revealed in the natural world to Adam and his posterity. Nature could convey her lessons to man in his innocence. But transgression brought a blight upon the earth and intervened between nature and nature's God. Had Adam and Eve never disobeyed their Creator, had they remained in the path of perfect rectitude, they (256) would have continued to learn of God through His works. But when they listened to the tempter and sinned against God, the light of the garments of heavenly innocence departed from them. Deprived of the heavenly light, they could no longer discern the character of God in the works of His hand.
And through man's disobedience a change was wrought in nature itself. Marred by the curse of sin, nature can bear but an imperfect testimony regarding the Creator. It cannot reveal His character in its perfection.
A Divine Teacher
We need a divine Teacher. In order that the world might not remain in darkness, in eternal spiritual night, God met us in Jesus Christ. Christ is "the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." John 1:9. "The light of the knowledge of the glory of God" is revealed "in the face of Jesus Christ." 2 Corinthians 4:6. The light of Christ, illuminating our understanding, and shining upon the face of nature, enables us still to read the lesson of God's love in His created works.
Nature Testifies Of God
The things of nature upon which we look today give us but a faint conception of Eden's beauty and glory. Yet much that is beautiful remains. Nature testifies that One infinite in power, great in goodness, mercy, and love, created the earth and filled it with life and gladness. Even in their blighted state all things reveal the handiwork of the great Master Artist. Though sin has marred the form and beauty of the things of nature, though on them may be seen traces of the work of the prince of the power of the air, yet they still speak of God. In the briers, the thistles, the thorns, the tares, we may read the law of condemnation; but from the beauty of natural things, and from their wonderful adaptation to our needs and our happiness, we may learn that God still loves us, that His mercy is yet manifested to the world. "The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament showeth His handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, And night unto night showeth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, Where their voice is not heard." Psalm 19:1-3.
Apart from Christ we are still incapable of interpreting rightly the language of nature. The most difficult and humiliating lesson that man has to learn is his own inefficiency in depending upon human wisdom, and the sure failure of his efforts to read nature correctly. Of himself he cannot interpret nature without placing it above God. He is in a condition similar to that of the Athenians, who, amidst their altars dedicated to the worship of nature, had one inscribed: "To the unknown God." God was indeed unknown to them. He is unknown to all who, without the guidance of the divine Teacher, take up the study of nature. They will assuredly come to wrong conclusions.
In its human wisdom the world knows not God. Its wise men gather an imperfect knowledge of Him from His created works; but this knowledge, so far from giving them exalted conceptions of God, so far from elevating the mind and the soul, and bringing the whole being into conformity with His will, tends to make men idolaters. In their blindness they exalt nature and the laws of nature above nature's God.
God has permitted a flood of light to be poured upon the world in the discoveries of science and art; but when professedly scientific men reason upon these subjects from a merely human point of view, they are sure to err. The greatest minds, if not guided by the word of God, become bewildered in their attempts to investigate the relations of science and revelation. The Creator and His works are beyond their comprehension; and because these cannot be explained by natural laws, Bible history is pronounced unreliable.
Those who question the reliability of the Scripture records have let go their anchor and are left to beat about upon the rocks of infidelity. When they find themselves incapable of measuring the Creator and His works by their own imperfect knowledge of science, they question the existence of God and attribute infinite power to nature.
In true science there can be nothing contrary to the teaching of the word of God, for both have the same Author. A correct understanding of both will always prove them to be in harmony. Truth, whether in nature or in revelation, is harmonious with itself in all its manifestations. But the mind not enlightened by God's Spirit will ever be in darkness in regard to His power. This is why human ideas in regard to science so often contradict the teaching of God's word.
The Work of Creation
The work of creation can never be explained by science. What science can explain the mystery of life?
The theory that God did not create matter when He brought the world into existence is without foundation. In the formation of our world, God was not indebted to pre-existing matter. On the contrary, all things, material or spiritual, stood up before the Lord Jehovah at His voice and were created for His own purpose. The heavens and all the host of them, the earth and all things therein, are not only the work of His hand; they came into existence by the breath of His mouth.
"Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear." Hebrews 11:3.
"By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. . . . He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast." Psalm 33:6-9.
Laws of Nature
In dwelling upon the laws of matter and the laws of nature, many lose sight of, if they do not deny, the continual and direct agency of God. They convey the idea that nature acts independently of God, having in and of itself its own limits and its own powers wherewith to work. In their minds there is a marked distinction between the natural and the supernatural. The natural is ascribed to ordinary causes, unconnected with the power of God. Vital power is attributed to matter, and nature is made a deity. It is supposed that matter is placed in certain relations and left to act from fixed laws with which God Himself cannot interfere; that nature is endowed with certain properties and placed subject to laws, and is then left to itself to obey these laws and perform the work originally commanded.
This is false science; there is nothing in the word of God to sustain it. God does not annul His laws, but He is continually working through them, using them as His instruments. They are not self-working. God is perpetually at work in nature. She is His servant, directed as He pleases. Nature in her work testifies of the intelligent presence and active agency of a being who moves in all His works according to His will. It is not by an original power inherent in nature that year by year the earth yields its bounties and continues its march around the sun. The hand of infinite power is perpetually at work guiding this planet. It is God's power momentarily exercised that keeps it in position in its rotation.
The God of heaven is constantly at work. It is by His power that vegetation is caused to flourish, that every leaf appears and every flower blooms. Every drop of rain or flake of snow, every spire of grass, every leaf and flower and shrub, testifies of God. These little things so common around us teach the lesson that nothing is beneath the notice of the infinite God, nothing is too small for His attention.
The mechanism of the human body cannot be fully understood; it presents mysteries that baffle the most intelligent. It is not as the result of a mechanism, which, once set in motion, continues its work, that the pulse beats and breath follows breath. In God we live and move and have our being. Every breath, every throb of the heart, is a continual evidence of the power of an ever-present God.
It is God that causes the sun to rise in the heavens. He opens the windows of heaven and gives rain. He causes the grass to grow upon the mountains. "He giveth snow like wool: He scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes." "When He uttereth His voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens; . . . He maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of His treasures." Psalm 147:16; Jeremiah 10:13.
The Lord is constantly employed in upholding and using as His servants the things that He has made. Said Christ: "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." John 5:17.
Mysteries of Divine Power
Men of the greatest intellect cannot understand the mysteries of Jehovah as revealed in nature. Divine inspiration asks many questions which the most profound scholar cannot answer. These questions were not asked that we might answer them, but to call our attention to the deep mysteries of God and to teach us that our wisdom is limited; that in the surroundings of our daily life there are many things beyond the comprehension of finite minds; that the judgment and purposes of God are past finding out. His wisdom is unsearchable.
Skeptics refuse to believe in God because with their finite minds they cannot comprehend the infinite power by which He reveals Himself to men. But God is to be acknowledged more from what He does not reveal of Himself than from that which is open to our limited comprehension. Both in divine revelation and in nature, God has given to men mysteries to command their faith. This must be so. We may be ever searching, ever inquiring, ever learning, and yet there is an infinity beyond.
"Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, And meted out heaven with the span, And comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, And weighed the mountains in scales, And the hills in a balance? Who hath directed the Spirit of Jehovah, Or being His counselor hath taught Him? . . . Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, And are accounted as the small dust of the balance: Behold, He taketh up the isles as a very little thing.
"And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, Nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering. All the nations are as nothing before Him; They are accounted by Him as less than nothing, and vanity.
"To whom then will ye liken God? Or what likeness will ye compare unto Him? . . . Have ye not known? Have ye not heard? Hath it not been told you from the beginning? Have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is He that sitteth above the circle of the earth, And the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; That stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, And spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in. . . . To whom then will ye liken Me, That I should be equal to him? Saith the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, And see who hath created these, That bringeth out their host by number; He calleth them all by name; By the greatness of His might, and for that He is strong in power, Not one is lacking.
"Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from Jehovah, And the justice due to me is passed away from my God? Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard? The everlasting God, Jehovah, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Fainteth not, neither is weary, There is no searching of His understanding. He giveth power to the faint; And to him that hath no might He increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait for Jehovah shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings as eagles; They shall run, and not be weary; They shall walk, and not faint." Isaiah 40: 12-31, A. R. V.
A Personal God
The mighty power that works through all nature and sustains all things is not, as some men of science represent, merely an all-pervading principle, an actuating energy. God is a spirit; yet He is a personal being, for man was made in His image.
Nature is not God
God's handiwork in nature is not God Himself in nature. The things of nature are an expression of God's character; by them we may understand His love, His power, and His glory; but we are not to regard nature as God. The artistic skill of human beings produces very beautiful workmanship, things that delight the eye and these things give us something of the idea of the designer; but the thing made is not the man. It is not the work, but the workman, that is counted worthy of honor. So, while nature is an expression of God's thought, it is not nature but the God of nature that is to be exalted.
"The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, These shall perish from the earth, and from under the heavens."
"The portion of Jacob is not like these; For He is the former of all things."
"He hath made the earth by His power, He hath established the world by His wisdom, And by His understanding hath He stretched out the heavens." Jeremiah 10:11, 16, 12, A.R.V.
"Seek Him that maketh the Pleiades and Orion, And turneth the shadow of death into the morning, And maketh the day dark with night; That calleth for the waters of the sea, And poureth them out upon the face of the earth (Jehovah is His name)." Amos 5:8, A.R.V.
A Personal God Created Man
In the creation of man was manifest the agency of a personal God. When God had made man in His image, the human form was perfect in all its arrangements, but it was without life. Then a personal, self-existing God breathed into that form the breath of life, and man became a living, breathing, intelligent being. All parts of the human organism were put in action. The heart, the arteries, the veins, the tongue, the hands, the feet, the senses, the perceptions of the mind--all began their work, and all were placed under law. Man became a living soul. Through Jesus Christ a personal God created man and endowed him with intelligence and power.
Our substance was not hid from Him when we were made in secret. His eyes saw our substance, yet being imperfect; and in His book all our members were written, when as yet there were none of them.
Above all lower orders of being, God designed that man, the crowning work of His creation, should express His thought and reveal His glory. But man is not to exalt himself as God.
"Make a joyful noise unto Jehovah. . . . Serve Jehovah with gladness: Come before His presence with singing. "Know ye that Jehovah, He is God:
It is He that hath made us, and we are His;
We are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.
"Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise: Give thanks unto Him, and bless His name." "Exalt ye Jehovah our God,
And worship at His holy hill; For Jehovah our God is holy." Psalms 100:1-4; 99:9, A.R.V.
God Revealed in Christ
As a personal being, God has revealed Himself in His Son. Jesus, the outshining of the Father's glory, "and the express image of His person" (Hebrews 1:3), was on earth found in fashion as a man. As a personal Saviour He came to the world. As a personal Saviour He ascended on high. As a personal Saviour He intercedes in the heavenly courts. Before the throne of God in our behalf ministers "One like unto the Son of man." Revelation 1:13.
Christ, the Light of the world, veiled the dazzling splendor of His divinity and came to live as a man among men, that they might, without being consumed, become acquainted with their Creator. No man has seen God at any time except as He is revealed through Christ.
"I and My Father are one," Christ declared. "No man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him." John 10:30; Matthew 11:27.
Christ came to teach human beings what God desires them to know. In the heavens above, in the earth, in the broad waters of the ocean, we see the handiwork of God. All created things testify to His power, His wisdom, His love. But not from the stars or the ocean or the cataract can we learn of the personality of God as it is revealed in Christ.
God saw that a clearer revelation than nature was needed to portray both His personality and His character. He sent His Son into the world to reveal, so far as could be endured by human sight, the nature and the attributes of the invisible God.
Had God desired to be represented as dwelling personally in the things of nature,--in the flower, the tree, the spire of grass,--would not Christ have spoken of this to His disciples when He was on the earth? But never in the teaching of Christ is God thus spoken of. Christ and the apostles taught clearly the truth of the existence of a personal God.
Christ revealed all of God that sinful human beings could bear without being destroyed. He is the divine Teacher, the Enlightener. Had God thought us in need of revelations other than those made through Christ and in His written word, He would have given them.
Christ's Revelation of God to the Disciples
Let us study the words that Christ spoke in the upper chamber on the night before His crucifixion. He was nearing His hour of trial, and He sought to comfort His disciples, who were to be so severely tempted and tried.
"Let not your heart be troubled," He said; "ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. . . .
"Thomas saith unto Him, Lord, we know not whither Thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me. If ye had known Me, ye should have known My Father also: and from henceforth ye know Him, and have seen Him. . . .
"Lord, show us the Father," said Philip, "and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip? he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of Myself: but the Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works." John 14:1-10.
The disciples did not yet understand Christ's words concerning His relation to God. Much of His teaching was still dark to them. They had asked many questions that revealed their ignorance of God's relation to them and to their present and future interests. Christ desired them to have a clearer, more distinct knowledge of God.
"These things have I spoken unto you in parables," He said; "but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in parables, but I shall show you plainly of the Father." John 16:25, margin.
When on the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the disciples, they understood the truths that Christ had spoken in parables. The teachings that had been mysteries to them were made clear. The understanding that came to them with the outpouring of the Spirit made them ashamed of their fanciful theories. Their suppositions and interpretations were foolishness when compared with the knowledge of heavenly things which they now received. They were led by the Spirit, and light shone into their once darkened understanding.
But the disciples had not yet received the complete fulfillment of Christ's promise. They received all the knowledge of God that they could bear, but the complete fulfillment of the promise that Christ would show them plainly of the Father was yet to come. Thus it is today. Our knowledge of God is partial and imperfect. When the conflict is ended and the Man Christ Jesus acknowledges before the Father His faithful workers, who, in a world of sin, have borne true witness for Him, they will understand clearly what now are mysteries to them.
Christ took with Him to the heavenly courts His glorified humanity. To those who receive Him, He gives power to become the sons of God, that at last God may receive them as His, to dwell with Him throughout eternity. If, during this life, they are loyal to God, they will at last "see His face; and His name shall be in their foreheads." Revelation 22:4. And what is the happiness of heaven but to see God? What greater joy could come to the sinner saved by the grace of Christ than to look upon the face of God and know Him as Father?
Testimony of Scripture
The Scriptures clearly indicate the relation between God and Christ, and they bring to view as clearly the personality and individuality of each.
"God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said He at any time, Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee? And again, I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son?" Hebrews 1:1-5.
God is the Father of Christ; Christ is the Son of God. To Christ has been given an exalted position. He has been made equal with the Father. All the counsels of God are opened to His Son.
Jesus said to the Jews: "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. . . . The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth Him all things that Himself doeth." John 5:17-20.
Here again is brought to view the personality of the Father and the Son, showing the unity that exists between them.
This unity is expressed also in the seventeenth chapter of John, in the prayer of Christ for His disciples:
"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." John 17:20-23.
Wonderful statement! The unity that exists between Christ and His disciples does not destroy the personality of either. They are one in purpose, in mind, in character, but not in person. It is thus that God and Christ are one.
The relation between the Father and the Son, and the personality of both, are made plain in this scripture also:
"Thus speaketh Jehovah of hosts, saying, Behold, the man whose name is the Branch: And He shall grow up out of His place; And He shall build the temple of Jehovah; . . . And He shall bear the glory, And shall sit and rule upon His throne; And He shall be a priest upon His throne; And the counsel of peace shall be between Them both." Zechariah 6:12, 13, A. R. V.
"The Everlasting God"
In the word, God is spoken of as "the everlasting God." This name embraces past, present, and future. God is from everlasting to everlasting. He is the Eternal One.
"The eternal God is Thy dwelling place, And underneath are the everlasting arms: And He thrust out the enemy from before thee, And said, Destroy. And Israel dwelleth in safety, The fountain of Jacob alone, In a land of corn and wine; Yea, His heavens drop down dew. Happy art thou, O Israel: Who is like unto thee, A people saved by the Lord, The shield of thy help, And that is the sword of thy excellency." Deuteronomy 33:27-29, R. V.
"Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever Thou hadst formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God. Thou turnest man to dust, And sayest, Return, ye children of men. For a thousand years in Thy sight Are but as yesterday when it is past, And as a watch in the night. Thou carriest them away as with a flood; They are as a sleep: In the morning they are like grass which groweth up. In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; In the evening it is cut down, and withereth." Psalm 90:2-6, A. R. V., margin.
"So teach us to number our days, That we may apply our hearts unto wisdom."
"O satisfy us early with Thy mercy; That we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
"Make us glad according to the days wherein Thou hast afflicted us, And the years wherein we have seen evil. Let Thy work appear unto Thy servants, And Thy glory unto their children.
And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: And establish Thou the work of our hands upon us; Yea, the work of our hands establish Thou it." Psalm 90:12, 14-17.
"The Lord reigneth, He is clothed with majesty; The Lord is clothed with strength, wherewith He hath girded Himself: The world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved. Thy throne is established of old: Thou art from everlasting." Psalm 93:1, 2.
"All His work is done in faithfulness. He loveth righteousness and justice: The earth is full of the loving-kindness of Jehovah."
"Blessed is the nation whose God is Jehovah, The people whom He hath chosen for His own inheritance."
"Behold, the eye of Jehovah is upon them that fear Him, Upon them that hope in His loving-kindness; To deliver their soul from death, And to keep them alive in famine.
"Our soul hath waited for Jehovah: He is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in Him, Because we have trusted in His holy name." Psalm 33:4, 5, 12, 18-21, A. R. V.
"I sought Jehovah, and He answered me, And delivered me from all my fears. They looked unto Him, and were radiant; And their faces shall never be confounded. This poor man cried, and Jehovah heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles.
"The angel of Jehovah encampeth round about them that fear Him, And delivereth them. O taste and see that Jehovah is good: Blessed is the man that taketh refuge in Him.
"O fear Jehovah, ye His saints; For there is no want to them that fear Him. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger; But they that seek Jehovah shall not want any good thing."
"The righteous cried, and Jehovah heard, And delivered them out of all their troubles. Jehovah is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart, And saveth such as are of a contrite spirit." Psalm 34:4-10, 17, 18, A. R. V.
"The Lord redeemeth the soul of His servants: And none of them that trust in Him shall be desolate." Verse 22.
"Jehovah is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abundant in loving-kindness. He will not always chide; Neither will He keep His anger forever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins, Nor rewarded us after our iniquities.
"For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His loving-kindness toward them that fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, So far hath He removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, So Jehovah pitieth them that fear Him. For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust.
"As for man, his days are as grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; And the place thereof shall know it no more. But the loving-kindness of Jehovah is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him, And His righteousness unto children's children; To such as keep His covenant, And to those that remember His precepts to do them." Psalm 103:8-18, A. R. V.
His Providential Care
Our God has heaven and earth at His command, and He knows just what we need. We can see only a little way before us; "but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do." Hebrews 4:13.
Above the distractions of the earth He sits enthroned; all things are open to His divine survey; and from His great and calm eternity He orders that which His providence sees best.
Not even a sparrow falls to the ground without the Father's notice. Satan's hatred against God leads him to delight in destroying even the dumb creatures. It is only through God's protecting care that the birds are preserved to gladden us with their songs of joy. But He does not forget even the sparrows. "Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows." Matthew 10:31.
"Bless Jehovah, O my soul. O Jehovah my God, Thou art very great; Thou art clothed with honor and majesty: Who coverest Thyself with light as with a garment; Who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain; Who layeth the beams of His chambers in the waters; Who maketh the clouds His chariot; Who walketh upon the wings of the wind; Who maketh winds His messengers; Flames of fire His ministers;
"Who laid the foundations of the earth, That it should not be moved forever. Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a vesture; The waters stood above the mountains. At Thy rebuke they fled; At the voice of Thy thunder they hasted away (The mountains rose, the valleys sank down) Unto the place which Thou hadst founded for them. Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; That they turn not again to cover the earth.
"He sendeth forth springs into the valleys; They run among the mountains; They give drink to every beast of the field; The wild asses quench their thirst. By them the birds of the heavens have their habitation; They sing among the branches. He watereth the mountains from His chambers: The earth is filled with the fruit of Thy works. He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, And herb for the service of man; "That He may bring forth food out of the earth, And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, And oil to make his face to shine And bread that strengtheneth man's heart. The trees of Jehovah are filled with moisture, The cedars of Lebanon, which He hath planted; Where the birds make their nests: As for the stork, the fir trees are her house. The high mountains are for the wild goats; The rocks are a refuge for the conies.
"He appointed the moon for seasons: The sun knoweth his going down. Thou makest darkness, and it is night, Wherein all the beasts of the forest creep forth. The young lions roar after their prey, And seek their food from God. The sun ariseth, they get them away, And lay them down in their dens. Man goeth forth unto his work And to his labor until the evening.
"O Jehovah, how manifold are Thy works! In wisdom hast Thou made them all: The earth is full of Thy riches. Yonder is the sea, great and wide, Wherein are things creeping innumerable, Both small and great beasts. There go the ships; There is leviathan, whom Thou hast formed to play therein. These wait all for Thee, That Thou mayest give them their food in due season. Thou givest unto them, they gather; Thou openest Thy hand, They are satisfied with good. Thou hidest Thy face, They are troubled; Thou takest away their breath, They die, And return to their dust. Thou sendest forth Thy Spirit, They are created; And Thou renewest the face of the ground.
"Let the glory of Jehovah endure forever; Let Jehovah rejoice in His works: Who looketh on the earth, and it trembleth; He toucheth the mountains, and they smoke.
I will sing unto Jehovah as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have any being. Let my meditation be sweet unto Him: I will rejoice in Jehovah." Psalm 104:1-34, A. R. V.
"Thou that art the confidence of all the ends of the earth, And of them that are afar off upon the sea: Who by His strength setteth fast the mountains, Being girded about with might: Who stilleth the roaring of the seas, . . . And the tumult of the peoples. . . . Thou makest the outgoings of the morning and evening to rejoice. . . . Thou crownest the year with Thy goodness; And Thy paths drop fatness." Psalm 65:5-11, A. R. V.
"Jehovah upholdeth all that fall, And raiseth up all those that are bowed down. The eyes of all wait for Thee; And Thou givest them their food in due season. Thou openest Thy hand, And satisfiest the desire of every living thing." Psalm 145:14-16, A. R. V.
His Long-Suffering Mercy
No earthly parent ever pleaded so earnestly with an erring child as He who made us pleads with the transgressor. No human, loving interest ever followed the impenitent with invitations so tender:
"Thou hast not called upon Me, O Jacob; but Thou hast been weary of Me, O Israel." Isaiah 43:22.
"O My people, what have I done unto thee? And wherein have I wearied thee?" Micah 6:3.
"When Israel was a child, then I loved him, And called My son out of Egypt." Hosea 11:1.
"Jehovah's portion is His people; Jacob is the lot of His inheritance.
"He found him in a desert land, And in the waste howling wilderness; He compassed him about, He cared for him, He kept him as the apple of His eye. As an eagle that stirreth up her nest, That fluttereth over her young, He spread abroad His wings, He took them, He bare them on His pinions." Deuteronomy 32:9-11, A. R. V.
"They kept not the covenant of God, And refused to walk in His law." Psalm 78:10.
"The more the prophets called them, the more they went from them. . . . Yet I taught Ephraim to walk; I took them on My arms; But they knew not that I healed them. I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love. . . . My people are bent on backsliding from Me: Though they call them to Him that is on high, None at all will exalt Him." Hosea 11:2-7, A. R. V.
"But He, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, And destroyed them not: Yea, many a time turned He His anger away, And did not stir up all His wrath. For He remembered that they were but flesh; A wind that passeth away, and cometh not again." Psalm 78:38, 39.
Though He "delivered His strength into captivity, and His glory into the enemy's hand," yet He said, "My lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer My faithfulness to fail." Psalms 78:61; 89:33.
"Is Ephraim My dear son? is he a pleasant [Authorized Version] child? for as often as I speak against him, I do earnestly remember him still: therefore My heart yearneth for him." Jeremiah 31:20, A. R. V.
"How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? How shall I cast thee off, Israel?
How shall I make thee as Admah? How shall I set thee as Zeboiim? My heart is turned within Me, My compassions are kindled together. I will not execute the fierceness of Mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: For I am God, and not man; The Holy One in the midst of thee; And I will not come in wrath." Hosea 11:8, 9, A. R. V.
"O Israel, return unto Jehovah thy God; For thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Take with you words, And return unto Jehovah: say unto Him, Take away all iniquity, and accept that which is good. . . . Assyria shall not save us; We will not ride upon horses; Neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods; For in Thee the fatherless findeth mercy." Hosea 14:1-3, A. R. V.
"They shall walk after Jehovah. . . . The children shall come trembling from the west. They shall come trembling as a bird out of Egypt, And as a dove out of the land of Assyria; And I will make them to dwell in their houses, saith Jehovah." Hosea 11:10, 11, A. R. V.
"I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely; For Mine anger is turned away from him. I will be as the dew unto Israel; He shall blossom as the lily, And cast forth his roots as Lebanon. His branches shall spread, And his beauty shall be as the olive tree, And his smell as Lebanon. They that dwell under his shadow shall return; They shall revive as the grain, And blossom as the vine. . . . Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols? I have answered, and will regard him: I am like a green fir tree; From Me is thy fruit found.
"Who is wise, that he may understand these things? Prudent, that he may know them? For the ways of Jehovah are right, And the just shall walk in them." Hosea 14:4-9, A. R. V.
"Who is a God like unto Thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth over the transgression Of the remnant of His heritage? He retaineth not His anger forever, Because He delighteth in loving-kindness. He will again have compassion upon us; He will tread our iniquities underfoot; And Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea." Micah 7:18, 19, A. R. V.
"Jehovah appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee." "The Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he." "I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow." "My people shall be satisfied with My goodness, saith Jehovah." Jeremiah 31:3, A. R. V., 11, 13, A. V., 14, A. R. V.
"Sing, O daughter of Zion; Shout, O Israel; Be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. Jehovah hath taken away thy judgments, He hath cast out thine enemy: The King of Israel, even Jehovah, is in the midst of thee; Thou shalt not fear evil any more. In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not; O Zion, let not thy hands be slack. Jehovah thy God is in the midst of thee, A Mighty One who will save; He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love; He will joy over thee with singing." Zephaniah 3:14-17, A. R. V.
"This God is our God for ever and ever: He will be our guide even unto death." Psalm 48:14.
"Those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever;" but "the secret things belong unto the Lord our God." Deuteronomy 29:29. The revelation of Himself that God has given in His word is for our study. This we may seek to understand. But beyond this we are not to penetrate. The highest intellect may tax itself until it is wearied out in conjectures regarding the nature of God; but the effort will be fruitless. This problem has not been given us to solve. No human mind can comprehend God. Let not finite man attempt to interpret Him. Let none indulge in speculation regarding His nature. Here silence is eloquence. The Omniscient One is above discussion.
Even the angels were not permitted to share the counsels between the Father and the Son when the plan of salvation was laid. Those human beings who seek to intrude into the secrets of the Most High show their ignorance of spiritual and eternal things. Far better might they, while mercy's voice is still heard, humble themselves in the dust and plead with God to teach them His ways.
We are as ignorant of God as little children, but as little children we may love and obey Him. Instead of speculating in regard to His nature or His prerogatives, let us give heed to the word He has spoken: "Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10.
"Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? Deeper than hell; what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, And broader than the sea." Job 11:7-9.
"Where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? Man knoweth not the price thereof; Neither is it found in the land of the living. The depth saith, It is not in me: And the sea saith, It is not with me. It cannot be gotten for gold, Neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof. It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, With the precious onyx or the sapphire. The gold and the crystal cannot equal it, And the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold.
No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls: For the price of wisdom is above rubies. The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it, Neither shall it be valued with pure gold. Whence then cometh wisdom? And where is the place of understanding? . . . Destruction and death say, We have heard the fame thereof with our ears. God understandeth the way thereof, And He knoweth the place thereof.
"For He looketh to the ends of the earth, And seeth under the whole heaven. . . . When He made a decree for the rain, And a way for the lightning of the thunder: Then did He see it, and declare it; He prepared it, yea, and searched it out.
And unto man He said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; And to depart from evil is understanding." Job 28:12-28.
Neither by searching the recesses of the earth nor in vain endeavors to penetrate the mysteries of God's being is wisdom found. It is found, rather, in humbly receiving the revelation that He has been pleased to give, and in conforming the life to His will.
The Greatness of Our God
From the representations given by the Holy Spirit to His prophets, let us learn the greatness of our God. The prophet Isaiah writes:
"In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and His train filled the temple. Above Him stood the seraphim: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is Jehovah of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory. And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.
Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of hosts.
Then flew one of the seraphim unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: and he touched my mouth with it, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin expiated." Isaiah 6:1-7, A. R. V., margin.
"There is none like unto Thee, O Jehovah; Thou art great, And Thy name is great in might. Who should not fear Thee, O King of the nations?" Jeremiah 10:6, 7, A. R. V.
"O Jehovah, Thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising; Thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou searchest out my path and my lying down, And art acquainted with all my ways.
"For there is not a word in my tongue, But, lo, O Jehovah, Thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, And laid Thy hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain unto it." Psalm 139:1-6, A. R. V.
"Great is our Lord, and of great power: His understanding is infinite." Psalm 147:5.
"He revealeth the deep and secret things: He knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with Him." Daniel 2:22.
"Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world." "Who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been His counselor? or who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory forever." Acts 15:18; Romans 11:34-36.
"Unto the King eternal, incorruptible, invisible," "who only hath immortality, dwelling in light unapproachable; whom no man hath seen, nor can see," --to Him "be honor and power eternal." 1 Timothy 1:17, margin; 6:16, A. R. V.
"He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, And hangeth the earth upon nothing. He bindeth up the waters in His thick clouds; And the cloud is not rent under them. . . . He hath compassed the waters with bounds, Until the day and night come to an end." Job 26:7-10.
"The pillars of heaven tremble And are astonished at His rebuke. He stilleth the sea with His power. . . . By His Spirit the heavens are beauty; His hand hath pierced the gliding serpent. Lo, these are but the outskirts of His ways: And how small a whisper do we hear of Him! But the thunder of His power who can understand?" Job 26:11-14, A. R. V., margin.
"The Lord hath His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, And the clouds are the dust of His feet." Nahum 1:3.
"Who is like unto the Lord our God, who dwelleth on high, Who humbleth Himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth!" Psalm 113:5, 6.
"Great is Jehovah, and greatly to be praised; And His greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall laud Thy works to another, And shall declare Thy mighty acts. Of the glorious majesty of Thine honor, And of Thy wondrous works, will I meditate. And men shall speak of the might of Thy terrible acts; And I will declare Thy greatness. They shall utter the memory of Thy great goodness, And shall sing of Thy righteousness. . . .
"All Thy works shall give thanks unto Thee, O Jehovah; And Thy saints shall bless Thee. They shall speak of the glory of Thy kingdom, And talk of Thy power; To make known to the sons of men His mighty acts, And the glory of the majesty of His kingdom. Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And Thy dominion endureth throughout all generations. . . .
"My mouth shall speak the praise of Jehovah; And let all flesh bless His holy name for ever and ever." Psalm 145:3-21, A. R. V.
Warnings Against Presumption
As we learn more and more of what God is, and of what we ourselves are in His sight, we shall fear and tremble before Him.
Let men of today take warning from the fate of those who in ancient times presumed to make free with that which God had declared sacred. When the Israelites ventured to open the ark on its return from the land of the Philistines, their irreverent daring was signally punished. "He smote of the men of Beth-shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of Jehovah, He smote of the people seventy men, and fifty thousand men; and the people mourned, because Jehovah had smitten the people with a great slaughter. And the men of Beth-shemesh said, Who is able to stand before Jehovah, this holy God?" 1 Samuel 6:19, 20, A. R. V.
Again, consider the judgment that fell upon Uzzah. As in David's reign, the ark was being carried to Jerusalem, Uzzah put forth his hand to keep it steady. For presuming to touch the symbol of God's presence, he was smitten with instant death.
At the burning bush, when Moses, not recognizing God's presence, turned aside to behold the wonderful sight, the command was given:
"Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. . . . And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God." Exodus 3:5, 6.
"And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a Man over against him with His sword drawn in His hand: and Joshua went unto Him, and said unto Him, Art Thou for us, or for our adversaries? And He said, Nay; but as Captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto Him, What saith my Lord unto His servant? And the Captain of the Lord's host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so." Joshua 5:13-15.
In the sanctuary and the temple, that were the earthly symbols of God's dwelling place, one apartment was sacred to His presence. The veil inwrought with cherubim at its entrance was not to be lifted by any hand save one. To lift that veil and intrude unbidden into the sacred mystery of the most holy place was death. For above the mercy seat and the bowed, worshiping angels dwelt the glory of the Holiest, glory upon which no man might look and live. On the one day of the year appointed for ministry in the most holy place, the high priest with trembling entered God's presence, while clouds of incense veiled the glory from his sight. Throughout the courts of the temple every sound was hushed. No priests ministered at the altars. The hosts of worshipers, bowed in silent awe, sent up their petitions for God's mercy.
"These things happened unto them by way of example; and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages are come." 1 Corinthians 10:11, A. R. V.
"The Lord is in His holy temple: Let all the earth keep silence before Him." Habakkuk 2:20.
"Jehovah reigneth; let the peoples tremble: He sitteth above the cherubim; let the earth be moved. Jehovah is great in Zion; And He is high above all the peoples. Let them praise Thy great and terrible name: Holy is He." Psalm 99:1-3, A. R. V.
"The Lord's throne is in heaven: His eyes behold, His eyelids try, the children of men."
"From the height of His sanctuary" "He hath looked down." Psalms 11:4; 102:19.
"From the place of His habitation He looketh forth Upon all the inhabitants of the earth, He that fashioneth the hearts of them all, That considereth all their works."
"Let all the earth fear Jehovah: Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him." Psalm 33:14, 15, 8, A. R.V.
Man cannot by searching find out God. Let none seek with presumptuous hand to lift the veil that conceals His glory. "Unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!" Romans 11:33. It is a proof of His mercy that there is the hiding of His power; for to lift the veil that conceals the divine presence is death. No mortal mind can penetrate the secrecy in which the Mighty One dwells and works.
Only that which He sees fit to reveal can we comprehend of Him. Reason must acknowledge an authority superior to itself. Heart and intellect must bow to the great I AM.
Christ's Revelation of God
All that man needs to know or can know of God has been revealed in the life and character of His Son.
"No man hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him." John 1:18.
Taking humanity upon Him, Christ came to be one with humanity and at the same time to reveal our heavenly Father to sinful human beings. He was in all things made like unto His brethren. He became flesh, even as we are. He was hungry and thirsty and weary. He was sustained by food and refreshed by sleep. He shared the lot of men, and yet He was the blameless Son of God. He was a stranger and sojourner on the earth--in the world, but not of the world; tempted and tried as men and women today are tempted and tried, yet living a life free from sin.
Tender, compassionate, sympathetic, ever considerate of others, He represented the character of God, and was constantly engaged in service for God and man.
"The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, . . . full of grace and truth." Verse 14.
"Unto the men whom Thou gavest Me out of the world,'' He said, "I manifested Thy name," "that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them." John 17:6, A. R. V., 26.
"Love your enemies," He bade them; "bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven;" "for He is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil." "He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." "Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful." Matthew 5:44, 45; Luke 6: 35, 36.
The Glory of the Cross
The revelation of God's love to men centers in the cross. Its full significance tongue cannot utter; pen cannot portray; the mind of man cannot comprehend. Looking upon the cross of Calvary we can only say: "God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16.
Christ crucified for our sins, Christ risen from the dead, Christ ascended on high, is the science of salvation that we are to learn and to teach.
"Who, being in the form of God, counted it not a thing to be grasped to be on an equality with God, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross." Philippians 2:6-8, R. V., margin.
"It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God." "Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them." Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25.
"We have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but One that hath been in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." Hebrews 4:15, A. R. V.
Here are infinite wisdom, infinite love, infinite justice, infinite mercy--"the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God." Romans 11:33.
It is through the gift of Christ that we receive every blessing.
Through that gift there comes to us day by day the unfailing flow of Jehovah's goodness. Every flower, with its delicate tints and sweet fragrance, is given for our enjoyment through that one Gift. The sun and moon were made by Him; there is not a star that beautifies the heavens which He did not make. There is not an article of food upon our tables that He has not provided for our sustenance. The superscription of Christ is upon it all. Everything is supplied to man through the one unspeakable Gift, the only-begotten Son of God. He was nailed to the cross that all these bounties might flow to God's workmanship.
The fruit of the tree of life in the Garden of Eden possessed supernatural virtue. To eat of it was to live forever. Its fruit was the antidote of death. Its leaves were for the sustaining of life and immortality. But through man's disobedience death entered the world. Adam ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the fruit of which he had been forbidden to touch. His transgression opened the floodgates of woe upon our race.
After the entrance of sin the heavenly Husbandman transplanted the tree of life to the Paradise above; but its branches hang over the wall to the lower world. Through the redemption purchased by the blood of Christ, we may still eat of its life-giving fruit.
Of Christ it is written: "In Him was life; and the life was the light of men." John 1:4. He is the Fountain of life. Obedience to Him is the life-giving power that gladdens the soul.
Christ declares: "I am the Bread of Life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst." "As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me. . . . It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God." John 6:35, 57-63; Revelation 2:7.
"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God!" 1 John 3:1.
The knowledge of God as revealed in Christ is the knowledge that all who are saved must have. It is the knowledge that works transformation of character. This knowledge, received, will re-create the soul in the image of God. It will impart to the whole being a spiritual power that is divine.
"We all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory." 2 Corinthians 3:18, A. R. V.
Of His own life the Saviour said: "I have kept My Father's commandments." "The Father hath not left Me alone; for I do always those things that please Him." John 15:10; 8:29. As Jesus was in human nature, so God means His followers to be. In His strength we are to live the life of purity and nobility which the Saviour lived.
"For this cause," Paul says, "I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:14-19.
Danger in Speculative Knowledge
False science is one of the agencies that Satan used in the heavenly courts, and it is used by him today. The false assertions that he made to the angels, his subtle scientific theories, seduced many of them from their loyalty.
Having lost his place in heaven, Satan presented his temptations to our first parents. Adam and Eve yielded to the enemy, and by their disobedience humanity was estranged from God, and the earth was separated from heaven.
If Adam and Eve had never touched the forbidden tree, the Lord would have imparted to them knowledge, knowledge upon which rested no curse of sin, knowledge that would have brought them everlasting joy. All that they gained by their disobedience was an acquaintance with sin and its results.
The field into which Satan led our first parents is the same to which he is leading men today. He is flooding the world with pleasing fables. By every device at his command he seeks to prevent men from obtaining that knowledge of God which is salvation.
We are living in an age of great light; but much that is called light is opening the way for the wisdom and arts of Satan. Many things will be presented that appear to be true, and yet they need to be carefully considered with much prayer; for they may be specious devices of the enemy. The path of error often appears to lie close to the path of truth. It is hardly distinguishable from the path that leads to holiness and heaven. But the mind enlightened by the Holy Spirit may discern that it is diverging from the right way. After a while the two are seen to be widely separated.
Already there are coming in among our people spiritualistic teachings that will undermine the faith of those who give heed to them. The theory that God is an essence pervading all nature is one of Satan's most subtle devices. It misrepresents God and is a dishonor to His greatness and majesty.
Pantheistic theories are not sustained by the word of God. The light of His truth shows that these theories are soul-destroying agencies. Darkness is their element, sensuality their sphere. They gratify the natural heart and give license to inclination. Separation from God is the result of accepting them.
Our condition through sin has become preternatural, and the power that restores us must be supernatural, else it has no value. There is but one power that can break the hold of evil from the hearts of men, and that is the power of God in Jesus Christ. Only through the blood of the Crucified One is there cleansing from sin. His grace alone can enable us to resist and subdue the tendencies of our fallen nature. This power the spiritualistic theories concerning God make of no effect. If God is an essence pervading all nature, then He dwells in all men; and in order to attain holiness, man has only to develop the power that is within him.
These theories, followed to their logical conclusion, sweep away the whole Christian economy. They do away with the necessity for the atonement and make man his own savior. These theories regarding God make His word of no effect, and those who accept them are in great danger of being led finally to look upon the whole Bible as a fiction. They may regard virtue as better than vice; but God being removed from His position of sovereignty, they place their dependence upon human power, which, without God, is worthless. The unaided human will has no real power to resist and overcome evil. The defenses of the soul are broken down. Man has no barrier against sin. When once the restraints of God's word and His Spirit are rejected, we know not to what depths one may sink.
Those who continue to hold these spiritualistic theories will surely spoil their Christian experience, sever their connection with God, and lose eternal life.
The sophistries regarding God and nature that are flooding the world with skepticism are the inspiration of the fallen foe, who is himself a Bible student, who knows the truth that it is essential for the people to receive, and whose study it is to divert minds from the great truths given to prepare them for what is coming upon the world.
I have seen the results of these fanciful views of God, in apostasy, spiritualism, and free-lovism. The free love tendency of these teachings was so concealed that at first it was difficult to make plain its real character. Until the Lord presented it to me, I knew not what to call it, but I was instructed to call it unholy spiritual love.
After the passing of the time in 1844, we had fanaticism of every kind to meet. Testimonies of reproof were given me to bear to some holding spiritualistic theories.
There were those who were active in disseminating false ideas in regard to God. Light was given me that these men were making the truth of no effect by their false teachings.
I was instructed that they were misleading souls by presenting speculative theories regarding God.
I went to the place where they were and opened before them the nature of their work. The Lord gave me strength to lay plainly before them their danger. Among other views they held that those who were once sanctified could not sin. Their false teaching was working great harm to themselves and to others. They were gaining a spiritualistic power over those who could not see the evil of these beautifully clothed theories. The doctrine that all were holy had led to the belief that the affections of the sanctified would never lead astray. The result of this belief was the fulfillment of the evil desires of hearts that, though professedly sanctified, were far from purity of thought and life.
Ungodly teaching is followed by sinful practice. It is the seducing bait of the father of lies, and results in the impenitence of self-satisfied impurity.
This is only one of the instances in which I was called upon to rebuke those who were presenting the doctrine of an impersonal God pervading all nature, and similar errors.
Past Experiences to be Repeated
The experience of the past will be repeated. In the future, Satan's superstitions will assume new forms. Errors will be presented in a pleasing and flattering manner. False theories, clothed with garments of light, will be presented to God's people. Thus Satan will try to deceive, if possible, the very elect. Most seducing influences will be exerted; minds will be hypnotized.
Corruptions of every type, similar to those existing among the antediluvians, will be brought in to take minds captive.
The exaltation of nature as God, the unrestrained license of the human will, the counsel of the ungodly--these Satan uses as agencies to bring about certain ends. He will employ the power of mind over mind to carry out his designs. The most sorrowful thought of all is that under his deceptive influence men will have a form of godliness, without having a real connection with God. Like Adam and Eve, who ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, many are even now feeding upon the deceptive morsels of error.
Satanic agencies are clothing false theories in an attractive garb, even as Satan in the Garden of Eden concealed his identity from our first parents by speaking through the serpent. These agencies are instilling into human minds that which in reality is deadly error. The hypnotic influence of Satan will rest upon those who turn from the plain word of God to pleasing fables.
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." Galatians 6:7.
At this time we need in the cause of God spiritually minded men, men who are firm in principle and who have a clear understanding of the truth.
I have been instructed that it is not new and fanciful doctrines which the people need. They do not need human suppositions. They need the testimony of men who know and practice the truth, men who understand and obey the charge given to Timothy: "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry." 2 Timothy 4:2-5.
Walk firmly, decidedly, your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. You may be sure that pure and undefiled religion is not a sensational religion. God has not laid upon anyone the burden of encouraging an appetite for speculative doctrines and theories. My brethren, keep these things out of your teaching. Do not allow them to enter into your experience. Let not your lifework be marred by them.
A Warning Against False Teaching
A warning against false teaching is found in Paul's letter to the Colossians. The apostle declares that the hearts of the believers are to be "knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And this I say," he continues, "lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. . . . 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 fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power." Colossians 2:2-10.
I am instructed to say to our people: Let us follow Christ. Do not forget that He is to be our pattern in all things. We may safely discard those ideas that are not found in His teaching. I appeal to our ministers to be sure that their feet are placed on the platform of eternal truth. Beware how you follow impulse, calling it the Holy Spirit. Some are in danger in this respect. I call upon them to be sound in the faith, able to give to everyone who asks a reason of the hope that is in them.
Diverting Minds from Present Duty
The enemy is seeking to divert the minds of our brethren and sisters from the work of preparing a people to stand in these last days. His sophistries are designed to lead minds away from the perils and duties of the hour. They estimate as nothing the light that Christ came from heaven to give to John for His people. They teach that the scenes just before us are not of sufficient importance to receive special attention. They make of no effect the truth of heavenly origin and rob the people of God of their past experience, giving them instead a false science.
"Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein." Jeremiah 6:16.
Let none seek to tear away the foundations of our faith--the foundations that were laid at the beginning of our work by prayerful study of the word and by revelation. Upon these foundations we have been building for the last fifty years. Men may suppose that they have found a new way and that they can lay a stronger foundation than that which has been laid. But this is a great deception. Other foundation can no man lay than that which has been laid.
In the past many have undertaken the building of a new faith, the establishment of new principles. But how long did their building stand? It soon fell, for it was not founded upon the Rock.
Did not the first disciples have to meet the sayings of men? Did they not have to listen to false theories, and then, having done all, to stand firm, saying: "Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid"? 1 Corinthians 3:11.
So we are to hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end. Words of power have been sent by God and by Christ to this people, bringing them out from the world, point by point, into the clear light of present truth. With lips touched with holy fire, God's servants have proclaimed the message. The divine utterance has set its seal to the genuineness of the truth proclaimed.
The Lord calls for a renewal of the straight testimony borne in years past. He calls for a renewal of spiritual life. The spiritual energies of His people have long been torpid, but there is to be a resurrection from apparent death.
By prayer and confession of sin we must clear the King's highway. As we do this, the power of the Spirit will come to us. We need the Pentecostal energy. This will come, for the Lord has promised to send His Spirit as the all-conquering power.
Perilous times are before us. Everyone who has a knowledge of the truth should awake and place himself, body, soul, and spirit, under the discipline of God. The enemy is on our track. We must be wide awake, on our guard against him. We must put on the whole armor of God. We must follow the directions given through the spirit of prophecy. We must love and obey the truth for this time. This will save us from accepting strong delusions. God has spoken to us through His word. He has spoken to us through the testimonies to the church and through the books that have helped to make plain our present duty and the position that we should now occupy. The warnings that have been given, line upon line, precept upon precept, should be heeded. If we disregard them, what excuse can we offer?
I beseech those who are laboring for God not to accept the spurious for the genuine. Let not human reason be placed where divine, sanctifying truth should be. Christ is waiting to kindle faith and love in the hearts of His people. Let not erroneous theories receive countenance from the people who ought to be standing firm on the platform of eternal truth. God calls upon us to hold firmly to the fundamental principles that are based upon unquestionable authority.
Seek the First Love
Into the hearts of many who have been long in the truth there has entered a hard, judicial spirit. They are sharp, critical, faultfinding. They have climbed upon the judgment seat to pronounce sentence upon those who do not conform to their ideas. God calls upon them to come down and bow before Him in repentance, confessing their sins. He says to them: "I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent." Revelation 2:4, 5. They are striving for the first place, and by their words and acts they make many hearts sore.
Against this spirit, and against the false religion of sentimentalism, which is equally dangerous, I bear my warning. Take heed, brethren and sisters. Who is your leader--Christ or the angel that fell from heaven? Examine yourselves and know whether you are sound in the faith.
The Word of God our Safeguard
Our watchword is to be: "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." Isaiah 8:20. We have a Bible full of the most precious truth. It contains the alpha and omega of knowledge. The Scriptures, given by inspiration of God, are "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." 2 Timothy 3:16, 17. Take the Bible as your study book. All can understand its instruction.
I call upon our ministers, physicians, and all church members to study the lessons that Christ gave His disciples just before His ascension. These lessons contain instruction that the people need.
Eternal life is obtained only by eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the Son of God. "Verily, verily, I say unto you," Christ declared, "he that believeth on Me hath everlasting life. . . . I am the living Bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. . . . Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him. . . . It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." John 6:47-63.
Christ calls upon His people to believe and practice His word. Those who receive and assimilate this word, making it a part of every action, of every attribute of character, will grow strong in the strength of God. It will be seen that their faith is of heavenly origin. They will not wander into strange paths. Their minds will not turn to a religion of sentimentalism and excitement. Before angels and before men, they will stand as those who have strong, consistent Christian characters.
In the golden censer of truth, as presented in Christ's teachings, we have that which will convict and convert souls. Present, in the simplicity of Christ, the truths that He came to this world to proclaim, and the power of your message will make itself felt. Do not present theories or tests that Christ has never mentioned and that have no foundation in the Bible. We have grand, solemn truths to present."It is written" is the test that must be brought home to every soul.
Men may still learn the things that belong to their peace. Mercy's voice may still be heard calling: "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." Matthew II: 28-30. It is only when spiritual life is given that rest is found and lasting good secured. We must be able to say, in storm and tempest: "My anchor holds."
Let us go to the word of God for guidance. Let us seek for a "Thus saith the Lord." We have had enough of human methods. A mind trained only in worldly science fails to understand the things of God; but the same mind, converted and sanctified, will see the divine power in the word. Only the mind and heart cleansed by the sanctification of the Spirit can discern heavenly things.
Brethren, in the name of the Lord I call upon you to awake to your duty. Let your hearts be yielded to the power of the Holy Spirit, and they will be made susceptible to the teaching of the word. Then you will be able to discern the deep things of God.
May God bring His people under the deep movings of His Spirit! May He lead them to arouse, to see their peril, and to prepare for what is coming upon the earth!
Study the Revelation
To John the Lord opened the subjects that He saw would be needed by His people in the last days. The instruction that He gave is found in the book of Revelation. Those who would be co-workers with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ will show a deep interest in the truths found in this book. With pen and voice they will strive to make plain the wonderful things that Christ came from heaven to reveal.
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to show unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by His angel unto
His servant John: who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand." Revelation 1:1-3.
The solemn messages that have been given in their order in the Revelation are to occupy the first place in the minds of God's people. Nothing else is to be allowed to engross our attention.
Precious time is rapidly passing, and there is danger that many will be robbed of the time which should be given to the proclamation of the messages that God has sent to a fallen world. Satan is pleased to see the diversion of minds that should be engaged in a study of the truths which have to do with eternal realities.
The testimony of Christ, a testimony of the most solemn character, is to be borne to the world. All through the book of Revelation there are the most precious, elevating promises, and there are also warnings of the most fearfully solemn import. Will not those who profess to have a knowledge of the truth read the testimony given to John by Christ? Here is no guesswork, no scientific deception. Here are the truths that concern our present and future welfare. What is the chaff to the wheat?
To the Church in Sardis
"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. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." Revelation 3:1-6.
Message to the Philadelphia Church
And 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. 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. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. 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." Verses 7-12.
The Laodicean Message
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 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.
"As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous there fore, 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." Verses 14-22.
The Lord is soon coming. The watchmen on the walls of Zion are called upon to awake to their God-given responsibilities. God calls for watchmen who, in the power of the Spirit, will give to the world the last warning message; who will proclaim the time of night. He calls for watchmen who will arouse men and women from their lethargy, lest they sleep the sleep of death.
The master mind in the confederacy of evil is ever working to keep out of sight the words of God and to bring into full view the opinions of men. He means that we shall not hear the voice of God saying: "This is the way, walk ye in it." Through educational processes he is doing all in his power to obscure heaven's light.
Philosophical speculation and scientific research in which God is not acknowledged are making skeptics of thousands of the youth. In the schools of today the conclusions that learned men have reached as the result of their scientific investigations are carefully taught and fully explained; while the impression is distinctly given that if these learned men are correct, the Bible cannot be. Skepticism is attractive to the human mind. The youth see in it an independence that captivates the imagination, and they are deceived. Satan triumphs; it is altogether as he meant it should be. He nourishes every seed of doubt that is sown in young hearts. He causes it to grow and bear fruit, and soon a plentiful harvest of infidelity is reaped.
It is because the human heart is inclined to evil that there is so great danger in sowing the seeds of skepticism in young minds. Whatever weakens faith in God, robs the soul of power to resist temptation. It removes the only real safeguard against sin.
We are not to institute schools of scholastic philosophy or for the so-called "higher education." Our greatness consists in honoring God by simple, practical experience in everyday life. We need to walk with God, to bring Him into our hearts and our homes.
Many think that in order to obtain an education it is necessary to study the productions of writers who teach infidelity, because their works contain some bright gems of thought. But who was the originator of these gems of thought? It was God, and God alone. He is the source of all light. Why should we wade through the mass of error contained in the works of pagans and infidels, for the sake of a few intellectual truths, when all truth is at our command?
There is a reason why these men sometimes display remark able wisdom. Satan himself was educated in the heavenly courts, and he has a knowledge of good as well as of evil. He mingles the precious with the vile, and this is what gives him power to deceive. But because Satan has robed himself in garments of heavenly brightness, shall we receive him as an angel of light? The tempter has his agents, educated according to his methods, inspired by his spirit, and adapted to his work. Shall we co-operate with them? Shall we receive the works of his agents as essential to the acquirement of an education?
"Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one." Job 14:4. Can we then expect the youth to maintain Christian principles and to develop Christian character while their education is largely influenced by the teachings of pagans, atheists, and infidels?
If the time and effort spent in seeking to grasp the bright ideas of infidels were given to studying the precious things in the word of God, thousands who now sit in darkness and in the shadow of death would be rejoicing in the glory of the Light of life.
Historical and Theological Lore
Many who are seeking a preparation for the Lord's work think it essential to accumulate large volumes of historical and theological writings. They suppose that the study of these works will be a great advantage to them in learning how to reach the people. This is an error. As I see shelves piled with these books, some of them rarely looked into, I think: Why spend money for that which is not bread? The sixth chapter of John tells us more than can be found in such works. Christ says: "I am the Bread of Life." "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." John 6:35, 63.
There is a study of history that is not to be condemned. Sacred history was one of the studies in the schools of the prophets. In the record of His dealings with the nations were traced the footsteps of Jehovah. So today we are to consider the dealings of God with the nations of the earth. We are to see in history the fulfillment of prophecy, to study the workings of Providence in the great reformatory movements, and to understand the progress of events in the marshalling of the nations for the final conflict of the great controversy.
But too often the motive of those who study these many books is not so much to obtain food for mind or soul. It is an ambition to become acquainted with philosophers and theologians, a desire to present Christianity to the people in learned terms and propositions.
"Learn of Me," said the greatest Teacher the world ever knew. "Take My yoke upon you, learn My meekness and lowliness." Your intellectual pride will not aid in the work of communicating with souls that are perishing for want of the bread of life. In your study of these books you are allowing them to take the place, in mind and heart, of the practical lessons you should be learning from the Great Teacher. With the results of this study the people are not fed. Very little of the study and research which is so wearying to the mind furnishes anything that will make one a successful laborer for souls.
Men and women who spend their lives in humble, commonplace work need words as simple as Christ gave in His lessons, words that are easily understood. The Saviour came "to preach the gospel to the poor." And it is written that "the common people heard Him gladly." Those who are teaching the truth for this time need a deeper insight into the lessons He has given.
The words of the living God are the highest of all education. The studied phrases designed to please the taste of the supposed-to-be refined fall short of the mark. Those who minister to the people need to eat the bread of life. This will give them spiritual strength; then they will be prepared to minister to all classes of people. The piety, the spiritual energy of the church is sustained by feeding on the bread that came down from heaven. At the feet of Jesus we are to learn the simplicity of true godliness.
Myths and Fairy Tales
In the education of children and youth, fairy tales, myths, and fictitious stories are now given a large place. Books of this character are used in the schools, and they are to be found in many homes. How can Christian parents permit their children to use books so filled with falsehood? When the children ask the meaning of stories so contrary to the teaching of their parents, the answer is that the stories are not true; but this does not do away with the evil results of their use. The ideas presented in these books mislead the children. They impart false views of life and beget and foster a desire for the unreal.
The widespread use of such books at this time is one of the cunning devices of Satan. He is seeking to divert the minds of old and young from the great work of preparation for the things that are coming upon the earth. He means that our children and youth shall be swept away by the soul-destroying deceptions with which he is flooding the world. Therefore he seeks to divert their minds from the word of God, and thus prevent them from gaining a knowledge of those truths that would be their safeguard.
Never should books containing a perversion of truth be placed before children or youth. And if those with mature minds had nothing to do with such books, they would be far safer.
A Purer Fountain
We have an abundance of that which is real, that which is divine. Those who thirst for knowledge need not go to polluted fountains.
Christ presented the principles of truth in the gospel. In His teaching we may drink of the pure streams that flow from the throne of God.
Christ could have imparted to men knowledge that would have surpassed any previous disclosures and put in the background every other discovery. He could have unlocked mystery after mystery, and could have concentrated around these wonderful revelations the active, earnest thought of successive generations till the close of time. But He would not spare a moment from teaching the knowledge of the science of salvation. His time, His faculties, His life itself, was appreciated and used only as the means for working out the salvation of the souls of men. He had come to seek and to save that which was lost, and He would not be turned from His one object. He allowed nothing to divert Him.
Christ imparted only that knowledge which could be utilized. His instruction of the people was confined to the needs of their own condition in practical life. The curiosity that led them to come to Him with prying questions, He did not gratify. All such questionings He made the occasion for solemn, earnest, vital appeals. To those who were so eager to pluck from the tree of knowledge, He offered the fruit of the tree of life. They found every avenue closed, except the narrow way that leads to God. Every fountain was sealed, save the fountain of eternal life.
Our Saviour did not encourage any to attend the rabbinical schools of His day for the reason that their minds would be corrupted with the continually repeated, "They say," or, "It has been said." Why, then, should we accept the unstable words of men as exalted wisdom, when a greater, a certain wisdom is at our command?
That which I have seen of eternal things, and that which I have seen of the weakness of men, as God has presented it before me, has deeply impressed my mind and influenced my life and character. I see nothing wherein man should be exalted or praised or glorified. I see no reason why the opinions of worldly-wise men should be trusted in and exalted. How can those who are destitute of divine enlightenment have correct ideas of God's plans and ways?
I am willing to be taught by Him who created the heavens and the earth, by Him who set the stars in their order in the firmament and appointed the sun and the moon to do their work. I need not go to infidel authors. I choose to be taught of God.
It is right for the youth to feel that they must reach the highest development of their mental powers. We would not restrict the education to which God has set no limit. But our attainments will avail nothing if not put to use for the honor of God and the good of humanity. Unless our knowledge is a steppingstone to the accomplishment of the highest purposes, it is worthless.
What we need is knowledge that will strengthen mind and soul, that will make us better men and women.
Heart education is of more importance than the education gained from books. It is well, even essential, to obtain a knowledge of the world in which we live; but if we leave eternity out of our reckoning, we shall make a failure from which we can never recover.
It is not well to crowd the mind with a class of studies that require intense application, but that are not brought into use in practical life. An education of this kind will be a loss to the student. For these studies take away his desire and inclination for the studies that would fit him for usefulness and enable him to fulfill his responsibilities.
If the youth understood their own weakness, they would find in God their strength. If they seek to be taught by Him, they will become wise in His wisdom, and their lives will be fruitful of blessing to the world. But if they give up their minds to mere worldly and speculative study, and thus separate from God, they will lose all that enriches life.
Importance of Seeking True Knowledge
Far more than we do, we need to understand the issues at stake in the conflict in which we are engaged. We need to understand more fully the value of the truths that God has given for this time and the danger of allowing our minds to be diverted from them by the great deceiver.
The infinite value of the sacrifice required for our redemption reveals the fact that sin is a tremendous evil. Through sin the whole human organism is deranged, the mind is perverted, the imagination corrupted. Sin has degraded the faculties of the soul. Temptations from without find an answering chord within the heart, and the feet turn imperceptibly toward evil.
As the sacrifice in our behalf was complete, so our restoration from the defilement of sin is to be complete. There is no act of wickedness that the law will excuse; there is no unrighteousness that will escape its condemnation. The life of Christ was a perfect fulfillment of every precept of the law. He said; "I have kept My Father's commandments." John 15:10. His life is our standard of obedience and service.
God alone can renew the heart. "It is God who worketh in you both to will and to work, for His good pleasure." But we are bidden: "Work out your own salvation." Philippians 2:13, 12, A. R. V.
The Work That Requires Our Thought
Wrongs cannot be righted, nor can reformations in character be made, by a few feeble, intermittent efforts. 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.
The strongest evidence of man's fall from a higher state is the fact that it costs so much to return. The way of return can be gained only by hard fighting, inch by inch, every hour. By a momentary act of will, one may place himself in the power of evil; but it requires more than a momentary act of will to break these fetters and attain to a higher, holier life. The purpose may be formed, the work begun; but its accomplishment will require toil, time, and perseverance, patience and sacrifice.
Beset with temptations without number, we must resist firmly or be conquered. Should we come to the close of life with our work undone, it would be an eternal loss.
Paul's sanctification was the result of a constant conflict with self. He said: "I die daily." 1 Corinthians 15:31. 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.
No one will be borne upward without stern, persevering effort in his own behalf. All must engage in this warfare for themselves. Individually we are responsible for the issue of the struggle; though Noah, Job, and Daniel were in the land, they could deliver neither son nor daughter by their righteousness.
The Science to be Mastered
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. Often the training and education of a lifetime must be discarded, that one may become a learner in the school of Christ. Our hearts must be educated to become steadfast in God. We are to form habits of thought that will enable us to resist temptation. We must learn to look upward. The principles of the word of God--principles that are as high as heaven, and that compass eternity--we are to understand in their bearing upon our daily life. Every act, every word, every thought, is to be in accord with these principles.
The precious graces of the Holy Spirit are not developed in a moment. Courage, fortitude, meekness, faith, unwavering trust in God's power to save, are acquired by the experience of years. By a life of holy endeavor and firm adherence to the right the children of God are to seal their destiny.
No Time to Lose
We have no time to lose. We know not how soon our probation may close. Eternity stretches before us. The curtain is about to be lifted. Christ is soon to come. The angels of God are seeking to attract us from ourselves and from earthly things. Let them not labor in vain.
When Jesus rises up in the most holy place, lays off His mediatorial robes, and clothes Himself with the garments of vengeance, the mandate will go forth: "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: . . . and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be." Revelation 22:11, 12.
A storm is coming, relentless in its fury. Are we prepared to meet it?
We need not say: The perils of the last days are soon to come upon us. Already they have come. We need now the sword of the Lord to cut to the very soul and marrow of fleshly lusts, appetites, and passions.
Minds that have been given up to loose thought need to change. "Girding up the loins of your mind, be sober and set your hope perfectly on the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as children of obedience, not fashioning yourselves according to your former lusts in the time of your ignorance: but like as He who called you is holy, be ye yourselves also holy in all manner of living; because it is written, Ye shall be holy; for I am holy." I Peter 1:13-16, A. R. V. The thoughts must be centered upon God. Now is the time to put forth earnest effort to overcome the natural tendencies of the carnal heart.
Our efforts, our self-denial, our perseverance, must be proportionate to the infinite value of the object of which we are in pursuit. Only by overcoming as Christ overcame shall we win the crown of life.
The Need for Self-Renunciation
Man's great danger is in being self-deceived, indulging self-sufficiency, and thus separating from God, the source of his strength. Our natural tendencies, unless corrected by the Holy Spirit of God, have in them the seeds of moral death. Unless we become vitally connected with God, we cannot resist the unhallowed effects of self-love, self-indulgence, and temptation to sin.
In order to receive help from Christ, we must realize our need. We must have a true knowledge of ourselves. It is only he who knows himself to be a sinner that Christ can save. Only as we see our utter helplessness and renounce all self-trust, shall we lay hold on divine power.
It is not only at the beginning of the Christian life that this renunciation of self is to be made. At every advance step heavenward it is to be renewed. All our good works are dependent on a power outside of ourselves; therefore there needs to be a continual reaching out of the heart after God, a constant, earnest confession of sin and humbling of the soul before Him. Perils surround us; and we are safe only as we feel our weakness and cling with the grasp of faith to our mighty Deliverer.
We must turn away from a thousand topics that invite attention. There are matters that consume time and arouse inquiry, but end in nothing. The highest interests demand the close attention and energy that are too often given to comparatively insignificant things.
Accepting new theories does not bring new life to the soul. Even an acquaintance with facts and theories important in themselves is of little value unless put to a practical use. We need to feel our responsibility to give our souls food that will nourish and stimulate spiritual life.
A Personal Knowledge of Christ
"Every word of God is pure: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him. Add thou not unto His words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar." Proverbs 30:5, 6.
We are not doing the will of God when we speculate upon things that He has seen fit to withhold from us. The question for us to study is: "What is truth, the truth for this time, which is to be cherished, loved, honored, and obeyed?" The devotees of science have been defeated and disheartened in their efforts to find out God. What they need to inquire at this time is: "What is the truth that will enable us to win the salvation of our souls?"
Christ revealed God to His disciples in a way that performed in their hearts a special work, such as He has long been urging us to allow Him to do in our hearts. There are many who, in dwelling too largely upon theory, have lost sight of the living power of the Saviour's example. They have lost sight of Him as the humble, self-denying worker. What they need is to behold Jesus. Daily we need the fresh revealing of His presence. We need to follow more closely His example of self-renunciation and sacrifice.
We need the experience that Paul had when he wrote: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me." Galatians 2:20.
The knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ expressed in character is an exaltation above everything else that is esteemed on earth or in heaven. It is the very highest education. It is the key that opens the portals of the heavenly city. This knowledge it is God's purpose that all who put on Christ shall possess.
To our ministers, physicians, teachers, and all others engaged in any line of service for the Master, I have a message to bear. The Lord bids you to come up higher, to reach a holier standard. You must have an experience much deeper than you have yet even thought of having. Many who are already members of God's great family know little of what it means to behold His glory and to be changed from glory to glory. Many of you have a twilight perception of Christ's excellence, and your souls thrill with joy. You long for a fuller, deeper sense of the Saviour's love. You are unsatisfied. But do not despair. Give to Jesus the heart's best and holiest affections. Treasure every ray of light. Cherish every desire of the soul after God. Give yourselves the culture of spiritual thoughts and holy communings. You have seen but the first rays of the early dawn of His glory. As you follow on to know the Lord, you will know that His going forth is prepared as the morning. "The path of the righteous is as the light of dawn, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." Proverbs 4:18, R. V., margin. Having repented of our sins, confessed them, and found pardon, we are to continue to learn of Christ until we come into the full noontide of a perfect gospel faith.
The Knowledge Received through God's Word
The whole Bible is a revelation of the glory of God in Christ. Received, believed, obeyed, it is the great instrumentality in the transformation of character. And it is the only sure means of intellectual culture.
The reason why the youth, and even those of mature years, are so easily led into temptation and sin is that they do not study the word of God and meditate upon it as they should. The lack of firm, decided will power, which is manifest in life and character, results from their neglect of the sacred instruction of God's word. They do not by earnest effort direct the mind to that which would inspire pure, holy thought and divert it from that which is impure and untrue. There are few who choose the better part, who sit at the feet of Jesus, as did Mary, to learn of the divine Teacher. Few treasure His words in the heart and practice them in the life.
The truths of the Bible, received, will uplift the mind from its earthliness and debasement. If the word of God were appreciated as it should be, both young and old would possess an inward rectitude, a strength of principle, that would enable them to resist temptation.
Let men teach and write the precious things of the Holy Scriptures. Let the thought, the aptitude, the keen exercise of brain power, be given to the study of the thoughts of God. Study not the philosophy of man's conjectures, but study the philosophy of Him who is truth. Other literature is of little value when compared with this.
The mind that is earthly finds no pleasure in contemplating the word of God; but for the mind renewed by the Holy Spirit, divine beauty and celestial light shine from the sacred page. That which to the earthly mind was a desolate wilderness, to the spiritual mind becomes a land of living streams.
To Be Given to Our Children
The knowledge of God as revealed in His word is the knowledge to be given to our children. From the earliest dawn of reason they should be made familiar with the name and the life of Jesus. The very first lesson given them should be that God is their Father. Their very first training should teach them to render loving obedience. Reverently and tenderly let the word of God be read and repeated to them, in portions suited to their comprehension and adapted to awaken their interest. Above all, let them learn of His love revealed in Christ, and its great lesson:
"If God so loved us, we ought also to love one another." 1 John 4:11.
Let the youth make the word of God the food of mind and soul. Let the cross of Christ be made the science of all education, the center of all teaching and all study. Let it be brought into the daily experience in practical life. So will the Saviour become to the youth a daily companion and friend. Every thought will be brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. With the apostle Paul they will be able to say:
"God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." Galatians 6:14.
An Experimental Knowledge
Thus through faith they will come to know God by an experimental knowledge. They have proved for themselves the reality of His word, the truth of His promises. They have tasted, and they know that the Lord is good.
The beloved John had a knowledge gained through his own experience. He could testify:
"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (for the Life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ." 1 John 1:1-3.
So everyone may be able, through his own experience, to "set his seal to this, that God is true." John 3:33, A. R. V. He can bear witness to that which he himself has seen and heard and felt of the power of Christ. He can testify:
"I needed help, and I found it in Jesus. Every want was supplied, the hunger of my soul was satisfied; the Bible is to me the revelation of Christ. I believe in Jesus because He is to me a divine Saviour. I believe the Bible because I have found it to be the voice of God to my soul."
It is our privilege to reach higher and still higher for clearer revealings of the character of God. When Moses prayed, "I beseech Thee, show me Thy glory" (Exodus 33:18), the Lord did not rebuke him, but He granted his prayer. God declared to His servant: "I will make all My goodness pass before thee, and will proclaim the name of Jehovah before thee." Verse 19, A. R. V.
It is sin that darkens our minds and dims our perceptions. As sin is purged from our hearts, the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, illuminating His word and reflected from the face of nature, more and more fully will declare Him "merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth." Exodus 34:6.
In His light shall we see light, until mind and heart and soul are transformed into the image of His holiness.
Wonderful possibilities are open to those who lay hold of the divine assurances of God's word. There are glorious truths to come before the people of God. Privileges and duties which they do not even suspect to be in the Bible will be laid open before them. As they follow on in the path of humble obedience, doing His will, they will know more and more of the oracles of God.
Let the student take the Bible as his guide and stand like a rock for principle, and he may aspire to any height of attainment. All the philosophies of human nature have led to confusion and shame when God has not been recognized as all in all. But the precious faith inspired of God imparts strength and nobility of character. As His goodness, His mercy, and His love are dwelt upon, clearer and still clearer will be the perception of truth; higher, holier, the desire for purity of heart and clearness of thought. The soul dwelling in the pure atmosphere of holy thought is transformed by intercourse with God through the study of His word. Truth is so large, so far-reaching, so deep, so broad, that self is lost sight of. The heart is softened and subdued into humility, kindness, and love.
And the natural powers are enlarged because of holy obedience. From the study of the words of life, students may come forth with minds expanded, elevated, ennobled. If they are, like Daniel, hearers and doers of the word of God, they may advance as he did in all branches of learning. Being pure-minded, they will become strong-minded. Every intellectual faculty will be quickened. They may so educate and discipline themselves that all within the sphere of their influence may see what man can be, and what he can do, when connected with the God of wisdom and power.
Results of Receiving God's Word
This was the experience which the psalmist gained through a knowledge of God's word. He says:
"Blessed are they that are upright in way, Who walk in the law of Jehovah. Blessed are they that keep His testimonies, That seek Him with the whole heart. . . . O that my ways were established To observe Thy statutes! Then shall I not be put to shame, When I have respect unto all Thy commandments."
"Wherewith shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to Thy word."
"I have chosen the way of faithfulness: Thine ordinances have I set before me."
"Thy word have I laid up in my heart, That I might not sin against Thee."
"And I shall walk at liberty; For I have sought Thy precepts."
"Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold Wondrous things out of Thy law."
"Thy testimonies also are my delight And my counselors."
"The law of Thy mouth is better unto me Than thousands of gold and silver."
"O how love I Thy law! It is my meditation all the day."
"Thy statutes have been my songs In the house of my pilgrimage."
"Thy testimonies are wonderful; Therefore doth my soul keep them. The opening of Thy words giveth light; It giveth understanding unto the simple."
"Thy commandments make me wiser than mine enemies; For they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers; For Thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, Because I have kept Thy precepts. . . . Through Thy precepts I get understanding: Therefore I hate every false way."
"Thy word is very pure; Therefore Thy servant loveth it."
"The sum of Thy word is truth; And every one of Thy righteous ordinances endureth forever."
"Great peace have they that love Thy law; And they have no occasion of stumbling. I have hoped for Thy salvation, O Jehovah, And have done Thy commandments. My soul hath observed Thy testimonies; And I love them exceedingly."
"I have longed for Thy salvation, O Jehovah; And Thy law is my delight. Let my soul live, and it shall praise Thee; And let Thine ordinances help me."
"Thy testimonies have I taken as a heritage forever; For they are the rejoicing of my heart." Psalm 119:1-6, margin, 9, 30, 11, 45, 18, 24, 72, 97, 54, 129, 130, 98-104, 140, 160, 165-167, 174, 175, 111, A. R. V.
An Aid in the Study of Nature
He who has a knowledge of God and His word through personal experience is prepared to engage in the study of natural science. Of Christ it is written: "In Him was life; and the life was the light of men." John 1:4. When Adam and Eve in Eden lost the garments of holiness, they lost the light that had illuminated nature. No longer could they read it aright. But for those who receive the light of the life of Christ, nature is again illuminated. In the light shining from the cross, we can rightly interpret nature's teaching.
He who has a knowledge of God and His word has a settled faith in the divinity of the Holy Scriptures. He does not test the Bible by man's ideas of science. He brings these ideas to the test of the unerring standard. He knows that God's word is truth, and truth can never contradict itself; whatever in the teaching of so-called science contradicts the truth of God's revelation is mere human guesswork.
To the really wise, scientific research opens vast fields of thought and information. The ways of God as revealed in the natural world and in His dealings with man constitute a treasury from which every student in the school of Christ may draw.
The real evidence of a living God is not merely in theory; it is in the conviction that God has written in our hearts, illuminated and explained by His word. It is in the living power in His created works, seen by the eye which the Holy Spirit has enlightened.
Those who judge of God from His handiwork, and not from the suppositions of great men, see His presence in everything. They behold His smile in the glad sunshine, and His love and care for man in the rich fields of autumn. Even the adornments of the earth, the grass of living green, the lovely flowers of every hue, the lofty and varied trees of the forest, the dancing brook, the noble river, the placid lake, testify to the tender, fatherly care of God and to His desire to make His children happy.
Nature a Key to Divine Mysteries
As the student thus contemplates the things of nature, a new perception of truth comes to him. The teachings in God's great book of nature bear testimony to the truth of the written word.
In the plan of redemption there are mysteries that the human mind cannot fathom, many things that human wisdom cannot explain; but nature can teach us much concerning the mystery of godliness. Every shrub, every tree bearing fruit, all vegetation, has lessons for our study. In the growth of the seed are to be read the mysteries of the kingdom of God.
To the heart softened by the grace of God, the sun, the moon, the stars, the trees, the flowers of the field, utter words of counsel. The sowing of the seed carries the mind to spiritual seed sowing. The tree declares that a good tree cannot bear evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bear good fruit. "Ye shall know them by their fruits." Matthew 7:16. Even the tares have a lesson. They are of Satan's sowing, and, if left unchecked, spoil the wheat by their rank growth.
Fathers and mothers, teach your children of the wonder- working power of God. His power is manifest in every plant, in every tree that bears fruit. Take the children into the garden and explain to them how He causes the seed to grow. The farmer plows his land and sows the seed, but he cannot make the seed grow. He must depend upon God to do that which no human power can do. The Lord puts His own Spirit into the seed, causing it to spring into life. Under His care the germ breaks through the case enclosing it and springs up to develop and bear fruit.
As the children study the great lessonbook of nature, God will impress their minds. As they are told of the work that He does for the seed, they learn the secret of growth in grace. Rightly understood, these lessons lead to the Creator, teaching those simple, holy truths that bring the heart into close touch with God.
A Lesson of Obedience
God's laws for nature are obeyed by nature. Cloud and storm, sunshine and shower, dew and rain, all are under the supervision of God and yield obedience to His command. In obedience to the law of God the spire of grain bursts through the earth, "first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear." Mark 4:28. The fruit is first seen in the bud, and the Lord develops it in its proper season because it does not resist His working. So the birds fulfill God's purpose as they make their long migrations from land to land, guided through trackless space by the hand of infinite power.
Can it be that man, made in the image of God, endowed with reason and speech, shall alone be unappreciative of His gifts and disobedient to His laws? Will those who might be elevated and ennobled, fitted to be colaborers with Him, be content to remain imperfect in character and to cause confusion in our world? Shall the bodies and souls of God's purchased inheritance be hampered with world-bound habits and unholy practices? Shall they not reflect the beauty of Him who has done all things well, that through His grace imperfect man might hear at last His benediction: "Well done, thou good and faithful servant: . . . enter thou into the joy of thy Lord"? Matthew 25:21.
God desires us to learn from nature the lesson of obedience.
"Ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; And the birds of the heavens, and they shall tell thee: Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee; And the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. Who knoweth not in all these, That the hand of Jehovah hath wrought?"
"With God is wisdom and might; He hath counsel and understanding." Job 12: 7-9, 13, A. R. V.
"Blessed is the man" whose "delight is in the law of Jehovah. . . He shall be like a tree planted by the streams of water, That bringeth forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also doth not wither; And whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." Psalm 1:1-3, A. R. V.
The book of nature and the written word shed light upon each other. Both make us better acquainted with God by teaching us of His character and of the laws through which He works.
Education in the Life to Come
The education begun here will not be completed in this life; it will be going forward throughout eternity, ever progressing, never completed. Day by day the wonderful works of God, the evidences of His miraculous power in creating and sustaining the universe, will open before the mind in new beauty. In the light that shines from the throne, mysteries will disappear, and the soul will be filled with astonishment at the simplicity of the things that were never before comprehended.
Now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face; now we know in part; but then shall we know even as also we are known.
Our Great Need
The knowledge of God that works transformation of character is our great need. If we fulfill His purpose, there must be in our lives a revelation of God that shall correspond to the teaching of His word.
The experience of Enoch and of John the Baptist represents what ours should be. Far more than we do, we need to study the lives of these men--he who was translated to heaven without seeing death, and he who, before Christ's first advent, was called to prepare the way of the Lord, to make His paths straight.
The Experience of Enoch
Of Enoch it is written that he lived sixty-five years and begat a son; after that he walked with God three hundred years. During those earlier years, Enoch had loved and feared God, and had kept His commandments. But after the birth of his first son he reached a higher experience; he was drawn into closer relationship with God. As he saw the child's love for its father, its simple trust in his protection; as he felt the deep, yearning tenderness of his own heart for that first-born son, he learned a precious lesson of the wonderful love of God to man in the gift of His Son, and the confidence which the children of God may repose in their heavenly Father. The infinite, unfathomable love of God through Christ became the subject of his meditations day and night. With all the fervor of his soul he sought to reveal that love to the people among whom he dwelt.
Enoch's walk with God was not in a trance or a vision, but in all the duties of his daily life. He did not become a hermit, shutting himself entirely from the world; for he had, in the world, a work to do for God. In the family and in his intercourse with men, as a husband and father, a friend, a citizen, he was the steadfast, unwavering servant of God.
His faith waxed stronger, his love became more ardent, with the lapse of centuries. To him prayer was as the breath of the soul. He lived in the atmosphere of heaven.
As the scenes of the future were opened to his view, Enoch became a preacher of righteousness, bearing God's message to all who would hear the words of warning. In the land where Cain had sought to flee from the divine presence, the prophet of God made known the wonderful scenes that had passed before his vision. "Behold," he declared, "the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds." Jude 14, 15.
The power of God that wrought with His servant was felt by those who heard. Some gave heed to the warning and renounced their sins, but the multitudes mocked at the solemn message. The servants of God are to bear a similar message to the world in the last days, and it will also be received with unbelief and mockery.
As year after year passed, deeper and deeper grew the tide of human guilt, darker and darker gathered the clouds of divine judgment. Yet Enoch, the witness of faith, held on his way, warning, pleading, and teaching, striving to turn back the tide of guilt and to stay the bolts of vengeance.
The men of that generation mocked the folly of him who sought not to gather gold or silver, or to build up possessions here. But Enoch's heart was upon eternal treasures. He had looked upon the celestial city. He had seen the King in His glory in the midst of Zion. The greater the existing iniquity, the more earnest was his longing for the home of God. While still on earth, he dwelt, by faith, in the realms of light.
"Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." Matthew 5:8. For three hundred years Enoch had been seeking purity of heart, that he might be in harmony with heaven. For three centuries he had walked with God. Day by day he had longed for a closer union; nearer and nearer had grown the communion, until God took him to Himself. He had stood at the threshold of the eternal world, only a step between him and the land of the blest; and now the portals opened, the walk with God, so long pursued on earth, continued, and he passed through the gates of the holy city, the first from among men to enter there.
"By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; . . . for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God." Hebrews 11:5.
"To such communion God is calling us. As was Enoch's must be their holiness of character who shall be redeemed from among men at the Lord's second coming.
Experience of John the Baptist
John the Baptist in his desert life was taught of God. He studied the revelations of God in nature. Under the guiding of the Divine Spirit, he studied the scrolls of the prophets. By day and by night, Christ was his study, his meditation, until mind and heart and soul were filled with the glorious vision.
He looked upon the King in His beauty, and self was lost sight of. He beheld the majesty of holiness and knew himself to be inefficient and unworthy. It was God's message that he was to declare. It was in God's power and His righteousness that he was to stand. He was ready to go forth as Heaven's messenger, unawed by the human, because he had looked upon the Divine. He could stand fearless in the presence of earthly monarchs because with trembling he had bowed before the King of kings.
With no elaborate arguments or finespun theories did John declare his message. Startling and stern, yet full of hope, his voice was heard from the wilderness: "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Matthew 3:2. With a new, strange power it moved the people. The whole nation was stirred. Multitudes flocked to the wilderness.
Unlearned peasants and fishermen from the surrounding country; the Roman soldiers from the barracks of Herod; chieftains with their swords at their sides, ready to put down anything that might savor of rebellion; the avaricious taxgatherers from their toll booths; and from the Sanhedrin the phylacteried priests--all listened as if spellbound; and all, even the Pharisee, and the Sadducee, the cold, unimpressible scoffer, went away with the sneer silenced and cut to the heart with a sense of their sins. Herod in his palace heard the message, and the proud, sin-hardened ruler trembled at the call to repentance.
In this age, just prior to the second coming of Christ in the clouds of heaven, such a work as that of John is to be done. God calls for men who will prepare a people to stand in the great day of the Lord. The message preceding the public ministry of Christ was: "Repent, publicans and sinners; repent, Pharisees and Sadducees; 'repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.' " As a people who believe in Christ's soon appearing, we have a message to bear-- "Prepare to meet thy God." Amos 4:12. Our message must be as direct as was the message of John. He rebuked kings for their iniquity.
Notwithstanding that his life was imperiled, he did not hesitate to declare God's word. And our work in this age must be done as faithfully.
In order to give such a message as John gave, we must have a spiritual experience like his. The same work must be wrought in us. We must behold God, and in beholding Him lose sight of self.
John had by nature the faults and weaknesses common to humanity; but the touch of divine love had transformed him. When, after Christ's ministry began, the disciples of John came to him with the complaint that all men were following the new Teacher, John showed how clearly he understood his relation to the Messiah, and how gladly he welcomed the One for whom he had prepared the way.
"A man can receive nothing," he said, "except it be given him from heaven. Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before Him. He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease." John 3:27-30.
Looking in faith to the Redeemer, John had risen to the height of self-abnegation. He sought not to attract men to himself, but to lift their thoughts higher and still higher, until they should rest upon the Lamb of God. He himself had been only a voice, a cry in the wilderness. Now with joy he accepted silence and obscurity, that the eyes of all might be turned to the Light of life.
Those who are true to their calling as messengers for God will not seek honor for themselves. Love for self will be swallowed up in love for Christ. They will recognize that it is their work to proclaim, as did John the Baptist: "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." John 1:29. They will lift up Jesus, and with Him humanity will be lifted up. "Thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." Isaiah 57:15.
The soul of the prophet, emptied of self, was filled with the light of the Divine. In words that were almost a counterpart of the words of Christ Himself, he bore witness to the Saviour's glory. "He that cometh from above," he said, "is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: He that cometh from heaven is above all. . . . For He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him." John 3:31-34.
In this glory of Christ all His followers are to share. The Saviour could say: "I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent Me." John 5:30." And," declared John, "the Father giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him." So with the followers of Christ. We can receive of heaven's light only as we are willing to be emptied of self. We can discern the character of God, and accept Christ by faith, only as we consent to the bringing into captivity of every thought to the obedience of Christ. To all who do this, the Holy Spirit is given without measure. In Christ "dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in Him." Colossians 2:9, 10.
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." Exodus 33:19, A. R. V.
"Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not." Jeremiah 33:3.
"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 fullness of God." Ephesians 3:20; 1:17; 3:18, 19.
This is the knowledge which God is inviting us to receive, and beside which all else is vanity and nothingness.