Many have not had that religious experience that is essential for them, that they may stand without fault before the throne of God. The furnace fires of affliction He permits to be kindled upon them to consume the dross, to refine, to purify and cleanse them from the defilement of sin, of self love, and to bring them to know God and to become acquainted with Jesus Christ by walking with Him as did Enoch. Prayer, united with living faith, now sleeps among us. That which is called praying morning and evening, according to custom, is not always fervent, and effectual. It is with many sleepy, dull and heartless repetition of words, and does not reach the ear of the Lord. God does not need or require your ceremonial compliments, but He will respect the broken heart, the confession of sins, the contrition of the soul. The cry of the humble, broken heart He will not despise.
I know that very much depends upon every action of ours now, and none of self and all of Jesus will bring us into unity of the faith. We must have such love for Jesus that we will consider it a privilege to suffer and even die for His sake. We may tell the Lord all our trials, tell Him all our weaknesses, tell Him all our dependence upon His might and His power. This is true prayer. If ever there was a time when the Spirit of grace and supplication was needed to be poured out upon us, God Himself indicating our prayers, it is now. And the promise is to be brought before every church and the simplicity of truth dwelt upon. “Ask and ye shall receive.” John 16:24. It is faith, living faith that we need, continuing instant in prayer.
The Lord will lead His people and guide them. The commandment will go forth from God as to Daniel, to help those making earnest intercession to the throne of His grace in their time of need. Said Christ, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (John 14:12–13).
In the name of the Lord I advise all His people to have trust in God and not begin now to prepare to find an easy position for any emergency in the future, but to let God prepare for the emergency. We have altogether too little faith.
God wrought through Elijah when He destroyed the prophets of Baal which kindled the fires of hell in the heart of Jezebel to avenge the blood of the priests of Baal. Such a triumph had been gained to the God of Israel, that it stirred up the powers of darkness, and she resolves, yes swears by her gods that Elijah shall die, but she does not consider there is a God who is above her, who will only permit the agent of Satan to work out her own ruin.
In her passion she sends word to Elijah saying, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to-morrow about this time.” (1 Kings 19: 2). Elijah is awakened roughly from his slumber by a messenger. He hears the startling message; his senses are confused. What does it mean? Is this to be the end of all this burden, the zeal he has had for God in his labors to restore the true worship of Jehovah; is it to end in his disappointment and death? Is this the conversion of apostate Israel? Never could man be more disappointed in his expectations. The reaction has come, but O, how bitter. The Lord suffers obstacles to arise, disappointments to follow on the heels of signal victory that His wisdom and power shall be revealed, and that His name shall be exalted above all rulers and kings. “When Elijah saw that, he fled for his life.”
What did Elijah see? Did he see by faith the promises of God? Did he recount his faithfulness in every past emergency? No, the dark shadow of Satan in his agent Jezebel was athwart his pathway, threatening him with cruel death. He did not look through the shadow heavenward. Human terror amazed and paralyzed his mind, and he was so terribly disappointed on Israel’s account that he arose and went for his life, in disappointment and sorrow bending his uncertain steps, he knew not whither.
A little before, in the strength of the power of God, he was full of zeal and intensity of interest for apostate Israel, running before or at the side of the chariot of Ahab. He was to vindicate the glory of God. He was to challenge apostate Israel either to serve God fully or Baal fully. But now the man seems as weak as other men. There was no particular word he had heard from the Lord, directing him to take the course he had taken, and there was no purpose to his steps. Distracted by doubts and uncertain whither his way was tending, he pushed this way and that for his life, but God did not forget Elijah. He wrought for His servant, He inquired of him, “What doest thou here Elijah?”
This history carefully and prayerfully studied will be a help to the people of God under difficulties. Let man be careful not to assume responsibilities that God does not require of him, and interpose himself between the Lord and His tempted and tried ones so that the purposes of God shall not be carried out in the experiences of these persons. Difficulties will arise before the people of God, but every soul must put his trust not in the wisdom of men but in the Lord God of Israel. He will be his defense. Only let each person keep in the way of duty and not let fear discourage him. In trusting implicitly in God, we shall see the wonderful display of His power, if we wait patiently and prayerfully for Him, and have confidence in God.
God works in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform. But too often the wisdom of men is brought in to do something themselves which gives God no room to work for individuals, by others shouldering their burdens, that God means they shall bear. Conflicts and trials are the very means ordained or suffered of God to perfect the Christian character unto eternal life.
Teach every soul to lean heavily on the arm of infinite power. There is an individuality, in Christian experience, that must be preserved in every human agent and the responsibility cannot be removed from any soul. Each one has his own battles to fight, his own Christian experience to gain, independent in some respects from any other soul; and God has lessons for each to gain for himself that no other one can gain for him.
In Elijah we see the natural elements of his character revealed amid the spiritual life, commingling together in strange confusion; the grace of God and the impulses and passions of the natural man, each striving for the supremacy. The human is being tried in the furnace and the dross is revealed, impurity is brought to the surface, but the trial of Elijah is a scene that all Heaven was looking upon at that time with deep solicitude. The fine gold appears in his character, the cross is lost sight of and consumed. This must be our individual experience in God’s own way.
All are not tried in the same way. Some will meet more severe trials than others, but cling to God is the encouragement to give to each and all. The registered experiences of believers of former days is to be an encouragement to us living down near the close of time. We may gather up the hereditary trust of light and knowledge and individual dealings of God with His people for centuries. We have the benefit of their spiritual experiences which is of great value to us. We have no new, strange path to tread, in which others have not had a similar experience.
The Lord’s ways are unchangeable. He will do in our days as He has done in earlier days. They had less light in their day than we have in our day. With the Scriptures in our hand, and the example and blessing of those who were tempted and tried, we are nerved for the victory, expecting the same mercies from the same God as had the ancients. When the Christian is looking forward to duties and severe trials that he anticipates are to be brought upon him, because of His Christian profession of faith, it is human nature to contemplate the consequences, and shrink from the prospects, and this will be decidedly so as we near the close of this earth’s history. We may be encouraged by the truthfulness of God’s word that Christ never failed His children as their safe Leader in the hour of their trial; for we have the truthful record of those who have been under the oppressive powers of Satan, that His grace is according to their day. God is faithful who will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able.
Our heavenly Father measures and weighs every trial before he permits it to come upon the believer. He considers the circumstances and the strength of the one who is to stand under the proving and test of God, and He never permits the temptations to be greater than the capacity of resistance. If the soul is overborne, the person overpowered, this can never be charged to God, as failing to give strength in grace, but the one tempted was not vigilant and prayerful and did not appropriate by faith the provisions God had abundantly in store for him. Christ never failed a believer in His hour of combat. The believer must claim the promise and meet the foe in the name of the Lord, and he will not know anything like failure.
There may be large mountains of difficulties in regard to how to meet the claims of God and not stand in defiance of the laws of the land. He must not be making ample provisions for himself to shield himself from trial, for he is only God’s instrument and he is to go forward in singleness of purpose with his mind and soul garrisoned day by day, that he will not sacrifice one principle of his integrity, but he will make no boasts, issue no threats, or tell what he will or will not do. For he does not know what he will do until tested. He will just go forward in a contrite spirit with an eye single to the glory of God, depending on the word of God and the grace promised through Christ, and the mountains may become molehills.
Supposed difficulties that seemed so large at a distance as to be unbearable, have proved to be the greatest blessings. When oppressed, light from heaven has come in clear rays, and the realities of the promise of the sufficiency of Christ is a continual strength and defense. God means that His people, many of whom are ready now to refer to the experience of others, can refer to their own individual experience. Like the Samaritans who received the words of the woman as she testified of the words of Christ, they can say we have heard Him ourselves, we know that this is indeed the Christ the Saviour of the world. To every soul who meets difficulties in the strength of Jesus and is not overcome, who faces enemies and opposers, and in the strength of Christ stands firmly, who undertakes and discharges duties in the meekness of wisdom, not calculating the results, knowing that none of these things can be met in human strength, his experience becomes knowledge that Christ is faithful that hath promised. He is an all-sufficient helper. He will be convinced that he cannot in his own ability obey the law of God, but he has taken hold of the surety, Jesus Christ the Mighty One, and he reposes in the fulness and strength of Christ, and knows by experience that Christ is His righteousness, and that He can be touched with the feelings of his infirmities. Although he may be enclosed in prison walls he may believe it is for the truth’s sake. Jesus is by his side. We are not to be rash, bold, presumptuous, defiant. In Jesus we may trust; having faith in His power to save, we may be conquerors.
There should be a constant walking in all humility. There should be no just occasion to our enemies to charge us with being lawless and defying the laws through any imprudence of our own. We should not feel it enjoined upon us to irritate our neighbors who idolize Sunday by making determined efforts to bring labor on that day before them purposely to exhibit an independence. Our sisters need not select Sunday as the day to exhibit their washing. There should be no noisy demonstration. Let us consider how fearful and terribly sad is the delusion that has taken the world captive and by every means in our power seek to enlighten those who are our bitterest enemies. If there is the acceptance of the principles of the inworking of the Holy Ghost which he [the Christian] must have to fit him for heaven, he will do nothing rashly or presumptuously to create wrath and blasphemy against God. The process of sanctification is constantly going on in the heart, and his experience will be, “Christ . . . is made unto us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” He knows that Christ by His Spirit is dwelling in his heart by faith.
Oh, there is a great work to be done for the people of God, ere they are prepared for translation to heaven! The heat of the furnace upon some must be severe to reveal the dross. Self will have to be crucified. When each believer is to the very extent of his knowledge, obeying the Lord, and yet seeking to give no just occasion to his fellowmen to oppress him, he should not fear the results, even though it be imprisonment and death.
After Jesus rises up from the mediatorial throne, every case will be decided, and oppression and death coming to God’s people will not then be a testimony in favor of the truth.
Our whole attitude must be the saving of the souls of those surrounding us; souls for whom Christ has died. The largest class have never heard anything about the seventh day being the genuine Sabbath of Jehovah. They are uneducated in the Scriptures, and the position and work of the Seventh-day Adventists to cling to their faith brings resistance in the highest degree. The Christian world is ignorantly bowing down to an idol. Every soul, minister and laymen, should consider the world their missionary field, that should be educated as to the reason of our faith, and these reasons should be presented in the demonstration of the Spirit and the power of God. Through God alone can they reach the hearts of the people.
We must lose no time in becoming thoroughly versed in the Scriptures, for we must come to the people not merely with flimsy arguments, neither alone with sound logic, to convince them that that which they have been taught as truth by their fathers and that which has been preached to them from the pulpits is untrue. For, the opposition you create by this kind of labor will be like scattering seeds of darkness. You will be called apostates, for publishing that which causes distraction, but if you have the attractiveness of Christ, if you are balanced in all you do by the wisdom of Christ, your own heart imbued with the Spirit of Christ, you will accomplish a good work for Christ.
We urge you to consider this danger: That which we have most to fear is nominal Christianity. We have many who profess the truth who will be overcome because they are not acquainted with the Lord Jesus Christ. They cannot distinguish His voice from that of a stranger.
There is to be no dread of anyone being borne down even in a wide spread apostasy, who has a living experience in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. If Jesus be formed within, the hope of glory, the illiterate as well as the educated can bear the testimony of our faith, saying, “I know in whom I have believed.” Some will not, in argument, be able to show wherein their adversary is wrong, having never had any advantages that others have had, yet these are not overborne by the apostasy because they have the evidence in their own heart that they have the truth, and the most subtle reasoning and assaults of Satan cannot move them from their knowledge of the truth, and they have not a doubt or fear that they are themselves in error.
Let every soul consider his responsibility to give an account before God for the influence he has exerted over the souls of those brought under the sphere of his influence. When this undying love to save souls takes possession of heart and mind, there will not be any rash move made.
Faith, saving faith, is to be taught. The definition of this faith in Jesus Christ may be described in few words: It is the act of the soul by which the whole man is given over to the guardianship and control of Jesus Christ. He abides in Christ and Christ abides in the soul by faith as supreme. The believer commits his soul and body to God, and with assurance may say, Christ is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day. All who will do this will be saved unto life eternal. There will be an assurance that the soul is washed in the blood of Christ and clothed with His righteousness and precious in the sight of Jesus. Our thoughts and our hopes are on the second advent of our Lord. That is the day when the Judge of all the earth will reward the trust of His people.
Then let every soul not be afraid with any amazement. The tender compassion of God is toward His people. Faith, wondrous faith—it leads the people of God in straight paths. Without this faith we shall certainly misunderstand His dealings with us, and distrust His love and faithfulness. Whatever may be the trials and sufferings caused by our fellowmen, we need more faith; let there be no faintheartedness, no peevish repining, no complaining thoughts respecting the providence of God and the hardships we are called to endure. Let faith lay hold upon the unseen, and the evidences we have of the forgiveness of God.
A single ray of the evidences of the undeserved favor of God shining into our hearts will overbalance every trial of whatever character and however severe it may be. And how trustful is the soul. There is no disposition to murmur. The heart in contrition reposes in God. The carnal security is broken up and we have peace through our Lord Jesus Christ.
While efforts are being made to educate the youth to occupy positions of trust, unless the same persons shall feel that above all they must learn in the school of Christ the lessons which He must teach them, God has no use for them to declare His word. Let not the uneducated in any way become discouraged and think that there is no use or room for them. There is abundance of work in this world of ours, and if men and women will unite themselves to Christ, the source of all wisdom and learn of Him, they may become Bible students improving their talents to the very best account, and learning from the greatest teacher the world ever knew. They can bear a testimony to the faith. We have not followed cunningly devised fables. Christ will do everything for those who receive Him in their hearts.
When profligacy and heresy and infidelity fill the land there will be many humble homes where prayer, sincere and contrite prayer, will be offered from those who never heard the truth and there will be many hearts that will carry a weight of oppression for the dishonor done to God. We are too narrow in our ideas, we are poor judges, for many of these will be accepted of God because they cherished every ray of light that shone upon them. There are thousands who are praying as did Nathanael for the light of truth. Christ’s lightbearers must not be unfaithful. There is work to do in our world for many souls and God calls us to labor for souls who are in the darkness of error, but praying for the light, for the revealings of God’s holy spirit.
Let not side issues take the mind and the affections. We want to make the most of our present opportunities. We want to work while it is day for the night cometh when no man can work. There are many men of influence who are to have a knowledge of the truth, and we must be sure not to hedge up the way. The knowledge of truth is ever increasing. It is not a new truth that opens to the mind; it is not a new principle but a new discovery or a forcible application or revival of that which existed before. The Lord is prepared to present His light to our minds as fast as we will receive it. Open the door and let Jesus in.