To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” [Revelation 2:7; 22:14.] The solemn question should come home to every member of our churches, How are we standing before God, as the professed followers of Jesus Christ? Is our light shining forth to the world in clear, steady rays? Have we, as a people solemnly dedicated to God, preserved our union with the Source of all light? Are not the symptoms of decay and declension painfully visible in the midst of the Christian churches of today? Spiritual death has come upon the people that should be manifesting life and zeal, purity and consecration, by the most earnest devotion to the cause of truth. The facts concerning the real condition of the professed people of God, speak more loudly than their profession, and make it evident that some power has cut the cable that anchored them to the Eternal Rock, and that they are drifting away to sea, without chart or compass.
What is to be done? The True Witness points out the only remedy: “Repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” [Revelation 2:5.] Christ will cease to take your name upon his lips in his intercession with the Father, unless there is a decided change in the life and characters of those who have wandered from the living God, and forsaken his service. Jesus declares, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” [Revelation 3:15–17.] And yet the case is not altogether beyond remedy. The Mediator has not left them hopeless. He says, “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed.” [Verse 18.]
Although the oil in the lamps is almost consumed, and they have not been replenished, still you have not yet reached that desperate position described in the parable of the foolish virgins. They slumbered long, until their lamps were gone out, and they had made no provision for the time of need; and when the Bridegroom came, they were seeking, too late, to replenish their lamps: for the door was shut, and they were left to outer darkness and despair. But the counsel of the True Witness is full of encouragement and comfort. The churches may yet obtain the gold of truth, faith, and love, and be rich in heavenly treasure. “Buy of me gold that thou mayest be rich, and white raiment that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear.” [Revelation 3:18.] The white raiment is the righteousness of Christ that may be wrought into the character. Purity of heart, purity of motive, will characterize every one who is washing his robe, and making it white in the blood of the Lamb.
Today let the question come home to the heart of every one who professes the name of Christ, “Dost thou believe in the Son of God?” Not, “Do you admit that Jesus is the Redeemer of the world?” Not to soothe your conscience and the consciences of others by saying, “I believe,” and think that is all there is to be done. But do you believe with all your heart that Jesus is your Saviour? Do you bring him into your life, and weave him into your character, until you are one with Christ? Many accept Jesus as an article of belief, but they have no saving faith in him as their sacrifice and Saviour. They have no realization that Christ has died to save them from the penalty of the law which they have transgressed, in order that they may be brought back to loyalty to God. Do you believe that Christ, as your substitute, pays the debt of your transgression? Not, however, that you may continue in sin, but that you may be saved from your sins; that you, through the merits of his righteousness, may be re-instated to the favor of God. Do you know that a holy and just God will accept your efforts to keep his law, through the merits of his own beloved Son who died for your rebellion and sin?
You may say that you believe in Jesus, when you have an appreciation of the cost of salvation. You may make this claim, when you feel that Jesus died for you on the cruel cross of Calvary; when you have an intelligent, understanding faith that his death makes it possible for you to cease from sin, and to perfect a righteous character through the grace of God, bestowed upon you as the purchase of Christ’s blood. The eyes of fallen men may be anointed with the eye-salve of spiritual comprehension, and they may see themselves as they really are,—poor, and miserable, and blind, and naked. They may be brought to realize their need of repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
The plan of salvation is not appreciated as it should be. It is not discerned or comprehended. It is made altogether a cheap affair; whereas to unite the human with the divine, required an exertion of Omnipotence. It was necessary that a great condescension should be made on the part of God in behalf of fallen man, who had transgressed the unchangeable law of Jehovah. Christ, by clothing his divinity with humanity, elevates humanity in the scale of moral value to an infinite worth. But what a condescension on the part of God, and on the part of his only begotten Son, who was equal with the Father! All this had to be done because God’s law had been transgressed.
So great has been the spiritual blindness of men, that they have sought to make of none effect the word of God. They have declared by their traditions, that the great plan of redemption was devised, in order to abolish, and make of none effect, the law of God; when Calvary is the mighty argument that proves the immutability of the precepts of Jehovah. The fact that God had to give his only begotten Son to die for a race condemned by the law, is sufficient to prove that the law could not be altered one jot or tittle. The professed Christian world is indeed in need of eye-salve, that they may see the character of God and his law. Their prayer should be as was David’s of old, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” [Psalm 119:18.]
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” [Revelation 3:19.] Has there been a departure from God? then there must be a returning unto him; there must be a doing of the first works; there must be a close examination of the life. The state of the character must be compared with the great moral standard of righteousness. There must be a searching out of the peculiar sins which have been offensive to God, which have dishonored his name, and quenched the light of his Spirit, and killed the first love from the soul. Whether it has been pride, sensuality, or turning the grace of Christ into lasciviousness, it must be thoroughly repented of, and forsaken.
Review and Herald, July 24, 1888.