Offices of Christ – part 3

Our Lord has three grand offices assigned Him in the Scriptures in the work of human redemption. When He was upon our earth at His first advent, He was that prophet of whom Moses spake in Deuteronomy 18:15–19. (See also Acts 3:22–26.) When He ascended up to heaven, He became a great High Priest after the order of Melchizedek. (See Psalm 110; Hebrews 8:1–6.) But when He comes again, He is in possession of His kingly authority, as promised in the second psalm. It is by virtue of this office of King that He judges mankind. (See Matthew 25:34–40.) The transition from our Lord’s priesthood to His kingly office precedes His Second Advent. (See Luke 19:11, 12, 15.) It takes place when His Father sits in judgment, as described in Daniel 7:9–14.

The nature of the words addressed by the Father to the Son when He crowns Him King shows that coronation to be at the close of His priestly office. (See Psalm 2:6–9.) It is manifest that the giving of the heathen to the Son by the Father is not for their salvation but for their destruction. It could not, therefore, take place at the ascension of Christ when He entered upon His priesthood but must be when the work of that priesthood is finished. Daniel has placed the coronation of Christ at the Father’s judgment-seat, and to this fact the words of the second psalm perfectly agree. The priesthood of Christ is closed when the scepter of iron is placed in His hands; for when the wicked are given into the hands of Christ to be destroyed, it is plain that there is no further salvation for sinners. The coronation, which is described in Daniel 7:9–14, is simply the transition from the priesthood of Christ to His Kingly office.

It is plain that our Lord’s priesthood is brought to a conclusion at the time when the Ancient of Days sits in judgment. We need Him as Priest to confess our names at that tribunal and to show from the record of our past lives that w have perfected the work of overcoming so that our sins may, by the decision of the Father, be blotted out and our names retained in the book of life. But when the people of God have thus passed the decision of the investigative judgment, their probation is closed forever and their names, being found in the Book of Life when all that have failed to overcome are stricken therefrom, they are prepared for the standing up of Michael to deliver His people and to destroy all others with the scepter of His justice.

The priesthood of Christ continues till His enemies are given Him to be destroyed.

The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool. The LORD shall send the rod of Thy strength out of Zion; rule Thou in the midst of Thine enemies. Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning; Thou hast the dew of Thy youth. The LORD that sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. The LORD at Thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of His wrath. He shall judge among the heathen, He shall fill the places with the dead bodies; He shall wound the heads over many countries. He shall drink of the brook in the way; therefore shall He lift up the head.” Psalm 110:1–7.

Closing Christ’s Intercession

These words are addressed by God the Father to Christ when He enters upon His priestly office and are equivalent to saying that in due time He should have His enemies given Him to destroy, viz., at the close of His work of intercession. For this reason it is that Paul represents Him as sitting at the Father’s right hand, in a state of expectancy. (See Hebrews 10:13.) But the words of the second psalm, bidding Him ask for the heathen, to destroy them, cannot be uttered till He finished His work of intercession. It appears that our Lord announces the close of His intercession by saying, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which if filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” Revelation 22:11. In response to this declaration of the Intercessor, announcing to His Father the close of His work, the Father bids the Son ask of Him the heathen that He may devote them to utter destruction. And in fulfillment of the Son’s request, the Father crowns Him King as described in Daniel 7:9–14, as He sits in judgment and commits the judgment into His hands.

Christ, as our High Priest, or Intercessor, sits at the right hand of the Father’s throne, i.e., He occupies the place of honor in the presence of One greater, till He is Himself crowned King when He takes His own throne.

The position of the Saviour as High Priest cannot be one invariable, fixed posture of sitting. Indeed, although Mark says (see Mark 16:19), concerning our Lord, that “He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God,” yet it is said of Stephen that “he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” Acts 7:55, 56. The fact that Stephen saw our Lord standing at His Father’s right hand and that after this Jesus did personally appear to Saul to constitute him a witness of His resurrection, which, in order to be an apostle, he must be, is not inconsistent with the mandate of the Father, “Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.”

The Hebrew word yahshav, rendered sit in Psalm 110:1, is used an immense number of times in the Old Testament and is, in a very large proportion of these cases, rendered dwell. Thus, “Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain.” Genesis 13:12. (See also Genesis 45:10; 1 Samuel 27:7.) But it is to be observed that Abraham, Lot, Jacob, and David, the persons spoken of in the texts, who dwelled, or, as rendered in Psalms 110:1, who sat in the places named, were not, during the time in which they acted thus, immovably fixed to those several places but were capable of going and returning during the very time in question. And the Greek word kathizo, used in the New Testament for Christ’s act of sitting at the Father’s right hand, though more generally used in the sense of sitting, is also used precisely like yahshav, in the texts above.

Christ’s Work More than that of an Intercessor

When our Lord went away, it was not simply that He should act as Intercessor for His people; He also had another work to do. He says: “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. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:2, 3. We cannot doubt that this work is wrought under our Lord’s personal inspection, and it is performed during the period that He is at the Father’s right hand.

The expression, “right hand,” is especially worthy of attention. In defining the Hebrew word yahmeen, i.e., right hand, Gesenius says: “To sit on the right hand of the king, as the highest place of honor, e.g., spoken of the queen (1 Kings 2:19; Psalm 14:9); of one beloved of the king and vicegerent of the kingdom. Psalm 110:1.”

When our Lord spoke of going away to intercede for His people, He said: “I go unto the Father, for My Father is greater than I.” John 14:28. In fulfilling His office of Intercessor, or High Priest, He has assigned to Him the highest place of honor in the presence of a greater; for He sits on the right hand of His Father’s throne. He is not, however, to sustain this relation always. It lasts while He pleads for sinful man. When it ceases, the impenitent are to be made His footstool and the dominion, and glory, and kingdom being given Him, He sits down upon His own throne. (See Revelation 3:21.) This gift of the heathen to Christ is when the Father sits in judgment, as we have seen from Daniel 7:9–14. We can well understand that at this tribunal, the question is determined as to who has overcome; and that, being settled, all the others are given to Christ to be broken with His iron scepter. The determination of the cases of the righteous in showing that they are worthy to have their sins blotted out is the final work of our Lord as High Priest. When this is accomplished, His priesthood is closed forever; and He assumes His kingly throne to judge His enemies and to deliver and reward His saints.

The Beginning of Christ’s Work as King

The Saviour, being crowned King at the close of His priestly office, begins the exercise of His Kingly power by delivering His people and by bringing to trial, pronouncing judgment upon, and executing His enemies.

The one hundred and tenth psalm, though it speaks very distinctly of the priesthood of Christ, enters even more largely into the exercise of His kingly office. It very clearly reveals the fact that our Lord acts as Judge by virtue of His kingly authority. Thus verse 1 assigns to Him, as Priest, the place of honor at His Father’s right hand, limiting His priesthood, however, by an event which changes His office from Priest to King. Verse 2 states the very act of making Christ King makes His enemies His footstool. Thus it says: “The Lord shall send the rod of Thy strength out of Zion; rule Thou in the midst of Thine enemies.” The first clause of this verse is parallel to Psalm 2:6, “Yet have I set My King upon My holy hill of Zion.” The heavenly Zion (see Hebrews 12:22; Revelation 14:1) is the place of Christ’s coronation. The last clause is the very words of the Father to the Son when He crowns Him King. This is sufficiently obvious from our common English version. But it is made still more evident from the French translation of David Martin in which the two clauses are connected by the words, “in saying.” Thus: “The Lord shall transmit out of Zion the scepter of Thy strength, in saying: Rule in the midst of Thy enemies.”

Our Lord being thus inducted into His Kingly office and proceeding to the exercise of His power against His enemies, the next verse states the sympathy of His people with this work: “Thy people shall be willing in the days of Thy power; in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning Thou hast the dew of youth.” Instead of “the day of Thy power,” Martin’s French Bible reads, “The day that Thou shalt assemble Thy army in holy pomp.” This is the time when the Son of man descends in power and great glory, and the armies of Heaven, i.e., all the holy angels, attend and surround Him. (See Matthew 24:30, 31; 1 Thessalonians 4:16–18; Revelation 19:11–21.) The people of God are to unite with Christ in His rule over the nations of wicked men. (See Revelation 2:26, 27; Psalm 2:6–9.) The morning of this verse must be the morning of the day which it mentions. One of the earliest events of that day is the resurrection of the just, when, like their Lord, they are born from the dead to life immortal. (See Revelation 20:4–6; Luke 20:35, 36; Colossians 1:18; Hosea 13:13, 14; 1 Corinthians 15:42–44, 51–54.)

The fourth verse of Psalm 110 confirms with an oath the priesthood of Christ. His prophetic office is the subject of solemn promise. (See Deuteronomy 18:15–18.)

The Limitations of Christ’s Priestly Office

His priesthood is established by an oath. (See psalm 110:4.) His kingly office is the subject of a fixed decree. (See Psalm 2:6, 7.) But the forever of His priesthood, as expressed by this verse, is limited by the fact that at a certain point of time, He is to cease to plead for sinful men and they are to be made His footstool.

It is important to observe that there are in this psalm two Lords, the Father and the Son. One in the original is called Jehovah; the other is called Adonai. The word LORD in small capitals is used for Jehovah. But the Lord at His right hand (verse 1) is Adonai, the Son. So we read of the Son in verse 5: “The Lord at Thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of His wrath.” This will evidently be in the battle of the great day of God Almighty. (See Revelation 6:15–17; 19:11–21; Isaiah 24:21–23.)

Our Lord does not thus destroy His enemies by virtue of His kingly office until He has first judged them, for one of the first acts of His kingly power is to proceed to the judgment of His enemies. He represents Himself as judging by reason of His kingly office. (See Matthew 25:34, 40.) It is in the exercise of this power that He judges His enemies. So Psalm 110:6 reads thus: “He shall judge among the heathen; He shall fill the places with the dead bodies; He shall wound the heads over many countries.” This is the work in the day of His power, and to this work His people shall consent. (See verse 3.) This is indeed the great day of His wrath, and none shall be able to stand except those whose sins are blotted out. The wicked kings of the earth shall fall before Him when He is King of kings and Lord of lords.

Human probation closes with the priesthood of Christ. Those who are found in their sins after our Lord has taken His kingly power must be destroyed as His enemies. His priesthood terminates when He has obtained the acquittal of His people and secured the blotting out of their sins at the tribunal of His Father. Then and there He is crowned King; and from that coronation scene, He comes as King to our earth to deliver all who at that examination of the books are accounted worthy to have part in the world to come and in the resurrection of the just. (See Daniel 7:9, 10; 12:1; Luke 20:35, 36; 21:36.)

The righteous dead are “accounted worthy” of a part in the resurrection to immortal life before they are raised from among the dead. (See Luke 20:35, 36; Philippians 3:11; 1 Corinthians 15:52; Revelation 20:4–6.) They awake with the likeness of Christ. (See Psalm 17:15.) We may be certain, therefore, that the investigation and decision of their cases is an accomplished fact prior to their resurrection; for that event is declarative of their final justification in the judgment.

But Like 21:36 uses the same expression both in Greek and in English respecting those who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord that Luke 20:35, 36 uses respecting those who are asleep. As the latter, before the resurrection, are “accounted worthy” to be made like the angels, so the former are “accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” The things that shall come to pass before the deliverance of the saints are the events of the time of trouble such as never was. (See Daniel 12:1.) And those who are accounted worthy to escape these things are also worthy to stand before the Son of man at His appearing.

This act of accounting worthy does, therefore, relate to their eternal salvation and is performed before they enter that great time of trouble at which they are to be delivered; for that does not commence until the standing up of Michael, which is but another term for the coronation of Christ, or the beginning of His reign upon His own throne. But Michael, or Christ, does not take His throne till He has finished His work as Priest at the tribunal of His Father. It is at that tribunal that the righteous dead are accounted worthy of the resurrection to immortality and the righteous living are accounted worthy to escape the anguish of the time of trouble and to stand before the Son of man. Those only can be accounted worthy of this whose record in the book of God’s remembrance shows them to have been perfect overcomers.

The Saviour, while yet High Priest, confesses the names of such before His Father and the holy angels and secures the blotting out of their sins. Those who shall be raised to immortality and those who shall escape the things coming upon the earth and stand before the Son of man are severally counted worthy of this before the priesthood of Christ is closed. We cannot, therefore, doubt that with both these classes the investigation and decision of the judgment is passed before the Saviour takes the throne of His glory and begins the destruction of His enemies.

The righteous dead come first in the order of the Investigative Judgment; and while their cases are being examined and decided, probation continues to the living.

Probation Continues

It is certainly most natural that the cases of the righteous dead should be the first to come up in the Investigative Judgment, for their names stand first in the book of God’s remembrance. Reason would therefore teach us that these cases must earliest come into account before God. But we are not left simply to the reasonableness of this order of events. We have direct proof in the messages of Revelation 14:6–14 that probation to the living continues after the judgment hour has actually arrived:

The First Angel ushers in the hour of God’s judgment by a solemn announcement to all of the inhabitants of the earth that it has actually commenced. But the Second and Third Angels, who unite with this proclamation, deliver their messages in the judgment hour itself; and they address themselves to men still in probation. We have already learned that God the Father sits in judgment, as described in Daniel 7, before the advent of our Lord to this earth. And in Revelation 14, the fact that the hour of God’s judgment has come is announced to the inhabitants of the earth by a mighty proclamation. The judgment scene of Daniel 7 is closed by the coronation of Christ; and the judgment hour of Revelation 14 is followed by our Lord being seen upon the white cloud with a crown upon His head, a proof that His priesthood has then given place to His kingly office. Each of these pertains to the closing events of this dispensation. There can be, therefore, no doubt that the hour of God’s judgment announced in Revelation 14 is the time when God the Father sits in judgment, as described in Daniel 7:9–14.

What Inspiration Says About – Qualifications of a Minister

The apostle Paul, when considering the qualifications of the minister, wrote, “Who is sufficient for these things?” 2 Corinthians 2:16. He then went on to answer this question, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:5. “Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. . . . For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. . . . But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” 2 Corinthians 4:1, 5, 7.

Paul recognized the weighty responsibility resting on every minister and spoke directly about the caution to be exercised in choosing men for the ministry. (See Titus and 1 and 2 Timothy.) Every minister who grasps the solemnity of his work understands Paul’s solemn words, “I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.” 1 Corinthians 2:3. It is one of the great mysteries of redemption that God should choose to use sinful, erring, faulty men in the prosecution of His work.

God’s ideal for His ministers is the same today as in the time of the apostle Paul. Therefore, no minister need make any mistake concerning God’s will, nor should any church be mistaken concerning the men whom God would have as His ministers. In these last days, through His messenger to the remnant God has given many pages of instruction concerning every facet of the minister’s life. In this series of articles, we will examine a number of areas of instruction in this important topic.

In our approach to this topic, we will start with the counsels regarding the vital need for conversion in ministers and the necessity of their receiving of the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, no sinner will be saved from any man’s preaching or ministry. (See Christ’s Object Lessons, 328.) Also, every worker should be praying to God for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. (See Testimonies to Ministers, 170; Acts of the Apostles, 25–56.) “The endowment of the Holy Spirit is indispensably essential to success.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 320. “It is the absence of the Holy Spirit and of the grace of God that makes the gospel ministry so powerless to convict and convert.” Ibid., 378. With this in mind, we are going to look not so much at the cause (conversion, receiving the Holy Spirit into the life), but at the effects that this will have in our lives.

The Holy Spirit, working in a person’s life, has the effect of completely changing him in manners and conduct into the likeness of Christ, instead of the likeness of the world. We will now examine a number of inspired statements that describe what this change is and what it is not:

Ministers will not mix the sacred and the common.

“What is the object of the ministry? Is it to mix the comical with the religious? The theater is he place for such exhibitions. If Christ is formed within, if the truth with its sanctifying power is brought into the inner sanctuary of the soul, you will not have jolly men, neither will you have sour, cross, crabbed men to teach the precious lessons of Christ to perishing souls.” Testimonies to Ministers, 143.

“The whole sanctuary service was designed to impress the people with the fact that the things which God has set apart for Himself are holy. They were ever to observe the distinction between the sacred and the common. Holy things must be kept holy. ” Review and Herald, February 4, 1902.

“Ministers should have no separate interest aside from the great work of leading souls to the truth. Their energies are all needed here. They should not engage in merchandise, in peddling, or in any business aside from this one great work.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 470. (See also page 472.)

“We are nearing the close of time. We want not only to teach present truth in the pulpit, but to live it out of the pulpit. Examine closely the foundation of your hope of salvation. While you stand in the position of a herald of truth, a watchman upon the walls of Zion, you cannot have your interest interwoven with mining or real-estate business and at the same time do effectually the sacred work committed to your hands. Where the souls of men are at stake, where eternal things are involved, the interest cannot safely be divided.” Ibid., vol. 5, 530.

If self is not crucified, it will appear in the minister’s life and work. This is “strange fire.”

“The right performance of the solemn work for this time and the salvation of the souls connected with us in any way depend in a great degree upon our own spiritual condition. All should cultivate a vivid sense of their responsibility; for their own present well-being and their eternal destiny will be decided by the spirit they cherish. If self is woven into the work, it is as the offering of strange fire in the place of the sacred. Such workers incur the displeasure of the Lord.” Testimonies to Ministers, 260.

“Those who have stood as representative men are not all Christian gentlemen. There is prevalent a spirit that seeks the mastery over others. Men regard themselves as authority. ” Ibid., 260.
“No human being is to seek to bind other human beings to himself as if he were to control them, telling them to do this and forbidding them to do that, commanding, dictating, acting like an officer over a company of soldiers. This is the way the priests and rulers did in Christ’s day, but it is not the right way. After the truth has made the impression upon hearts, and men and women have accepted its teachings, they are to be treated as the property of Christ, not as the property of man. In fastening minds to yourself, you lead them to disconnect from the source of their wisdom and sufficiency. Their dependence must be wholly in God; only thus can they grow in grace.” Testimonies, vol. 9, 146.

Ministers will be kind, especially to those with whom they disagree.

“You may be true to principle, you may be just, honest, and religious; but with it all you must cultivate true tenderness of heart, kindness, and courtesy. If a person is in error, be the more kind to him; if you are not courteous, you may drive him away from Christ. Let every word you speak, even the tones of your voice, express your interest in, and sympathy for, the souls that are in peril. If you are harsh, denunciatory, and impatient with them, you are doing the work of the enemy. You are opening a door of temptation to them, and Satan will represent you to them as one who knows not the Lord Jesus. They will think their own way is right, and that they are better than you. How, then, can you win the erring? They can recognize genuine piety, expressed in words and character. If you would teach repentance, faith, and humility, you must have the love of Jesus in your own hearts.” Testimonies to Ministers, 150, 151.

“The truth planted in the heart will reveal the love of Jesus and its transforming power. Anything harsh, sour, critical, domineering, is not of Christ, but proceeds from Satan. Coldness, heartlessness, want of tender sympathy, are leavening the camp of Israel. If these evils are permitted to strengthen as they have done for some years in the past, our churches will be in a deplorable condition. Every teacher of the truth needs the Christlike principle in his character. There will be no frowns, no scolding, no expressions of contempt, on the part of any man who is cultivating the graces of Christianity. He feels that he must be a partaker of the divine nature, and he must be replenished from the exhaustless fountain of heavenly grace, else he will lose the milk of human kindness out of his soul. We must love men for Christ’s sake. It is easy for the natural heart to love a few favorites, and to be partial to these special few; but Christ bids us love one another as He has loved us.” Ibid., 156, 157.

“A lack of firm faith and of discernment in sacred things should be regarded as sufficient to debar any man from connection with the work of God. So also the indulgence of a quick temper, a harsh, overbearing spirit, reveals that its possessor should not be placed where he will be called to decide weighty questions that affect God’s heritage. A passionate man should have no part to act in dealing with human minds. He cannot be trusted to shape matters which have a relation to those whom Christ has purchased at an infinite price. If he undertakes to manage men, he will hurt and bruise their souls; for he has not the fine touch, the delicate sensibility, which the grace of Christ imparts. His own heart needs to be softened, subdued by the Spirit of God; the heart of stone has not become a heart of flesh.” Ibid., 261.

The spirit of kindness and humility will keep God’s minister from both sinful independence and making flesh his arm.

“The Spirit of Christ is grieved when any of His followers give evidence of possessing a harsh, unfair, or exacting spirit. As laborers together with God, each should regard the other as part of God’s great firm. He desire that they shall counsel together. There is to be no drawing apart, for the spirit of independence dishonors the truth we profess.” Review and Herald, February 18, 1909.

“It is right that brethren counsel together; but when men arrange just what their brethren shall do, let them answer that they have chosen the Lord as their counselor. Those who will humbly seek Him will find His grace sufficient. But when one man allows another to step in between him and the duty that God has pointed out to him, giving to man his confidence and accepting his as guide, then he steps from the true platform to a false and dangerous one. Such a man, instead of growing and developing, will lose his spirituality.” Testimonies, vol. 9, 280.

What example of kindness did Jesus give when He dealt with the minds of men?

“He who has paid the infinite price to redeem men reads with unerring accuracy all the hidden workings of the human mind, and knows just how to deal with every soul. And in dealing with men, He manifests the same principles that are manifest in the natural world. The beneficent operations of nature are not accomplished by abrupt and startling interpositions; men are not permitted to take her work into their own hands. God works through the calm, regular operation of His appointed laws. So it is in spiritual things. Satan is constantly seeking o produce effects by rude and violent thrusts; but Jesus found access to minds by the pathway of their most familiar associations. He disturbed as little as possible their accustomed train of thought by abrupt actions or prescribed rules. He honored man with His confidence, and thus placed him on his honor. He introduced old truths in a new and precious light.” Testimonies to Ministers, 189, 190.

What practical counsel is given about the spirit of a minister?

“The minister of Christ should be a man of prayer, a man of piety; cheerful, but never coarse and rough, jesting or frivolous. A spirit of frivolity may be in keeping with the profession of clowns and theatrical actors, but it is altogether beneath the dignity of a man who is chosen to stand between the living and the dead, and to be mouthpiece for God” Testimonies, vol. 4, 320.

“Souls have been lost through your lack of wisdom in presenting the truth and your failure to adorn your calling as a gospel minister by courtesy, kindness, and long-suffering. True Christian politeness should characterize all the actions of a minister of Christ. Oh, how poorly have you represented our pitiful compassionate Redeemer, whose life was the embodiment of goodness and true purity. You have turned souls from the truth by a harsh, censorious, overbearing spirit. Your words have not been in the gentleness of Christ, but in the spirit of E. Your nature is naturally coarse and unrefined, and because you have never felt the necessity of true refinement and Christian politeness, your life has not been as elevated as it might have been.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 460.

What mental abilities should the minister possess?

“The times demand an intelligent, educated ministry, not novices. False doctrines are being multiplied. The world is becoming educated to a high standard of literary attainment; and sin, unbelief, and infidelity are becoming more bold and defiant, as intellectual knowledge and acuteness are acquired. This state of things calls for the use of every power of the intellect; for it is keen minds, under the control of Satan, that the minister will have to meet. He should be well balanced by religious principles, growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Too much haphazard work has been done, and minds have not been exercised to their fullest capacity. Our ministers will have to defend the truth against base apostates, as well as to measure Scripture evidence with those who advocate specious errors. Truth must be placed in contrast with bold assertions. Our ministers must be men who are wholly consecrated to God, men of no mean culture; but their minds must be all aglow with religious fervor, gathering divine rays of light from heaven and flashing them amid the darkness that covers the earth and the gross darkness that surrounds the people.”

“Ministers should love order and should discipline themselves, and then they can successfully discipline the church of God and teach them to work harmoniously like a well-drilled company of soldiers. If discipline and order are necessary for successful action on the battlefield, the same are as much more needful in the warfare in which we are engaged as the object to be gained is of greater value and more elevated in character than those for which opposing forces contend upon he field of battle. In the conflict in which we are engaged, eternal interests are at stake. . . . All the efforts made to establish order are considered dangerous, a restriction of rightful liberty, and hence are feared as popery. These deceived souls consider it a virtue to boast of their freedom to think and act independently. They will not take any man’s say-so. They are amenable to no man. I was shown that it is Satan’s special work to lead men to feel that it is in God’s order for them to strike out for themselves and choose their own course, independent of their brethren. . . . Has God changed from a God of order? No; He is the same in the present dispensation as in the former. Paul says: ‘God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.’ He is as particular now as then. And He designs that we should learn lessons of order and organization from the perfect order instituted in the days of Moses for the benefit of the children of Israel.” Ibid., vol. 1, 649, 650, 653.

What health habits will the minister develop?

“Those who are employed to write and to speak the Word should attend fewer committee meetings. They should entrust many minor matters to men of business ability and thus avoid being kept on a constant strain that robs the mind of its natural vigor. They should give far more attention to the preservation of physical health, for vigor of mind depends largely upon vigor of body. Proper periods of sleep and rest and an abundance of physical exercise are essential to health of body and mind. To rob nature of her hours for rest and recuperation by allowing one man to do the work of four, or of three, or even of two, will result in irreparable loss.” Ibid., vol. 7, 247.

“Our preachers are not particular enough in regard to their habits of eating. They partake of too large quantities of food and of too great a variety at one meal. Some are reformers only in name. They have no rules by which to regulate their diet, but indulge in eating fruit or nuts between their meals, and thus impose too heavy burdens upon the digestive organs. Some eat three meals a day, when two would be more conducive to physical and spiritual health.” Ibid., vol. 4, 416, 417.

“It is necessary, in order to pursue this great and arduous work, that the ministers of Christ should possess physical health. To attain this end they must become regular in their habits and adopt a healthful system of living. Many are continually complaining and suffering from various indispositions. This is almost always because they do not labor wisely nor observe the laws of health. They frequently remain too much indoors, occupying heated rooms filled with impure air. There they apply themselves closely to study or writing, taking little physical exercise, and having little change of employment. As a consequence, the blood becomes sluggish, and the powers of the mind are enfeebled.” Ibid., 264.

“Your name was shown me under the heading: “Slothful Servants.” Your work will not bear the test of the judgment. You have spent so much precious time in sleep that all your powers seem paralyzed. Health may be earned by proper habits of life and may be made to yield interest and compound interest. But this capital, more precious than any bank deposit, may be sacrificed by intemperance in eating and drinking, or by leaving the organs to rust from inaction. Pet indulgences must be given up; laziness must be overcome. The reason why many of our ministers complain of sickness is that they fail to take sufficient exercise and indulge in overeating. They do not realize that such a course endangers the strongest constitution. Those who, like yourself, are sluggish in temperament, should eat very sparingly and not shun physical taxation. Many of our ministers are digging their graves with their teeth.” Ibid., 408.

“A few hours of manual labor each day tend to renew the bodily vigor and rest and relax the mind. In this way the general health would be promoted, and a greater amount of pastoral labor could be performed. The incessant reading and writing of many ministers unfit them for pastoral work.” Ibid., 264, 265.

What other habits should ministers develop?

“You have no inclination or love for the homely, daily duties of life. Your indolence would be sufficient to disqualify you for the work of the ministry were there no other reasons why you should not engage in it. The cause does not need preachers so much as workers. Of all the vocations of life, there is none that requires such earnest, faithful, persevering, self-sacrificing workers as the cause of God in these last days.” Ibid., vol. 3, 557.

“In order for a man to become a successful minister, something more than book knowledge is essential. The laborer for souls needs integrity, intelligence, industry, energy, and tact. All these are highly essential for the success of a minister of Christ. No man with these qualifications can be inferior, but will have commanding influence. Unless the laborer in God’s cause can gain the confidence of those for whom he is laboring, he can do but little good.” Ibid., 553.

“Punctuality and decision in the work and cause of God are highly essential. Delays are virtually defeats. Minutes are golden and should be improved to the very best account.” Ibid., 500.

If a minister finds that he does not come up to the divine standard, what should he do?

My brother, in doing the work of God you will be placed in a variety of circumstances which will require self-possession and self-control, but which will qualify you to adapt yourself to circumstances and the peculiarities of the situation. Then you can act yourself unembarrassed. You should not place too low an estimate upon your ability to act your part in the various callings of practical life. Where you are aware of deficiencies, go to work at once to remedy those defects. Do not trust to others to supply your deficiencies, while you go on indifferently, as though it were a matter of course that your peculiar organization must ever remain so. Apply yourself earnestly to cure these defects, that you may be perfect in Christ Jesus, wanting in nothing.” Ibid., 505, 506.

In this article we have looked at some of the general results in practical life, habits, and manners that should be in evidence in the minister of God if he has the presence of the Holy Spirit in his heart. Next we will look at what should be the standard for his personal and family life, followed by a study of his public life.

Martin Luther, part V – Called Before The Council

Realizing that he could expect little help from the Elector of Saxony, Aleander now turned his attention to the emperor. As he knew, the truth or falsehood of Luther’s opinions carried little weight with Charles; his course was one of policy. The case with him revolved around the point of ambition. Quite simply, which would mot further his political projects, to protect Luther or to burn him? At this time, Germany was not the center of Charles’ interest or policy. He understood neither the spirit nor the language of the German people. While not indifferent to the religious movement that was rapidly gaining ground as the result of Luther’s teaching, it had no meaning except so far as it threatened the pope.

Charles Indebted to Frederick

Though Charles appeared to be the most powerful man in Christendom, there were two men whom he could not afford to offend, the Elector of Saxony and the pontiff. To the first he owed the imperial crown. It was Frederick’s influence with the electoral conclave that had placed the crown upon his head; and while the memory of absolute rulers tends to be short with regard to such obligations, Charles could not dispense with the aid and advice of Frederick in governing the empire over which he had so recently been placed. On the other hand, Charles was on the brink of war with Francis I, the King of France. The war was inevitable, and the principle scene of that war was to be Italy. Under these circumstances, he could not afford to break with the pope as his influence would be indispensable in the coming conflict. Charles would have preferred to have detached Frederick from Luther, or to have been able to satisfy the pope without offending Frederick, but as neither of these options were open to him, it occurred to Charles that the monk of Wittenberg might yet be a most valuable card to be played in the game that was about to begin. If the pope should come to his aid against the king of France, then he was quite willing to fling the Reformer to the flames. If, on the other hand, the pope should refuse his aid and side with Francis, the emperor would protect Luther, making him an opposing power against Leo. Meanwhile, negotiations were being carried on with a view to ascertaining whether Leo would stand with the emperor or Francis. Leo, for his part, dreaded and feared both.

“In this fashion did these great ones deal with the cause of the world’s regeneration. . . . The monk was in their hands; so they thought. How would it have astonished them to be told that they were in his hands, to be used by him as his cause might require; that their crowns, armies, and policies were shaped and moved, prospered, or defeated, with sole reference to those great spiritual forces which Luther wielded! Wittenberg was small among the many proud capitals of the world; yet here, and not at Madrid or at Paris, was, at this hour, the center of human affairs.” Wylie, The History of Protestantism, vol. 1, 322.

Charles had summoned the Diet for January 6, 1521. The many interests that were involved in this meeting combined to bring together a more numerous and brilliant assemblage than any gathering since the days of Charlemagne. From far and near, in unprecedented numbers, the travelers, making their way to Worms, filled the roads of Germany. As the imperial court moved toward Worms, two papal representatives, Caraccioli and Aleander, followed in the emperor’s train.

Charles Racked by Indecision

When the diet opened on January 28, it appeared that Charles did not have a policy established by which to deal with the situation. Amid the splendor that surrounded him, numberless perplexities were continuously distracting him; but all centered around the monk of Wittenberg and the new religious movement. The papal nuncios were importuning Charles day and night to execute the papal bull against Luther. Should he fail to comply, he would certainly offend the pope and send him over to the side of he French king. On the other hand, should be concede to their wishes, he would alienate the Elector of Saxony and kindle a conflagration in Germany that, even with his resources and power, he might not be able to successfully extinguish.

While the emperor vacillated, the Protestant movement advanced from one day to another; and the cause of Rome was continually losing ground. Aleander wrote to Rome with the assurance that unless he had more money to spread around among the members of the diet, all hope of influencing the national body against Luther must be abandoned. Rome responded quickly. Not only did she send more ducats but more anathemas. Her first bull against Luther had been conditional, leaving him sixty days to retract, only threatening to excommunicate him if he failed to comply. The new communication not only confirmed the excommunication, but it went further in that it also included all of Luther’s adherents, placing them under the same curse with him, thus completing the separation between Protestantism and Rome.

But if the new bull simplified matters for Luther and Aleander, it only more certainly clouded the path of the politicians, making even more obscure than before the path of political expediency.

At this moment of crisis, a new plan was struck upon. There was at the court of the emperor a Spanish Franciscan, John Galapio, who held the office of confessor to Charles. An able man, he undertook to accomplish that which had proved an unmanageable conundrum to others. He sought an interview with Pontanus, the councilor of Frederick. Pontanus, on his part, was a man of sterling integrity, competently versed in questions of theology and sagacious enough to see through the most cunning diplomat in all the court. Galapio approached Pontanus with a sigh, and calling Jesus Christ as his witness, expressed his great desire to see a reformation take place in the Church. He asserted that he, as ardently as Luther, desired to see the Church reformed. He indicated that he had often expressed his zeal to the emperor and that Charles was largely in sympathy with him, a fact that would yet be more fully known.

From the generally high opinion that he held regarding Luther’s writings, he made one exception; and that was his work, Babylonish Captivity, in which Luther had so unsparingly attacked the papacy. That particular work, Galapio maintained, was unworthy of Luther’s learning, nor did it express his style. Regarding the rest of Luther’s work, that, he stated, could be submitted to a body of intelligent and impartial men who would allow Luther to explain some things and apologize for others. The pope, exercising his beneficent power, would then reinstate Luther; and the whole matter could thus be amicably settled. Pontanus listened with mind contempt to the plan to trap Luther. When the plot was told to Luther, he met it with feelings of derision. Clearly, Luther’s enemies had misjudged the character of the man with whom they were dealing.

Charles and the Pope Unite

The negotiations between the pope and Charles were now brought to a happy conclusion with the pope agreeing to fully ally himself with the emperor against the French king. The emperor, on his part, agreed to please the pope in the matter relating to Luther. “The two are to unite, but the link between them is a stake. The Empire and popedom are to meet and shake hands over the ashes of Luther. During the two centuries which included and followed the pontificate of Gregory VII, the imperial diadem and the tiara had waged a terrible war with each other for the supremacy of Christendom. In that stage, the two shared the world between them—other competitor there was none. But now a new power had risen up, and the hatred and terror which both felt to that new power made these old enemies friends. The die was cast. The spiritual and the temporal arms have united to crush Protestantism.” Ibid., 325, 326.

As the emperor prepared to fulfill his part, it was difficult to see what might hinder him. With the overwhelming force of arms at his command and with the spiritual sword now joining him, if such a combination of power should fail to succeed, it would be an unaccountable phenomenon, one for which history might search in vain to find a parallel.

The storm did not yet break. Charles had dared to imagine that he would be able to publish his edict without opposition from the states, but such was not the case. Before he could proceed against the Reformer, the constitution of the empire required that he should inquire as to whether the States knew of any better course and if they did, assure them of his readiness to hear them, which he did. While the majority of the German princes cared little for Luther, they had a great deal of respect for their sovereign rights and were weary of the tyranny and grinding extortions of Rome. They believed that to deliver Luther up to Rome would be the most effectual means of riveting even more securely the yoke of Roman servitude about their necks, so they begged time for deliberation. This change in the course of events infuriated Aleander, as he saw the prey slipping from his hands. Charles, however, submitted to the request of the princes; and nothing that Aleander said could move him. When pressed to move from the position that he had taken, Charles laid upon the nuncio the burden of changing the mind of the assembly. In pursuit of this goal, it was arranged that Aleander should be heard before the diet on February 13.

Never before had Rome been called to make its defense before so august an assembly. “This was an important duty, but Aleander was not unworthy of it. He was not only ambassador from the sovereign pontiff, and surrounded with all the splendor of his high office, but also one of the most eloquent men of his age. . . . The elector, pretending indisposition, was not present; but he gave some his councilors orders to attend, and take notes of the nuncio’s speech.” D’Aubigne, History of the Reformation, book 7, chapter 3.

The nuncio spoke for three hours.

“There was no Luther present, with the clear and convincing truths of God’s Word, to vanquish the papal champion. No attempt was made to defend the Reformer. There was manifest a general disposition not only to condemn him and the doctrines which he taught, but if possible to uproot the heresy. Rome had enjoyed the most favorable opportunity to defend her cause. All that she could say in her own vindication had been said. But the apparent victory was the signal of defeat. Henceforth the contrast between truth and error would be more clearly seen, as they should take the field in open warfare. Never from that day would Rome stand as secure as she had stood.” The Great Controversy, 149.

Had vote been taken at the conclusion f the nuncio’s delivery, all, save one, would have undoubtedly given consent to Luther’s condemnation. However, the diet broke up as Aleander sat down; and thus the victory that seemed so certain eluded Rome’s grasp.

When the princes next assembled, the emotions that had been stirred to such a high pitch by the rhetoric of Aleander had largely subsided, and the hard facts of Rome’s extortion alone remained deeply imprinted in the memories of the German princes. These abuses no eloquence of oratory could efface. The first person to address the assembly was Duke George. That fact that he was a known enemy of the Reformer and of the Reformed movement added weight to his words. “With noble firmness, Duke George of Saxony stood up in that princely assembly and specified with terrible exactness the deceptions and abominations of popery, and their dire results. In closing he said:

“These are some of the abuses that cry out against Rome. All shame has been put aside, and their only object is . . . money, money, money, . . . so that the preachers who should teach the truth, utter nothing but falsehoods, and are not only tolerated, but rewarded, because the greater their lies, the greater their gain. It is from this foul spring that such tainted waters flow. Debauchery stretches out the hand to avarice. . . . Alas, it is the scandal caused by the clergy that hurls so many poor souls into eternal condemnation. A general reform must be effected.’” D’Aubigne, History of the Reformation, book 7, chapter 4.

The Diet Calls For Luther

A committee was appointed by the diet to draw up a list of the oppressions under which the nation groaned. When it was completed, the document listed a hundred and one grievances. This list was presented to the emperor with the request that in fulfillment of the terms that he had signed at the time he was crowned, he move to effect the reformation of the enumerated abuses. Moreover, the princes demanded that Luther should be summoned to appear before them. It was unjust, they reasoned, to condemn him without knowing whether he was, in fact, the author of the books in question and without hearing what he had to say in defense of his opinions. Before the unified diet, the emperor gave way, though he covered his retreat by asserting that he had serious doubts that Luther actually authored the books.

Aleander was horrified at the emperor’s lack of resolution in dealing with the matter, but he strove in vain to stem the tide that was now moving in a direction that could only end in disaster for the papacy. He had but one hope left, and that was that Luther could be denied a safe-conduct; but ultimately even this proposal was denied him as well. On March 6, 1521, Luther was summoned to appear before the Diet in twenty-one days. Enclosed with the summons was a safe-conduct signed by the emperor and commanding all princes, lords, and magistrates, under pain of displeasure of the emperor and the Empire, to respect Luther’s safety.

A mightier hand than that of Charles was directing in the affairs of the empire. Instead of bearing his witness at the stake, Luther is to bear testimony on the loftiest stage that the world could provide. The kings, the lords of all Christendom must come to Worms and there patiently wait to listen while the miner’s son speaks to them.

Events had so transpired as to prepare Luther in a special way for this, the great crisis of his career. His study of Paul’s writings and the Apocalypse, when compared with history, convinced him that the Church of Rome, as it then existed, was the predicted “Apostasy” and that the dominion of the papacy was the reign of Antichrist. It was this that broke the spell of Rome, freeing him from the fear of her curse. The summons to the diet at Worms found him confident and secure in this knowledge.

On March 24, 1521, the imperial herald arrived at Wittenberg, placing in Luther’s hands the summons of the emperor to appear before the diet in Worms.

Getting Out of a Bad Marriage, part 2

“For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope. Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” Romans 8:19–23.

Now we have received the firstfruits of the Spirit. That does not mean that we are now to receive only a little of the Spirit but that we get the Spirit as the firstfruits or the advance money—the earnest—of our inheritance. Paul proves this in Ephesians 1:13, 14: “In Whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in Whom also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession unto the praise of His glory.” Then, having the Spirit of God and being the sons of God is entering upon the riches of our inheritance now. We begin to share the riches of that inheritance now; and if we continue to be the sons of God, we continue in our inheritance right along through eternity, the only difference being that when the Son of God comes, we shall have the full inheritance and glory of it.

By looking at these promises this way, we can see how it is that heaven begins right here on earth. If we really take hold of these things by faith, we can carry the Spirit of God with us; and we shall know the peace and joy of heaven.

“For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit maketh intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered.” Romans 8:24–26.

I have been at our meetings and have heard one after another arise and bear testimony and close with the words, “Pray for me.” Christ Himself prayed for us; and the Holy Spirit Itself is making intercession for us, with groanings that cannot be uttered. Brethren, while we can ask for others to pray for us, cannot we take hold by faith and appropriate the prayers that are being continually offered for us in heaven above? Even if the brethren do not pray for us, we have the joy and comfort of knowing that Christ and the Spirit are praying for us.

For myself, I can understand these things and draw encouragement out of them just this way: I go to God and lay my soul open before Him and ask Him to give me—what shall I ask for? Sometimes the words are gone, and I can think of nothing, only an inexpressible desire for something more than I have; but the Holy Spirit knows what I need and knows the mind of God. It knows just what God has to give me; and so it makes intercession for me, and God gives exceeding abundantly above all that I can ask or think. The Spirit of God takes those thoughts that we cannot put into words and can scarcely think and transmutes them into words and petitions before the throne of God. He that searcheth the hearts of men knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit.

I am persuaded that a great many of us make a great mistake in this matter of searching the heart. We hear brethren saying that they “are going to search their hearts and put away all of the evil things that they can find to be in them.” Says Jeremiah, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” Jeremiah 17:9, 10. We are here on earth and in a sinful condition. We admit that we are not in that spiritual condition that we ought to be so we will search our hearts and put away all of the wickedness that we can find in them. We cannot do it, for the heart will deceive us every time. Yet God can search the heart, and He does; and if we will take the result of His searching, great will be our joy. For it is the Comforter Who brings these sins to our hearts that the Lord hath searched out, and this very act of bringing our sins before our eyes is a part of the comfort of God. Yes, by the very work of making known our sins to us, God gives us comfort.

Now we come to the most blessed and the most glorious part of this most glorious chapter.

Nothing Bad Happens to the Christian

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the Firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified.” Romans 8:28–30.

The twenty-eighth verse is quoted wrong very often and applied wrong, very much more often, just by the changing of tense. People read it, “We know that all things will work together for good to them that love God.” But that is not what Paul says. He says that all things work together for good, at the present time, for those who love God. “But,” says one, “I do not know that they do.” Well, just take hold of this Scripture and believe it; and then you will know it. The only way that we can know is by believing the Word of God. We shall then find that all things do work together for good to them that love God. This is the joy of the Christian—that there cannot anything bad happen to him.

Some say, “There is a special class to whom this is so.” Yes, that is true; there is a special class, and that special class is composed of those who love God. We know whether we love God or not, therefore we know whether we can appropriate this promise or not. Is there not reason enough to love God? Some say, “I want to love God more. I know that I do not love Him enough.” How absurd this is, just as if the love of God was a duty that we could drive ourselves to perform. Love cannot be forced; the very act of forcing a person to love another would show that there was not any love at all. How do we love any object for which we do have affection? Simply because it is lovable in our eyes; and the more we know of that thing we love, the more we love it. Then the more we know of God, the more we shall love Him. As we come to His Word, from which we must get our knowledge of Him, we see the wideness of the mercy of God; and we cannot help loving Him. Why cannot we help loving Him? Because He first loved us. Then, if we would love God more, study His love more as it is revealed in His Word.

Now how about this class—”To them who are the called according to His purpose”? Here we have the matter of “calling,” and that causes some to be discouraged sometimes. A brother will say, “Perhaps I am not called, I am not at all sure that I am; and therefore it does not work good for me.” That matter of “calling” can be settled very easily. Who has God called? “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17. The call is to every man and woman and child on earth.

Now we are “called” and “elected.” Sometimes we get wonderfully afraid of that word elected. Is there any need to be afraid of that term? No. For every individual can be a candidate, and every candidate can be elected. In II Timothy 1:9 we read, “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” Mark you, His own purpose is a purpose of grace; and the free gift by grace comes upon all unto justification of life. Now note what the election is:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the beloved.” Ephesians 1:3–6.

Therefore, just the moment that you give up self and take Christ instead, you have everything that Christ has to give. So since we have given to us by God Himself all of the blessings that can be given to deliver us from sin and to turn us from our iniquities (see Acts 3:26), we can have joy and peace in Him. Peter says, “According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue.” 2 Peter 1:3. Everything that is necessary for life and godliness is given unto us in Christ.

“For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate. Being predestinated according to the purpose of Him Who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.” Sometimes the position is taken that God did not know what man was coming to when He made him; and if He did know, then He ought not to have made him at all or He ought to have stopped him from going in the way that he has gone. God does know; He foreknows, and He knows the end from the beginning. “Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world.” Acts 15:18. God has not changed a hair’s breadth from the plan which He knew before the world began. And there is no power in all of the universe that could make Him change.

God ’s Foreknowledge

Did God know that Adam was going to sin, and does He know whether we will be saved or not? Yes, He knows all about it—who will be saved and who will be lost. Then how can it be that we are free? I do not know, and it does not make any difference. I know from His Word that I am perfectly free to have salvation and to have it when I want it. I know at the same time that God knows whether I will take it or not. I cannot understand how these two things can be; but God knows, and He is not unjust, so it is all right. There is not an angel in heaven who knows how it can be, but they know that it is so.

Some say that if He did know, He would be responsible for our being saved or lost, so He does not exercise His power to know and therefore releases Himself from that responsibility. That is bringing a fearful charge against God. It really throws all of the responsibility of man’s ruin upon God and charges Him with trying to shirk it. If He chooses not to know certain things, how is it possible for Him to know what He wants to know and what He does not want to know? The very statement that He wills not to know certain things proves that He must know them in order to know that He does not want to know them, and this is an utter absurdity. God does not have to count and calculate and figure to arrive at conclusions. He is God, and knowledge is in Him and begins and ends in Him. Past, present, and future are all present with God. He lives in an eternal now. We cannot understand how that can be, but that does not matter. He says it is so, and we believe Him.

That He is the eternal God constitutes the strength of the fact that He is our refuge. It is the eternal God who has had charge of our ways in the past, and we have confidence in His leading. If He had not known the past and the future, how could I have known whether He was leading me right or not? Job says, “He knoweth the way that I take.” Job 23:10.

He leads us in the way that we should go. He looked over the ages and saw just who would have the inheritance, and He is preparing it for him. What would you think of a man, to put the thing on a very low plane, who got a lot of stones together and commenced to build a house? You ask him what kind of house he is going to build. “Why,” he says, “I do not know. I am going to put these stones and timbers together and then see what kind of house will come of it.” Such talk as that would be foolishness. Before a man starts in to build a house, he knows just how it is coming out; he knows exactly how it will look when it is finished. When God laid His plans in ages past, do you not think that He knew what kind of earth He was gong to have? He knew what kind of earth it was going to be, and He had a purpose in making it. He created it to be inhabited.

Not only did He know what kind of place it was going to be, but He knew what kind of men were going to dwell in it; and He had every one of them named. Those men whom God saw that He would have to inhabit the earth, when He laid His plans for it in ages past, were to be good and holy men; and that same earth, when this little experiment of sin is worked out, will be inhabited by just exactly the persons whom God saw would inhabit it; and they will have the names that He gave them in ages past.

In Revelation 2:17 we read, “And will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” Now it is not to be supposed that over in the kingdom of God we will not know each other’s names, to be able to pronounce them. In the Bible, every name signified something. Jacob was the “supplanter;” Israel, the “prince of God;” Abraham, the “father of many nations;” Sarai, a “contentious woman;” and Sarah, a “princess.” The name signified the character of the individual.

Now while all of the redeemed are to have the perfect character of God, yet that character is so perfect and so broad that there is room for each to have a distinct character. Why is it that no one will be able to understand the name of anyone else? Because no two persons will have had the same experience in developing character. No two persons have been led in the same way and have had the same experience or trials.

Our God Given Freedom of Choice

Man fell, but every man who lived directly after the Fall could have accepted the proffered salvation if he had wished and could have been one of those persons whom God saw when He laid the plans for the earth. If that had been so, the earth would have been filled and the work closed up long ago. Would that have been unjust to us? For in that case we would have been unborn and therefore left out. No, it would have been no more unjust than it will be unjust to close the work in a few years from now and leave out possible nations yet unborn.

Now God foreknew us in Christ; and in Him, in the beginning, we were predestinated to just such a place in the earth in its state of purity as God wants us to have. I am so thankful that we may have Christ, if we will; and if we will believe Him and trust in Him, we know that we are predestinated to a place in His kingdom. God hath “predestinated us according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.” Cannot you see that all things work together for good to them that love God?

How do I know that I am a child of God? He loved me, and He bought me; and I gave myself to Him, therefore I am His. Now I am in Christ, and it matters not what happens to me. There is not a bad thing that can come upon me; for everything that does come, God will work it for my good; and not only will He do it, but He does do it. He does it that He may develop my character and fit me for what He is preparing for me.

Satan may concoct some wicked scheme against me—influence some man or government to do something that is calculated to destroy me,—but God takes those wicked schemes and out of them He brings good for me, and by them carries me along to the desired haven. Therefore, the Christian has no business to be complaining.

No Cause for Complaint – Praising God for all Things

There is no one who would think of complaining when he was having a good time. But the Christian is having a good time all of the time, for all things work together for good to him. When we look at things in this way, we can praise God no matter what happens.

Joseph’s brethren sent him down to Egypt with no other intention than to destroy him, and yet we are told by the psalmist that, “God sent a man to Egypt.” Psalm 105:17. Those brethren of his were working out the evil of their hearts; and at the same time, God sent him down according to His will. We cannot understand how this can be, but we know that it was so.

Caiaphas asked if It were not better that one man die than that the whole nation perish, expressing the sentiment of the worldly-wise, scheming politician. Yet at the same time, in those very words, God was speaking in prophecy. There is not a wicked person, not even the devil himself, but God makes him and his wickedness work out His own eternal purpose. There is a world of comfort in the thought that this is the kind of God that we serve.

“What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31.

Children’s Story – Hurricanes and Shredded Sails

You have all heard the story of Jonah and how the prophet of the Lord tried to run away from doing the job that God had given him to do in warning Nineveh. Our story this time is about a missionary and how God again directed a ship by a great storm. This time, however, God used the storm to take a man to a place where people had been praying for missionaries to come.

In 1786, a party of Methodist missionaries sailed from England on their way to Nova Scotia in Canada. There was already some mission work going on in the area, and these missionaries were going there to help strengthen the mission work that was already begun. They set sail from England on September 24. Their progress was very slow; for week after week, they found themselves being buffeted by storms. The seas were rough and the winds blew hard. Two months later, on December 4, they were finally approaching Newfoundland, but still seemed unable to complete their crossing of the Atlantic Ocean.

About this time, Dr. Coke, the leader of the mission party, received a very strong impression that they were going to be driven to the West Indies. This was a very strange thing, as they were even then getting very close to Newfoundland, and the West Indies were thousands of miles away.

Because of the contrary winds, it was becoming almost impossible for the captain to hold his course. He became convinced that somehow the missionaries were responsible for his trouble. Crying out that there was a Jonah on board, he threw many of Dr. Coke’s books and papers overboard and even threatened to throw the doctor himself over.

At ten in the evening, a dreadful gale blew from the northwest. Mr. Hilditch, one of the passengers, came running to Dr. Coke, crying, “Pray for us, Doctor, pray for us, for we are just gone!” Coming out of his cabin, Dr. Coke learned that a dreadful hurricane had just arisen. The crew, being taken by surprise, had not had time to take down the sails and expecting that at any moment the ship would be filled with water and sink, in desperation were about to cut the mast down. Once the mast and sail had been cut down the ship would no longer be able to travel with the wind and would float helplessly on the sea.

After meeting for prayer, the missionaries sang a hymn together. Just at that moment, the foresail shredded to pieces, allowing the crew to save the mast, and probably the ship itself.

The captain decided to head across the Atlantic for the West Indies, the very place that Dr. Coke had felt impressed they were to go. The half-wrecked ship landed at Antigua in the West Indies on Christmas day. On this Island, two thousand miles from their intended destination, the Methodist missionaries found a shipwright [a carpenter who works on building and repairing ships] preacher by the name of Baxter, who had been working with the Black slaves of the island. Through his labors, more than two thousand had been converted to the gospel. These faithful people had been praying that God would send them missionaries!

Dr. Coke clearly understood God’s providence to have directed them to these islands to work for the people there, and he determined to make it his place of labor. He saw in their experience the “stormy wind fulfilling His Word” (see Psalm 148:8) in sending messengers of light across the seas. These missionaries were almost the first ray of light to have come to the slave population of these dark islands.

Dr. Coke was the agent used of God to plant the light of truth among the slaves of the West Indies. During his lifetime, he crossed and recrossed the Atlantic Ocean a number of times. Finally, in his old age on his way to start a mission on Ceylon, an island country not far from the coast of India, he died aboard a ship and was buried at sea.

Highest of Our High Callings

It may seem that we are few, that the cause of evil is prospering when we look at one location, or one little group; but it is not true. You are most emphatically not alone. There are thousands like you, clinging firmly and resolutely to the faith of our fathers, the faith that came to us by the gift of prophecy, if you will, and has been affirmed as our true faith. Paul had a very keen awareness of, and appreciation for, the calling of God when he wrote, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13, 14. Reflecting on the call of Abraham, he wrote in Hebrews 11:8, who, “when he was called . . . went out, not knowing wither he went.” In doing so, from that time forward, Abraham became the head of the family of faith—those who respond to the call of God. He knew, of course, about the call of Jacob and of the call of Moses at the burning bush. More recently, he had learned of how Jesus had called the twelve apostles; nor could he forget his own calling, when on the Damascus road the Lord had spoken to him and later when the Holy Ghost told those who were ministering in Antioch to set aside “Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” Acts 13:2.

The calling of God was very significant in Paul’s thinking. As he saw it, not only the leaders like himself, but every Christian was called of God. Notice in I Corinthians 7:17–22 a passage in which the word call appears seven times. “But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches. Is any man called being circumcised? Let him no become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? Let him not be circumcised. . . . Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. Art thou called being a servant? Care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant.” The strong emphasis here on the call and the calling of God makes it very clear how important it was in Paul’s mind. (See also Ephesians 4:4; Colossians 3:15; 1 Timothy 6:12.)

The Ekklesia

As Paul saw it, every individual Christian is called; and as he responds to that call, he is then brought into a fellowship of the called ones. We find in 1 Corinthians 1:9 that “God is faithful, by Whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” We are individually called. When we respond to the call, we, as individuals, are brought into a fellowship; and this fellowship of the called ones, this community of the called ones, becomes the ekklesia. That was Paul’s word for the church. We use it in our own language today. Ek means “out,” and klesia means “call.” Klesia is a past participle of kaleo. And so the ekklesia are the called ones. That is the church. We are the called ones, the community of the called ones, the fellowship of the called ones; we are the church.

In 2 Timothy 1:9, he also calls it a “holy calling.” In Hebrews 3:1, he calls it a “heavenly calling;” and in Ephesians 4:1, he appeals to us to be worthy of that calling. “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.” Worthy in many ways, worthy in many aspects. There are many aspects of the calling, this high calling.

Called to Imitate Christ

We are called to a Christian lifestyle. We are called to imitate the life of Christ. “He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.” 1 John 2:6. “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not grievous.” 1 John 5:3. It is a high calling to the work of witnessing for Christ. Our own Lord said, “I must work the works of Him that sent Me.” John 9:4. “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.” John 14:12. “I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do.” John 17:4. These are high callings, but these are not the highest calling. These are not the highest of our high callings. The highest, beloved, is this: the calling to Christ-likeness in suffering and persecution. This is the test above all tests that shows whether we are really responding to, and are faithful to, the calling of our Lord.

Today we are dealing with spiritual wickedness in high places. We are in a situation which is getting rather grim and that is soon going to be much more so. What some are already calling the great Adventist inquisition has been announced in the church paper; and in some places, it has already begun. I recently spoke to a physician in the sate of Arizona who, along with his wife, was disfellowshipped from the church on trumped up charges, using wholly improper, illegal, and unchristian procedures. Within a few hours after that, we had another telephone conversation with a couple in New Mexico who had experienced a similar situation. The signal for this inquisition was given at a campmeeting in Hope, British Columbia, last spring when the President of the General Conference issued a fierce tirade against independent ministries. This was followed by the declaration of Perth, which some are already calling a declaration of war against independents, quite appropriately I would think. It finally reached its next move in the publication of the “Issues” tract that you saw in the Review and the 467-page Issues book which also followed.

I want to briefly point out to you the unrighteous methods that are being used in this inquisition, the invalid arguments that are being advanced, and the accusations that are being made, methods that compare very favorably with the great Inquisition of the Dark Ages. The two are uncannily alike.

We have been in the habit of recommending that everybody be familiar with the last few chapters in The Great Controversy, and that is wise; but you need, just now, to take a careful look at the first few chapters. I think that you will be absolutely astonished at the parallelism between what happened during the Reformation and what is beginning to take place right now.
On page 148, we have an expression of he scornful attitude of church authorities toward those feeble few who were pleading for Scripture. “The same arguments are still urged against all who dare to present, in opposition to established errors, the plain and direct teachings of God’s Word. ‘Who are these preachers of new doctrines?’” Did you catch that? New doctrines. We are being accused of setting up new standards in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. We are being accused of setting up new ideas, which is absolutely, categorically, unconditionally false. Everything that we are preaching and teaching is written in the statement of faith. Let no one ever confuse you about that.

The Spirit of Erasmus

There are men who have, in the past, held very high positions of responsibility within the Seventh-day Adventist Church who communicate with me quietly, almost secretly. I appreciate the fact that their thinking appears to be in line with the truth of God, but I wonder about their timidity and self-protectiveness. In The Great Controversy, 216, I find an interesting comment on Erasmus, the greatest of all Reformation scholars. Erasmus was a far greater scholar than either Luther or Calvin. Beyond any question, he was the greatest scholar of Reformation times. We are greatly indebted to him for translations and for the recognition and use of the best manuscripts upon which to base translations; but notice what Ellen White says about him. “The timid and time-serving Erasmus, who with all the splendor of his scholarship, failed of that moral greatness which holds life and honor subservient to truth.”

At one time, Erasmus wrote to a young man whom he sensed to be in danger. He said to him, “Ask to be sent as ambassador to some foreign country; go and travel in Germany. You know Beda [this was a Catholic leader] and such as he—he is a thousand headed monster, darting venom on every side. Your enemies are named legion. Were your cause better than that of Jesus Christ, they will not let you go till they have miserably destroyed you. Do not trust too much to the king’s protection. At all events, to not compromise me with the faculty of theology.” Ibid. Cowardly words, are they not?

I wish that I knew how to appeal to men who privately defend the faith but publicly keep their lips tightly closed. There are a lot of them around Loma Linda. I could name half a dozen right now, men who have held very high offices in the church and who do not in any way condemn the work that I am doing, as some would do. It seems to me, however, that men such as these have an obligation to speak up when the time comes that thousands of innocent people are about to be disfellowshipped for the crime of holding to the doctrines that they were taught when they joined the church. It seems to me that it is unconscionable for any man who has ever been a leader in God’s work to stand by and do nothing at such a time.

Moving on, let us consider how we shall relate to this inquisition. Shall we react in fear and surrender? That is something that Jesus never did. “Jesus Himself never purchased peace by compromise.” Christians are to “’follow after the things which make for peace’ (Romans 14:19); but real peace can never be secured by compromising principle. And no man can be true to principle without exciting opposition.” The Desire of Ages, 356.

How shall we handle the inquisition? When we see outrageous violations of principles and brazen violations of procedure, it is difficult not to react in anger. Perhaps a degree of righteous indignation can be permitted, but we need to make sure that we do not echo the baying of the wolves.

Standing Against Apostasy

A church in Australia was told by the officials to get rid of two members of that church who were faithful Historic Adventists. The church manual, however, says that the local churches make those decisions and that higher authorities have nothing to do with it. The pastor gathered the people in the church together and said, “We have to get rid of these two members. What do you say? And the members said, “Nothing doing. We want to keep them.” They voted in a church business meeting to retain them in membership. As a result, the conference disfellowshipped the whole church. They then said, “Those of you who wish to discuss it with us, we will put your names on the conference church books.” Now there are two churches in the area—the faithful, historic church and the timid, time-serving one; the disciples of Erasmus are there.

We must remember that the battle is the Lord’s; and when we are called upon to stand in trial, we must remember Paul who, when he was in prison, called himself the prisoner of the Lord. The Lord did not put him there; but He permitted it, and Paul accepted it. If you and I are called before a church council, we must not falter or fear. We must not react with bitterness and anger, even though we are terribly shocked at the injustices that are unfolding right before our very eyes—people who are supposed to be standards for righteousness in church leadership actually lead in the unrighteous actions. When the shepherd plays the role of the wolf, we must be able to handle that; we must not let that surprise us or dismay us. Just remember that it has happened to our Lord; it has happened to many others of God’s people who have gone before us.

We need to remember Jesus and how He handled that very same experience. “He spoke no burning words of retaliation. His calm answer came from a heart sinless, patient, and gentle, that would not be provoked. . . . Of all the throng, He alone was calm and serene. . . . Patiently Jesus listened to the conflicting testimonies.” The Desire of Ages, 700, 703, 706.

“On His face he [Pilate] saw no sign of guilt, no expression of fear, no boldness or defiance. . . . He stood unmoved by the fury of the waves that beat about Him. . . . Pilate was filled with amazement at the uncomplaining patience of the Saviour.” Ibid., 724, 726, 736. While they lied about Him, while the judges tried to do evil things against Him, “the Son of God had taken upon Himself man’s nature. He must do as man must do.” Ibid., 729. Therefore, we must do as He did.

The Highest Calling

Remember the words of Peter when he said, “For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called; because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth: Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously.” 1 Peter 2:20–23. “For even hereunto were we called.” This is the highest of our high calling.

There is going to be another trial. There is going to be another judgment. There is going to be another judge and another jury; and in that great trial, there will be absolute, total justice laid to the line. Every man will give account for what he has done.

“We can, we can, reveal the likeness of our divine Lord.” Yes, we can do it. We can stand before false accusers and listen to them lie about us, misrepresent us, distort our words, and misquote things that we have said. We can listen to all of that and still be like Jesus. Yes, “We can, we can, reveal the likeness of our divine Lord.” Signs of the Times, May 10, 1910.

Just now, let us kneel and present our weakness before the Lord and plead with Him for that special grace that will make us equal to that highest of our high callings.

Isaiah ’s Turning Point

Apparent Prosperity

“In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.” Isaiah 6:1. KJV

Uzziah was sixteen years old when he became king; and he reigned fifty-two years in Jersualem, one of the longest reigns of any of the kings of Judah. “And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah did. And he sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper. And he went forth and warred against the Philistines, and brake down the wall of Gath, and the wall of Jabneh, and the wall of Ashdod, and built cities about Ashdod, and among the Philistines. And God helped him against the Philistines, and against the Arabians that dwelt in Gurbaal, and the Mehunims. And the Ammonites gave gifts to Uzziah; and his name spread abroad even to the entering in of Egypt; for he strengthened himself exceedingly.” 2 Chronicles 26:4–8.

Outwardly, Israel was experiencing great prosperity. Oftentimes, however, people who are having the greatest outward prosperity are in the deepest trouble spiritually. We have two examples in the book of Revelation that reveal how the outward circumstances are no indication of the true spiritual condition. There is the church at Smyrna which outwardly was a persecuted church and was in poverty and in terrible trouble; but the Lord said, “Really, you are rich.” (See Revelation 2:9.) In fact, there is no condemnation or rebuke given to the church of Smyrna. In contrast, there is the church of Laodicea. Outwardly, Laodicea was prosperous and rich; but of its spiritual condition, the Lord says, “You are poor, wretched, miserable.” (See Revelation 3:17.) You see, what is happening to you on the outside may in no way reflect your true spiritual condition. During the reign of Uzziah, the people of Israel wee in good shape financially, militarily, and economically; but notice what took place.

“But when he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction, for he transgressed against the LORD His God by entering the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense. So Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him were eighty priests of the LORD, valiant men. And they withstood King Uzziah, and said to him, ‘It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron, who are consecrated to burn incense. Get out of the sanctuary, for you have trespassed! You have no honor from the LORD God.’ Then Uzziah became furious; and he had a censor in his hand to burn incense. And while he was angry with the priests, leprosy broke out on his forehead, before the priests in the house of the LORD, beside the incense altar. And Azariah the chief priest and all the priests looked at him, and there, on his forehead, he was leprous; so they thrust him out of that place. Indeed he also hurried to get out, because the LORD had struck him. King Uzziah was a leper until the day of his death. He dwelt in an isolated house, because he was a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the Lord. Then Jotham his son was over the king’s house, judging the people of the land. Now the rest of the acts of Uzziah, from first to last, the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz wrote.” 2 Chronicles 26:16–22. NKJV

Uzziah had leprosy, and everybody knew why he had it; He had leprosy because he had transgressed; he had disobeyed. I have often wondered if the Christian world would not be a completely different place if we were living in the time of the old covenant and judgment against our sins came instantly. One of the amazing things that I have learned from studying the Old Testament, however, is that when the Lord did bring judgments instantly upon people, while it affected the person who received the judgment, often the rest of the people went on as if nothing had taken place. Apparently it was this way in Judah.

Approaching Retribution

The time came when Uzziah died. It was in the year Uzziah died that Isaiah was called to be a prophet. “In the year that King Uzziah died I saw also the LORD sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple.” Isaiah 6:1. The New Kings James Version says, “the train of His robe;” but it would be more accurate to say the “train of His glory filled the temple.” When Isaiah received this revelation, he was in a state of depression and discouragement. The divine protection was starting to be removed from God’s chosen people, and they were soon going to suffer terrible calamities. There was something, however, that was worse than these threatening outward dangers that troubled Isaiah. “But the dangers from without, overwhelming though they seemed, were not so serious as the dangers from within. It was the perversity of his people that brought to the Lord’s servant the greatest perplexity and the deepest depression. By their apostasy and rebellion, those who should have been standing as light bearers among the nations were inviting the judgments of God. . . . The outlook was particularly discouraging as regards to the social conditions of the people. In their desire for gain, men were adding house to house and field to field. (See Isaiah 5:8.) Justice was perverted, and no pity was shown the poor. Of these evils God declared, “The spoil of the poor is in your houses.’ ‘You have beaten My people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor.’ Isaiah 3:14, 15. Even the magistrates, whose duty it was to protect the helpless, turned a deaf ear to the cries of the poor and needy, the widows and the fatherless. . . . With oppression and wealth came pride and love of display.” Prophets and Kings, 305, 306. The Lord rebuked that in Isaiah 2 and the prevailing pride of the daughters of Zion with their tinkling ornaments described in Isaiah 3:18–23.

Isaiah knew about these things. He was perplexed and discouraged and did not know what to do. How would you feel if you were supposed to be a prophet under conditions like that?

God knew how Isaiah felt, and He did something for him. “I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple.” And he saw a picture of innumerable angels around this throne, below it. Ellen White says that it was like the veil to the Most Holy Place had been lifted and he could see in where he could not go. He heard the angels saying, ‘Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” Isaiah 6:3.

Do you realize that what he saw that day changed his whole life? What he saw that day became the burden of his message and everything that he wrote. He was never the same again. Ellen White says that he was transformed; he was changed by what he saw. So he started to tell the people, “You need to behold your God.’ What will happen if you behold Him? “Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.” Isaiah 45:22. NKJV.

So often, friends, when we are in situations like Isaiah was in, and there is trouble on the outside and greater trouble on the inside, we have a tendency to look at the problem and then try to figure out the solution from just studying the problem. But notice what happens to you if you do that. “Then they will look to the earth, and see trouble and darkness, gloom of anguish; and they will be driven to darkness.” Isaiah 8:22.

You do not dare concentrate your mind on the imperfections that are all around you because you will be driven to discouragement and despair. This was Isaiah’s condition already, and what was the solution to it? The Lord lifted the curtain and Isaiah saw something else. He saw the glory of God; and when he got his mind fixed on that, it changed his life. “And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.” Isaiah 6:4 NKJV. What was it that filled the temple with smoke? It was the glory of God and His power.

“As Isaiah beheld this revelation of the glory and majesty of his Lord, he was overwhelmed with a sense of the purity and holiness of God. How sharp the contrast between the matchless perfection of his Creator, and the sinful course of those who, with himself, had long been numbered among the chosen people of Israel and Judah!” Prophets and Kings, 307.

Isaiah ’s Turning Point

When Isaiah saw the glory of God, his own character was transformed. “When one turns away from human imperfections to behold Jesus, a divine transformation takes place in the character.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 250. Suddenly Isaiah realized this true condition. He realized that inside he was defiled. His defilement stood out in startling clearness, and he was alarmed. He was no longer concerned about the Assyrian armies. He was not even concerned now about the dreadful social condition of the people, although he recognized that he dwelt in the midst of a people of unclean lips. Now, it was not just the others, it was himself about whom he was concerned. By human standards, he would have been judged one of the most holy of men; but when he saw the divine perfection, he said, “I am undone. I am a wicked man. My heart is defiled with sin.”

Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Matthew 12:34. The reason that we have unclean lips is because we have unclean hearts. When the heart is changed, the lips will be changed. “Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth sand said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away and your sin purged.’” Isaiah 6:6, 7. NKJV. This is a symbolic representation of what God wants to do in our hearts. “The Holy Spirit will work with power through all who realize that a deep and thorough transformation must take place in the heart. A transformation represented by the touching of the lips of God’s servant with a live coal.” Pacific Union Recorder, July 17, 1902.

Isaiah realized that even though he was a sinner, that his heart was desperately wicked and deceitful, God had a remedy for his problem. He realized that the same remedy that God had provided for him, He would provide for anyone else who was willing to look to Him. That is why he said, “Behold your God.” He had caught a glimpse of the loveliness of the divine character; and he could testify to the people that in beholding the love of God, there was the power to change their lives. The Lord revealed to Isaiah all of the evil that had been developing for generations would not be turned around and stopped in his lifetime, but he was assured that the time would come when a remnant would be saved.

So Isaiah began his mission, undaunted by the discouraging prospect, knowing that God’s church was eventually going to triumph. In fact, some of the most wonderful prophecies in all of the Bible about the future triumph of God’s people come from the pen of Isaiah. He began to teach the people that God’s glory—His character—was to be revealed to all mankind. This is what it means for the glory of God to cover the earth. The Bible says that as surely as God lives and reigns, His glory shall be declared among the heathen, His wonders among all the people. (See Psalm 96:3.)

There were some people in Isaiah’s time who had gone into such depts. Of wickedness that when the prophet went to speak to them, they were afraid that God would not receive them if they turned back. To them, Isaiah said, “Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel: ‘My way is hidden from the LORD, and my just claim is passed over by my God’? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. There is no searching of His understanding. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall. But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:27–31. NKJV.

God’s Love for His People

Isaiah taught that the heart of the infinite God yearns over people who feel powerless to free themselves from the snares of Satan. Have you ever felt that you were on a toboggan run down to the bottom of the hole of sin and there was no way out? Isaiah taught that there is a way out. If you look to the Lord, the Lord says, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you. I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10. NKJV.

As I visit with people I find many who realize that they have chosen their own way. Sometimes they are past the meridian of life and have wandered far from God. They have feasted on the fruits of transgression and found that they turn to ashes on their lips. They seem alone and desolated. Oh, friend, you need to see what Isaiah saw. You need to hear that voice speaking to your heart that perhaps you would not listen to before, coming to you distinct and clear, saying, “Arise and depart, for this is not your rest; because it is defiled, it shall destroy you, even with utter destruction.” Micah 2:10. NKJV. Return to your Father’s house. He is inviting you right now. He says, “Return unto Me,” no matter how bad you have been, no matter what you have done, no matter what you have done, no matter what mistake you have made. If your life seems thwarted, all your dreams have disappeared, your hope is gone and it just seems like nothing is working out right, the Lord says, “Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.” Isaiah 44:22. NJKV. “Incline your ear,” the Lord says, “and come to Me. Hear, and your soul will live; I will make to you an everlasting covenant—the sure mercies of David.” Isaiah 55:3. NKJV.

Do not listen to the enemy’s suggestions telling you to stay away from Christ until you have made yourself better, until you think that you are good enough to come to God. If you wait until you are good enough, you will never come. Come just the way that you are. Say, “Lord, help me to see Your character and to be transformed into the same image by the Holy Spirit.” If the devil is telling you that your garments of character are filthy, you tell him that Jesus said, “The one who comes to Me, I will by no means cast out.” John 6:37. NKJV. That is an emphatic statement! Make the prayer of David your own. Say to the Lord, “Purge me.” That is what God did for Isaiah. He touched him with a coal and He said, “Your iniquity is purged. You are clean now.”

David said, “Purge (purify) me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Psalm 51:7. Oh friend, Isaiah tried to get the eyes of the people fixed on the One who is altogether lovely. Have you seen Him? He is described as the “Chiefest among ten thousand.” Song of Solomon 5:10. He is spoken of as “The King in His beauty.” Isaiah said, “You are going to see the King in His beauty.” (See Isaiah 33:17.) Have you seen that beauty? The day is coming when the people who see it are going to say, “The majestic LORD will be for us a place of broad rivers and streams . . . (for the Lord is our Judge, the LORD is our Lawgiver, the LORD is our King; He will save us.)” Isaiah 33:21, 22.

This vision was the turning point in Isaiah’s life. It turned him around and made him a different person. It not only transformed his life, but it transformed the life of everyone who would listen to what he said. If you want this experience to be yours, you must fix your eyes on the One Who is altogether lovely. You will be transformed in character, your iniquity will be purged, and your heart altogether changed. Ask the Lord to work this miracle in your life today.

Food for Life – It’s Springtime! Time to think about a Garden!

“For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.” Song of Solomon 2:11, 12.

It is springtime, and how grateful to God we should be that He has preserved our lives to again see the beauties of this time of year. Many of you will be fortunate enough to have gardens this year. Some of you are no doubt already looking forward to being able to preserve your summer foods for next winter.

As you make your food preservation plans, the following comparisons, showing the loss in nutrients that takes place using the various methods of preservation, may be of interest to you.

Canning: 60-80% This is due to the high temperatures required to properly preserve the food.

Freezing: 40-60% The loss is due to moisture expansion that causes the cells to rupture.

Dehydration: 3-5% The low temperatures hold losses to a minimum.

(Composition of Foods Handbook #8, U.S. Department of Agriculture Research Service.)

We have all witnessed the sad demonstration of temper from a spoiled or hyperkinetic child as he screamed, throwing himself to the floor demanding something to eat. Too often, we have also witnessed the mother, rather than exercising discipline, give in and give him the very thing that he craved.

Sydney Walker, M.D., a neuropsychiatrist from La Jolla, California, found that forty-four of forty-eight childen with learning disability, depression, temper tantrums, or poor concentration, had, along with other problems, a blood sugar disorder. Dr. Walker told Prevention Magazine that once these children were put on a sugar-free diet, rich in vegetables, fruit, and high-protein foods, almost all of them had improved behavior.

We are told that “the diet has much to do with the disposition to enter into temptation and commit sin.” Counsels on Diet and Foods, 52.

“Our very bodies are not our own, to treat as we please, to cripple by habits that lead to decay, making it impossible to render to God perfect service. Our lives and all our faculties belong to Him.” Ibid., 56.

What a solemn though, but how seldom we remember our responsibility to our Creator Who formed us and then gave His life that we might reign with Him throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity.

“We should not be prevailed upon to take anything into the mouth that will bring the body into an unhealthy condition, no matter how much we like it. Why?—Because we are God’s property.” Ibid., 328.

What a sacred responsibility parents have to train their children in proper habits of living during their formative years, while their tastes are not yet perverted and their digestive systems impaired.

April Recipes:

Apricot-Pineapple Jam

Place in saucepan:

1 cup dates or date pieces

1 cup dried apricots

With enough water to cover, bring to a boil and let stand overnight. Remove 1/4 cup of the apricots and chop. Place remaining ingredients in blender and thoroughly mix. Remove ingredients from blender and add 1/4 cup chopped apricots and 1 cup crushed pineapple with juice. Mix thoroughly and refrigerate.

Fruit Spread

1 20 oz. can crushed pineapple

2 large bananas

1 cup dates or date pieces

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 pkg. frozen strawberries (various other frozen or fresh berries may be used.)

Place all ingredients in the blender and mix until smooth. Delicious on toast, waffles, or pancakes.

Editorial – Our Need of Superior Wisdom, part 2

We saw last month that an important part of that superior wisdom which is of a divine origin is meekness, lowliness, and the ability to be silent and not always speak one’s whole mind. This month I would like to share with you some more inspired comments that touch on this subject.

“He [Jesus] would have men appointed to deal with the erring who will be kind and considerate, and whose characters reveal the similitude of the divine,—men who will show the wisdom of Christ in dealing with matters that should be kept private, and who, when a work of correction and reproof must be done, will know how to keep silence before those whom it does not concern.” Review and Herald, November 14, 1907.

“You will have many perplexities to meet in your Christian life in connection with the church, but do not try too hard to mold your brethren. If you see that they do not meet the requirements of God’s Word, do not condemn; if they provoke, do not retaliate. When things are said that would exasperate, quietly keep your soul from fretting. . . . do what you can in humility and meekness, and put the tangled work, the complicated matters, into the hands of God. Follow the directions in His Word, and leave he outcome of the matter to His wisdom. Having done all you can to save your brother, cease worrying, and go calmly about other pressing duties. It is no longer your matter, but God’s” Testimonies, vol. 5, 347, 348.

“Many who profess to gather with Christ are scattering from Him. This is why the church is so weak. Many indulge freely in criticism and accusing. By giving expression to suspicion, jealousy, and discontent, they yield themselves as instruments to Satan. Before they realize what they are doing, the adversary has through them accomplished his purpose. The impression of evil has been made, the shadow has been cast, the arrows of Satan have found their mark. Distrust, unbelief, and downright infidelity have fastened upon those who otherwise might have accepted Christ.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 340, 341.

“It has too often been the case that criticizing and denunciatory discourses have been given before a congregation. These do not encourage a spirit of love in the brethren. They do not tend to make them spiritually minded and lead them to holiness and heaven, but a spirit of bitterness is aroused in hearts. These very strong sermons that cut a man all to pieces are sometimes positively necessary to arouse, alarm, and convict. But unless they bear the especial marks of being dictated by the Spirit of God, they do far more injury than they can do good.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 508.

“It is wise to seek humility and meekness, and to carefully avoid raising a combative spirit, thus closing ears and hearts to the truth. Hold your mouth as with a bridle when the wicked are before you. When tempted to say sarcastic things, refrain. Censure no one; condemn no one. Let the life argue for Jesus, and the lips be opened with wisdom to defend the truth. The consistent life, the long forbearance, the spirit unruffled under provocation, is always the most conclusive argument and the most solemn appeal. We are often brought into positions that are trying, where human nature longs to break forth; but in such cases, be still, do not retaliate.” Review and Herald, July 22, 1884.

There are constant dangers besetting the pathway of God’s servants, and these dangers we may learn to avoid. At times, Elder Prescott, [Vice-President of the General Conference and editor of the Review and Herald in 1908.] you have come very near making shipwreck of your faith. Only the grace of God and the confidence you have had in the messages He has sent through the Spirit of Prophecy have held you back. I was shown that although you have had many years of experience in the cause of God, you are still in danger of making grave mistakes. You will be inclined to catch hold of some minor matter which you consider to be important, and place great weight upon it. At such times Satan is waiting and watching for an opportunity to influence your mind and through you to work upon many other minds, leading them to questioning and doubt. The Lord has not called you to such a work as this. Upon some questions silence will reveal a spirit of wisdom and discretion.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 10, 361.