Avoid Trivial Topics
(A morning talk given at Grimsby, England, September 21, 1886.)
However much we know of the Scriptures it is important that we know still more. “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). One man may think he understands the Scriptures and go out to present the truth, and yet he may be lacking on some points. We may get the heart and mind fixed upon something that has no special bearing upon the true point.
A brother came to me and asked me what I thought about the salvation of infants, whether they would be saved. I said, “That does not concern you or me.” There are points on which we must be careful not to mar present truth. All those who are to engage in the work of God must bind about their minds. There are those whose imagination is large, and they will be ever reaching out for something original. They will even fasten upon some word in a sermon and think upon that until the whole truth is covered with mist.
Now, we want to know what is essential for our work here. What is essential for our work now? If any of you should be asked to give your opinion on some point and you should not know just how to answer it, do not be ashamed to say you do not know, but you do know what we must do to be saved. When one came to Christ and asked what he must do to be saved, Jesus told him he must love God with all his heart, and with all his might, and with all his mind, and with all his soul, and his neighbor as himself (Matthew 22:37, 39). And these are the points we must keep before us—to love God supremely and our neighbor as ourselves. There is a great work before us.
Now, there may be those who will inquire what will be the sign of the coming of the Son of Man, and we may know what this is. We read that there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars, and trouble in the nations. All these tell us that the end is near. The coming of the Lord is at the door. Well, we understand what being at the door means. When one stands at the door, all that remains for one to do is to enter.
Now, in regard to the coming of the Son of man, this will not take place until after the mighty earthquake shakes the earth. After the people have heard the voice of God they are in despair and trouble such as never was since there was a nation, and in this the people of God will suffer affliction. The clouds of heaven will clash, and there will be darkness. Then that voice comes from heaven, and the clouds begin to roll back like a scroll, and there is the bright, clear sign of the Son of man. The children of God know what that cloud means.
The sound of music is heard, and as the cloud nears, the graves are opened and the dead are raised, and there are thousands of thousands and ten thousand times ten thousand of angels that compose that glory and encircle the Son of man. Those who have acted the most prominent part in the rejection and crucifixion of Christ come forth to see Him as He is, and those who have rejected Christ come up and see the saints glorified, and it is at that time that the saints are changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, and are caught up to meet their Lord in the air.
The very ones who placed the purple robe upon Him, and put the crown of thorns upon His brow, and those who put the nails through His hands and feet, look upon Him and bewail. And this is the very sign of the coming of the Son of man.
Now, I want to tell you, brethren, you must be careful not to fasten upon vagaries. We had a good brother whose mind was destroyed because of this. He would read page after page that would turn his mind off from the right point. The third angel’s message is the all-important point. Do not let your mind turn to vagaries, but keep your eyes fixed upon the truth. What we want is to give a certain sound. The angel is giving a definite message, “Sound the warning.” And what does this mean? Why, it is the angel giving this message to men, and they are to take up this message and proclaim it to warn others.
You want to open your minds, to gird up the loins of your mind, and hope to the end. You do not want to get many things upon the mind to take it away from the truth the angel is proclaiming. When the latter rain comes upon the people of God, you must have a preparation to press right on, because those whose vessels are clean, whose hands are free just when that latter rain comes, get the light that comes from on high, and their voices are lifted, every one, to proclaim the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Now, there are many signs that will take place before the coming of the Son of man, but when the white cloud is seen, this will be the sign of the coming of the Son of man. There will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars, and the nations in perplexity. These all testify that Christ is coming, and He is revealed in the clouds with power and great glory.
The sign seen in the setting sun and rising sun has nothing to do with the sign of the coming of the Son of man.
Now brethren, you want to get hold of the pillars of your faith. Here is Christ in the great antitypical Day of Atonement, and you must understand that you need a special preparation for the Day of Atonement. We want our sins taken away; we want to confess them that they may go beforehand to judgment. Do not go away in discouragement, but believe that Christ is able to cleanse you from all unrighteousness. We must cease to sin, because sin is the transgression of the law. Put away sin, and then cling to the Mighty One who is able to wash away every stain of sin. Now, this is a work of humility at this time, and we must confess our sins and get nearer to God so He can write “Pardon” against our names.
And be sure, when you go out to teach others, not to get your minds upon little things, but keep your mind upon the great work of God, for Satan will surely turn you off if possible. Do not try to be original and get up something you have not heard your brethren speak of, for many have been shipwrecked in this way. Keep the mind upon the third angel’s message. When you keep this before the minds of the people, they will see wisdom in it. But when you get a great many little trifling things before them, they become confused just like the Jews.
What we want to do is to get the truth before the people.
Sermons and Talks, vol. 1, 48–51.