The Wheat and The Tares

The conflict is to wax fiercer and fiercer. Satan will take the field and impersonate Christ. He will misrepresent, misapply, and pervert everything he possibly can, to deceive, if possible, the very elect. Even in our day there have been and will continue to be entire families who have once rejoiced in the truth, but who will lose faith because of calumnies and falsehoods brought to them in regard of calumnies and falsehoods brought to them in regard to those whom they have loved and with who they have had sweet counsel. They opened their hearts to the sowing of tares; the tares sprang up among the wheat; they strengthened; the crop of wheat became less and less; and the precious truth lost its power to them. For a time a false zeal accompanied their new theories, which hardened their hearts against the advocates of truth as did the Jews against Christ. Testimonies to Ministers, 411.

I am instructed that the Lord, by His infinite power, has preserved the right hand of His messenger written out as He bids me write it for publication, in periodicals and books, Why?—Because if it were not thus written out, when the pioneers in the faith shall die, there would be many, new in the faith who would sometimes accept as messages of truth teachings that contain erroneous sentiments and dangerous fallacies. Sometimes that which men teach as “special light” is in reality specious error, which, as tares sown among the wheat, will spring up and produce a baleful harvest. And errors of this sort will be entertained by some until the close of this earth’s history. This Day With God, 126.

They are of Satan’s sowing, and if left unchecked, will spoil the wheat by their rank growth. Counsels to Parents, Teachers and Students, 189.

If the attributes of Satan are not expelled from the soul, the wheat crop will be stunted. The tares will come to be the crop, and will kill out the wheat. Testimonies, vol. 3, 114.

The thorns of sin will grow in any soil. They need no cultivation. But grace must be carefully cultivated. The love of the world in the divided claim to believe the truth, but do it not. They wish the crown, but refuse the cross. Testimonies, vol. 3, 114.

Through disobedience man gave Satan opportunity to sow in the human heart the seeds of evil. The ground that in the beginning produced only good began to produce tares, and their growth called for continual warfare. This Day With God, 12.

When truth is received into the heart, the tares growing there are uprooted. Youth’s Instructor, August 16, 1900.

If persons are as deserving of being separated from the church as Satan was of being cast out of heaven, they will have sympathizers…They turned from the Father and from His Son, and united with the instigator of rebellion. Testimonies, vol. 3, 114-115.

The tares and wheat are now co-mingled, but then the one Hand that alone can separate them will give to every one his true position. Those who have had the light of truth, and heard the warning message, heard the invitation to the marriage supper,—farmer, merchant, lawyer, false shepherds who have quieted the people, unfaithful watchmen who have not sounded the warning of known the time of night,—all who have refused obedience to the laws of the kingdom of God, will have no right therein. Those who have sought as excuse to avoid the cross of separation from the world, will, with the world, be taken in the snare. They mingled with the tares from choice. Like drew to like in transgression. It is a fearful assimilation. Men choose to stand with the first rebel, who tempted Adam and Eve in Eden to disobey God. The tares multiply themselves, for they sow tares, and they have their part with the root of all sin—and they have their part with the root of all sin—the devil. Special Testimonies for Ministers and Workers, 6.

The world is leagued against the truth, because it does not desire to obey the truth. Shall I, who perceive the truth, close my eyes and heart to its saving power because the world chooses darkness rather than light? Shall I bind myself up with the bundles of tares because my neighbors refuse to be bound up with the wheat? Shall I refuse light, the evidence of truth which leads to obedience, because my friends and relatives choose to follow in the path of disobedience which leads away from God? Shall I close my mind against the knowledge of the truth because my neighbors and friends will not open their understanding to discern the truth as it is in Jesus? Shall I refuse to grow in the grace and knowledge of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ because my neighbors choose to remain dwarfs spiritually? God’s Amazing Grace, 6.

The time of the judgment is a most solemn period, when the Lord gathers His own from among the tares. Those who have been members of the same family are separated. A mark is placed upon the righteous. “They shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up My jewels.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 234.

A new life is coming from heaven and taking possession of all God’s people. But divisions will come in the church. Two parties will be developed. The wheat and the tares grow up together for the harvest. Selected Messages, vol. 2, 113.

Trials are to come upon God’s people and the tares are to be separated from the wheat. Review and Herald, March 19, 1895.

God is not the author of confusion, but of peace. But Satan is a vigilant, unsleeping foe, ever at work upon human minds, seeking a soil in which he can sow his tares. If he finds any whom he can press into his service, he will suggest ideas and false theories, and make them zealous in advocating error. The truth not only converts, but works the purification of its receiver. Jesus has warned us to beware of false teachers. From the beginning of our work, men have arisen from time to time, advocating theories that were new and startling. But if those who claim to believe the truth would go to those who have had experience, humble spirit, and examine their theories in the light of truth and with the aid of the brethren who have been diligent Bible students, and at the same time make supplication unto God, asking, Is this the way of the Lord, or is it a false path in which Satan would lead me? they would receive light, and would escape out of the net of the fowler. Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 54, 55.

Children’s Story – Winifred’s Party

“O Winnie!” sighed Cousin Esther, “if you wold only be serious a few minutes, and think. It is Jesus who invites you! I have accepted—I am happy; but I want you, and—”

“Don’t bother please, Essie; that’s a good girl!” coaxed Winifred, kissing her cousin. “I will be good, sometime, truly. Just now I want some fun. There’s my party—it’s just too bad you won’t wait for it.”

“I can’t, my dear. I agreed to spend the month with grandmother; you know she is an invalid, and must not be disappointed.”

“But it is really going to be something nice, for this place,” urged Winifred. “It is to be a lawn party, and in the evening the grounds will be illuminated with Chinese lanterns…I shall invite the Thorntons and Ellises, and all the best people.”

Esther listened gravely. “I hope it will be very pleasant, Winnie. Now I must go and pack; will you help me?”

The next day Esther Gordon left her cousin’s elegant home for a quiet visit with her invalid grandparent. Winifred missed her at first, but she soon became so interested in her preparations for her party that she forgot everything else.

A few weeks afterward, Esther received a letter from her cousin. Here is part of it:

“And the party! O Essie, it was a perfect ‘fizzle’ from beginning to end! That is, it was not a success, as I meant it to be. Everything was made ready all right, and the house and grounds were beautiful. But when I gave out the invitations,—do you know, not a one accepted? The Thorntons were going to start to Europe at once. The Ellises were going to Bar Harbor sooner than they expected. Edith Longly had a nervous attack. Well, there was ever so many excuses. Of course I could have given up the party, but I had engaged the caterer, the Chinese lanterns, and the orchestra, and I was bound to go on, anyway. I felt insulted. Most of them could have accepted if they had cared to. Seeing I couldn’t have the people I wanted, I meant to have some, anyway; and so I invited our seamstress and her sister, a couple of teachers I know, a lame boy living near, and a dozen or more whom I knew would accept, and be glad to enjoy such a treat. They all came, and in spite of my feeling so disgusted, I enjoyed it greatly. You see, they all enjoyed it so much I was so sorry I hadn’t planned it for them in the first place. I wish you had been here. Write soon to

Your loving cousin, Winifre.”

Esther answered the letter at once. Part of it was as follows:

“I am sorry if you were disappointed about the party; but I do not believe you were, really, for you enjoyed the guests who came more than those for whom you prepared. Just read a few verses in Luke 14:16-24. Isn’t your experience a perfect parallel to the man in Christ’s parable? Commentators all agree that Christ here represented his own gracious invitation to people to come to him, and receive what he has prepared for those who love him. Don’t you believe he is insulted when his invitations are refused on one flimsy excuse or another? There are those who will accept and enjoy the feast, and those who excuse themselves will be left out. Do, Winnie, accept. You don’t know what you miss!

Lovingly, Esther.”

Winifred read the letter carefully, and with growing astonishment and interest. “I never thought of it in that way before! I wonder if he does feel—insulted! His invitations are beautifully worded, too, and promise so much! Strange I never thought of it—an invitation to be refused or accepted! Which shall it be?”

The End

Martin Luther, part XVI – Emperor Charles V

Editor’s Note: This is the final article in a sixteen-part series on the life and times of Martin Luther. As we pause to meditate on the lives of Martin Luther and Charles V, what a striking contrast can be seen. Can we have the slightest doubt who was the greatest? The one, sitting in his closet, sent forth words which shook into ruin ancient systems of superstitious religion, rending the shackles from the consciences of men, and saying to the slave, “Be free.” He gave sight to the spiritually blind, raised up the fallen, and cast down the mighty. He led hearts captive, and plucked up and planted kingdoms. It was a God-like power which he exercised, because he trusted not in the arm of flesh, but in God’s Word.

When we look at the emperor in his magnificent palace, we find a totally different and far inferior set of forces at work. Before Charles V could achieve anything, he had to gather an army, collect great sums of wealth, blow his trumpets, and beat his kettle-drums; yet how little of real importance did he obtain from all of his bloodshed! Cities and provinces called him master, but waited for the first opportunity to throw off his yoke. What truth did he establish which can mold the lives of men and be a blessing in ages to come? It is now that we can see which of these two men exercised real power and which of the two was a true monarch. See The History of Protestantism, part 1, page 568, by J. A. Wylie.

The Schmalkald League

The Augsburg Diet ended in September 1530. On November 19, 1530, the emperor “issued a decree, addressed to the Protestant princes, States and cities, commanding them, under peril of his displeasure, to return to their obedience to the See of Rome, and giving them till the next spring (15th of April) to make their choice between submission and war.” The History of Protestantism, part 1, book 12, 95.

“The edict of the emperor forbade from that hour all further conversions to Protestantism, under pain of forfeiture of goods and life; it further enacted that all which had been taken from the Roman Catholics should be restored; that the monasteries and religious houses should be rebuilt; that the old ceremonies and rites should be observed; and that no one who did not submit to this decree should sit in the Imperial Chamber, the supreme court of judicature in the Empire; and that all classes should assist with their lives and fortunes in carrying out this edict. The edict of Spires was directed mainly against Luther; the ban of Augsburg was wider in its scope; it fell on all who held his opinions in Germany—on princes, cities, and peasants.” Ibid.

Melancthon was filled with dismay and Sleidan describes him as “drowned with sighs and tears.” Luther’s faith rose to the occasion and he faced the obstacles and produced a publication that foretold the failure of the edict. He declared that the emperor’s sword, though strong, could not extinguish the light and bring back the darkness.

Luther’s spirit fired the princes who met at Christmas, 1530, at Schmalkald to decide on the necessary action. They decided that their religion and liberties must be defended at all costs and that it was necessary to form a League. Known as the League of Schmalkald, the princes decided to join together to resist with military might any attempt to carry out the Edict of Augsburg. Their religious liberty was not the only question, since Charles was also involved in schemes that were dangerous to the constitution and civil liberties of Germany as well. The League was renewed the following year at Christmas, 1531, with many cities and princes joining. The Swiss Protestants were repulsed because of their views on the Lord’s Supper. Not long after this, Zwingle died in battle.

Luther was not pleased with the League. He shuddered at anything that would bring the Gospel and war into contact. He was assured that the League was for defensive purposes only and meant to exercise unity and their natural right to self-defense, and so he acquiesced in the League of the princes. It was political entanglements that Luther feared. “He foresaw the League growing strong and beginning to lean on armies, neglecting the development of the religious principle in whose vitality alone would consist the consolidation, power, and success of their federation.” Ibid., 98.

Spring came, but Charles was unable to carry out his threats. The Turks were again threatening war in eastern Europe and in addition, Charles’ old enemy, Francis of France, was making preparations for war against him. He had angered the Popish princes by making his brother Ferdinand, King of the Romans, and he could not turn to them for assistance. “It must have seemed, even to himself, as if a greater power than the Schmalkald Confederacy were fighting against him.” Ibid., 99.

He was forced to make peace with the Protestants and “after tedious and difficult negations, a peace was agreed upon at Nuremberg, July 23rd, and ratified in the Diet at Ratisbon, August 3rd, 1532. In this pacification the emperor granted to the Lutherans the free and undisturbed exercise of their religion, until such time as a General Council or an Imperial Diet should decide the religious question.” The Protestants promised to aid the emperor in war against the Turks, and Charles enjoyed victory over them. Charles then went on to other military projects in his dominions and the Church had rest, which lasted for close to a decade and a half.

The years that followed brought steady growth to the Protestant dominions. Wurtemberg, Brandenburg, and Brunswich were added to the League. By 1542, the whole of central and northern Germany was Protestant. Only Austria, Bavaria, and Palatinate remained with Rome, but great advances were made by Protestantism in these areas also.

Death and Burial of Luther

“The man of all others in Germany who loved peace was Luther. War he abhorred with all the strength of his great soul. He could not conceive a greater calamity befalling his cause than that the sword should be allied with it. Again and again, during the course of his life, when the opposing parties were on the point of rushing to arms the Reformer stepped in, and the sword leapt back into its scabbard. Again war threatens. On every side men are preparing their arms: hosts are mustering, and mighty captains are taking the field. We listen, if haply that powerful voice which had so often dispersed the tempest when the bolt was ready to fall shall once more make itself heard. There comes instead the terrible tidings—Luther is dead!” Ibid., 107.

The Counts of Mansfield had requested that Luther come in January of 1546, to arbitrate a boundary dispute. Luther did not care to meddle in such matters, but, since the matter was in the province of his birth, he consented to go as it would enable him to see his old birthplace once more. He was taken ill on the journey but recovered. On entering the province he was received like a prince.

After settling the dispute to the satisfaction of the counts, he occasionally preached in the church and took Communion, but he had many signs that warned him that he did not have long to live. ” ‘Here I was born and baptized,’ said he to friends, ‘what if I should remain here to die also?’ He was only sixty-three, but continual anxiety, ceaseless and exhausting labour, oft-recurring fits of nervous depression, and cruel maladies had done more than years to waste his strength.” Ibid.

On the 17th of February, after having dinner, he withdrew to pray as was his custom. Pain in his stomach caused him to go to bed early and he awakened in the night with an oppression in his chest and knowing that his life was soon to end. Three times he prayed, each time his voice more faint, confessing his faith and thankfulness to God. ” ‘Into thy hands I commit my spirit; thou hast redeemed me, O God of truth!’ He in a manner gently slept out of this life, without any bodily pain or agony that could be perceived.” Ibid., 107.

“Luther’s career had been a stormy one, yet its end was peace. He had waged incessant battle, not with the emperor and the Pope only, but also with a more dreadful foe, who had often filled his mind with darkness. Yet now he dies expressing his undimmed joy and his undying trust in his Saviour. It is also very remarkable that the man whose life had been so often sought by Popes, kings, priests, and fanatics of every grade, died on his bed. Luther often said that it would be a great disgrace to the Pope if he should so die . . . During the last twenty-five years of his life—that is, ever since his appearance at the Diet of Worms—the emperor’s ban and the Pope’s anathema had hung about him; yet there fell not to the ground a hair of his head . . . To be rid of him Rome would have joyfully given the half of her kingdom; but not a day, not an hour of life was she able to take from him.” Ibid., 109.

John, elector of Saxony, commanded that he should be laid to rest in Wittemberg. The procession grew with each town it passed through. The multitudes sang psalms and hymns. He was buried in the Schloss-kirk of Wittemberg where he had nailed his Theses.

The Schmalkald War and the Defeat of the Protestants

For two years, while Luther was yet alive, war had threatened but was withheld. Now it moved on rapidly as Charles hastened to arrange all of his affairs so that he might deal with the Protestants. He recruited soldiers and made a treaty with Pope Paul III. The Pope payed large sums of money and supplied a great number of soldiers for the battle in Germany.

“Another step toward war, though it looked like conciliation, was the meeting of the long-promised and long deferred Council . . . There had assembled at the little town of Trent some forty prelates, who assumed to represent the Universal Church, and to issue decrees which should be binding on all the countries of Christendom, although Italy and Spain alone were as yet represented in the Council . . . The Council, in its third session, decreed that the traditions of the Fathers are of equal authority with the Scripture . . . and that no one is to presume to interpret the Scriptures in a sense different from that of the Church . . . The Protestants affirmed that the one infallible authority was the Word of God. They made their appeal to the tribunal of Holy Scripture; they could recognize no other judge. The sole supremacy of Scriptures was in fact the corner-stone of their system, and if this great maxim were rejected their whole cause was adjudged and condemned.

“This was another way of saying, ‘you must submit to the Church.’ . . . They were told that they must accept their opponent for their judge . . . The first decree of the Council, then, embraced all that were to follow; . . . thoroughly Popish decisions . . . It was clear that the Fathers had assembled at Trent to pass sentence on the faith of the German people as heresy, and then the emperor would step in with his great sword and give it its death-blow.” Ibid., 113.

While he made great preparations for war, the emperor made even greater claims that he meant only peace. In a meeting with Phillip of Hesse, this prince, who held him most suspect, came to believe that he was indeed intent on peace, and the Protestants were lulled to sleep. It was the Pope who revealed the truth when he published a bull announcing his league with the emperor and their true intent and calling on all the faithful to concur in it. This caused Charles to let down his disguise but he still succeeded in convincing many Protestants that his warlike preparations, though they were indeed for Germany, were not meant to interfere with its religious opinions but to put down the Schmalkald League. Which was, he said, an empire within an empire and so it could not be tolerated by imperial supremacy.

“The pretext was a transparent one, but it enabled the timid, the lukewarm, and the wavering to say, ‘This war does not concern religion, it is a quarrel merely between the emperor and certain members of the League.’ How completely did the aspect the matter now assumed justify the wisdom of the man who had lately been laid in his grave in the Schloss-kirk of Wittemberg! How often had Luther warned the Protestants against the error of shifting their cause from a moral to a political basis! The former, he ever assured them, would, when the day of trial came, be found to have double the strength they had reckoned upon—in fact, to be invincible; whereas the latter, with an imposing show, would be found to have no strength at all.” Ibid., 115.

“On the 20th of July the blow fell . . . The war, now that it had come, found the League neither united nor prepared . . . The campaign, from its commencement in the mid-summer of 1546, to its close in the spring of 1547, was marked, on the part of the League, by vacillation and blundering. There was no foresight shown in laying its plans, no vigor in carrying them out.” Ibid., 116. One of the three leading princes in the League sided with the emperor. The war ended with the remaining two princes, John Frederick and Landgrave Phillip, in prison. Charles stripped them of their title and power, destroyed their castles, confiscated their lands, and lead them about from city to city as a spectacle to their former subjects.

“If, instead of stepping down into the arena of battle, they had offered themselves to the stake, not a tithe of the blood would have been shed that was spilt in the campaign, and instead of being lowered, the moral power of Protestantism thereby would have been immensely raised . . . No greater calamity could have befallen the Reformation than that Protestantism should have become, in that age, a great political power. Had it triumphed as a policy it would have perished as a religion.” Ibid., 117.

The Interim—Reestablishment of Protestantism

Charles then proceeded to frame a creed meant to let Lutheran Germany down easily. Styled as a halfway between Wittemberg and Rome, the “Interim taught, among other things, the supremacy of the Pope, the dogma of transubstantiation, the sacrifice of the mass, the invocation of the saints, auricular confession, justification by works, and the sole right of the Church to interpret the Scriptures; in short, not one concession did Rome make.” Ibid., 118. Protestants were offered two paltry boons. Married clergy would not have to put away their wives, and where the Sacrament was being offered in both types, it could continue to be tolerated.

This document was presented to a Diet at Augsburg on May 15, 1548, where not a single dissenting voice was raised against it. They sat silent before the emperor’s soldiers amassed around the city. “The Interim was straightway promulgated by the emperor: all were to conform to it under pain of his displeasure, and it was to remain in force until a free General Council could be held.” Ibid.

But Charles was to find that his Interim had no friends. The Vatican was sore displeased. “That the emperor in virtue of his sole authority should frame and promulgate a creed was not to be tolerated; it was to do the work of a Council; it was, in fact, to seat himself in the chair of the Pope and to say, ‘I am the Church.’ Besides, the cardinals grudged even the two pitiful concessions which had been made to the Protestants.” Ibid.

There were some areas of Germany where there was open resistance to the Interim while in others everything Protestant was removed. Old rites were restored, Protestant magistrates replaced, and Protestant pastors and their families forced from their homes. Those who did not escape were lead about in chains by their enemies.

“There is one submission that pains us more than all the others. It is that of Melancthon. Melancthon and the Wittemberg divines, laying down the general principles, that where things indifferent only are in question it is right to obey the commands of a lawful superior, and assuming that the Interim, which had been slightly manipulated for their special convenience, conflicted with the Augustan Confession in only indifferent points, and that it was well to preserve the essentials of the Gospel as seed-corn for better times, denied their Protestantism, and bowed down in worship of the emperor’s religion.” Ibid., 119.

“But amid so many prostrate one man stood nobly erect. John Frederick of Saxony, despite the suffering and ignominy that weighed upon him, refused to accept the Interim. Hopes of liberty were held out to induce him to endorse the emperor’s creed, but this only drew from him a solemn protestation of his adherence to the Protestant faith.” Ibid.

Charles believed that Roman Catholicism was the basis of his power and through thirty years of intrigues and wars he held fast to his determination to strike a fatal blow to Protestantism. This blow he had struck. “It was at this moment, when his glory was in its noon, that the whole aspect of affairs around the emperor suddenly changed . . . Not a friend or ally had he who did not now turn on him.” Ibid.

The Pope was alarmed at Charles’ conquests and feared that the Papacy was about to receive a master. He was also offended that he had received none of the spoils of their war. Paul III recalled his army and moved the Council of Trent to Bologna.

The Germans had lost many liberties and they felt deceived. They had been told that the war was not over religious questions and yet their pastors were banished, their churches taken over by mass-priests, and filled with burning tapers and chants and prayers in an unknown tongue. This all told of a promise unkept and to deception was added insult.

Prince Maurice, a professed Protestant who had sided with the emperor for ambition’s sake, now came to know that his defections would cause him to be swept away in the gathering storm. He determined to “atone for his betrayal of his Protestant confederates by treachery to the emperor.” Ibid., 120. He succeeded at length to convince the princes to join him in his schemes to win back the liberties of Germany. He yet had a sizable force in his charge which he was using in Charles’ service to besiege Magdeburg, which was brave in its resistance to the Interim. He was able to convince the citizens of that city to sign the Interim, in order to deceive Charles, while he secretly promised that they would never be deprived of their religious freedoms, and he convinced King Henry of France to move in from the south. All of this was done with masterly skill and secrecy.

At Innspruck, Charles was lulled into security by Maurice’s artifices. His campaigns had exhausted his money-chest and he had only a handful of guards at his side when the revolt broke out in March of 1552. He was hemmed in on every side. The Turks were watching by sea, the French to the south, before him was the angry Pope and behind was Maurice “pushing on by secret and forced marches, ‘to catch,’ as he irreverently said, ‘the fox in his hole.’ And probably he would have done as he said, had not a mutiny broken out among his troops on the journey, which, by delaying his march on Innspruck, gave Charles time to learn with astonishment that all Germany had risen, and was in full march upon Innspruck. The emperor had no alternative but flight.” Ibid., 121. The emperor was suffering from gout and had to be carried on a litter over rugged mountain paths by light of torches. Maurice entered Innspruck just hours after his prey had escaped. “The emperor’s power collapsed when apparently at its zenith.” Ibid. He was forced to sue for peace.

“There followed, in July, the Peace of Passau. The main article in that treaty was that the Protestants should enjoy the free and undisturbed possession of their religion till such time as a Diet of all the States should effect a permanent arrangement, and that failing such a Diet the present agreement should remain in force for ever. This was followed by the Treaty of Augsburg in 1555. This last ratified and enlarged the privileges conceded to the Protestants in the pacification of Passau, and gave a legal right to the Augustan Confession to exist side by side with the creed of the Romish Church. The ruling idea of the Middle Ages, that one form of religion only could exist in a country, was abandoned . . . The members of the Reformed Church, the followers of Zwingle and Calvin, were excluded from the privileges secured in the treaties of Passau and Augsburg, nor was legal toleration extended to them till the Peace of Westphalia, a century later.” Ibid., 122.

So Charles was unable to extinguish the light of Protestantism. “Hundreds of thousands of lives had he sacrificed and millions of money had he squandered in the contest, but Protestantism, so far from being extinguished, had enlarged its area, and multiplied its adherents four-fold.” Ibid. And Charles, with a nearly empty treasury, his prestige diminished, and revolt on every side of his dominions, chose to abdicate in favor of his son Phillip. He retired to a Spanish monastery and ended his days nearly friendless in a sparsely furnished apartment spending his time in gardening and trying to reconcile the differences in his clocks which he was never able to make strike together.

The End

What Inspiration Says About – Outreach

1. What will all true Christians be doing?

“The mission of the church of Christ is to save perishing sinners. It is to make known the love of God to men and to win them to Christ by the efficacy of that love. The truth for this time must be carried into the dark corners of the earth, and this work may begin at home. The followers of Christ should not live selfish lives; but, imbued with the Spirit of Christ, they should work in harmony with Him . . . Christ has said: ‘Joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.’ If the joy of angels is to see sinners repent, will it not be the joy of sinners, saved by the blood of Christ, to see others repent and turn to Christ through their instrumentality? In working in harmony with Christ and the holy angels we shall experience a joy that cannot be realized aside from this work.

“The principle of the cross of Christ brings all who believe under heavy obligations to deny self, to impart light to others, and to give of their means to extend the light. If they are in connection with heaven they will be engaged in the work in harmony with the angels.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 381, 382.

“Let everyone have a heart of flesh, a heart of tender sympathy, a heart that, like the heart of Christ, reaches out for the salvation of a lost world.” Prophets and Kings, 189.

2. What do we greatly lack?

“Among God’s people today there is a fearful lack of the sympathy that should be felt for souls unsaved. We talk of Christian missions. The sound of our voices is heard; but do we feel Christ’s tender heart longing for those outside the fold? And unless our hearts beat in union with the heart of Christ, how can we understand the sacredness and importance of the work to which we are called by the words: ‘Watch for . . . souls, as they that must give account’? Hebrews 13:17.

3. Does what you do, or do not do, have an effect?

“My heart is stirred to the very depths. Words are inadequate to express my feelings as I plead for perishing souls. Must I plead in vain? As Christ’s ambassador I would arouse you to labor as you never labored before. Your duty cannot be shifted upon another. No one but yourself can do your work. If you withhold your light, someone must be left in darkness through your neglect.

“Eternity stretches before us. The curtain is about to be lifted. We who occupy this solemn, responsible position, what are we doing, what are we thinking about, that we cling to our selfish love of ease, while souls are perishing around us? Have our hearts become utterly callous? Cannot we feel or understand that we have a work to do for the salvation of others? Brethren, are you of the class who having eyes see not, and having ears hear not? Is it in vain that God has given you a knowledge of His will? Is it in vain that He has sent you warning after warning? Do you believe the declarations of eternal truth concerning what is about to come upon the earth, do you believe that God’s judgments are hanging over the people, and can you still sit at ease, indolent, careless, pleasure loving?” Testimonies, vol. 5, 464.

4. How much of our energy should be put into outreach?

“The westering sun is about sinking forever from your sight. Yet while the blood of Christ is pleading, you may find pardon. Summon every energy of the soul, employ the few remaining hours in earnest labor for God and for your fellow men.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 463.

“Intense earnestness should now take possession of us. Our slumbering energies should be aroused to untiring effort. Consecrated workers should go forth into the field clearing the King’s highway, and gaining victories in new places. My brother, my sister, is it nothing to you to know that every day souls are going down into the grave unwarned and unsaved, ignorant of their need of eternal life and of the atonement made for them by the Saviour? Is it nothing to you that soon the world is to meet Jehovah over His broken law? Heavenly angels marvel that those who for so many years have had the light, have not carried the torch of truth into the dark places of the earth.” Testimonies, vol. 9, 44.

5. Are we to keep light to ourselves?

“The light that God has given His people is not to be shut up within the churches that already know the truth. It is to be shed abroad into the dark places of the earth. Those who walk in the light as Christ is in the light will co-operate with the Saviour by revealing to others what He has revealed to them. It is God’s purpose that the truth for this time shall be made known to every kindred and nation and tongue and people. In the world today men and women are absorbed in the search for worldly gain and worldly pleasure. There are thousands upon thousands who give no time or thought to the salvation of the soul. The time has come when the message of Christ’s soon coming is to sound throughout the world.” Testimonies, vol. 9, 24.

6. What do we really love?

“There is a terrible amount of guilt for which the church is responsible. Why are not those who have the light putting forth earnest efforts to give that light to others? They see that the end is near. They see multitudes daily transgressing God’s law; and they know that these souls cannot be saved in transgression. Yet they have more interest in their trades, their farms, their houses, their merchandise, their dress, their tables, than in the souls of men and women whom they must meet face to face in the judgment. The people who claim to obey the truth are asleep. They could not be at ease as they are if they were awake. The love of the truth is dying out of their hearts. Their example is not such as to convince the world that they have truth in advance of every other people upon the earth. At the very time when they should be strong in God, having a daily, living experience, they are feeble, hesitating, relying upon the preachers for support, when they should be ministering to others with mind and soul and voice and pen and time and money.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 457.

“It is an eternal law of Jehovah that he who accepts the truth that the world needs is to make it his first work to proclaim this truth. But who is there that makes the burden of perishing sinners his own? As I look upon the professed people of God, and see their unwillingness to serve Him, my heart is filled with a pain that I cannot express. How few are heart to heart with God in His solemn, closing work. There are thousands to be warned, yet how few consecrate themselves wholly to the work, willing to be or to do anything if only they may win souls to Christ. Jesus died to save the world. In humility, in lowliness, in unselfishness, He worked and is working for sinners. But many of those who ought to co-operate with Him are self-sufficient and indifferent.” Testimonies, vol. 7, 13.

7. How can Satan best use you?

“He who holds the truth in unrighteousness, who declares his belief in it, and yet wounds it every day by his inconsistent life, is surrendering himself to the service of Satan and leading souls to ruin. This class hold intercourse with fallen angels and are aided by them in gaining the control of minds. When Satan’s bewitching power controls a person, God is forgotten, and man who is filled with corrupt purposes is extolled. Secret licentiousness is practiced by these deceived souls as a virtue. This is a species of witchcraft.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 142.
“When ministers thus take advantage of the confidence the people place in them and lead souls to ruin, they make themselves as much more guilty than the common sinner as their profession is higher. In the day of God, when the great Ledger of Heaven is opened, it will be found to contain the names of many ministers who have made pretensions to purity of heart and life and professed to be entrusted with the gospel of Christ, but who have taken advantage of their position to allure souls to transgress the law of God.

“When men and women fall under the corrupting power of Satan, it is almost impossible to recover them out of the horrible snare so that they will ever again have pure thoughts and clear conceptions of God’s requirements. Sin, to their deluded minds, has been sanctified by the minister, and it is never again regarded in the loathsome light that God looks upon it. After the moral standard has been lowered in the minds of men, their judgment becomes perverted, and they look upon sin as righteousness, and righteousness as sin. By associating with these, whose inclinations and habits are not elevated and pure, others become like them. Their tastes and principles are almost unconsciously adopted.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 143.

8. Are we slothful servants?

“All are to show their fidelity to God by the wise use of His entrusted capital, not in means alone, but in any endowment that will tend to the upbuilding of His kingdom. Satan will employ every possible device to prevent the truth from reaching those who are buried in error; but the voice of warning and entreaty must come to them. And while only a few are engaged in this work, thousands ought to be as much interested as they … Those who have received the light should seek to enlighten those who have it not. If the church members do not individually take hold of this work, then they show that they have no living connection with God. Their names are registered as slothful servants. Can you not discern the reason why there is no more spirituality in our churches? It is because you are not colaborers with Christ.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 462, 463.

“The people whom God has made the depositaries of His law are not to permit their light to be hidden. The truth must be proclaimed in the dark places of the earth. Obstacles must be met and surmounted. A great work is to be done, and this work has been entrusted to those who know the truth. They should make mighty intercession with God for help now. The love of Christ must be diffused in their own hearts. The Spirit of Christ must be poured out upon them, and they must be making ready to stand in the judgment. While they are consecrating themselves to God, a convincing power will attend their efforts to present the truth to others, and its light will find access to many hearts. We must sleep no longer on Satan’s enchanted ground, but call into requisition all our resources and avail ourselves of every facility with which Providence has furnished us. The last warning is to be proclaimed ‘before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings;’ and the promise is given, ‘Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.’

“Ten members, who were walking in all humbleness of mind, would have a far greater power upon the world than has the entire church, with its present numbers and lack of unity.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 119.

9. Is it time to advance?

“God is waiting for men and women to awake to their responsibilities. He is waiting for them to link themselves with Him. Let them mark the signal of advance, and no longer be laggards in working out the will of the Lord.

“And through lack of zeal for the promulgation of the third angel’s message, many others, while not apparently living in transgression, are nevertheless as verily lending their influence on the side of Satan as are those who openly sin against God. Multitudes are perishing; but how few are burdened for these souls! There is a stupor, a paralysis, upon many of the people of God, which prevents them from understanding the duty of the hour.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 119.

10. What is the most important work?

“In a special sense Seventh-day Adventists have been set in the world as watchmen and light bearers. To them has been entrusted the last warning for a perishing world. On them is shining wonderful light from the word of God. They have been given a work of the most solemn import—the proclamation of the first, second, and third angels’ messages. There is no other work of so great importance. They are to allow nothing else to absorb their attention.

“The most solemn truths ever entrusted to mortals have been given us to proclaim to the world. The proclamation of these truths is to be our work. The world is to be warned, and God’s people are to be true to the trust committed to them. They are not to engage in speculation, neither are they to enter into business enterprises with unbelievers; for this would hinder them in their God-given work.” Testimonies, vol. 9, 19.

11. Is there a work for everyone?

“The church is God’s appointed agency for the salvation of men. It was organized for service, and its mission is to carry the gospel to the world. From the beginning it has been God’s plan that through His church shall be reflected to the world His fullness and His sufficiency. The members of the church, those whom He has called out of darkness into His marvelous light, are to show forth His glory. The church is the repository of the riches of the grace of Christ; and through the church will eventually be made manifest, even to ‘the principalities and powers in heavenly places,’ the final and full display of the love of God. Ephesians 3:10.” Acts of the Apostles, 9.

“Let everyone who loves God consider that now while it is day is the time to work, not among the sheep already in the fold, but to go out in search of the lost and perishing ones. These need to have special help to bring them back to the fold. Now is the time for the careless to arouse from their slumber. Now is the time to entreat that souls shall not only hear the word of God, but without delay secure oil in their vessels with their lamps. That oil is the righteousness of Christ. It represents character, and character is not transferable. No man can secure it for another. Each must obtain for himself a character purified from every stain of sin.” Testimonies to Ministers, 233, 234.

The End

What is a Salvational Issue?

What is a salvational issue? From the time that disobedience first entered the perfect and sinless Garden of Eden, man has been asking God that very question, in one form or another. In the sixteenth chapter of Acts, the Phillipian jailor asks of Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Do you remember their reply? “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” Acts 16:30, 31. Believe on Jesus and you shall be saved. That’s it. That’s all it takes. Jesus did it all for us. All we have to do is proclaim that Jesus is our Savior and we can go on with our lives as before—doing our own will, following our own inclination, living our lives for this world while claiming to be part of the next. Is that what Paul was saying? Is that what the Bible teaches? Surely not! Yet throughout the world you can hear this message proclaimed from the pulpits of many, many churches, both on Sabbath and Sunday.

James 2:19 says, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: The devils also believe, and tremble.” Obviously James didn’t agree with the modern day “all you have to do is believe” preachers. Satan is very willing that the people would think they are Christians. “He is even anxious that they should believe in Jesus, His crucifixion, and His resurrection. Satan and his angels fully believe all this themselves, and tremble. But if this faith does not provoke to good works, and lead those who profess it to imitate the self-denying life of Christ, Satan is not disturbed; for they merely assume the Christian name, while their hearts are still carnal, and he can use them in his service even better than if they made no profession. Hiding their deformity under the name of Christian, they pass along with their unsanctified natures, and their evil passions unsubdued.” Early Writings, 227. No wonder Satan is so pleased with these “all you have to do is believe—peace and safety” messages. They allow and encourage people to think they are saved when truly they are lost and, through their unconverted, unsanctified actions, they are leading others to condemnation also.

In Matthew 19:16–21, we find the story of the rich young ruler. “And, behold, one came and said unto Him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life,” or what must I do to be saved? “And He said unto Him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.” “Christ did not lessen the claims of the law. In unmistakable language He presents obedience to it as the condition of eternal life—the same condition that was required of Adam before his fall. The Lord expects no less of the soul now than He expected of man in paradise, perfect obedience, unblemished righteousness.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 391.

“There are those who profess holiness, who declare that they are wholly the Lord’s, who claim a right to the promises of God, while refusing to render obedience to His commandments. These transgressors of the law claim everything that is promised to the children of God; but this is presumption on their part, for John tells us that true love for God will be revealed in obedience to all His commandments . . . John did not teach that salvation is to be earned by obedience; but that obedience is the fruit of faith and love.” Acts of the Apostles, 562, 563. “Doing, not saying merely, is expected of the followers of Christ. It is through action that character is built.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 149. We cannot earn salvation, but we are to seek for it with as much interest and perseverance as though we would abandon everything, in this world, for it.

The Yoke of Christ

“Today the invitation is given, ‘Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls.’ Matthew 28:28, 29. Christ has rest for all who will wear his yoke and learn His meekness and lowliness of heart. Here we are taught restraint and obedience, and in this we shall find rest. Thank God that in humility and obedience we shall find just that which we need so much—the rest that is found in faith and confidence and perfect trust. Let us take the yoke of Christ and in entire obedience draw with Him.” That I May Know Him, 293. “In accepting Christ’s yoke of restraint and obedience, you will find that it is of the greatest help to you. Wearing this yoke keeps you near the side of Christ, and he bears the heaviest part of the load.” Bible Commentary, vol. 5, 1090–1092. His yoke is indeed easy and His burden, light. When we work with the Lord, when we take His yoke upon us, His wisdom and strength are ours. There is nothing we will be called upon to do, no trial we will have to endure, that has the power to overcome us if we are wearing His yoke of service. Obedience will be a joy, sacrifice a blessing.

“Little” Sins

“If you love Me, keep My commandments.” This simple statement, recorded in John 14:15, is actually a very broad and far reaching command. “It is one of Satan’s most successful devices, to lead men to the commission of little sins, to blind the mind to the danger of little indulgences, little digressions from the plainly stated requirements of God. Many who would shrink with horror from some great transgression, are led to look upon sin in little matters as of trifling consequence. But these little sins eat out the life of godliness in the soul.” Bible Commentary, vol. 2, 1017. “In these little matters, some do not think it necessary to be so very exact, but this is the deception of Satan.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 325. “Every act of life is a revelation of character.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 218.

Satan need not attack the whole law; “if he can lead men to disregard just one precept, his purpose is gained.” Desire of Ages, 763. “It is not the greatness of the act of disobedience that constitutes sin, but the fact of variance from God’s expressed will in the least particular; for this shows that there is yet communion between the soul and sin. The heart is divided in its service. There is a virtual denial of God, a rebellion against the laws of His government.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 51. When we love someone, we try to remember the little things. That’s why people who love the Lord don’t complain about the little things. You’ll hear people say “Diet is such a little thing,” or “The length of my dress is such a little thing.” When you love someone, it’s the little things that count. The big things take care of themselves if you’re diligent about the little things. “The work of the enemy is not abrupt; it is not sudden at the outset, and startling; it is a secret undermining of the strongholds of principle. It begins in apparently small things—the neglect to be true to God and to rely upon Him wholly, the disposition to follow the customs and practices of the world.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 717. “The importance of the little things is often underrated because they are small, but they supply much of the actual discipline of life.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 356. “Be careful how you build and what kind of material you put into the building. The characters you are now forming will be lasting as eternity.” Adventist Home, 297.

A Last Day People

We are living in the very last days of earth’s history. In Matthew 24, Jesus is speaking to His disciples on the Mount of Olives. They had asked Him about the Second Coming. In the verses that follow He tells them of the things that will happen in the last days. “Many shall come in My name . . . and deceive many . . . wars and rumors of wars . . . nation shall rise against nation, kingdom against kingdom . . . famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes . . . false prophets shall rise, and deceive many . . . this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations . . . there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” Matthew 24: 5–7, 11, 14, 24. This chapter reads like today’s newspaper, doesn’t it?

In Matthew 24:32, 33, we read the parable of the fig tree. It’s a short story, compared to some of the others in Scripture—just 2 verses—but the message is clear. “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when you shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.” In verse 42, it states the lesson of the parable: “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.”

Do we believe we are living in the last days? Do we think that Jesus is coming back soon? In our lifetime? Do our lives testify to this belief? When people look at us, can they tell what time it is? Does the way we live our lives show that we believe that Jesus could return today? This hour? This minute? Are we living up to all the light we have been given? What is the purpose of having an end-time prophet and end-time prophecies if we are not going to listen in an end-time crisis? Amos 3:7 states, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets.” God provides the knowledge, it is our decision whether to accept or reject it. And we are held accountable for the choice we make. The only way that Satan can blind us is if we refuse to believe truth when it comes.

There are those who hear God’s Word and give some mental agreement to it, but delay action—they say to themselves, “Some day I’m going to do it.” Choosing to obey tomorrow means you’re choosing to live in sin today. In 2 Corinthians 4: 3–4 it says, “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” If God says to do it, and if we refuse to, then Satan can come in with darkness.

Conviction and Conversion

We like to read those verses that back us up, but those that take away our sweet little darling sins we decide, “I don’t believe that.” Satan cannot blind us if we make a habit of walking in the light as it is revealed. When we read something in the Bible or the Spirit of Prophecy and don’t follow the counsel, we often say it’s because “I’m not convicted on it.” Usually it’s not conviction we’re lacking, but conversion. When God speaks, that settles it, for a Christian! When we read from God’s inspired Word, it’s not up to us to try to reason it out, and question why, before we obey.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts, saith the Lord.” Isaiah 55:9. Did Abram ask questions when God told him to leave his home and go to some unrevealed lands? Did Noah say, “Well, I don’t know, God. I’m going to need a little more information about this rain situation before I start building the ark. I’m just not convicted about this yet.” If we wait until all doubts are removed, we will always have unbelief. There will always be room for doubt; that’s where faith comes in. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1.

There is great danger in “waiting for conviction.” Each time we go against the Holy Spirit, each repetition, makes it easier to yield the next time. Every repetition of sin lessens our power of resistance, blinds our eyes, and stifles conviction. Patriarchs and Prophets, 268. The word stifle means, “to suppress, to smother, to suffocate.” Did you notice the progression there? Suppress, smother, suffocate. While we continue in sin, “waiting for conviction,” we grieve the Holy Spirit and eventually harden our hearts against Him.

What are Nonessentials?

Sometimes you will hear people say, “It’s not a salvational issue”. “In the sight of Omnipotence, every duty is important.” Messages to Young People, 148. “In the life of a true Christian, there are no non-essentials.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 356. It is the work of Satan to make plausible excuses for not obeying God implicitly. “Many close their eyes to the plainest teachings of His Word . . . They hesitate and question and search for some excuse whereby they may disregard the light. Satan is ever ready to present to them reasons why it would not be best to obey the Word of God just as it reads. The soul is fatally deceived.” Faith and Works, 42. Many times, when we read something that condemns one of our pet sins, we search the Scriptures looking for a “balancing statement,” or something that appears to allow us to do as pleases us. If we are searching for a “balancing statement,” doesn’t that imply that the Scripture we have read is unbalanced? Surely none of us believe that!

Recently I heard, mentioned in a sermon, an excuse we often hear and/or use: “I just don’t see it yet.” “In deciding upon any course of action, we are not to ask whether we can see that harm will result from it but whether it is in keeping with the will of God.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 634. You have heard people say, “It is not a test of fellowship.” This is usually when speaking about a standard the Adventist Church does not require to be met before baptism, such as vegetarianism. We have been told that “the very last great deception of Satan will be to make of none effect the testimony of the Spirit of God.” Selected Messages, vol. 1, 48. Let us not have a part in this deception by allowing Satan to provide us with excuses that encourage us to ignore a plain “thus saith the Lord.”

We have a job to do. “The work that the Lord has given us at this time is to present to the people the true light in regard to the testing questions of obedience and salvation—the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Ibid., 165. “It should be understood that perfect unity among the laborers is necessary to the successful accomplishment of the work of God . . . Study the second chapter of Acts. In the early Church the Spirit of God wrought mightily through those who were harmoniously united. On the day of Pentecost, they were all with one accord in one place.” Testimonies, vol. 9, 196. Unity of believers is vital to the work we have to do in these last days. The only way we are going to achieve unity is through individual daily conversion and surrender to the will and ways of the Lord. “The reason for all division, discord and difference is found in separation from Christ.” Selected Messages, vol. 1, 259.

Disregarding Light

The prophet wrote, “The subject of health reform has been presented in the churches; but the light has not been heartily received. The selfish, health-destroying indulgences of men and women have counteracted the influence of the message that is to prepare a people for the great day of God . . . If the churches disregard the light on this subject, they will reap the sure result in both spiritual and physical degeneracy. And the influence of these older church members will leaven those newly come to the faith. The Lord does not now work to bring many souls to the truth because of the church members who have never been converted, and those who were once converted and have backslidden. What influence would these unconsecrated members have on new converts? Would they not make of no effect the God-given message which His people have to bear?” Counsels on Diets and Foods, 455.

When we disregard the light we’ve been given, whatever the reason, we not only risk our own salvation but we create disunity and discord among church members and hinder the work we are called of God to do. As Christians, our actions should always reveal the grace that God has given us and His love within our heart. There are really no nonessentials in the Christian’s life; no “ifs” in God’s requirements; His word is “Yea” and “Amen.”

“Do you ask, what shall I do to be saved? You must lay your preconceived opinions, your hereditary and cultivated ideas, at the door of investigation. If you search the Scriptures to vindicate your own opinions, you will never reach the truth. Search in order to learn what the Lord says. If conviction comes as you search, if you see that your cherished opinions are not in harmony with the truth, do not misinterpret the truth in order to suit your own belief, but accept the light given. Open mind and heart that you may behold wondrous things out of God’s Word.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 112. What must I do to be saved? It’s a question of eternal consequence. We should ask it each day, on our knees, with our heart open to receive the reply.

The End

Food for Life – Heart Disease and Blood Pressure, part 1

This month’s subject is heart and blood pressure. Alternative medicine has always been in the minds of many as a perfect solution to “drugging,” and its “baleful effects.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 311; Selected Messages, vol. 2, 280. The ideal agent for lowering blood pressure would be one that causes no undesirable side effects, is affordable and is easily tolerated, and actually reduces risk for serious disease of the circulatory system. At the present time no drugs are known that meet all of these criteria. Some of the side-effects of drugs for controlling blood pressure are fatigue, daytime drowsiness, dry cough, constipation, loss of sexual desire, impotence, and light-headedness, a general feeling of malaise, and sometimes depression. Some recommended lifestyle changes that often result in a lowering of blood pressure are:

1. Reduce salt intake to between 2 and 3 grams per day (about 1 teaspoon). Be cautious when buying processed foods, read the labels before you buy. Beware of food additives, preservatives, tenderizers, and food enhancers, particularly monosodium glutamate (MSG). Common processed foods that contain a high amount of sodium include: salted nuts, chips, canned vegetables, powdered and canned soups, diet soft drinks (including tonic or sparkling water), soy sauce, pickled foods, and animal products (especially cheese and processed meats).

2. Adopt a high-fiber, low-fat diet. If possible eat at least five servings of fresh fruit and vegetables each day. Such a diet will increase your levels of vitamin C, magnesium, calcium and potassium. An increased intake of calcium-rich foods such as kale or other dark greens, white navy or other dried beans, raisins, figs, sesame seeds, and almonds are advisable for many. A high potassium intake is associated with a lowered blood pressure and reduced risk of stroke as well as cardiac arrythmia, especially if you are on diuretics. Fruits, vegetables, and most grains are good sources of potassium. The concentrated vegetarian sources of potassium include: bananas, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, avocados, almonds, pecans, walnuts, peanuts, lima beans, peas, dates, greens such as cress and spinach, and whole wheat flour.

3. Many people with high blood pressure have been advised to take 200 to 400 milligrams of supplemental magnesium each day. In the future we will list common food sources high in magnesium and talk about fat and high blood pressure.

March Recipes:

Lo-Calorie Dressing (Italian)

Place in Blender:

2 cups Distilled Water

1 tsp. Sea Salt

1 1/2 cups Tomato Puree

1 Tbsp. Onion Powder

1-2 tsps. Garlic Powder

1/2 cup Lemon Juice

3 tbsps. Apple Concentrate

1 tsp. Ground Dill

3/4 tsp. Sweet Basil

3/4 tsp. Italian Seasoning

3/4 tsp. Salad Herbs

Whiz in blender on high speed until thoroughly blended.

Sun-Nut Burgers

Bring to a Boil:

1/3 cup Braggs Aminos (or substitute a beef style flavoring)

2 1/2 cups Water

Mix together:

1 Onion, Chopped

1 Clove Garlic, Minced

1/2 tsp. Italian Seasoning

1/2 cup Ground Raw Walnuts

1/2 cup Raw Sunflower Seeds

3 cups Quick Oats

Pour water and Braggs over dry mixture. Stir and let sit for about 15 minutes. Bake a 350 degrees for 20 minutes on each side.

The End

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” Matthew 7:7, 8. Recently, I was invited to the home of some friends to have breakfast. Before we partook of their delightful food that was filled with the bounties from God’s goodness, we spent about an hour reading and discussing two articles written by Ellen White in The Signs of the Times, August 7, 1901 and August 14, 1901. The articles are entitled, “Ask and It Shall Be Given You.” The entire articles follow with some pauses here and there to point out some illuminating thoughts and if possible to add some illustrations in hope that you too will be able to say with me, “We have eaten together at the table of our Lord and satisfied an hungering for more.”

I am certain that you will immediately be captured by the mighty conviction that we have been neglectful in audibly thanking and praising our God for His wonderful mercies. “It seems so sad that we praise God so little. Gratitude, praise, and thanksgiving need now to be searched for, and cultivated as lost arts. They are more precious to our Lord Jesus than all the treasures of gold and silver which the earth contains. Every human being should appreciate the kindness and love wherewith God hath loved us. When we were yet enemies, Christ gave His life that we might be saved. How much have we appreciated this gift?” Now you will agree that these opening words make us think seriously; for we so often forget to express audibly in praise and thanksgiving that which the Lord’s servant tells us Jesus longs for and desires to hear from our lips.

“In His instructions to His disciples, Christ dwelt upon the great gift of the Spirit, declaring that nothing was too great to be expected from the coming of the divine Spirit. He longed to quicken and enlarge the conception of His disciples by communicating to them His own complete appreciation of God’s love, that they might be able to comprehend the value of the gift of all gifts, given by God with the giving of His beloved Son,—the gift of the Holy Spirit. On all who love and serve God this gift has been bestowed. Christ has made provision for all to receive His Spirit; for He desires to see human nature released from the bondage of sin, and, by the power which God gives, renewed, restored, raised to a Holy rivalry with angels.” Did you notice that nothing is too great for the Holy Spirit to accomplish? God compares the gift of the Holy Spirit to the gift of His Son. These may be new thoughts to some of us. What further impressed me was that it is only the gift of the Spirit which can release us from the power of sin.

“To the woman at the well Christ said, ‘If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give Me to drink, thou wouldst have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water . . . Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.’”

God Could Give Nothing More

“Yes; in giving the Holy Spirit, it was impossible for God to give more. To this gift nothing could be added.” No wonder it tells us in the Scriptures that God can supply all of our needs: “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19. “The Holy Spirit is the vital presence of God.” The Spirit of God is the actual presence of God with us, “and if appreciated will call forth praise and thanksgiving, and will ever be springing up into everlasting life. The restoration of the Spirit is the covenant of grace. Yet how few appreciate this great gift, so costly, yet so free to all who will accept it? When faith takes hold of the blessing, there comes rich spiritual good. But too often the blessing is not appreciated. We need an enlarged conception in order to comprehend its value.

“Christ declared, ‘Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish will he for a fish give him a serpent? or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?’” Why is it that in our church services, our worships in our homes, and our daily prayers, we ask so little for this Divine Power?

“O what amazing love and condescension! The Lord Jesus encourages His believing ones to ask for the Holy Spirit. By presenting the parental tenderness of God, He seeks to encourage faith in the reception of the gift. The heavenly Parent is more willing to give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him than earthly parents are to give good gifts to their children.

“What greater thing could be promised? What more is necessary to awaken a response in every soul, to inspire us with a longing for the great gift? Shall not our half-hearted supplications be turned into petitions of intense desire for this great blessing?” Perhaps we should pause here to ascertain why so many in God’s true church are so satisfied with their present experience without the help of the Spirit, and amazingly unconcerned with their lack of divine power to overcome sin as Christ overcame. Listen to God as He describes what He sees among His people: “Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” Revelation 3:17, 18. What a pity! Seldom do we hear prayers that are beseeching, pleading, and longing with God for the precious gift that would change our condition. If we could only cast off the stupor that Satan is placing around us, and realize that we could receive the greatest gift of all heaven if we would ask, we would discover that our conception is enlarged—we would comprehend the value of this gift.

Tame Supplications

“We do not ask for enough of the good things God has promised. If we would reach up higher and expect more, our petitions would reveal the quickening influence that comes to every soul who asks with the full expectation of being heard and answered. The Lord is not glorified by the tame supplications which show that nothing is expected. He desires everyone who believes, to approach the throne of grace with earnestness and assurance. Do we realize the magnitude of the work in which we are engaged? . . . Our entreaties would rise before God with convincing earnestness. We would plead for power as a hungry child pleads for bread. If we realized the greatness of the gift, if we desired the attainment of the blessing, our petitions would ascend with earnestness, importunity, urgency. It would be as if we were at the gate of heaven, soliciting entrance.

“I do not understand the tameness in the requests offered to God. We are to urge our way into the very presence of God, into the Holy Place of the Most High. We are to plead for that which we most need,—the bread of life, the leaf from the tree of life. As Jacob wrestled with the angel, saying, ‘I will not let thee go, except thou bless me,’ so we are to . . . ask with an urgency that will not be turned away, that expects God to bestow His blessings with a liberality that is an assurance to all fear.

“‘Thus saith the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and His Maker, Ask Me of things to come concerning My sons, and concerning the work of My hands command ye me. I have made the earth, and created man upon it. I, even My hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.’ This is the Word of the Lord, which is Yea and Amen. Then let your prayers be more fervent, more heavily weighted with faith and hope. Let the intensity of your desire be proportionate to the value of the object you wish to obtain. The greatness of the gift and our need of it should fill us with a hungering desire for it.” I have often been accused, in evangelism, of speaking too plainly, of pressing a point beyond the need; but never have I read from the servant of the Lord such a startling revelation of how we are to approach God in our need for the Holy Spirit.

Ellen White continues, “Have we reason to believe that an earnest application to the Source of all power for the deep moving of the Holy Spirit upon the hearts will be crowned with success? Certainly; but before we talk to others in regard to this, let us first talk with God. Plead with Him as if your life was depending upon the gift you desire. Remember that the blessing is promised unconditionally, absolutely, certainly. If you ask in faith, presenting the name of God’s Son as your endorsement, your prayer will be heard and answered. God’s goodness makes this promise unchangeable. The infallibility of the promise is to inspire faith in the one who asks. ‘Ask, and ye shall receive.’

Conditions of Receiving

“We should ask with an earnestness that will not be denied. The Lord has an intense desire that every one should take advance steps in absolute certainty, relying upon God. He is the light and life of all who seek Him. The measure which we receive of the holy influence of His Spirit is proportionate to the measure of our desire to receive, of our faith to grasp, and of our capacity to enjoy the great goodness of the blessing, and to impart it to others.”

And now Ellen White shifts the emphasis from the pleading, from the crying out, from the desire, to the conditions upon which we receive the gift from Heaven, for there are conditions. “‘Everyone that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth.’ Christ is here presenting a law of the divine government. Asking for the Holy Spirit is connected with receiving this gift. The Lord reads the hearts of all men. He selects from His subjects those He can use, choosing material which can be worked. He selects the most unpromising subjects, and through them magnifies His own wisdom and power by causing them to sit among princes.” Now isn’t that something! He can take the lowest individual, the one who’s mind has been so filled with evil that he is almost unable to comprehend the goodness of God. He can take the least, and with the Holy Spirit, He can so develop them that they can sit among princes.

“In all ages He has used human beings to carry out His purposes. He chooses subjects who will not be perverted, who in all righteousness and faith will honor His name. He passes by the men who have perverted the capabilities He has given them, and selects men of His own wisdom, who make Him their trust, their dependence, their efficiency. He hews and polishes the rough stones He has quarried out of the world. He works through men who realize that they must submit to the ax, the chisel, and the hammer, lying passive under the divine hand. Through those who voluntarily submit themselves to Him . . . in faith and hope, He works out His plans.”

You know, the Church of Rome, Satan’s masterpiece, demands obedience from its subjects. No matter what truth God may open to men, the followers of Rome are not allowed to investigate it for themselves with their own God-given intelligence. They must accept only that which has been taught by their so-called “fathers” of Pagan tradition. It’s a known fact, that before a man can become a priest of Rome, he must swear by an oath to never question any teaching of the Church, even though he discovers that such a doctrine is contrary to God’s eternal Word. On the other hand, God cannot and will not use any man in His church who has become so worldly-wise that he feels safe to question God’s teachings. God does invite men to study and search for truth; and when such a man is Spirit-filled, he will come to the conscious decision never to question God’s declared truth.

And now comes another condition for receiving the Holy Spirit: we need to impart it to others. “Those who ask because they wish to impart to others will not be disappointed. God will reward those who come to Him in earnest faith. He assures us that the thought of His majesty and sovereignty should not keep us in fear. He will do much more graciously than we suppose if we will come to the footstool of His mercy. He urges His sovereignty as a reason for His great and merciful bountifulness in supplying the demands upon Him. He pledges Himself to hear our prayers, declaring that He will hear them. He condescends to appeal from the instinct of parental tenderness to the infinite benevolence of Him whose we are by creation and redemption. He says, ‘If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him.’ The needy and the soul-hungry never plead with God in vain.

Humility is Essential

“Humanity and divinity must be linked together in the experience of every overcomer. In our weakness we are to accept Christ’s power. He gives us the assurance, ‘All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.’

“In view of this tell me who should wear countenances more bright and more cheerful, more full of sunshine, than those who live by faith in the Son of God. In Him the needy and hungry find all their wants supplied. But let us not forget that those who God has blessed with the good things of this life are to be His helping hand, to supply the necessities of His needy ones. They are to be laborers together with Him. They are His stewards in trust, and are to use their goods for the advancement of His work, that His name may be glorified. The Lord desires to employ the church as a channel through which to communicate His bounties. If His people would keep the channel open, receiving the spiritual and temporal gifts of His grace, and imparting them to the needy, there would be no sick ones neglected, no orphans crying for food. The hearts of the widow and the fatherless would sing for joy.”

Now the servant of the Lord speaks of the channels in which we are to work when Spirit-filled. “God has given man the richest of His gifts. This He has done that man may dispense His bounties. Medical missionary work and the Gospel ministry are the channels through which God seeks to pour a constant supply of His goodness. They are to be as the river of life for the irrigation of His church. There is not the semblance of an excuse for the lifeless condition of a people who know the plain ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ God calls our attention to the words, ‘Ye are the light of the world . . . Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.’ He reminds us that we have only to ask, and we shall receive; to seek, and we shall find; to knock, and it shall be opened unto us.”

What are we to do besides ask? God makes it very plain through the voice of His prophets, for we are told, “Throw open the windows of the soul heavenward, and close them earthward.” Now some of you may not like what I’m about to say; but if we are going to follow this instruction, we must shut off the airwaves of this so-called music permeating the earth today through the radio; we must turn away from the earthly environments of entertainment that is devil-made. In response, we should open up and lift our voice in praise and thanksgiving to God’s greatest Gift. We should be often in prayer, in the study of the Godly counsels written to us. It is thus that we shall become mighty in power for God.

The Universe is Waiting

“The Lord has made His church the repository of divine influence. The heavenly universe is waiting for the members to become channels through which the current of life shall flow to the world, that many may be converted, and in their turn become channels through which the grace of Christ shall flow to the desert portions of the Lord’s vineyard.

“The heavenly universe is burdened with the magnitude of the divine gifts which it has to impart. Angels are longing for the great joy of imparting the grace of God to men who will impart it to their fellow-men. The commission is, ‘Go ye therefore, and teach all nations.’ All who belong to the church are commanded to shine.” There is a responsibility in receiving this wonderful gift. “Every receiver of divine grace is held accountable for the souls of those within his reach who are in the darkness of unbelief, ignorant of the rich blessings God is waiting to bestow upon them.

“‘As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.’ Those who take part in the solemn rite of baptism, in the name of the highest authorities of heaven, pledge themselves to come out from the world, to separate themselves from its idolatrous practices. God places His sign upon them, making them members of the royal family. And they on their part pledge themselves before angels and before men to live for Christ. They are buried with Him in baptism in the likeness of His death and raised in the likeness of His resurrection. ‘If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things on this earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.’”

And now comes the final punch line. “In the day of final accounts, what will the church give as a reason for her strange indifference to bring souls to a knowledge of the truth? My brethren and sisters, keep the temple of God pure and holy, that He may use it to the glory of His name. God will enlarge His faculties and multiply His gifts to you, as you make use of them to gather souls under the blood-stained banner of the Redeemer. Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. By yielding to the temptations of the enemy, by losing sight of God, you have lost the sense of what a child of God ought to be. Your powers of perception are clouded. But the way is open for your spiritual life to be reinforced with new power. ‘Ask and ye shall receive.’”

The End

Are There Tares in Your Field?

Another parable He put forth to them, saying: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.’ ” Matthew 13:24–30.

Jesus taught in parables to help us understand the unknown by explaining something we understand. Jesus describes the spiritual world in terms of the physical world. He takes us from what we understand to what we do not understand.

“Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, ‘Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.’ He answered and said to them: ‘He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!’” Matthew 13: 36–43.

The field is the world and the wheat and tares are both being planted in this field. In the Middle East there is a weed that looks like a wheat plant when it first springs up. There actually were people in Jesus’ day who took the seed of this weed, or tares as it was called, and scattered it in their enemies wheat field. Although the weeds could not be seen at first, as they grew you could see them all through the wheat. The weeds take nutrients and water and if there are too many of them they can actually choke out the wheat. The presence of tares represents a very dangerous situation.

The Field of the Mind

Here Jesus is talking about the spiritual world and illustrating it with the natural world. The field is the world—the spiritual world. What is the spiritual world? It is the world of the spirit working on the minds of men. God’s spiritual field are those who claim to be His children, or His professed church. “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field.” 1 Corinthians 3:9. [All emphasis supplied.] Each one of us who is part of God’s professed church, is part of this field. Our spirit, our mind, is part of this field. The aggregate of all the minds of all who profess to be God’s people in the whole world is the whole field.

The field is the world—the spiritual world. Then what is the good seed Jesus came to plant? The good seed is the gospel, the truth of the Bible. Jesus came to plant the gospel, the truth, in the minds of those that choose to follow Him. As this good seed grows up and matures in your mind, eventually it becomes an integral part of your character so that you are called the good seed. Jesus said the good seed are the children of the kingdom.

The Battle Over the Mind

What are the tares? Or what is the seed that produces the tares? The tares are spiritual ideas that are implanted in the mind by the devil. If this seed grows up and matures in a person’s mind, even though he professes to be a child of God, in reality, he is a child of the devil.

The devil cannot force himself on you, but you can open up your mind to him, and that is very dangerous. There are some statements by Ellen White on this subject. “If there is any way by which Satan can gain access to the mind, he will sow his tares and cause them to grow until they will yield an abundant harvest.” Adventist Home, 402. Notice that your mind is the field. If the devil can gain access to your mind, he is going to sow tares. “In no case can Satan obtain dominion over thoughts, words, and actions, unless we voluntarily open the door and invite him to enter. He will then come in and, by catching away the good seed sown in the heart, make of none effect the truth.” Ibid.

The devil is out there, friends. There is a battle going on in the world today and the battle is for your mind. What are you reading? What are you listening to? What are you looking at? The devil has gone all over the world sowing seeds. “Satan is their chosen leader. It is while men sleep that the enemy sows his tares in the heart.” Manuscript Release, vol. 10, 323. Satan is seeking access to your mind to sow these spiritual plants. They are poisonous plants and if they grow up, you will lose your soul. We want to study what these tares are that the devil plants in the minds of God’s professed people.

Safety in the Spirit of Prophecy

We are living in the time of the end when there will be all manner of deceptions. It is the most treacherous time in the history of the world. God knew and foresaw thousands of years ago that perilous times would come. “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” Malachi 4:5. This special reformation prophet is one of the two identifying marks by which you can identify God’s people in the last days. 1. They keep all of God’s commandments and 2. have the testimony of Jesus, the spirit of prophecy. Revelation 12:17; 19:10.

If we follow and stay close to the spiritual gifts God has given to His people in these last days, we will not be tripped up. The Lord has revealed to us what the tares are that the devil plants in people’s minds. If our minds were strong enough to understand everything that was in the Bible, we would not need the Spirit of Prophecy. But most of us do not understand our Bibles very well, and the Lord has given us some special help.

“The good seed represents those who are born of the word of God, the truth. The tares represent a class who are the fruit or embodiment of error, of false principles. ‘The enemy that sowed them is the devil.’ Neither God nor His angels ever sowed a seed that would produce a tare. The tares are always sown by Satan, the enemy of God and man.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 70. The tares are false spiritual principles, or teachings.

Let us look at some statements which will make it more specific. “The warnings and the messages that the Lord has graciously given me to correct the errors that would come in, and to set things in order, the people should have, for the enemy will continue to work to bring in false theories and to mingle with the truth strange suppositions. These appear as light to those who receive them, but they are deceptive theories that will be brought in as tares sown among the wheat.” Paulson Collection, 6. False theories are one kind of tare.

False Doctrine is Dangerous

“Satan has sown plentifully the seed of dangerous heresies, that will produce a harvest of corruption, and will be as tares among the wheat.” Signs of the Times, July 11, 1895. Dangerous heresies––another kind of tare. Is doctrine important? Have you ever met someone who said, “I don’t think doctrine is too important as long as you are sincere.” Martin Luther and all the rest of the Protestant Reformers thought doctrine was important. The apostles thought doctrine was important. Wrong doctrine can lead you straight to destruction.

Jesus, the great teacher, taught His disciples how to distinguish truth from error, how to distinguish a tare from the wheat. “He weeded life of its vanities and follies, distinguishing between the tares and the wheat.” Signs of the Times, March 28, 1895. That is why we need to be studying the Bible. The apostle Paul, writing to people who had just become Christians, told them to desire the sincere milk of the word. Then they needed to grow so they could understand the solid food of the Word. 1 Corinthians 3:1–4. One reason you need to attend church, is to associate with mature Christians and learn to tell the difference between truth and error, between the tares and the wheat.

I have observed that people who are fifty or sixty years of age and have been diligent students of the Word of God for thirty to fifty years, go and seek counsel from someone else when they find something new in their studies. They ask, “I found this in the Bible, what do you think about it?” The anomaly, the paradox of the situation, is that so often when someone who is around eighteen to twenty-two years of age and has been a Christian for five or ten years, finds something in the Word of God they have never seen before, they are ready to tell it to the whole world without going for counsel to anyone. One of the reasons God placed elders in the church was to be spiritual guardians of the flock, especially of those who are new Christians. Now an elder is not someone to lord it over another, but isn’t it nice if you need advice to have someone you can go to who is a mature Christian and can help you when there is a text in the Bible you wonder about. That is one of the reasons for the church, to help people so they will not be confused between the tares and the wheat. Heresy is dangerous. It is planted by the devil.

Coarse Manners

There are a lot of other things the devil tries to plant in the mind of God’s professed people so they will be ruined before the harvest comes. “They persist in carrying with them their objectionable traits of character. [She is talking about professed church members.] They have vulgar sentiments, coarse manners, low habits. They carry these to others through their school association, and through life they sow tares instead of precious wheat.” Signs of the Times, October 13, 1909. Vulgar sentiments, low habits, coarse manners––that is part of what the devil is sowing in the human mind. Jesus was a refined, courteous person. There was never any coarse or low talk that escaped out of His lips. He did not even think that way, so He did not talk that way. Those kinds of things––cheap foolish talk, coarse talk, vulgar thinking and acting in speech—are part of the tares the devil plants in the human mind that destroy so much peace and happiness in the family. If the tare grows to maturity, it prevents a person from having eternal life.

Unbelief and doubt––these are popular tares that the devil has scattered throughout the professed people of God all over the world today. Some people believe it is a good thing to be able to doubt, but Jesus never commended anyone for doubting, He rebuked them for it. Unbelief or doubt will be one of the special sins that develop among people in the last generation. 2 Peter 3:3–6.

Remember, tares are people who profess to be part of God’s people. “They do not love the truth, and it has not a sanctifying, refining influence upon them. The time will come when the sensual, the proud, the careless in heart, those who are opposed to the truth, will have to be separated.” Bible Echoes, September 18, 1899. The sensual, proud and careless––these things are tares the devil plants in the human heart.

Reap What You Sow

“It is anything but wise, my young friends, to seek your own pleasure, to sow a crop of tares in foolish, sinful actions, which will not only lead others to do the same but will bring forth a bitter harvest.” That I May Know Him, 236. Young friend, I want to ask you, What kind of seed is being sown in your mind? “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” Galatians 6:7. What you are sowing today, you are going to reap tomorrow.

Jesus summarized what all the tares were like in Matthew 13. He said the time is going to come when the tares are taken out of the field. “The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness.” verse 41. Those who break God’s law will be separated out. That is a summary statement that covers all the different kinds of tares. All the weeds the devil plants in the human mind lead people to break God’s law—lawlessness.

The devil is the one who plants the tares. When did he plant them? While people were asleep. “It is while the husbandman sleeps that tares are sown; while the shepherds are neglecting their duty, the wolf finds entrance to the fold.” Sketches from the Life of Paul, 201. It is when the spiritual leaders are neglecting their duty that the tares are planted. How is it in your home? God wants parents to be the spiritual leaders of their family. Are you spiritually asleep? Is the devil planting tares in the minds of your children? “It is not by force that Satan takes possession of the human mind. While men sleep, the enemy sows tares in the church. While men are spiritually sleeping, the enemy accomplishes his work of iniquity. It is when his subject ‘understandeth it not’ (Matthew 13:19) that he catcheth away the good seed sown in the heart.” Selected Messages, vol. 2, 353. What is happening in your church? Are the pastor, the Sabbath School teacher, the elder, the father, the mother, spiritually asleep? If they are, the enemy of all good is out to plant tares in the minds of your church, your family and your young people. Parents, we need to know where our children are and what they are doing. If we were more alert, the devil would not have so much opportunity to plant tares. There are some young people growing up in whose minds the devil is planting more tares than in others.

Planted While Asleep

“If faithfulness and vigilance had been preserved, if there had been no sleeping or negligence upon the part of any, the enemy would not have had so favorable an opportunity to sow tares among the wheat. Satan never sleeps. He is watching, and he improves every opportunity to set his agents to scatter error, which finds good soil in many unsanctified hearts.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 113. If you are asleep, there is someone out there who is planting tares in the minds of your family and church members. The more tares planted, the bigger the job in getting them out. Those tares have to come out if your family and friends are going to be saved.

How sad it is that so many spiritual leaders have been asleep, and in God’s professed church all over the world, tares have been sown and terrible delusive heresies have infiltrated. It is causing the loss of millions of souls.

We have a responsibility. You yourself can make a decision to open your heart and let the devil plant tares inside. Some people do that. For every new doctrine and teaching they say, “I want to find out about that!” They allow these new theories to get a foothold before they have carefully studied God’s Word. “There have been and will continue to be entire families who have once rejoiced in the truth, but who will lose faith because of calumnies and falsehoods brought to them in regard to those whom they have loved and with whom they have had sweet counsel. They opened their hearts to the sowing of tares; the tares sprang up among the wheat; they strengthened; the crop of wheat became less and less; and the precious truth lost its power to them. For a time a false zeal accompanied their new theories, which hardened their hearts against the advocates of truth as did the Jews against Christ.” Testimonies to Ministers, 411. There are some who receive lying reports, slander, against the messengers of God. If you receive a lying report against a true minister, a messenger of God, and turn your back on them, you have no promise in Holy Writ that God is going to send you someone else. It is very dangerous to reject a messenger of God. Spreading evil reports is one of the ways the devil sows tares and causes people to lose their souls. Some just live on these reports. Someone will say, “Do you know about this?” and they will say, “Is that so!?” Then they believe it. That is very dangerous.

Books of the Pioneers

We need to be opening our minds to the truth and find books that have been written by people who are mature and experienced Christians and love the truth. In the nineteenth century there was a man named J.N. Andrews. He knew several other languages as well as biblical languages. He made the comment one time to someone he knew that if the New Testament was lost, he could reproduce it from memory. He was an outstanding biblical scholar. He was also a student of history and wrote the History of the Sabbath, a fascinating book.

“I am instructed that the Lord, by His infinite power, has preserved the right hand of His messenger for more than half a century, in order that the truth may be written out as He bids me write it for publication, in periodicals and books. Why?—Because if it were not thus written out, when the pioneers in the faith shall die, there would be many, new in the faith, who would sometimes accept as messages of truth teachings that contain erroneous sentiments and dangerous fallacies. Sometimes that which men teach as ‘special light’ is in reality specious error, which, as tares sown among the wheat, will spring up and produce a baleful harvest. And errors of this sort will be entertained by some until the close of this earth’s history.” This Day With God, 126.

What are you reading? When we open our mind and read religious books, we need to know we are reading something by someone who has been born again and believes all the Bible and is following it. I have observed among new Christians, that when someone reads a book or magazine and they become confused, it takes a Bible worker weeks or months to help them to see again what the Bible says. There is a lot of that happening today. The devil is sowing all kinds of tares.

What Do We Do About Tares?

There is a lot of confusion in the Christian church today on the tares. Whenever you talk about this subject there are some people who say, “Well, they are just supposed to be left.” Notice what Jesus said about the tares when the servants of the owner asked if they should gather them up: “No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them . . . Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age.” Matthew 13:29, 40.

We need to understand who and what a tare is. When a tare is just growing up, you and I cannot tell the difference between them and the wheat. Who is the tare? It is someone who professes to love Jesus and be a part of His professed people, but his heart is entertaining sins you and I cannot see. We cannot judge someone’s heart. Consequently, we cannot disfellowship or separate them from the church. You cannot interpret what Jesus said in a manner to make Him contradict the rest of the Bible.

In I Corinthians 5, the apostle Paul is very clear that if a tare grows up in a persons life to the point where they are living in open sin––if they are lying, stealing, committing adultery, taking their brethren in the church to court––we are to put them out from among us. But can you tell when someone is proud or covetous? You might guess, but you can not tell. Only God knows for sure.

Tares Kill Out the Wheat

No one can be uprooted or disfellowshipped from the church because of a motive or a sin of the heart, but they can and should be disfellowshipped if they are living in open sin among God’s people. Do you know why? Because, if you have too many tares and they grow too much, they will destroy the wheat. That is one of the greatest dangers in the church today. There are people who want to say, “Let’s keep all the tares in!” Friends, the Bible says when a tare gets to the point where the person is living in open sin, you had better get that tare out. If you do not, it will destroy the whole church. In the Christian church today, people who are living in open sin are allowed to be members of the church and it is destroying the whole crop.

“Tares have a lesson to teach. They are of Satan’s sowing, and if left unchecked will spoil the wheat by their rank growth.” Counsels to Teachers, 189. Have you ever had a garden and the weeds got away from you? “If the attributes of Satan are not expelled from the soul, the wheat crop will be stunted. The tares will come to be the crop, and will kill out the wheat.” Review and Herald, October 3, 1899.

Do you want the wheat crop to be destroyed? That is what will happen if the tares grow up and go to seed and become mature, and are not disfellowshipped from the church. If this is done the tares will destroy the whole crop. “The thorns of sin will grow in any soil; they need no cultivation; but grace must be carefully cultivated. The love of the world in the heart leaves no room for Christ. Those whose hearts are divided claim to believe the truth, but do it not. They wish the crown, but refuse the cross.” Ibid.

We would not be in as much trouble in the Christian world today if we had always been awake so the devil could not have planted so many tares in the church, but we have been asleep. “The earth was cursed because through disobedience man gave Satan opportunity to sow in the human heart the seeds of evil. The ground that in the beginning produced only good began to produce tares and their growth called for continual warfare.” This Day With God, 12. If there are tares in my mind, what am I to do? I have to fight a continual battle against them. If there are tares in my family, among my children, I have a battle to fight to help them to get those tares out; otherwise souls will be lost.

Getting Tares Out

How do you get the tares out? “When truth is received into the heart, the tares growing there are uprooted.” Youth Instructor, August 16, 1900. That is why we need to be studying the Bible. If I have the tare of impatience, as I study the Bible I find how I am supposed to talk and I can change. It takes work, but the Holy Spirit will help me to change my habits. No one in heaven will lose their temper. If I am going to heaven, I have to be that way, too; that tare has to come out of my life. I need to help my children get the tares out of their lives. If a child has Christian parents, they can help that child so that it will actually be easier to be saved. Help your children so there are not so many tares that get planted in their lives when they are young. If the tare is something in the heart, we are not to disfellowship, but people need to be warned about the tares so they can work to get them out of their life.

When you get involved in this warfare, to help people get the tares out of their life, an interesting thing happens. If you are a pastor in a church and begin preaching sermons to help people get the tares out of their lives, there are always some who do not like that kind of preaching. They have some darling plants they are growing in their minds. “If persons are as deserving of being separated from the church as Satan was of being cast out of heaven, they will have sympathizers. There is always a class who are more influenced by individuals than they are by the Spirit of God and sound principles; and, in their unconsecrated state, these are ever ready to take sides with the wrong and give their pity and sympathy to the very ones who least deserve it. These sympathizers have a powerful influence with others; things are seen in a perverted light, great harm is done, and many souls are ruined. Satan in his rebellion took a third part of the angels.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 114, 115. Can you imagine that, one-third of the angels! They were in a perfect place. There was no pain or trouble like there is here. Why were they deceived? It was because of sympathy. One of the problems pastors get involved in is when a parent comes and says, “I want to help my son or daughter overcome this bad habit. My spouse does not want to.” It is a big problem. “Satan in his rebellion took a third part of the angels. They turned from the Father and from His Son, and united with the instigator of rebellion” Ibid., 155. False sympathy is a problem to contend with when you want to help someone get the tares out of their life.

The reason we are interested in helping people get the tares out of their life is not because we want to be hard–hearted––we want them to have eternal life! None of us can have eternal life if any tare remains and goes to seed in our character. The tare will spoil and kill out the wheat. There is a danger of mingling voluntarily with tares. There are some who, when they casually read this parable of the wheat and tares, say, “They are all going to grow together anyway so we just won’t worry about it.” Have you ever noticed what happens to a wheat plant if there are tares planted all around it? It gets choked out.

We need to be thinking very clearly in our minds about the responsibility we have as to who we associate with. If you voluntarily associate with tares all the time, God will not work a miracle to keep them from having an influence upon you. “The tares and wheat are now co–mingled, but then the one Hand that alone can separate them will give to every one his true position. Those who have had the light of truth, and heard the warning message, heard the invitation to the marriage supper,––farmer, merchant, lawyer, false shepherds who have quieted the convictions of the people, unfaithful watchmen who have not sounded the warning or known the time of night,—all who have refused obedience to the laws of the kingdom of God, will have no right therein. Those who have sought an excuse to avoid the cross of separation from the world, will, with the world, be taken in the snare. They mingled with the tares from choice. Like drew to like in transgression. It is a fearful assimilation. Men choose to stand with the first rebel, who tempted Adam and Eve in Eden to disobey God. The tares multiply themselves, for they sow tares, and they have their part with the root of all sin.” Special Testimonies for Ministers and Workers, 6.

Are We In the Harvest?

The focal point in the parable about the wheat and the tares is about the harvest. What is the harvest? Jesus said it is the end of the age. Today we are still living in the age of grace. No matter how bad you have been you can be forgiven and God wants to help you take all the tares out of your life. He wants the seed of the gospel to grow up in your life. But there is a time when the age of grace will be over. That will be the harvest. When you watch someone harvesting a wheat field with a combine, you notice the harvest does not happen instantly. It takes a period of time; and that is the case with the spiritual harvest, too.

The spiritual harvest takes some time. There are two harvests mentioned in the parable. “Let both grow together [that is both the tares and the wheat] until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather together the tares.’ ” Matthew 13:30. The tares are harvested first. They are bound up in bundles to burn. After the tares are harvested, then the wheat is harvested. Notice, in the time of the harvest a separation takes place. All have professed to be the children of God, to be part of His church, but now a separation is going to take place. The angels are going to do that separation. When the harvest time comes the tares and wheat no longer look alike because now the plants are mature. Whatever plant has been growing up in the mind, will then be evident to the whole universe. The wheat and the tares are going to be fully distinguished and differentiated.

The tares are harvested first and are bound in bundles. This binding in bundles is happening right now! Here are some ways people are being bound into bundles today. “The world is leagued against the truth, because it does not desire to obey the truth. Shall I, who perceive the truth, close my eyes and heart to its saving power because the world chooses darkness rather than light? Shall I bind myself up with the bundles of tares because my neighbors refuse to be bound up with the wheat? Shall I refuse light, the evidence of truth which leads to obedience, because my friends and relatives choose to follow in the path of disobedience which leads away from God? Shall I close my mind against the knowledge of the truth because my neighbors and friends will not open their understanding to discern the truth as it is in Jesus? Shall I refuse to grow in the grace and knowledge of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ because my neighbors choose to remain dwarfs spiritually?” God’s Amazing Grace, 6. There are many people who say, “Oh, my husband is not doing it, so I am not going to do it either.” They are binding themselves in bundles with their friends and associates who are going to perdition.

“The true people of God are now pulling apart [that is when a separation takes place], and the tares are being bound in bundles ready to burn. Decided positions will be taken. Satan will move upon minds that have been indulged, upon men who have always had their own way, and anything presented to them in counsel or reproof to change their objectionable traits of character is considered faultfinding, binding them, restraining them, that they cannot have liberty to act themselves. The Lord in great mercy has sent messages of warning to them, but they would not listen to reproof.” 1888 Materials, 995. If God sends me a warning, a reproof, and I will not listen and just go on my way, I am binding myself in a bundle with the tares.

This binding in bundles in our age of the world is happening with very rapid speed. There are large groups of Christians today that are already bound up in bundles. “Can we not see how earnestly Satan is at work binding the tares in bundles, uniting the elements of his kingdom, that he may gain control of the world? This work of binding up the tares is going forward far more rapidly than we imagine. Satan is opposing every obstacle to the advancement of the truth. He is seeking to create diversity of opinion and to encourage worldliness and avarice. He works with the subtlety of the serpent and, when he sees it will do, with the ferocity of the lion. The ruin of souls is his only delight.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 383.

There are many ways people are binding themselves up in bundles today. At His trial, Jesus said He did not do anything in secret but in the open. Today people are binding themselves in bundles in secret societies with other people who do not believe the Bible. People are binding themselves with other associations which cause them to break the law of God. We need to be careful we do not bind ourselves with those who are preparing themselves to be lost. It is happening all over the world. People are being bound in bundles.

The Shaking and the Harvest

There is another figure of speech used in the Bible to describe this separation process where the tares and the wheat are separated. In the Bible it is called the “shaking.” When you see the shaking taking place in the church, you know we are in the time of the harvest––and the tares are bound in bundles first. “The time of the judgment is a most solemn period, when the Lord gathers His own from among the tares. Those who have been members of the same family are separated. A mark is placed upon the righteous. ‘They shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up My jewels.’” Testimonies to Ministers, 234. Members of the same family are separated in the time of judgment.

“A new life is coming from heaven and taking possession of all God’s people. But divisions will come in the church. Two parties will be developed. The wheat and tares grow up together for the harvest.” Selected Messages, vol. 2, 113. When you see division coming, two parties developing in the church, where are you in the history of the world? You are at the harvest, the end of time. What we see happening in the Christian church today, in the Seventh–day Adventist Church today, should cause us to wake up and realize where we are. We are in the time of the harvest. The shaking is the beginning of the harvest.

“Trials are to come upon God’s people and the tares are to be separated from the wheat.” Review and Herald, March 19, 1895. The final separation is coming sooner than we expect. The signs of the times in the religious world and in the Seventh–day Adventist Church show us clearly we are in the time of the harvest when two parties are being developed. Don’t you hear everyone talking about it? There is a division in the church. The tares and the wheat are being separated. Soon the final separation is going to take place. Are you going to be bound in bundles with a group of people who may claim to be Christians but are going to lose eternal life, or are you going to be part of the wheat? Is the truth going to grow up to full maturity in your heart?

I have always looked at this parable as being in the future, but no longer. We are now in the harvest time. Divisions have come, two parties have been developed and the angels are doing a work that just a few years ago we did not understand. If there was ever a time to say, “Lord, I want all the tares out of my life and the plant of the gospel of truth to grow up to full maturity in my mind,” it is now.

I want to be gathered into God’s garner, in the harvest. It is time to get on our knees and say, “Lord, I want the Holy Spirit to take all the tares out of my life. I want the truth to grow up to full maturity in my life.” When we see Jesus, we are going to be like Him. The plant of the truth is going to have grown to full maturity in our lives.

The End

Editorial – Will You be an Overcomer?

“The last great day is right upon us. Let all consider that Satan is now striving for the mastery over souls. He is playing the game of life for your souls. Will there be sins committed by you on the very borders of the heavenly Canaan? Oh what revealings! The husband will know for the first time the deception and falsehood that have been practiced by the wife whom he thought innocent and pure. The wife for the first time will know the case of her husband, and the relatives and friends will see how error and falsehood and corruption have been clustering about them; for the secrets of all hearts will stand revealed. The hour of Judgment is almost here,—long delayed by the goodness and mercy of God. But the trump of God will sound to the consternation of the unprepared who are living, and awaken the pale nations of the dead. The great white throne will appear, and all the righteous dead will come forth to immortality. Whatever have been the little sins indulged will ruin the soul, unless they are overcome. The small sins will swell into the greater sins. Impure thoughts, private, impure actions, unrefined, low, and sensual thoughts and actions in the marriage life, the giving loose reins to the baser passions under the marriage vow will lead to every other sin, the transgression of all the commandments of God. Men that God has entrusted with noble talents will be, unless closely connected with God, guilty of great weakness, and not having the grace of Christ in the soul will become connected with greater crimes. This is because they do not make the truth of God a part of them. Their discipline has been defective, the soul culture has not been carried forward from one advance to another, inborn tendencies have not been restrained, but have degraded the soul. For all the natural weaknesses Jesus has made ample provision, that they may be overcome through his grace. If not overcome, the weakness will become a tyrant, a conqueror, to overcome them, and the heavenly light will become beclouded and extinguished.” Review and Herald, May 24, 1887.

“You may feel that you cannot meet the approval of heaven. You may say, ‘I was born with a natural tendency toward this evil, and I cannot overcome.’ But every provision has been made by our heavenly Father whereby you may be able to overcome every unholy tendency. You are to overcome even as Christ overcame in your behalf. He says, ‘To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.’ It was sin that imperiled the human family; and before man was created the provision was made that if man failed to bear the test, Jesus would become his sacrifice and surety, that through faith in him, man might be reconciled to God, for Christ was the lamb ‘slain from the foundation of the world.’ Christ died on Calvary that man might have power to overcome his natural tendencies to sin. But one says, ‘Can I not have my own way, and act myself?’—No, you cannot have your way, and enter the kingdom of heaven. No ‘my way’ will be there. No human ways will find place in the kingdom of heaven. Our ways must be lost in God’s ways.” Review and Herald, February 23, 1892.

“When there is a determined purpose born in your heart to overcome, you will have a disposition to overcome, and will cultivate those traits of character that are desirable, and will engage in the conflict with steady, persevering effort. You will exercise a ceaseless watchfulness over your defects of character; and will cultivate right practices in little things. The difficulty of overcoming will be lessened in proportion as the heart is sanctified by the grace of Christ. Earnest, persevering effort will place you on the vantage-ground of victory; for he who strives to overcome in and through the grace of Christ, will have divine enlightenment, and will understand how great truths can be brought into little things, and religion can be carried into the little as well as into the large concerns of life.” Youth’s Instructor, September 7, 1893.

“Every one who is to receive the overcomer’s reward must first overcome every sin; and not until he overcomes through divine grace, can he entertain hope of entering the haven of eternal bliss.” Testimonies to the Church Regarding Individual Responsibility and Christian Unity, 13.

The End