There are many in this age of the world who act as if they were at liberty to question the words of the Infinite, to review his decisions and statutes, indorsing, revising, reshaping, and annulling at their pleasure. We are never safe while we are guided by human opinions, but we are safe when we are guided by a “Thus saith the Lord.” We can not trust the salvation of our souls to any lower standard than the decisions of an infallible Judge. Those who make God their guide and his word their counselor, behold the lamp of life. God’s living oracles guide their feet in straight paths. Those who are thus led do not dare to judge the word of God, but ever hold that his word judges them. They get their faith and religion from the word of the living God. It is the guide and counselor that directs their path. The word is indeed a light to their feet and a lamp to their path. They walk under the direction of the Father of light, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. He whose tender mercies are over all his works makes the path of the just as a shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
The word of God is to be our spiritual food. “I am the bread of life, Christ said; “he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” The world is perishing for want of pure, unadulterated truth. Christ is the truth. His words are truth, and they have a greater value and a deeper significance than appears on the surface. All the sayings of Christ have a value beyond their unpretending appearance. Minds that are quickened by the Holy Spirit will discern the value of these sayings. They will discern the precious gems of truth, though they may be buried treasure.
How needful for all who are workers in the cause of God to ponder these things, that they may guard against self-sufficiency. If men are self-sufficient, the Lord leaves them to their own human wisdom. We are not to trust in self, or make self our god. Pride, selfishness, and all desire for self-exaltation place human agents in a position where the Holy Spirit can not work with them. In no case can the Holy Spirit co-operate with the methods and plans of self-sufficient men. It is not for any one to seek to be a great preacher or a wonderful evangelist. All who realize the dignity and elevated character of the message they bear will hide in Christ, realizing that their security and efficiency come from God.
Men may turn from one doctrine to another, and yet know nothing of the meaning of the words, “A new heart also will I give you.” Accepting new theories merely does not bring new life into the soul, even though the church that is entered may be established on the true foundation. A connection with the church does not take the place of conversion. To have one’s name placed on the church roll is not of the least value unless the heart is truly changed.
This question is a serious one, and should be fully entered into, and its meaning realized. Men may be members of a church. Apparently they may work religiously, performing a round of prescribed duties from year to year, and still remain unconverted. There are those who write in regard to religious matters. But although they delight to do this work in defense of Christianity, they may yet be unconverted. A man may preach pleasing, entertaining sermons, but he may be far from Christ as regards genuine experience. He may be self-sufficient, and exalted to the pinnacle of greatness, yet never have experienced the inward work of grace that transforms the character. Such a one is deceived by his connection and familiarity with the sacred truths of the gospel, which have reach the intellect, but have gone no deeper. The truth has not been brought into the inner sanctuary of the soul.
By his conscience every honest Jew was convinced that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, but the heart, in its pride and ambition, would not surrender. When the truth is held as the truth only by the conscience, when the heart is not stimulated and made receptive, the mind only is affected. But when the truth is received as truth by the heart, it has passed through the conscience and captivated the soul by its pure principles. It is placed in the heart by the Holy Spirit, who reveals its beauty to the mind, that its transforming power may be seen in the character.
Unless a man is renewed in the spirit of his mind by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, he will become restless and dissatisfied, because he has not died to self. “Come unto me,” Christ said, “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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Again Christ says, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Without me ye can do no good thing, any more than could Cain. Of what advantage is any system of religion to one who has not been transformed in character by the Holy Spirit’s power. It is as saying without doing. It is a confession of faith, without works.
He who really believes the truth will live a life of unselfishness; for the truth is elevating, refining, and sanctifying in its influence. The true minister of the gospel will not stand before the people to speak smooth words, to cry, Peace and safety. He realizes the dangers that threaten the soul, and he presents the truth as it is in Jesus. The truth comes from his lips clear, plain, decided, as if he fully believed that the words spoken will be a savor of life unto life or of death unto death. The words of the minister who knows that he has the Spirit and power of God, will awaken the conscience of his hearers.
Truth must become truth to the receiver, to all intents and purposes. It must be stamped on the heart. “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.” This is the service that God accepts. Nothing short of this is counted by him as pure and undefiled religion. The heart is the citadel of the being, and until that is wholly on the Lord’s side, the enemy will gain constant victories over us through his subtle temptations.
If the life is given into its control, the power of the truth is unlimited. The thoughts are brought into captivity to Jesus Christ. From the treasure of the heart are brought forth appropriate and fitting words. Writing to Timothy, Paul says, “Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.”
“All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution,” he says again. But this should not intimidate one soul. What can give such sunshine to the soul as the evidence of sins forgiven? What can impart true nobility if it is not the restoration of the moral image of God in man? Whence can peace come to the soul if not from the Prince of Peace? To what source can we look for help but to him who can give us light in the midst of darkness?
Christ has promised to send us the Comforter, whose work it is to establish the kingdom of God in the soul. Full and abundant is the provision that has been made that we may have mercy, grace, and peace. Why, then, do human beings act as if they entertained the idea that the truth is a yoke of bondage?—It is because the heart has never tasted and seen that the Lord is good. The soul that cherishes the love of Christ is full of freedom, light, and joy in Christ. In such a soul there are no divided thoughts. The whole man yearns after God. He goes not to men for counsel, to know what is duty, but to the Lord Jesus, the Source of all wisdom. He searches the Word of God, that he may find out what standard has been set up.
Can we ever find a surer guide than the Lord Jesus? True religion is embodied in the Word of God, and consists in being under the guidance of the Holy One in thought, word, and deed. He who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, takes the humble, earnest, whole-hearted seeker, and says, Follow me. He leads him in the narrow way to holiness and heaven. Christ has opened this path for us at great cost to himself. We are not left to stumble our way along in darkness. Jesus is at our right hand, proclaiming, “I am the Way.” And all who decide to follow the Lord fully will be led in the royal path, yea more, in the path cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in.
God calls upon his people to reveal him. Shall the world manifest principles of integrity that the church does not maintain? Shall a selfish desire to be first be shown by the followers of Christ? Shall not the principles cherished by them be unselfish, laid upon the true foundation, even Christ Jesus? What material shall we bring to the foundation? Shall we bring wood, hay, and stubble, or gold, silver, and precious stones? Shall we not distinguish sharply between the chaff and the wheat? Shall we not realize that we must receive the Holy Spirit in our hearts, that it may mold and fashion the daily life?1The Review and Herald, March 29, 1906
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|1.||↑||The Review and Herald, March 29, 1906|