March 24, 2010

How Then Will They Know?

2010 1509 page22 caphe words of Christ just before his ascension to heaven mean much to every one who shall accept the truth as it is in Jesus. He said, “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” All the followers of Christ are to be witnesses unto him. Every one who receives the precious treasure of truth is to impart of this blessing to others.
But the truth is too often presented in such a manner that it does not have the influence it should. A controversial spirit is encouraged. Many dwell almost exclusively upon doctrinal subjects, while true piety, experimental Godliness, receives little attention. Jesus, his love and grace, his self-denial and self-sacrifice, his meekness and forbearance, are not brought before the people as they should be.
The question with us individually should be, How shall we sow the precious seed of truth so that it shall not be lost, but spring up and produce a harvest, that sheaves may be brought to the Master? How shall the great truths contained in the Holy Scriptures be presented so as to reach the heart and convince the people?
2010 1509 page22The teacher of truth needs first to learn his lessons of the Great Teacher. Christ assumed humanity, that he might touch humanity; and he would have his people come as close to hearts as possible in sympathy and love, and yet not sacrifice one principle of truth. There are subjects that we can dwell upon that will not arouse a combative spirit. Speak of Christ and him crucified. There are very many groping in darkness. The cry of the soul is, “What must I do to be saved?” There are souls starving for their portion of meat in due season. If the Word is rightly divided, these souls will receive just what they need. The gospel of Christ must be presented in its simplicity; but no one can communicate that which he has not received. In order to confess Christ, he must have Christ abiding in his own heart. In words and deeds there must be a visible representation of Christ.
Men may speak fluently upon doctrines, and may express strong faith in theories, but do they possess Christlike meekness and love? A spirit contrary to the love, humility, meekness, and gentleness of Christ denies him, whatever may be the profession. We deny Christ when we speak evil one of another. We deny him in foolish talking, in jesting and joking. We deny him when we have a selfish spirit, criticising our brethren. We deny him in seeking to be first, seeking honor one of another. We may deny Christ in outward appearance by gratifying a proud heart, by lifting up the soul unto vanity, and by uncourteous behavior.
The Spirit of God, as it comes into the heart by faith, is the beginning of the life eternal. With the baptism of the Holy Spirit upon the teacher of truth, he can talk of Christ and him crucified in language that savors of heaven. The mind and spirit of Christ will be in him, and he can present the will of God to man because his own heart has been brought into submission, and has been glorified by the Spirit of God. The Sun of Righteousness is risen upon him, that he might reflect its brightness to the world, and he will give evidence in a holy life that the truth he has received has been a sanctifying principle, and not a mere theory.
The Lord is willing to help all who are searching for truth; and when any believer is asked a reason of his hope, let him answer with meekness and fear, having his own soul full of love for Jesus and for his fellow-men. In his activity, self-denial, and self-sacrifice, Christ’s followers will represent the Pattern. Holding on to Jesus by living faith, they lay hold of souls for whom Christ died. With a wisdom that is divine, they draw souls to Christ. Thus they become a savor of life unto life; and if faithful to the end, they will walk in the heavenly courts side by side with those they have been instrumental in saving, and by the side of Jesus the Redeemer.
The words of the True Witness should be carefully studied by all: “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love,”—grown cold, unsympathetic; hardness of heart has taken the place of brotherly, Christlike love. “Remember therefore 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.” This warning is applicable to every church in our ranks. New elements of Christian life must be brought into the church. Love for Christ means a broad, extended love for one another, that love which is now so sadly wanting. The lack of love leads to the lack of respect for one another and the neglect of true courtesy. There is criticising, fault-finding, reporting words spoken in confidence, and using these to second the accusations of Satan, who is very busy in sowing distrust, jealousy, and bitterness. Why do the members of the church run so readily into this evil work, overlooking the precious things? Why do they not speak words of approval and encouragement to one another, and thus water the precious plant of love, that it may not die out of the heart? . . .
The Lord sought ever to keep before his disciples their responsibility in the world. He tells them, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. . . . Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” “Ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and to be trodden under foot of men.” The saving salt is the pure first love, the love of Jesus, the gold tried in the fire. When this is left out of the religious experience, Jesus is not there; the light, the sunshine of his presence, is not there. What, then, is the religion worth?—Just as much as the salt that has lost its savor. It is a loveless religion. Then there is an effort to supply the lack by busy activity, a zeal that is Christless. There is a wonderful keenness of perception to discover the defects in a brother or sister, and make these prominent. We are professedly commandment-keepers; then let us obey the commandments of God, the law that is love. Then like David we can say, “I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart.”
This article was first published in The Bible Echo, March 1, 1892. Seventh-day Adventists believe that Ellen G. White exercised the biblical gift of prophecy during more than 70 years o f public ministry. This article was published March 25, 2010.