Tag Archives: BIBLE

Spiritual Israel

21 Feb

By Doug Batchelor & Steve WohlbergAn Amazing Fact

The European cuckoo is known as a “brood parasite.” The females lay their eggs in the nests of smaller bird species—like the reed warbler. In turn, these unsuspecting mothers unwittingly incubate, feed, and raise the young impostors, typically at the expense of their very own offspring.

One of the most sorrowful tragedies of nature is watching a reed warbler working herself to death to satisfy the voracious hunger of a greedy cuckoo chick while her own young, already weak with starvation, are pushed out of the nest.

Another Brood Parasite

The devil has successfully planted a dangerous lie in modern Christian theology, and it has been unwittingly hatched, adopted and nurtured by most evangelical churches—and now this parasite is pushing out Bible truth with a bigger-than-life-deception. Sadly, this adopted falsehood is growing fat with attention while true interpretations of prophecy are starving with neglect

Today around the globe, millions interested in Bible prophecy have their eyes fixed on Jerusalem. To be fair, it is really not all that difficult with the legitimate news value that comes from that never-ending quagmire of strife and bloodshed between Palestinians and Israelites. Christians are constantly speculating about the modern state of Israel, a rebuilt Jewish temple, and a Middle East Armageddon. These subjects are being discussed through magazines, books, radio, television, the Internet, the pulpit and at Bible prophecy conferences.

It is amazing how many Christians fully buy into this connection of end-time Bible prophecies concerning the nation of Israel. For example, best-selling author Dave Hunt echoes these views on the back cover of his popular book, A Cup of Trembling. He writes: “Fast-moving events in the Middle East point almost daily toward the grand finale—the time of greatest suffering for the Jewish people worldwide, which will climax in the terrifying battle of Armageddon and the glorious return of Messiah to rescue Israel and reign over the world from David’s reestablished throne in Jerusalem.”

A Foundation of Sand

This “Middle East” approach to prophecy became popular among mainline churches in the 1980s with a series of books from Hal Lindsey. In his bestsellers, including The Late Great Planet Earth and Countdown to Armageddon, Lindsey employed this very literal dispensational approach to prophecy, making several very specific, and very errant, predictions. He wrote that a secret rapture of the church would occur in 1981, which would be followed by the building of a new Jewish temple, the advent of the Antichrist, the great tribulation, the invasion of Israel, the battle of Armageddon and the millennium—all by 1988.

Despite every single one of these predictions falling flat, his books continue to sell, making for most a standard that all end-time prophecy is viewable only when filtered through “nation of Israel glasses.” Worse, the seeds of error they contain have sprouted and become firmly rooted in many churches. Now millions of Christians are vigilantly guarding a styrofoam monument with no prophetic veracity, and building on the crumbling sand of popular evangelical trends. What are the primary pillars holding up this diversionary doctrine? While there remain some differences of opinion among these evangelicals regarding the role of modern Israel in the end-times, the majority agrees on the following five events as core prophecies:

1.The rebirth of the state of Israel in 1948.

2.A soon-coming seven years of “Great Tribulation.”

3.The rebuilding of the Jewish temple on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.

4.The Antichrist’s rise during the tribulation; He’ll enter the temple to proclaim Godhood.

5.A final war against Israel, which will result in Armageddon.

It’s Happened Before!

Here is the big question: Are all of these end-time prophecies in Scripture regarding Israel and the temple speaking of the literal nation of Jews and a physical building, or is there a deeper spiritual application?

Do you remember when Jesus came the first time? His people misunderstood and misapplied the prophecies regarding His kingdom. They eagerly waited and watched for Him to establish a literal, earthly kingdom. Jesus constantly explained that His first coming was to establish a spiritual kingdom. He said, “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for behold, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20, 21).

But because the persistent and popular teachings of the day focused on a muscular messiah who would overthrow the Romans and seat himself on David’s throne, the disciples brushed aside or simply ignored Jesus’ comments regarding His spiritual kingdom. They tried to make these spiritual prophecies literal, and the crucifixion crushed their expectations of an Israel with dominion over all the Earth. Longing for freedom from political oppression, they lamented, “But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21 NKJV).

Even after His resurrection, the disciples still clung to these popular views that had ingrained themselves in their minds, hoping still for an imminent, literal kingdom. “When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). They wanted so much to believe their own view that the devil was able to blind them to the plain truth.

Is it possible that today’s church at large is making the same mistake by misapplying prophecies regarding spiritual Israel and the temple—interpreting them in a literal sense without basis? If so, they could be preparing to embrace a diabolical deception—not to mention experience a devastating disappointment!

“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Revelation 2:7). We hope this study of end-time prophecy will clear the muddled understanding of prophecy so prevalent in today’s Christian faith.

The Name “Israel”

It is impossible to clearly understand the subject of Israel apart from a careful study of the Old Testament. The first time the name “Israel” appears in Scripture is when it was spoken to Jacob after his long night of wrestling with a powerful opponent. The heavenly stranger finally said, “Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed” (Genesis 32:28). Thus the name “Israel” was at first a name of heavenly origin applied to Jacob alone. It represented his spiritual victory over sin, through wrestling in prayer and claiming God’s grace.

Jacob had 12 sons who later moved into Egypt. The descendants of these sons eventually multiplied into the 12 tribes, which were later forced into slavery by the Egyptians until the time of Moses. Then God told Pharaoh through Moses, “Israel is my son, even my firstborn … Let my son go” (Exodus 4:22, 23). Note here that the name “Israel” is expanded to include Jacob’s descendants. Therefore, the name “Israel” first applied to a victorious man, then to his people. You’ll soon see why this is a very important point!

Israel, God’s Son

About 800 B.C., the Lord spoke through the prophet Hosea, saying, “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt” (Hosea 11:1). Yet by this time, the nation of Israel had failed to live up to the spiritual meaning of its name. You see this verse in Hosea explodes with tremendous importance, when we look at the New Testament.

Approximately 800 years after Hosea’s prophecy, we learn, “Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king” (Matthew 2:1). Because Herod felt threatened by this new child king, he sent soldiers who “slew all the children that were in Bethlehem” (v.16). Joseph was warned of the impending crisis in advance when “The angel of the Lord appeareth to [him] in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word” (v. 13). So the family arose and “departed into Egypt” (v. 14).

Matthew writes that the child Jesus remained in Egypt “until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son” (v. 15). Notice that Matthew quotes Hosea 11:1—which originally referred to the nation of Israel coming out of Egypt—and actually declares it more perfectly “fulfilled” in Jesus Christ! (Please don’t miss this important point that a prophecy in the Bible can have a duel application with both a literal and spiritual fulfillment.)

Here, Matthew has only touched the surface of a truly shocking principle developed throughout his gospel.

Matthew’s Amazing Revelation

A careful study of Matthew reveals even further that Christ’s story actually repeats the history of ancient Israel, point by point—but He overcame where they had failed. Notice the following amazing parallels between the history of ancient Israel and Jesus Christ:

■In the Old Testament, a man named Joseph has dreams and goes into Egypt to preserve his family (Genesis 45:5). In the New Testament, another Joseph likewise had dreams and goes into Egypt to preserve his family (Matthew 2:13).

■When the young nation of Israel comes out of Egypt, God calls it “my son” (Exodus 4:22). When Jesus comes out of Egypt, God says “Out of Egypt have I called my son” (Matthew 2:15).

■When Israel leaves Egypt, her people go through the Red Sea. The apostle Paul says they were “baptized unto Moses … in the sea” (1 Corinthians 10:2). Jesus is also baptized “to fulfill all righteousness,” and immediately afterward God proclaims Him, “my beloved Son” (Matthew 3:15-17)

■After the Red Sea crossing, the Israelites spend 40 years in the wilderness—led by the pillar of fire, God’s Spirit. Immediately after baptism, Jesus is “led up of the Spirit into the wilderness” for 40 days (Matthew 4:1, 2).

■At the end of the 40 years, Moses writes Deuteronomy. At the end of Jesus’ 40 days, He resists Satan’s temptations by quoting three Scriptures—all from Deuteronomy!

■In Psalm 80:8, God calls Israel a “vine” that He brought “out of Egypt.” Jesus later declares, “I am the true vine” (John 15:1).

■In the Old Testament, the name “Israel” first applied to one man: Jacob—representing his spiritual victory over sin. Even so, in the New Testament, Jesus Christ is the Israel who came “out of Egypt.” He is the one victorious man who overcame all sin!

More Striking Evidence!

The list of parallels between Jesus and Israel goes on but consider just a few more points.

For example, after healing a group of people, Jesus modestly “charged them that they should not make him known: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias [Greek for Isaiah] the prophet, saying, Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets” (Matthew 12:16-19). Here the writer quotes Isaiah 42:1-3, a passage that originally applied to “Israel, … my servant” (Isaiah 41:8). Yet Matthew again tells us it is “fulfilled” in Jesus Christ!

The apostle Paul also follows the principle in his letters of applying statements originally made about the nation of Israel to Jesus Christ. God called Israel “my firstborn” in Exodus 4:22. Yet Paul said it was Jesus Christ who is “the firstborn of every creature” (Colossians 1:15).

The clearest example is when God calls Israel “the seed of Abraham” (Isaiah 41:8). However, Paul later writes that Abraham’s seed does not refer to “many,” but to “one, … which is Christ” (Galatians 3:16). Thus we discover that repeatedly in the New Testament, statements that once applied to the nation of Israel are now applied to Jesus Christ. The Messiah is now “the seed.” Therefore, Jesus is the very essence of Israel! This is an explosive truth, and it cannot be ignored if we are to truly understand the role and identity of modern Israel.

A New Nation

Yet there is more. Remember that the name “Israel” not only referred to Jacob, but also to his descendants—who became Israel. The same principle is seen in the New Testament.

For example, the Lord told the ancient Israelites, “And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation” (Exodus 19:6). In the New Testament, Peter applies these exact words to the church: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people” (1 Peter 2:9).

Likewise, immediately after Paul’s statement in Galatians 3 about Jesus being “the seed,” he then tells his Gentile (a non- Jew) converts, “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29). Thus in the New Testament, the name Israel not only applies to Jesus Christ, but also to those who are born in Christ—His Church! In other words, all true Christians are now God’s spiritual Israel.

The church is called the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27), which is one reason why James, when writing to the church, addresses it as the 12 tribes that are scattered abroad (James 1:1). From the very beginning, the church has understood Israel to mean a spiritual body of Christ.

Double Vision

Have you ever been hit so hard on the head that you start seeing double? Well, from what we have studied together, the Christian world needs a loving “bonk” on the head with this New Testament truth, so that more people start “seeing double” about the subject of Israel! According to the New Testament, there are now two Israels. One group is composed of literal Israelites “according to the flesh” (Romans 9:3, 4). The other is “spiritual Israel,” composed of Jews and Gentiles who believe in Jesus Christ.

Paul writes, “They are not all Israel, which are of Israel” (Romans 9:6). How’s that for proof! That is, not all are part of God’s spiritual Israel who are of the literal nation of Israel. Paul continues: “That is, They which are the children of the flesh [physical descendants of Abraham], these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed” (v. 8). The children of the flesh are only natural descendants of Abraham, but the children of the promise are counted as the true seed. Today, any person—Jew or Gentile—can become part of this spiritual nation of Israel through faith in Jesus Christ.

God Looks on the Heart

Just as there are two Israels, there are also two kinds of Jews. First, there are the Jews who are only natural, physical descendants of Abraham. Second, there are the Jews in Spirit who believe in Jesus Christ. Paul writes, “Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest on the law, and makest thy boast of God … For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. Therefore if the uncircumcision [Gentiles] keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? … For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Romans 2:17, 25, 26, 28, 29).

Did you catch that? The implications are staggering! Someone who is “called a Jew” because he is a physical descendant of Abraham, and yet who lives as a lawbreaker, “is not a Jew”—at least, not in God’s eyes. His “circumcision is made uncircumcision.” It is revoked. Thus to God, he is a Gentile. And a believing Gentile, who through faith keeps “the righteousness of the law,” his uncircumcision is counted for circumcision. Thus to God, he is a Jew.

John the Baptist paved the way for this principle when he warned the Jews not to trust their literal ancestry for salvation. “Bring forth therefore fruits meet [worthy] for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham” (Matthew 3:8, 9).

Later, Jesus echoed this same principle in a showdown with the religious leaders. “They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham … Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do” (John 8:39, 44).

Paul also writes, “Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham” (Galatians 3:7). “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3). Thus, according to Paul, a real Jew in the sight of God is anybody—Jew or Gentile—who has personal faith in Jesus Christ!

Eventually, this truth hit Peter between the eyes, and he told a room full of Gentile converts, “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (Acts 10:34, 35).

Eating with the Patriarchs

Remember also when Jesus marveled at the faith of a Gentile soldier. He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness” (Matthew 8:10-12).

Jesus’ declaration stunned the listening crowd. The idea of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob sitting and eating with Gentiles was taboo, unless they had been converted to the Jewish faith! (Acts 10:28).

This is also an underlying theme in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The Jews feast on the Word, but they do not share it with the Gentiles starving for truth. Therefore, they are cast out of the kingdom. But Lazarus [the Gentiles], the one who lay outside the gate hungering for the crumbs of truth, abides in Abraham’s bosom (See Luke 16:19-31).

The Road to Building a New Temple

Let’s now follow a brief but directly related tangent.

If we want the fog to clear from around the subject of prophetic Israel, we must also consider the Jewish temple. Many who have focused their attention on a literal nation fulfillment are also expecting the ancient Jewish temple to be rebuilt.

Some of the contemporary so-called Christian “Zionists” who have written on this rebuilding include Thomas Ice, Randall Price, Grant Jeffrey, Hal Lindsey, Tim LaHaye, Dave Hunt, and John Hagee. Their combined published book sales exceed 70 million in more than 50 languages. This shows their views to be extremely influential, and therefore they cannot be simply dismissed. A significant proportion of evangelical, Charismatic, Pentecostal, and fundamentalist Christians worldwide endorse this view.

In the same way the devil has misdirected focus from spiritual Israel to the literal headlines concerning the Middle East today, he has also confused people on the subject of the temple. Oddly, most of the speculation and hopes for a rebuilt temple spring from one vague ethereal reference in the New Testament dealing with the antichrist power. In 2 Thessalonians 2:3,4, we read, “Let no man deceive you by anymeans: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (emphasis ours).

Since the Romans destroyed the last Jewish temple in AD 70, many naturally assume that in order for this antichrist being, a specific person in their view, to sit in the temple, it will have to be rebuilt. But let us follow the Biblical clues.

A Spiritual House

Just before King David died, he wanted to build a permanent temple in Jerusalem. Nathan the prophet told David that he would not be able to build this house for God, but that his son Solomon would do it.

First Chronicles 17:11, 12 recounts, “And it shall come to pass, when thy days be expired that thou must go to be with thy fathers, that I will raise up thy seed after thee, which shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build me an house, and I will establish his throne for ever.”

Later, David said the Lord told him “Solomon thy son, he shall build my house and my courts” (1 Chronicles 28:6).

But this is one of the clearest examples in Scripture of prophecy having duel applications. Yes, history records do show that Solomon was the son of David and that he built a physical temple, but the New Testament says that Jesus was the true “Son of David,” who was to build a temple and kingdom that was to last forever. Jesus clearly taught that He had come to transfer the attention from a physical building of worship to something greater: His body, the church.

John 2:19-21, says, “Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body.” Jesus’ prophecy concerning the pride of the Jewish nation and the destruction of the temple inspired the most intense rejection of His teaching. Here are some high points of this truth:

■“Behold, your house is left unto you desolate” (Matthew 23:38).

■“And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Matthew 24:1, 2).

■“We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands” (Mark 14:58).

■“And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom” (Mark 15:38).

And even as Jesus hung on the cross, His mockers reminded Him of His teachings. “Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross” (Matthew 27:40). But of course, Jesus was not speaking of rebuilding the physical temple. He meant to build a spiritual one.

The New Testament Perspective

After the veil in the temple ripped from top to bottom and the early disciples were excommunicated, we find an unusual indifference among the early believers, nearly all Jews, regarding the Jewish temple. Because they knew Jesus to be the true Lamb of God, and that the Jewish temple was designed to accommodate animal sacrifices, the New Testament writers saw the temple as irrelevant. They recognized the establishment of a new spiritual temple and priesthood. See some amazing Biblical evidence for this below, with our emphasis in bold:

■“If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (1 Corinthians 3:17, 16).

■“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22).

■“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5).

Sadly, even after God provides all this clear biblical evidence that His temple today is a spiritual one, the church, many Christians are waiting for the Jews to rebuild a physical temple on the site where the mosque of Omar (Dome of the Rock) now sits—also known as the Temple Mount. Yet there is no prophecy, promise, or commandment in the Bible that says the temple would be rebuilt again after the Romans destroyed it. Though it might very well be rebuilt, Jesus’ prophecy that not one stone would sit upon another seemed to be of an extremely final tone.

So what does the verse in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 mean? Simply this: This antichrist power would seat itself over the church of God claiming the worship that belongs only to Jesus Christ. Historically, Protestant scholars have consistently applied Paul’s words to the papal power, and to its influence within Christianity.*

But now, let’s return to the “nation” of Israel.
____________________________________
*For more information about this prophecy, order Steve Wohlberg’s book, The Antichrist Chronicles: What Prophecy Teachers Aren’t Telling You!

All Israel Saved?

Since we’ve gone this far, we might as well go all the way! Only Jews will be saved. Furthermore, all Jews will be saved! Now after you pick yourself up from the floor, allow us to explain these bold statements.

We all know that people are saved under the new covenant, right? Now notice the wording of this new covenant: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah” (Jeremiah 31:31).

And in the book of Hebrews, Paul expands on this concept: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. … For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more” (Hebrews 8:8, 10-12).

The new covenant is made “with the house of Israel”! God never makes a salvation covenant with Gentiles. In fact, nowhere in Scripture do you find any saving covenant made with anyone but Israelites! So if you want to be saved, you must be born again as a spiritual Jew. This is not to say that all Christians must now be circumcised and sacrifice lambs, but we must have the spiritual equivalent of these things—Jesus, the Lamb of God (the final sacrifice), and circumcision of the heart.

God does not have one method of salvation for Jews and a different one for non-Jews. Everyone is saved the same way under the same program—by grace through faith. Paul uses the analogy of an olive tree to explain that all Gentiles who are saved are grafted into the stock of Israel. “And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root [supports] thee” (Romans 11:17, 18).

The Christian religion is based on a Jewish manual called the Bible. (In this light, it is difficult to understand how any professed Christian could be anti-Semitic.) Christianity is not a new religion, but rather the completion of the Jewish faith. So with this in mind, we can now better understand what Paul meant when he said, “And so all Israel shall be saved” (Romans 11:26). Some take this verse to mean that God will ultimately save all literal Jews. If this were true, it would contradict every principle of God’s dealings with humans throughout history and Scripture. God is not a racist. In Jesus’ eyes, “There is neither Jew nor Greek” (Galatians 3:28).

We are saved based on choices we make regarding God’s provision, not on national status or physical citizenship. But if, when Paul says that “all Israel will be saved,” he is speaking of spiritual Israel, and if we understand that we become a “true Jew” only by a choice, then it all makes sense.

Israel’s Purpose

The primary functions for the Jewish nation were to preserve Scriptures and introduce the Messiah to the world, which was accomplished at Pentecost. We read, “Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God” (Romans 3:2). And in Acts 2:5, “And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.” These converted Jews then took the truth back to their respective countries.

Jesus was also very concerned that the early ministry of His apostles was to focus specifically on the literal house of Israel. “These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:5, 6).

But after Jesus’ death, the Jewish Sanhedrin (supreme court) officially rejected the message of the gospel through the Spirit-filled preaching of Stephen. They even executed him. From that point on (AD 34), God opened the doors to the Gentiles.

■“Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles” (Acts 13:46).

■“For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth” (Acts 13:47).

Prophetic Applications

How does all of this apply to prophecy? The greatest book about prophecy, the book of Revelation, talks about Mount Zion, Israel, Jerusalem, the temple, the Euphrates, Babylon and Armageddon. Thus it is clear that Revelation uses the terminology of the Middle East in its prophecies. But sincere Christians all over the earth are applying these prophecies to literal places in the Middle East and to the modern nation of Jews. Yet once we grasp the New Testament principles discussed in this study, we are able to finally see that there is something wrong with that picture. We should be seeing error messages all over the place!

Remember that when Jesus came the first time, the devil had bamboozled God’s people into making the spiritual prophecies about the Messiah carnal and physical. Satan is doing the same thing today with the subject of Israel. Yet the plain, biblical truth is that Revelation centers on Jesus Christ and God’s Israel in the Spirit, not the Israel of the flesh. And with this correct understanding of spiritual Israel, suddenly other prophecies in the New Testament take on a whole new meaning! It’s now easy to see that the 144,000 of Revelation 7 and 14 are not literal Jews and the new temple will not be earthly, but rather the Body of Jesus and the church (John 2:19, 20).
_____________________________________
An Amazing Fact: “Fools Gold,” or iron pyrites, a mineral composed of iron sulfide, actually contains no gold at all. The mineral is brass yellow and has a metallic luster. The resemblance of pyrite to gold caused many prospectors to mistake it for gold, which is how it became known as fool’s gold. Even though it is often found in the vicinity of gold, it is easily distinguished from the real thing by its brittleness.
____________________________________

Conclusion

This “counterfeit gold” dynamic is also found prevalent in the area of spiritual truth. The Bible teaches that even gold comes in varying degrees of purity: “And the gold of that land is good” (Genesis 2:12). Millions are toting around heavy bags bulging with spiritual “fool’s gold.” They are rejoicing, believing they have discovered something to make them rich. It sparkles on the outside, but when they get to the bank of heaven, they discover this currency is worthless.

Furthermore, the tragic fact is that the popular literal focus miserably fails to grasp the true power of God’s promise. And this failure to recognize this principle will result in false Middle East interpretations and ultimate deception.

Don’t forget that “they are not all Israel, which are of Israel” (Romans 9:6). And remember, “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3). Share with others the truth that now “there is neither Jew nor Greek, … for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:28, 29).

Let us not live in the flesh or accept popular, convoluted teachings that focus on an earthly state. Rather, let us live in the Spirit. Like Jacob of old, let us wrestle in prayer and cling to Jesus until by faith we hear Him say, “Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed” (Genesis 32:28).

Shalom.

For more eye-opening information,
order Steve Wohlberg’s book,
Exploding the Israel Deception,
or Doug Batchelor’s new booklet,
Who Will Sing the Song? –
Understanding the 144,000.

Advertisements

Point of No Return

20 Feb

Introduction

The most fateful words ever spoken by Jesus had to do with the fearful possibility of committing the unpardonable sin. He said, “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.” Matthew 12:31.

No one can misconstrue the clear message of these verses. There is a sin unto death. A man or woman may pass over a line which separates God’s mercy and His wrath and not be able to come back. These chilling words of our Lord stand in stark contrast to His usually benevolent utterances. For this reason, if for no other, they should be examined with great care.

What is this sin which Heaven regards with such abhorrence and loathing? Why will God deal so severely with those who are guilty of this sin? To the human mind a great number of depraved and cruel acts might fall into such a category but which one of them would God count so heinous and horrible that it could never be forgiven?

Occasionally, one meets an individual who wonders if he has committed this sin. His prayers seem to bounce back from the ceiling, and he feels no hope of God’s favor or forgiveness. Yet he can’t identify any particular act of sin that severed him from the hope of salvation. How can he tell if he has actually committed the unpardonable sin? Can a person really know?

Before answering all the troubling questions people ask about the unpardonable sin, a glorious truth needs to be recognized. We serve a God of infinite love and compassion. It is not His will that anyone should be lost. He has made provision in His Word for every soul to be cleansed and sanctified. The incredible promise of 1 John 1:9 applies to every man, woman, or child in the world today: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

On the condition of sincere confession, God promises to forgive any sin, regardless of its nature. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Isaiah 1:18.

What a special assurance for those who have violated every law of God and man in their wild plunge into degradation. God loves them still! There is no guilt too great for Him to cleanse away. He waits with outstretched arms to receive any who take the first step toward His forgiveness and mercy.

Such a picture of God seems totally at odds with the words of Jesus in Matthew 12:31, 32. If the Father is so willing to forgive and save, why should there be such a thing as an unpardonable sin? The answer is simple. This sin is never forgiven because it is never confessed. It is never repented of. God will not force His pardon upon sinners. They must repent and confess. Even the beautiful promise of 1 John 1:9 contains that significant little word “if” – “if we confess our sins. …” On the authority of God’s Word, we can be assured that every sin will be forgiven if confessed in faith and repentance.

Various opinions have been put forth as to why this one sin is never confessed. Some believe it to be suicide; others, that it must be some dreadful immorality or cursing of the Holy Spirit.

One thing is certain – it is a sin! That is a good starting point, because the Bible gives a simple definition of that ugly little word “sin.” “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” 1 John 3:4. Paul enlarges on that statement by declaring that sin is the breaking of the Ten-Commandment law. “I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” Romans 7:7.

Not only does the unpardonable sin have something to do with the breaking of God’s great moral law, but it also is an offense against the Holy Spirit. The nature of that offense is tied closely to the primary functions of the Spirit. Jesus said, “But the Comforter which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” John 14:26.

Besides teaching us all things, Jesus indicated that the Spirit will also “guide you into all truth.” John 16:13. Every searching student of the Word has probably experienced this teaching, guiding influence of the Holy Spirit. There can be no true insight into biblical truth without the enlightenment of this Spirit of God.

The third mission of the Holy Spirit is to convict of sin. Jesus said: “It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” John 16:7, 8.

It is the special work of the Spirit to reprove or convict us of sin. When wrongs are committed, the conscience is pricked with a sense of guilt. Please take note that as long as we allow the Holy Spirit to teach, guide, and convict, we could never be guilty of committing the unpardonable sin. But suppose we refuse to acknowledge these three offices of the Spirit in our own personal experience with God? That is when people approach the deadly parameters of the worst sin on record.

It is intriguing to study the actual incidence of this sin in the Bible record. At one time practically everyone in the world passed over that point of no return. “And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.” Genesis 6:3.

Here God speaks of the antediluvian world which perished in the flood. For over a hundred years the Holy Spirit pleaded with that wicked generation through the preaching of Noah. Although the very imagination of their hearts was evil continually, a small remnant of eight responded to the Spirit and entered the ark. All the rest were swept away in the raging waters which covered every inch of the earth’s surface. After years of patient striving, the Spirit withdrew to leave the stubborn resisters to their chosen fate.

Could the same thing happen again? There is an amazing parallel between the days of Noah and today. Jesus said, “As it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.” Luke 17:26. The very same gross excesses are being committed right now in all the great cities of the world. Perversions of the worst degree still mark the carnal course of every nation under the sun.

Why did the vast majority of pre-flood people refuse to enter the ark of safety? Many of them actually helped Noah in the construction of the huge boat. The Holy Spirit deeply stirred them with conviction, but they would not move out to obey the message. Finally, God said, “Let them alone. My Spirit will no longer strive with them.”

Is there going to be another flood? Indeed so. But it will be a flood of fire, utterly destroying this planet and its contents. How is the world responding to the call of God to enter the ark of protection and safety? The same Spirit pleads today; a similar message of separation and revival is being sounded; and the Spirit of God is being treated exactly as in Noah’s day.

Insulting the Holy Spirit

I read in the Bible three things that people are doing to the Holy Spirit. First of all, in Ephesians 4:30: “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” Notice that people can grieve the Holy Spirit, and the Bible says it will be done in these last days.

What else will they do to God’s personal representative? In Hebrews 10:29 we are told that men will despise the Holy Spirit. “Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” That word “despite” means the same as despise. Just think of it! They will despise the Holy Spirit. And then let’s get one other thing before us. This is in Acts 7:51: “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.” So there we have three things that men will do to insult the Spirit of God: they grieve, they despise, and they resist Him just as they did back in the days of Noah.

What effect does all this rebellion against the Spirit have upon the person who does it? Almost imperceptibly the conscience is seared and the heart is hardened. In fact, this is why it is counted such a terrible sin. Sometimes people say, “I don’t understand why God should consider this the worst thing that can be done.” I’ll tell you why: because the Holy Spirit is the only way God can reach an individual. There is no other way for God to save a person except through the Holy Spirit. That is the way we are led to repentance. If we do not have the Holy Spirit, there is no hope for us.

It’s like a man out in the sea who is drowning alone, and somebody throws one life preserver to him. If the man will lay hold of that life preserver, he can be saved, but if he refuses to take hold of the only link to the shore, he will perish without hope. In the same way, we are in this world, and the only way God can reach us is by the Holy Spirit. If we turn away from that Spirit and refuse to listen and obey, God will have to let us go and be lost. This is why David was so deeply concerned in his great prayer of contrition. While pouring out his heart to God in Psalm 51, David said, “Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.” Verse 11. He realized that if God removed the Holy Spirit, he was lost. He would be left alone with no way of being saved. And that’s why Jesus said that it’s the unpardonable sin. When you cut yourself off and refuse to listen to the Holy Spirit, there is no hope for you.

Three Ways to Offend the Spirit

I’ve marked down three ways that people can commit this sin. The first way is for a man simply to say, “I don’t want to be saved; I don’t want to be bothered with God and the Bible.” Once in a while you’ll find a person like this. I’m glad to tell you that it’s not very often. Most people really want to be saved, but now and then you’ll find some who just aren’t interested. They are perfectly satisfied with their materialistic world of the flesh. Notice what it says in Proverbs 28:13: “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” Those who don’t want to give up their sins will finally convince themselves that they are happy without Christ. They will eventually feel no conviction, and the Holy Spirit will leave them alone.

The second group which is so vulnerable to this sin reaches the same state of rejection by a different route. They really want to be saved and will tell anyone that it is their primary future priority to get right with God. Unfortunately, this class keeps waiting for that opportune time to step out into the path of total surrender. With all good intention, they allow the golden moments to slip by them until their wills have been paralyzed by indecision. Such people still talk about following Christ all the way, but their ability to act has been destroyed by procrastination. At last they linger too long and pass the point of no return.

Without doubt the largest group of unpardonable sinners is to be found in the third group I want to talk about. Strangely enough, these folks appear to be the most unlikely ever to commit the unpardonable sin. They are church members – perhaps even pillars in the congregation. Does that shock you? Why should these Christians stand in greater danger of this sin than the other two groups? Because they do not understand that truth is progressive. Millions of Christians have settled back in their comfortable pews, complacent about being saved. They feel absolutely secure in their conformity to a church, not realizing that baptism is only the beginning of a long, growing experience.

Said the psalmist: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105. The farther we walk into the Bible, the more truth is revealed, and the more accountable we become before God. He has never unfolded all the truth to any one person at any one time. A lamp only shines far enough to expose one safe step. As we move into that step, another one is revealed. As we grow in grace and knowledge, God requires us to move with the advancing light of truth.

Conscience Seared by Disobedience

Now suppose that I see the light from the lamp of God’s Word, but refuse to obey it. Let’s say that the Holy Spirit has convicted me, and I understand perfectly what He requires of me, but it is unpopular and inconvenient. What happens if I disregard the light and reject the truth which the Spirit has revealed – for any reason whatsoever? The Spirit continues to speak, of course, and for a time there is a battle in my conscience. I feel miserable and guilty. Days pass by, and even months, while I keep on violating my conviction of what is right. Gradually, the conscience begins to adjust to what is being done in the physical body. Slowly the guilt feelings begin to subside and the acts of disobedience appear less and less objectionable.

Finally, the truth which seemed so clear and uncomplicated in the beginning turns into a muddle of uncertainty. Rationalizations spring forth to justify disobedience, and the early convictions of sin fade away. Life is almost as comfortable as it was before the light came. What has happened? We have sinned against the Holy Spirit and are sinking into the state of the unpardonable sin.

You see, this deadly sin is not any particular act which can be isolated and labeled. It can be any sin which is cherished in the face of light and knowledge. It actually is a condition of seared sensitivity brought on by persistent disobedience to recognized truth. The reaction is similar to ignoring an alarm clock. The conscience becomes more and more tolerant of the pricking reminder of transgression until, finally, it no longer even recognizes the unwelcome sting of conviction. Like the clock it runs down, too, and just as well, because no one is listening any longer.

Do you begin to see that everything really depends on what we do with truth? James wrote, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” James 4:17. It doesn’t matter an iota whether we are rich or poor, Catholic or Jew or Protestant; the big issue is whether we are acting upon what we know.

Jesus expanded on this crucial principle. He said, “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.” John 15:22. Who, then, is accountable and chargeable before God? Those who have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit out of the Word. The sincere souls who are faithful to all they know, be it much or little, will be accepted. Sin will only be counted against those who have heard truth and rejected it.

Christ said, “If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.” John 9:41. This whole problem of the unpardonable sin revolves around the issue of obeying what we know. On another occasion Jesus said, “Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you.” John 12:35.

Where does light come from? It is the Holy Spirit who guides us into all truth. When we refuse to obey the truth, we are rejecting the ministry of the Spirit who isour only link to salvation. We literally drive away the one Person whom God has sent to save us. Can you now see how self-destructive that can be? God’s special messenger is grieved away by our deliberate refusal to respond to His invitations of mercy. God said long ago, “My Spirit will not always strive with man.” He will say to the Holy Spirit at last, “Let them alone. If they insist in having their own way, do not pursue them any longer.”

Parent’s Religion May Not Be Good Enough

Probably the most accurate description of the unpardonable sin in the New Testament is found in Acts 7:51: “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost; as your fathers did, so do ye.” How were these people fighting the Spirit of God? Stephen says they were doing it by hiding behind their fathers’ religion. They simply followed in the same religious path that their parents had walked. Is there anything wrong with that? In this case there was, because the text goes on to describe them as those “who have received the law [of God] by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.” Verse 53.

Do you get the picture? Regardless of what their fathers had understood, these people received a law which God required them to obey. Every generation and every individual will be judged on the basis of what they know and how they obey it. Nobody’s religion is good enough for anybody else because there are varying degrees of accountability for each person. My grandfather could be saved by following the light he had, but I couldn’t be saved doing the same thing. I have a different measure of revealed truth for which God will hold me personally responsible.

The truth is that any person rejects and despises the Holy Spirit when he willfully disobeys any of God’s commandments. According to the Bible, the Spirit cannot abide in the life of anyone who does not obey. “And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.” Acts 5:32. Again, Jesus said: “If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.” John 14:15,16.

Known Sin Drives Away Spirit

Please notice that disobedience immediately disqualifies one to be Spirit-filled. This remarkable representative of God is offended when His primary function is denied. His very nature is to make sin appear exceedingly sinful. Sin cannot comfortably remain where the Holy Spirit abides. Either the sin is renounced or the Spirit finally will be rejected and depart.

Refusing to walk in the light does not bring an immediate separation from God, but persistent disobedience continues to harden the conscience to the seriousness of sin. That state of darkness developed by repeated violation of known truth is what we refer to as the unpardonable sin.

Are church members and religious people really in danger of committing this sin? In one of my crusades a dear lady shook my hand at the door and told me how excited she was about the Sabbath truth she had learned that night. When I encouraged her to make a decision to keep the Sabbath, she earnestly replied, “I’m going to pray about it, and if God impresses me to do it, I certainly shall.”

That answer may have a good sound to it, because it speaks of prayer, but it disappointed me greatly. Even though the truth was clearly revealed out of the Word, she was going to ask God for a final evidence before obeying. What was to be the acid test? A feeling. Is it safe to trust impressions as the criteria for truth? Never. Satan can create feelings as well as God. I was not surprised a few days later when she told me that God had impressed her that she did not have to keep the Sabbath.

Her mistake has been repeated by millions of good people. They do not understand that every impression from whatever source, must be tested by the infallible Word of God. “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Proverbs 14:12. God never contradicts Himself. To lead anyone contrary to His Word would be a violation of His nature. The Holy Spirit always speaks in perfect harmony with the Bible. Paul asks his hearers to take “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:17. This reveals that the Bible is the cutting edge of the Holy Spirit. The two work together in convicting people of sin.

If a person decides that he is not going to obey the truth, will God recognize that decision and allow him to follow it? Yes, God will even permit a person to believe a lie if he chooses to do so. Paul spoke of those who “received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they might believe a lie.” 2 Thessalonians 2:10,11.

Those who love a lie more than the truth will gradually be confirmed in it as the Spirit of God is grieved away. The thief who continues to steal after he has been convicted by that Spirit will finally see nothing wrong with stealing. The Sabbath-breaker who willfully continues to violate the Sabbath will someday begin justifying his sin. After a while his con-science becomes seared and insensitive to the influence of the Holy Spirit. There comes a day when God speaks for the last time, and the will, paralyzed by indecision and continued transgression, is unable to respond. Furthermore, the Spirit does not tell us when He begins to make that final invitation. We only know that the Holy Spirit will not always strive with man. At last God will say, “Let him alone.”

Obedience Not Optional

The greatest mistake people can make is to believe that they can come to God whenever they choose. The truth is that you can only obey God when the Spirit is speaking to your heart. As a farmer, I knew there was a time to sow wheat and get a harvest of wheat, and there was another time to sow wheat, and get nothing. As an evangelist, I know there is a time you can say yes to God, and there is another time you cannot say yes.

One of the strongest statements Jesus ever made is found in Luke 13:24: “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” That text confused me for a long time. How could a loving God hold anyone out of His kingdom who was seriously seeking to enter in? It just didn’t make sense. Then I noticed the words, “shall not be able.” This placed the problem on the people instead of God. God was willing and able to take them in but they were not able to accept His salvation. They had become so settled and hard in their long-term disobedience that they were incapable of true repentance. Like the seekers of the Old Testament “they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.” Amos 8:12.

Someday it will be too late to find salvation. Someday the door of probation will close, and no one will be able to enter in. Now is the accepted time. Now is the day of salvation. No wonder Jesus called this the sin that can never be forgiven. It is the sin of waiting too long to obey, until the soul is set in its mold of stubborn delay.

I repeat that you can only obey God when the Spirit is convicting you to come. When that Spirit is driven away and rejected, there is no possibility for repentance.

The interesting story is told of a great eagle who spotted the carcass of a calf being swept along the Niagara River on an ice floe. Swooping down on his mighty wings the eagle settled on the ice and began to feed on the carcass. Trusting the strength of those wings, he continued to feast until just before the deadly plunge over the cataract. Then he spread those powerful wings to make his escape, but alas, his talons had frozen into the ice, and he could not move. He was swept over the precipice and crushed on the rocks below.

I’ve also known people who waited too long to make a decision. Over and over again men have spoken to me at the door after a crusade meeting: “I know what you’re preaching is the truth, and I’m planning to do something about it.” Others tell me that they really are thinking about the things they have heard.

Is God looking for people who will be great talkers about the truth? And what about those who are always thinking about the truth? Jesus will never welcome anyone into the Kingdom with these words: “Well said, thou good and faithful talker; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” Neither will the Master ever say, “Well thought, thou good and faithful thinker.” But He will say to all who enter there, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: … enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” Matthew 25:21.

The most presumptuous thing anyone can do is to pray for an understanding of the truth, and then refuse to obey when God answers that prayer. It is better not to know the truth than to reject it after knowing. “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only.” James 1:22.

Hearing and Not Doing

The real test of love is what we do with the truth we understand. It is really not very hard to convince people of what is right, but it is very difficult to convince them to obey. Doesn’t that tell us something important? Satan knows that faith without works is dead, and he also knows that continued transgression grieves away the Holy Spirit. His most concentrated attack is upon the will, and obviously, he is having great success in causing people to postpone obedience. The longer they wait, the greater their chance of waiting longer, and the greater their danger of driving away the Holy Spirit.

Jesus faced the same problem in His own ministry. He had to taste the bitter heartache of seeing people turn away from truth. The crowd stayed until He got into some hard thing that required sacrifice and action. Then they all left. That is the most shattering experience for any preacher or teacher. I know because I’ve seen a few walk out, too. I’m not comparing myself with Jesus, but every soulwinner can empathize with Christ when He asked His disciples, “Will ye also go away?” Then Peter answered, “Where would we go?” What a question! Where do you go after hearing the full unadulterated truth? Surely there is no need to look further for it, and additional light will only come after you obey what you have.

There is only one safe thing to do with truth – obey it! You cannot get over it, around it, or through it. It won’t go away, and it will not change. We don’t break God’s law; it breaks us if we disobey it.

How can a person know if he has committed the unpardonable sin? The answer to that question is simple and easy. No one has grieved away the Holy Spirit who still has a conviction of sin and a drawing to God. Those who search and seek after truth have not yet passed the point of no return. But since the Spirit does not announce when the last, pleading call is made to the heart, no one should be presumptuous enough to disobey willfully a single known truth. The most deadly danger facing anyone today is to insult the Spirit of God by refusing obedience to His conviction. The results are the same regardless of the words we might use to justify it. The end is always separation from God.

The most deceptive aspect of the unpardonable sin is the seeming comfort with which people are able to live without God. Their lives are finally free from the conflicting turmoil of struggling with conscience. It did not happen overnight, but the nagging convictions grow fainter and fainter, blending at last into a very comfortable, satisfied lifestyle.

No Christian should marvel at this amazing peace of mind which the unconverted seem to display. That deadly malaise is only apparent in those who no longer have two voices and two natures contending for the mastery. With the Holy Spirit gone, the flesh enjoys uncontested control over the heart and life. No more spiritual battles rage, and the unpardonable sin appears to have brought a measure of relief. But that mirage covers an empty soul, bereft of any capacity to pray or to trust.

Often, in my public crusade meetings people express concern that they might have driven away the Holy Spirit. Even while they listen to the messages night by night, they are filled with fear that they have committed the unpardonable sin. To such I can give a clear and positive assurance that they are not guilty of this sin. If so, they would never be concerned about the things of God. Certainly they would not be found in the place of prayer and Bible study, expressing concern over their relationship to God. Obviously, the Holy Spirit is still drawing them and creating a desire for truth and salvation.

On the other hand, no one should feel secure from this sin who is walking contrary to the light God has revealed. Every person who is deliberately sinning will continue moving inexorably toward that fatal moment when the conscience is no longer able to respond to the Spirit’s call. Our only safety, each moment, is to know that we are claiming the grace of God to obey every ray of light and truth which falls upon our pathway.

A Warning Rejected.

28 Jan

In preaching the doctrine of the second advent, William Miller
and his associates had labored with the sole purpose of arousing
men to a preparation for the judgment. They had sought to awaken
professors of religion to the true hope of the church, and to
their need of a deeper Christian experience; and they labored also
to awaken the unconverted to the duty of immediate repentance
and conversion to God. “They made no attempt to convert men
to a sect or party in religion. Hence they labored among all
parties and sects, without interfering with their organization or
discipline.”618
“In all my labors,” said Miller, “I never had the desire or
thought to establish any separate interest from that of existing
denominations, or to benefit one at the expense of another. I
thought to benefit all. Supposing that all Christians would rejoice
in the prospect of Christ’s coming, and that those who could
not see as I did would not love any the less those who should
embrace this doctrine, I did not conceive there would ever be any
necessity for separate meetings. My whole object was a desire to
convert souls to God, to notify the world of a coming judgment,
and to induce my fellow-men to make that preparation of heart
which will enable them to meet their God in peace. The great
majority of those who were converted under my labors united
618 Bliss, “Memoirs of Wm. Miller,” p. 328.
390 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
[376] with the various existing churches.”619
As his work tended to build up the churches, it was for a
time regarded with favor. But as ministers and religious leaders
decided against the advent doctrine, and desired to suppress all
agitation of the subject, they not only opposed it from the pulpit,
but denied their members the privilege of attending preaching
upon the second advent, or even of speaking of their hope in the
social meetings of the church. Thus the believers found themselves
in a position of great trial and perplexity. They loved their
churches, and were loath to separate from them; but as they saw
the testimony of God’s word suppressed, and their right to investigate
the prophecies denied, they felt that loyalty to God forbade
them to submit. Those who sought to shut out the testimony
of God’s word, they could not regard as constituting the church
of Christ, “the pillar and ground of the truth.” Hence they felt
themselves justified in separating from their former connection.
In the summer of 1844 about fifty thousand withdrew from the
churches.
About this time a marked change was apparent in most of the
churches throughout the United States. There had been for many
years a gradual but steadily increasing conformity to worldly
practices and customs, and a corresponding decline in real spiritual
life; but in that year there were evidences of a sudden and
marked declension in nearly all the churches of the land. While
none seemed able to suggest the cause, the fact itself was widely
noted and commented upon, by both the press and the pulpit.
At a meeting of the presbytery of Philadelphia, Mr. Barnes,
author of a commentary widely used, and pastor of one of the
leading churches in that city, “stated that he had been in the
ministry for twenty years, and never, till the last communion,
had he administered the ordinance without receiving more or
less into the church. But now there are no awakenings, no
619 Ibid.
21. A Warning Rejected. 391
conversions, not much apparent growth in grace in professors,
and none come to his study to converse about the salvation of
their souls. With the increase of business, and the brightening [377]
prospects of commerce and manufacture, there is an increase of
worldly-mindedness. Thus it is with all the denominations.”620
In the month of February of the same year, Professor Finney,
of Oberlin College, said: “We have had the fact before our minds,
that, in general, the Protestant churches of our country, as such,
were either apathetic or hostile to nearly all the moral reforms of
the age. There are partial exceptions, yet not enough to render the
fact otherwise than general. We have also another corroborated
fact: the almost universal absence of revival influence in the
churches. The spiritual apathy is almost all-pervading, and is
fearfully deep; so the religious press of the whole land testifies….
Very extensively, church-members are becoming devotees of
fashion,—join hands with the ungodly in parties of pleasure, in
dancing, in festivities, etc…. But we need not expand this painful
subject. Suffice it that the evidence thickens and rolls heavily
upon us, to show that the churches generally are becoming sadly
degenerate. They have gone very far from the Lord, and He has
withdrawn Himself from them.”
And a writer in the Religious Telescope testified: “We have
never witnessed such a general declension of religion as at the
present. Truly, the church should awake, and search into the
cause of this affliction; for as an affliction every one that loves
Zion must view it. When we call to mind how ‘few and far between’
cases of true conversion are, and the almost unparalleled
impertinence and hardness of sinners, we almost involuntarily
exclaim, ‘Has God forgotten to be gracious? or, Is the door of
mercy closed?’ ”
Such a condition never exists without cause in the church
itself. The spiritual darkness which falls upon nations, upon
620 Congregational Journal, May 23, 1844.
392 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
churches and individuals, is due, not to an arbitrary withdrawal
of the succors of divine grace on the part of God, but to neglect or
[378] rejection of divine light on the part ofmen. A striking illustration
of this truth is presented in the history of the Jewish people in the
time of Christ. By their devotion to the world and forgetfulness
of God and His word, their understanding had become darkened,
their hearts earthly and sensual. Thus they were in ignorance
concerning Messiah’s advent, and in their pride and unbelief they
rejected the Redeemer. God did not even then cut off the Jewish
nation from a knowledge of, or a participation in, the blessings
of salvation. But those who rejected the truth lost all desire for
the gift of Heaven. They had “put darkness for light, and light for
darkness,” until the light which was in them became darkness;
and how great was that darkness!
It suits the policy of Satan, that men should retain the forms
of religion, if but the spirit of vital godliness is lacking. After
their rejection of the gospel, the Jews continued zealously to
maintain their ancient rites, they rigorously preserved their national
exclusiveness, while they themselves could not but admit
that the presence of God was no longer manifest among them.
The prophecy of Daniel pointed so unmistakably to the time of
Messiah’s coming, and so directly foretold His death, that they
discouraged its study, and finally the rabbis pronounced a curse
on all who should attempt a computation of the time. In blindness
and impenitence, the people of Israel for eighteen hundred
years have stood, indifferent to the gracious offers of salvation,
unmindful of the blessings of the gospel, a solemn and fearful
warning of the danger of rejecting light from heaven.
Wherever the cause exists, the same results will follow. He
who deliberately stifles his convictions of duty because it interferes
with his inclinations, will finally lose the power to
distinguish between truth and error. The understanding becomes
darkened, the conscience callous, the heart hardened, and the
soul is separated from God. Where the message of divine truth
21. A Warning Rejected. 393
is spurned or slighted, there the church will be enshrouded in
darkness; faith and love grow cold, and estrangement and [379]
dissension enter. Church-members center their interests and energies
in worldly pursuits, and sinners become hardened in their
impenitence.
The first angel’s message of Revelation 14, announcing the
hour of God’s judgment, and calling upon men to fear and worship
Him, was designed to separate the professed people of God
from the corrupting influences of the world, and to arouse them
to see their true condition of worldliness and backsliding. In this
message, God had sent to the church a warning, which, had it
been accepted, would have corrected the evils that were shutting
them away from Him. Had they received the message from
heaven, humbling their hearts before the Lord, and seeking in
sincerity a preparation to stand in His presence, the Spirit and
power of God would have been manifested among them. The
church would again have reached that blessed state of unity, faith,
and love, which existed in apostolic days, when the believers
“were of one heart and of one soul,” and “spake the word of God
with boldness,” when “the Lord added to the church daily such
as should be saved.”621
If God’s professed people would receive the light as it shines
upon them from His word, they would reach that unity for which
Christ prayed, that which the apostle describes, “the unity of the
Spirit in the bond of peace.” “There is,” he says, “one body, and
one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one
Lord, one faith, one baptism.”622
Such were the blessed results experienced by those who
accepted the advent message. They came from different denominations,
and their denominational barriers were hurled to the
ground; conflicting creeds were shivered to atoms; the unscriptural
hope of a temporal millennium was abandoned, false views
621 Acts 4:32, 31; 2:47.
622 Eph. 4:3-5.
394 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
of the second advent were corrected, pride and conformity to
the world were swept away; wrongs were made right; hearts
were united in the sweetest fellowship, and love and joy reigned
[380] supreme. If this doctrine did this for the few who did receive it,
it would have done the same for all, if all had received it.
But the churches generally did not accept the warning. Their
ministers, who, as “watchmen unto the house of Israel,” should
have been the first to discern the tokens of Jesus’ coming, had
failed to learn the truth, either from the testimony of the prophets
or from the signs of the times. As worldly hopes and ambitions
filled the heart, love for God and faith in His word had grown
cold; and when the advent doctrine was presented, it only aroused
their prejudice and unbelief. The fact that the message was, to
a great extent, preached by laymen, was urged as an argument
against it. As of old, the plain testimony of God’s word was
met with the inquiry, “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees
believed?” And finding how difficult a task it was to refute the
arguments drawn from the prophetic periods, many discouraged
the study of the prophecies, teaching that the prophetic books
were sealed, and were not to be understood. Multitudes, trusting
implicitly to their pastors, refused to listen to the warning; and
others, though convinced of the truth, dared not confess it, lest
they should be “put out of the synagogue.” The message which
God had sent for the testing and purification of the church, revealed
all too surely how great was the number who had set their
affections on this world rather than upon Christ. The ties which
bound them to earth were stronger than the attractions heavenward.
They chose to listen to the voice of worldly wisdom, and
turned away from the heart-searching message of truth.
In refusing the warning of the first angel, they rejected the
means which Heaven had provided for their restoration. They
spurned the gracious messenger that would have corrected the
evils which separated them from God, and with greater eagerness
they turned to seek the friendship of the world. Here was the
21. A Warning Rejected. 395
cause of that fearful condition of worldliness, backsliding, and
spiritual death which existed in the churches in 1844. [381]
In Revelation 14, the first angel is followed by a second,
proclaiming, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because
she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her
fornication.”623 The term “Babylon” is derived from “Babel,”
and signifies confusion. It is employed in Scripture to designate
the various forms of false or apostate religion. In Revelation
17, Babylon is represented as a woman,—a figure which is
used in the Bible as the symbol of a church, a virtuous woman
representing a pure church, a vile woman an apostate church.
In the Bible the sacred and enduring character of the relation
that exists between Christ and His church is represented by the
union of marriage. The Lord has joined His people to Himself
by a solemn covenant, He promising to be their God, and they
pledging themselves to be His, and His alone. He declares, “I
will betroth thee unto Me forever; yea, I will betroth thee unto
Me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness,
and in mercies.”624 And again, “I am married unto you.”625 And
Paul employs the same figure in the New Testament when he
says, “I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present
you as a chaste virgin to Christ.”626
The unfaithfulness of the church to Christ in permitting her
confidence and affection to be turned from Him, and allowing
the love of worldly things to occupy the soul, is likened to the
violation of the marriage vow. The sin of Israel in departing
from the Lord is presented under this figure; and the wonderful
love of God which they thus despised is touchingly portrayed: “I
sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the
Lord God, and thou becamest Mine.” “And thou wast exceeding
623 Rev. 14:8.
624 Hosea 2:19.
625 Jer. 3:14.
626 2 Cor. 11:2.
396 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
beautiful, and thou didst prosper into a kingdom. And thy renown
went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it was perfect
through My comeliness, which I had put upon thee…. But thou
didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot because
[382] of thy renown.” “As a wife treacherously departeth from her
husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with Me, O house of
Israel, saith the Lord;” “as a wife that committeth adultery, which
taketh strangers instead of her husband.”627
In the New Testament, language very similar is addressed to
professed Christians who seek the friendship of the world above
the favor of God. Says the apostle James: “Ye adulterers and
adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is
enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the
world is the enemy of God.”
The woman (Babylon) of Revelation 17, is described as “arrayed
in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold and
precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand
full of abominations and filthiness: … and upon her forehead
was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother
of harlots.” Says the prophet, “I saw the woman drunken with
the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of
Jesus.” Babylon is further declared to be “that great city, which
reigneth over the kings of the earth.”628 The power that for so
many centuries maintained despotic sway over the monarchs of
Christendom, is Rome. The purple and scarlet color, the gold
and precious stones and pearls, vividly picture the magnificence
and more than kingly pomp affected by the haughty see of Rome.
And no other power could be so truly declared “drunken with
the blood of the saints” as that church which has so cruelly
persecuted the followers of Christ. Babylon is also charged with
the sin of unlawful connection with “the kings of the earth.” It
was by departure from the Lord, and alliance with the heathen,
627 Eze. 16:8, 13-15, 32; Jer. 3:20.
628 Rev. 17:4-6, 18.
21. A Warning Rejected. 397
that the Jewish church became a harlot; and Rome, corrupting
herself in like manner by seeking the support of worldly powers,
receives a like condemnation.
Babylon is said to be “the mother of harlots.” By her daughters
must be symbolized churches that cling to her doctrines and
traditions, and follow her example of sacrificing the truth and [383]
the approval of God, in order to form an unlawful alliance with
the world. The message of Revelation 14, announcing the fall of
Babylon, must apply to religious bodies that were once pure and
have become corrupt. Since this message follows the warning
of the judgment, it must be given in the last days; therefore it
cannot refer to the Roman Church alone, for that church has
been in a fallen condition for many centuries. Furthermore, in the
eighteenth chapter of the Revelation, the people of God are called
upon to come out of Babylon. According to this scripture, many
of God’s people must still be in Babylon. And in what religious
bodies are the greater part of the followers of Christ now to be
found? Without doubt, in the various churches professing the
Protestant faith. At the time of their rise, these churches took
a noble stand for God and the truth, and His blessing was with
them. Even the unbelieving world was constrained to acknowledge
the beneficent results that followed an acceptance of the
principles of the gospel. In the words of the prophet to Israel,
“Thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for
it was perfect through My comeliness, which I had put upon
thee, saith the Lord God.”629 But they fell by the same desire
which was the curse and ruin of Israel,—the desire of imitating
the practices and courting the friendship of the ungodly. “Thou
didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot because
of thy renown.”630
Many of the Protestant churches are following Rome’s example
of iniquitous connection with “the kings of the earth”—the
629 Eze. 16:14, 15.
630 Ibid.
398 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
state churches, by their relation to secular governments; and
other denominations, by seeking the favor of the world. And
the term “Babylon”—confusion—may be appropriately applied
to these bodies, all professing to derive their doctrines from the
Bible, yet divided into almost innumerable sects, with widely
conflicting creeds and theories.
Besides a sinful union with the world, the churches that sep-
[384] arated from Rome present other of her characteristics. A
Roman Catholic work argues that “if the Church of Rome were
ever guilty of idolatry in relation to the saints, her daughter, the
Church of England, stands guilty of the same, which has ten
churches dedicated to Mary for one dedicated to Christ.”631
And Dr. Hopkins, in “A Treatise on the Millennium,” declares:
“There is no reason to consider the antichristian spirit and
practices to be confined to that which is now called the Church of
Rome. The Protestant churches have much of antichrist in them,
and are far from being wholly reformed from … corruptions and
wickedness.”632
Concerning the separation of the Presbyterian Church from
Rome, Dr. Guthrie writes: “Three hundred years ago, our church,
with an open Bible on her banner, and this motto, ‘Search the
Scriptures,’ on her scroll, marched out from the gates of Rome.”
Then he asks the significant question, “Did they come clean out
of Babylon?”633
“The Church of England,” says Spurgeon, “seems to be eaten
through and through with sacramentarianism; but non-conformity
appears to be almost as badly riddled with philosophical
infidelity. Those of whom we thought better things are turning
aside one by one from the fundamentals of the faith. Through
and through, I believe, the very heart of England is honeycombed
631 Dr. Challoner, “The Catholic Christian Instructed,” Preface, pp. 21, 22 (ed.
1897).
632 Hopkins, Samuel, “Works,” Vol. II, p. 328 (ed. 1854).
633 Guthrie, John, “The Gospel in Ezekiel,” p. 237 (Edinburgh ed. 1857).
21. A Warning Rejected. 399
with a damnable infidelity which dares still go into the pulpit and
call itself Christian.”
What was the origin of the great apostasy? How did the church
first depart from the simplicity of the gospel? By conforming to
the practices of paganism, to facilitate the acceptance of Christianity
by the heathen. The apostle Paul declared, even in his day,
“The mystery of iniquity doth already work.”634 During the lives
of the apostles the church remained comparatively pure. But
“toward the latter end of the second century most of the churches
assumed a new form; the first simplicity disappeared, and insensibly,
as the old disciples retired to their graves, their children, [385]
along with new converts, … came forward and new-modeled
the cause.”635 To secure converts, the exalted standard of the
Christian faith was lowered, and as the result “a pagan flood,
flowing into the church, carried with it its customs, practices, and
idols.”636 As the Christian religion secured the favor and support
of secular rulers, it was nominally accepted by multitudes; but
while in appearance Christians, many “remained in substance
pagans, especially worshiping in secret their idols.”637
Has not the same process been repeated in nearly every church
calling itself Protestant? As its founders, those who possessed the
true spirit of reform, pass away, their descendants come forward
and “new-model the cause.” While blindly clinging to the creed
of their fathers and refusing to accept any truth in advance of
what they saw, the children of the reformers depart widely from
their example of humility, self-denial, and renunciation of the
world. Thus “the first simplicity disappears.” A worldly flood,
flowing into the church, “carries with it its customs, practices,
and idols.”
634 2 Thess. 2:7.
635 Robinson, Robert, “Ecclesiastical Researches,” ch. 6, par. 17 (ed. 1792, p.
51).
636 Gavezzi’s Lectures, p. 278 (ed. 1854).
637 Ibid.
400 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
Alas, to what a fearful extent is that friendship of the world
which is “enmity with God,” now cherished among the professed
followers of Christ! How widely have the popular churches
throughout Christendom departed from the Bible standard of humility,
self-denial, simplicity, and godliness! Said John Wesley,
in speaking of the right use of money: “Do not waste any part
of so precious a talent, merely in gratifying the desire of the
eye, by superfluous or expensive apparel, or by needless ornaments.
Waste no part of it in curiously adorning your houses; in
superfluous or expensive furniture; in costly pictures, painting,
gilding…. Lay out nothing to gratify the pride of life, to gain the
admiration or praise of men…. ‘So long as thou doest well unto
thyself, men will speak good of thee.’ So long as thou art ‘clothed
in purple and fine linen, and farest sumptuously every day,’ no
[386] doubt many will applaud thy elegance of taste, thy generosity
and hospitality. But do not buy their applause so dear. Rather be
content with the honor that cometh from God.”638 But in many
churches of our time, such teaching is disregarded.
A profession of religion has become popular with the world.
Rulers, politicians, lawyers, doctors, merchants, join the church
as a means of securing the respect and confidence of society, and
advancing their own worldly interests. Thus they seek to cover
all their unrighteous transactions under a profession of Christianity.
The various religious bodies, re-enforced by the wealth and
influence of these baptized worldlings, make a still higher bid for
popularity and patronage. Splendid churches, embellished in the
most extravagant manner, are erected on popular avenues. The
worshipers array themselves in costly and fashionable attire. A
high salary is paid for a talented minister to entertain and attract
the people. His sermons must not touch popular sins, but be
made smooth and pleasing for fashionable ears. Thus fashionable
sinners are enrolled on the church-records, and fashionable sins
638 Wesley’s Works, Sermon 50, “The Use of Money.”
21. A Warning Rejected. 401
are concealed under a pretense of godliness.
Commenting on the present attitude of professed Christians
toward the world, a leading secular journal says: “Insensibly
the church has yielded to the spirit of the age, and adapted its
forms of worship to modern wants.” “All things, indeed, that
help to make religion attractive, the church now employs as its
instruments.” And a writer in the New York Independent speaks
thus concerning Methodism as it is: “The line of separation
between the godly and the irreligious fades out into a kind of
penumbra, and zealous men on both sides are toiling to obliterate
all difference between their modes of action and enjoyment.”
“The popularity of religion tends vastly to increase the number
of those who would secure its benefits without squarely meeting
its duties.” [387]
Says Howard Crosby: “It is a matter of deep concern that we
find Christ’s church so little fulfilling the designs of its Lord. Just
as the ancient Jews let a familiar intercourse with the idolatrous
nations steal away their hearts from God, … so the church of
Jesus now is, by its false partnerships with an unbelieving world,
giving up the divine methods of its true life, and yielding itself
to the pernicious, though often plausible, habits of a Christless
society, using the arguments and reaching the conclusions which
are foreign to the revelation of God, and directly antagonistic to
all growth in grace.”639
In this tide of worldliness and pleasure-seeking, self-denial
and self-sacrifice for Christ’s sake are almost wholly lost. “Some
of the men and women now in active life in our churches were
educated, when children, to make sacrifices in order to be able
to give or do something for Christ.” But “if funds are wanted
now, … nobody must be called on to give. Oh, no! have a
fair, tableaux, mock trial, antiquarian supper, or something to
eat—anything to amuse the people.”
639 “The Healthy Christian: An Appeal to the Church,” pp. 141, 142 (ed. 1871).
402 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
Governor Washburn, of Wisconsin, in his annual message,
Jan. 9, 1873, declared: “Some law seems to be required to break
up the schools where gamblers are made. These are everywhere.
Even the church (unwittingly, no doubt) is sometimes found
doing the work of the devil. Gift concerts, gift enterprises and
raffles, sometimes in aid of religious or charitable objects, but
often for less worthy purposes, lotteries, prize packages, etc.,
are all devices to obtain money without value received. Nothing
is so demoralizing or intoxicating, particularly to the young, as
the acquisition of money or property without labor. Respectable
people engaging in these chance enterprises, and easing their
consciences with the reflection that the money is to go to a good
object, it is not strange that the youth of the State should so often
fall into the habits which the excitement of games of hazard is
[388] almost certain to engender.”
The spirit of worldly conformity is invading the churches
throughout Christendom. Robert Atkins, in a sermon preached
in London, draws a dark picture of the spiritual declension that
prevails in England: “The truly righteous are diminished from
the earth, and no man layeth it to heart. The professors of religion
of the present day, in every church, are lovers of the world,
conformers to the world, lovers of creature comfort, and aspirers
after respectability. They are called to suffer with Christ, but
they shrink from even reproach…. apostasy, apostasy, apostasy,
is engraven on the very front of every church; and did they know
it, and did they feel it, there might be hope; but, alas! they
cry, ‘We are rich, and increased in goods, and stand in need of
nothing.’ ”640
The great sin charged against Babylon is, that she “made all
nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” This
cup of intoxication which she presents to the world, represents
the false doctrines that she has accepted as the result of her
640 Second Advent Library, Tract No. 39.
21. A Warning Rejected. 403
unlawful connection with the great ones of the earth. Friendship
with the world corrupts her faith, and in her turn she exerts a
corrupting influence upon the world by teaching doctrines which
are opposed to the plainest statements of Holy Writ.
Rome withheld the Bible from the people, and required all
men to accept her teachings in its place. It was the work of the
Reformation to restore to men the word of God; but is it not too
true that in the churches of our time men are taught to rest their
faith upon their creed and the teachings of their church rather
than on the Scriptures? Said Charles Beecher, speaking of the
Protestant churches: “They shrink from any rude word against
creeds with the same sensitiveness with which those holy fathers
would have shrunk from a rude word against the rising veneration
of saints and martyrs which they were fostering…. The Protestant
evangelical denominations have so tied up one another’s hands,
and their own, that, between them all, a man cannot become a
preacher at all, anywhere, without accepting some book besides [389]
the Bible…. There is nothing imaginary in the statement that the
creed power is now beginning to prohibit the Bible as really as
Rome did, though in a subtler way.”641
When faithful teachers expound the word of God, there arise
men of learning, ministers professing to understand the Scriptures,
who denounce sound doctrine as heresy, and thus turn
away inquirers after truth. Were it not that the world is hopelessly
intoxicated with the wine of Babylon, multitudes would be
convicted and converted by the plain, cutting truths of the word
of God. But religious faith appears so confused and discordant,
that the people know not what to believe as truth. The sin of the
world’s impenitence lies at the door of the church.
The second angel’s message of Revelation 14 was first
preached in the summer of 1844, and it then had a more direct
application to the churches of the United States, where the
641 Sermon on “The Bible a Sufficient Creed,” delivered at Fort Wayne, Ind.,
Feb. 22, 1846.
404 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
warning of the judgment had been most widely proclaimed and
most generally rejected, and where the declension in the churches
had been most rapid. But the message of the second angel did
not reach its complete fulfilment in 1844. The churches then
experienced a moral fall, in consequence of their refusal of the
light of the advent message; but that fall was not complete. As
they have continued to reject the special truths for this time, they
have fallen lower and lower. Not yet, however, can it be said that
“Babylon is fallen, … because she made all nations drink of the
wine of the wrath of her fornication.” She has not yet made all
nations do this. The spirit of world-conforming and indifference
to the testing truths for our time, exists and has been gaining
ground in churches of the Protestant faith in all the countries
of Christendom; and these churches are included in the solemn
and terrible denunciation of the second angel. But the work of
apostasy has not yet reached its culmination.
The Bible declares that before the coming of the Lord, Satan
[390] will work “with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with
all deceivableness of unrighteousness;” and they that “received
not the love of the truth, that they might be saved,” will be left
to receive “strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.”642
Not until this condition shall be reached, and the union of the
church with the world shall be fully accomplished throughout
Christendom, will the fall of Babylon be complete. The change
is a progressive one, and the perfect fulfilment of Rev. 14:8 is
yet future.
Notwithstanding the spiritual darkness and alienation from
God that exist in the churches which constitute Babylon, the
great body of Christ’s true followers are still to be found in their
communion. There are many of these who have never seen the
special truths for this time. Not a few are dissatisfied with their
present condition, and are longing for clearer light. They look
642 2 Thess. 2:9-11.
22. Prophecies Fulfilled. 405
in vain for the image of Christ in the churches with which they
are connected. As these bodies depart farther and farther from
the truth, and ally themselves more closely with the world, the
difference between the two classes will widen, and it will finally
result in separation. The time will come when those who love
God supremely can no longer remain in connection with such as
are “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form
of godliness, but denying the power thereof.”
Revelation 18 points to the time when, as the result of rejecting
the threefold warning of Rev. 14:6-12, the church will have fully
reached the condition foretold by the second angel, and the people
of God still in Babylon will be called upon to separate from
her communion. This message is the last that will ever be given
to the world; and it will accomplish its work. When those that
“believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness,”643
shall be left to receive strong delusion and to believe a lie, then
the light of truth will shine upon all whose hearts are open to
receive it, and all the children of the Lord that remain in Babylon
will heed the call, “Come out of her, My people.”644

A Great Religious Awakening.

27 Jan

A great religious awakening under the proclamation of Christ’s
soon coming, is foretold in the prophecy of the first angel’s message
of Revelation 14. An angel is seen flying “in the midst of
heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that
dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue,
and people.” “With a loud voice” he proclaims the message,
“Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment
20. A Great Religious Awakening. 369
is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the
sea, and the fountains of waters.”590
The fact that an angel is said to be the herald of this warning,
is significant. By the purity, the glory, and the power of the heavenly
messenger, divine wisdom has been pleased to represent the
exalted character of the work to be accomplished by the message,
and the power and glory that were to attend it. And the angel’s
flight “in the midst of heaven,” the “loud voice” with which
the warning is uttered, and its promulgation to all “that dwell
on the earth,”—“to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and
people,”—give evidence of the rapidity and world-wide extent
of the movement.
The message itself sheds light as to the time when this movement
is to take place. It is declared to be a part of the “everlasting
gospel;” and it announces the opening of the judgment. The [356]
message of salvation has been preached in all ages; but this
message is a part of the gospel which could be proclaimed only
in the last days, for only then would it be true that the hour
of judgment had come. The prophecies present a succession
of events leading down to the opening of the judgment. This
is especially true of the book of Daniel. But that part of his
prophecy which related to the last days, Daniel was bidden to
close up and seal “to the time of the end.” Not till we reach this
time could a message concerning the judgment be proclaimed,
based on a fulfilment of these prophecies. But at the time of the
end, says the prophet, “many shall run to and fro, and knowledge
shall be increased.”591
The apostle Paul warned the church not to look for the coming
of Christ in his day. “That day shall not come,” he says,
“except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be
revealed.”592 Not till after the great apostasy, and the long period
590 Rev. 14:6, 7.
591 Dan. 12:4.
592 2 Thess. 2:3.
370 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
of the reign of the “man of sin,” can we look for the advent of
our Lord. The “man of sin,” which is also styled the “mystery of
iniquity,” the “son of perdition,” and “that wicked,” represents
the papacy, which, as foretold in prophecy, was to maintain its
supremacy for 1260 years. This period ended in 1798. The
coming of Christ could not take place before that time. Paul
covers with his caution the whole of the Christian dispensation
down to the year 1798. It is this side of that time that the message
of Christ’s second coming is to be proclaimed.
No such message has ever been given in past ages. Paul, as we
have seen, did not preach it; he pointed his brethren into the then
far-distant future for the coming of the Lord. The Reformers did
not proclaim it. Martin Luther placed the judgment about three
hundred years in the future from his day. But since 1798 the
book of Daniel has been unsealed, knowledge of the prophecies
has increased, and many have proclaimed the solemn message of
[357] the judgment near.
Like the great Reformation of the sixteenth century, the Advent
Movement appeared in different countries of Christendom
at the same time. In both Europe and America, men of faith and
prayer were led to the study of the prophecies, and tracing down
the inspired record, they saw convincing evidence that the end
of all things was at hand. In different lands there were isolated
bodies of Christians who, solely by the study of the Scriptures,
arrived at the belief that the Saviour’s advent was near.
In 1821, three years after Miller had arrived at his exposition
of the prophecies pointing to the time of the judgment, Dr.
Joseph Wolff, “the missionary to the world,” began to proclaim
the Lord’s soon coming. Wolff was born in Germany, of Hebrew
parentage, his father being a Jewish rabbi. While very young, he
was convinced of the truth of the Christian religion. Of an active,
inquiring mind, he had been an eager listener to the conversations
that took place in his father’s house, as devout Hebrews daily
assembled to recount the hopes and anticipations of their people,
20. A Great Religious Awakening. 371
the glory of the coming Messiah, and the restoration of Israel.
One day hearing Jesus of Nazareth mentioned, the boy inquired
who He was. “A Jew of the greatest talent,” was the answer; “but
as He pretended to be the Messiah, the Jewish tribunal sentenced
Him to death.” “Why,” rejoined the questioner, “is Jerusalem destroyed,
and why are we in captivity?” “Alas, alas!” answered his
father, “because the Jews murdered the prophets.” The thought
was at once suggested to the child, “Perhaps Jesus was also a
prophet, and the Jews killed Him when He was innocent.”593 So
strong was this feeling, that though forbidden to enter a Christian
church, he would often linger outside to listen to the preaching.
When only seven years old, he was boasting to an aged Christian
neighbor of the future triumph of Israel at the advent of the
Messiah, when the old man said kindly, “Dear boy, I will tell you
who the real Messiah was: He was Jesus of Nazareth, … whom [358]
your ancestors have crucified, as they did the prophets of old. Go
home and read the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, and you will be
convinced that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”594 Conviction at
once fastened upon him. He went home and read the scripture,
wondering to see how perfectly it had been fulfilled in Jesus of
Nazareth. Were the words of the Christian true? The boy asked
of his father an explanation of the prophecy, but was met with a
silence so stern that he never again dared to refer to the subject.
This, however, only increased his desire to know more of the
Christian religion.
The knowledge he sought was studiously kept from him in
his Jewish home; but when only eleven years old, he left his
father’s house, and went out into the world to gain for himself an
education, to choose his religion and his life-work. He found a
home for a time with kinsmen, but was soon driven from them
as an apostate, and alone and penniless he had to make his own
way among strangers. He went from place to place, studying dili-
593 “Travels and Adventures of the Rev. Joseph Wolff.” Vol. I, p. 6 (ed. 1860).
594 “Travels and Adventures of the Rev. Joseph Wolff,” Vol. I, p. 7.
372 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
gently, and maintaining himself by teaching Hebrew. Through
the influence of a Catholic instructor, he was led to accept the
Romish faith, and formed the purpose of becoming a missionary
to his own people. With this object he went, a few years later,
to pursue his studies in the College of the Propaganda at Rome.
Here his habit of independent thought and candid speech brought
upon him the imputation of heresy. He openly attacked the abuses
of the church, and urged the necessity of reform. Though at first
treated with special favor by the papal dignitaries, he was after a
time removed from Rome. Under the surveillance of the church
he went from place to place, until it became evident that he could
never be brought to submit to the bondage of Romanism. He was
declared to be incorrigible, and was left at liberty to go where
he pleased. He now made his way to England, and professing
the Protestant faith, united with the English Church. After two
[359] years’ study he set out, in 1821, upon his mission. While Wolff
accepted the great truth of Christ’s first advent as “a man of
sorrows, and acquainted with grief,” he saw that the prophecies
bring to view with equal clearness His second advent with power
and glory. And while he sought to lead his people to Jesus of
Nazareth as the Promised One, and to point them to His first
coming in humiliation as a sacrifice for the sins of men, he taught
them also of His second coming as a king and deliverer.
“Jesus of Nazareth, the true Messiah,” he said, “whose hands
and feet were pierced, who was brought like a lamb to the slaughter,
who was the Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, who
after the scepter was taken from Judah, and the legislative power
from between his feet, came the first time; shall come the
second time in the clouds of heaven, and with the trump of the
Archangel,”595 “and shall stand upon the Mount of Olives; and
that dominion, once consigned to Adam over the creation, and
forfeited by him (Gen. 1:26; 3:17), shall be given to Jesus. He
595 Wolff, “Researches and Missionary Labors,” p. 62 (ed. 1835).
20. A Great Religious Awakening. 373
shall be king over all the earth. The groanings and lamentations
of the creation shall cease, but songs of praises and thanksgivings
shall be heard…. When Jesus comes in the glory of His Father,
with the holy angels, … the dead believers shall rise first. 1 Thess.
4:16; 1 Cor. 15: 23. This is what we Christians call the first
resurrection. Then the animal kingdom shall change its nature
(Isa. 11:6-9), and be subdued unto Jesus. Psalm 8. Universal
peace shall prevail.”596 “The Lord again shall look down upon
the earth, and say, ‘Behold, it is very good.’ ”597
Wolff believed the coming of the Lord to be at hand, his
interpretation of the prophetic periods placing the great consummation
within a very few years of the time pointed out by Miller.
To those who urged from the scripture, “Of that day and hour
knoweth no man,” that men are to know nothing concerning the
nearness of the advent, Wolff replied: “Did our Lord say that that
day and hour should never be known? Did He not give us signs
of the times, in order that we may know at least the approach [360]
of His coming, as one knows the approach of the summer by
the fig-tree putting forth its leaves? Matt. 24:32. Are we never
to know that period, whilst He Himself exhorteth us not only to
read Daniel the prophet, but to understand it? and in that very
Daniel, where it is said that the words were shut up to the time
of the end (which was the case in his time), and that ‘many shall
run to and fro’ (a Hebrew expression for observing and thinking
upon the time), ‘and knowledge’ (regarding that time) ‘shall be
increased.’ Dan. 12:4. Besides this, our Lord does not intend to
say by this, that the approach of the time shall not be known,
but that the exact ‘day and hour knoweth no man.’ Enough, He
does say, shall be known by the signs of the times, to induce us
to prepare for His coming, as Noah prepared the ark.”598
Concerning the popular system of interpreting, or misinter-
596 “Journal of the Rev. Joseph Wolff,” pp. 378, 379 (ed. 1839).
597 Idem, p. 294.
598 Wolff, “Researches and Missionary Labors,” pp. 404, 405.
374 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
preting, the Scriptures, Wolff wrote: “The greater part of the
Christian church have swerved from the plain sense of Scripture,
and have turned to the phantomizing system of the Buddhists,
who believe that the future happiness of mankind will consist
in moving about in the air, and suppose that when they are
reading Jews, they must understand Gentiles; and when they
read Jerusalem, they must understand the church; and if it is
said earth, it means sky; and for the coming of the Lord they
must understand the progress of the missionary societies; and
going up to the mountain of the Lord’s house, signifies a grand
class-meeting of Methodists.”599
During the twenty-four years from 1821 to 1845, Wolff traveled
extensively: in Africa, visiting Egypt and Abyssinia; in
Asia, traversing Palestine, Syria, Persia, Bokhara, and India. He
also visited the United States, on the journey thither preaching
on the island of St. Helena. He arrived in New York in August,
1837; and after speaking in that city, he preached in Philadelphia
and Baltimore, and finally proceeded to Washington. Here, he
says, “on a motion brought forward by the ex-president, John
[361] Quincy Adams, in one of the houses of Congress, the House
unanimously granted to me the use of the Congress Hall for
a lecture, which I delivered on a Saturday, honored with the
presence of all the members of Congress, and also of the bishop
of Virginia, and of the clergy and citizens of Washington. The
same honor was granted to me by the members of the government
of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, in whose presence I delivered
lectures on my researches in Asia, and also on the personal reign
of Jesus Christ.”600
Dr. Wolff traveled in the most barbarous countries, without
the protection of any European authority, enduring many hardships,
and surrounded with countless perils. He was bastinadoed
and starved, sold as a slave, and three times condemned to death.
599 “Journal of the Rev. Joseph Wolff,” p. 96.
600 “Journal of the Rev. Joseph Wolff,” pp. 398, 399.
20. A Great Religious Awakening. 375
He was beset by robbers, and sometimes nearly perished from
thirst. Once he was stripped of all that he possessed, and left to
travel hundreds of miles on foot through the mountains, the snow
beating in his face, and his naked feet benumbed by contact with
the frozen ground.
When warned against going unarmed among savage and hostile
tribes, he declared himself “provided with arms,”—“prayer,
zeal for Christ, and confidence in His help.” “I am also,” he said,
“provided with the love of God and my neighbor in my heart, and
the Bible is in my hand.”601 The Bible in Hebrew and English he
carried with him wherever he went. Of one of his later journeys
he says, “I … kept the Bible open in my hand. I felt my power
was in the book, and that its might would sustain me.”602
Thus he persevered in his labors until the message of the
judgment had been carried to a large part of the habitable globe.
Among Jews, Turks, Parsees, Hindoos, and many other nationalities
and races, he distributed the word of God in these various
tongues, and everywhere heralded the approaching reign of the
Messiah.
In his travels in Bokhara he found the doctrine of the Lord’s
soon coming held by a remote and isolated people. The Arabs [362]
of Yemen, he says, “are in possession of a book called ‘Seera,’
which gives notice of the second coming of Christ and His reign
in glory; and they expect great events to take place in the year
1840.”603 “In Yemen … I spent six days with the children of
Rechab. They drink no wine, plant no vineyard, sow no seed,
and live in tents, and remember good old Jonadab, the son of
Rechab; and I found in their company children of Israel, of the
tribe of Dan, … who expect, with the children of Rechab, the
speedy arrival of the Messiah in the clouds of heaven.”604
601 Adams, W. H. D., “In Perils Oft,” p. 192.
602 Idem, p. 201.
603 “Journal of the Rev. Joseph Wolff,” p. 377.
604 Idem, p. 389.
376 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
A similar belief was found by another missionary to exist in
Tartary. A Tartar priest put the question to the missionary, as to
when Christ would come the second time. When the missionary
answered that he knew nothing about it, the priest seemed greatly
surprised at such ignorance in one who professed to be a Bible
teacher, and stated his own belief, founded on prophecy, that
Christ would come about 1844.
As early as 1826 the advent message began to be preached in
England. The movement here did not take so definite a form as in
America; the exact time of the advent was not so generally taught,
but the great truth of Christ’s soon coming in power and glory was
extensively proclaimed. And this not among the dissenters and
non-conformists only. Mourant Brock, an English writer, states
that about seven hundred ministers of the Church of England
were engaged in preaching this “gospel of the kingdom.” The
message pointing to 1844 as the time of the Lord’s coming was
also given in Great Britain. Advent publications from the United
States were widely circulated. Books and journals were republished
in England. And in 1842, Robert Winter, an Englishman
by birth, who had received the advent faith in America, returned
to his native country to herald the coming of the Lord. Many
united with him in the work, and the message of the judgment
[363] was proclaimed in various parts of England.
In South America, in the midst of barbarism and priestcraft,
Lacunza, a Spaniard and a Jesuit, found his way to the Scriptures,
and thus received the truth of Christ’s speedy return. Impelled to
give the warning, yet desiring to escape the censures of Rome,
he published his views under the assumed name of “Rabbi Ben-
Israel,” representing himself as a converted Jew. Lacunza lived
in the eighteenth century, but it was about 1825 that his book,
having found its way to London, was translated into the English
language. Its publication served to deepen the interest already
awakening in England in the subject of the second advent.
In Germany the doctrine had been taught in the eighteenth
20. A Great Religious Awakening. 377
century by Bengel, a minister in the Lutheran Church, and a
celebrated biblical scholar and critic. Upon completing his education,
Bengel had “devoted himself to the study of theology,
to which the grave and religious tone of his mind, deepened
and strengthened by his early training and discipline, naturally
inclined him. Like other young men of thoughtful character,
before and since, he had to struggle with doubts and difficulties
of a religious nature, and he alludes, with much feeling, to the
‘many arrows which pierced his poor heart, and made his youth
hard to bear.’ ”605 Becoming a member of the consistory of
Würtemberg, he advocated the cause of religious liberty. “While
maintaining the rights and privileges of the church, he was an
advocate for all reasonable freedom being accorded to those who
felt themselves bound, on grounds of conscience, to withdraw
from her communion.”606 The good effects of this policy are still
felt in his native province.
It was while preparing a sermon from Revelation 21 for “Advent
Sunday” that the light of Christ’s second coming broke in
upon Bengel’s mind. The prophecies of the Revelation unfolded
to his understanding as never before. Overwhelmed with a sense
of the stupendous importance and surpassing glory of the scenes
presented by the prophet, he was forced to turn for a time from
the contemplation of the subject. In the pulpit it again presented [364]
itself to him with all its vividness and power. From that time he
devoted himself to the study of the prophecies, especially those
of the Apocalypse, and soon arrived at the belief that they pointed
to the coming of Christ as near. The date which he fixed upon as
the time of the second advent was within a very few years of that
afterward held by Miller.
Bengel’s writings have been spread throughout Christendom.
His views of prophecy were quite generally received in his own
state of Würtemberg, and to some extent in other parts of Ger-
605 Encyclopædia Britannica, art. Bengel (ninth edition).
606 Ibid.
378 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
many. The movement continued after his death, and the advent
message was heard in Germany at the same time that it was
attracting attention in other lands. At an early date some of the
believers went to Russia, and there formed colonies, and the faith
of Christ’s soon coming is still held by the German churches of
that country.
The light shone also in France and Switzerland. At Geneva,
where Farel and Calvin had spread the truths of the Reformation,
Gaussen preached the message of the second advent. While a student
at school, Gaussen had encountered that spirit of rationalism
which pervaded all Europe during the latter part of the eighteenth
and the opening of the nineteenth century; and when he entered
the ministry he was not only ignorant of true faith, but inclined to
skepticism. In his youth he had become interested in the study of
prophecy. After reading Rollin’s “Ancient History,” his attention
was called to the second chapter of Daniel, and he was struck
with the wonderful exactness with which the prophecy had been
fulfilled, as seen in the historian’s record. Here was a testimony
to the inspiration of the Scriptures, which served as an anchor
to him amid the perils of later years. He could not rest satisfied
with the teachings of rationalism, and in studying the Bible and
searching for clearer light he was, after a time, led to a positive
faith.
As he pursued his investigation of the prophecies, he arrived
at the belief that the coming of the Lord was at hand. Impressed
[365] with the solemnity and importance of this great truth, he desired
to bring it before the people; but the popular belief that the
prophecies of Daniel are mysteries and cannot be understood,
was a serious obstacle in his way. He finally determined—as
Farel had done before him in evangelizing Geneva—to begin
with the children, through whom he hoped to interest the parents.
“I desire this to be understood,” he afterward said, speaking
of his object in this undertaking, “it is not because of its small
importance, but on the contrary because of its great value, that I
20. A Great Religious Awakening. 379
wished to present it in this familiar form, and that I addressed it
to the children. I desired to be heard, and I feared that I would not
be if I addressed myself to the grown people first.” “I determined
therefore to go to the youngest. I gather an audience of children;
if the group enlarges, if it is seen that they listen, are pleased,
interested, that they understand and explain the subject, I am sure
to have a second circle soon, and in their turn, grown people will
see that it is worth their while to sit down and study. When this
is done, the cause is gained.”607
The effort was successful. As he addressed the children, older
persons came to listen. The galleries of his church were filled
with attentive hearers. Among them were men of rank and
learning, and strangers and foreigners visiting Geneva; and thus
the message was carried to other parts.
Encouraged by this success, Gaussen published his lessons,
with the hope of promoting the study of the prophetic books in
the churches of the French-speaking people. “To publish instruction
given to the children,” says Gaussen, “is to say to adults,
who too often neglect such books under the false pretense that
they are obscure, ‘How can they be obscure, since your children
understand them?’ ” “I had a great desire,” he adds, “to render a
knowledge of the prophecies popular in our flocks, if possible.”
“There is no study, indeed, which it seems to me answers the
needs of the time better.” “It is by this that we are to prepare for
the tribulation near at hand, and watch and wait for Jesus Christ.” [366]
Though one of the most distinguished and beloved of preachers
in the French language, Gaussen was after a time suspended
from the ministry, his principal offense being that instead of the
church’s catechism, a tame and rationalistic manual, almost destitute
of positive faith, he had used the Bible in giving instruction to
the youth. He afterward became teacher in a theological school,
while on Sunday he continued his work as catechist, addressing
607 Gaussen, L., “Daniel the Prophet,” Vol. II, Preface.
380 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
the children, and instructing them in the Scriptures. His works
on prophecy also excited much interest. From the professor’s
chair, through the press, and in his favorite occupation as teacher
of children, he continued for many years to exert an extensive
influence, and was instrumental in calling the attention of many
to the study of the prophecies which showed that the coming of
the Lord was near.
In Scandinavia also the advent message was proclaimed, and
a wide-spread interest was kindled. Many were roused from
their careless security, to confess and forsake their sins, and
seek pardon in the name of Christ. But the clergy of the state
church opposed the movement, and through their influence some
who preached the message were thrown into prison. In many
places where the preachers of the Lord’s soon coming were thus
silenced, God was pleased to send the message, in a miraculous
manner, through little children. As they were under age, the law
of the state could not restrain them, and they were permitted to
speak unmolested.
The movement was chiefly among the lower class, and it was
in the humble dwellings of the laborers that the people assembled
to hear the warning. The child-preachers themselves were
mostly poor cottagers. Some of them were not more than six or
eight years of age; and while their lives testified that they loved
the Saviour, and were trying to live in obedience to God’s holy
requirements, they ordinarily manifested only the intelligence
and ability usually seen in children of that age. When standing
before the people, however, it was evident that they were moved
[367] by an influence beyond their own natural gifts. Tone and manner
changed, and with solemn power they gave the warning of the
judgment, employing the very words of Scripture, “Fear God,
and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come.”
They reproved the sins of the people, not only condemning immorality
and vice, but rebuking worldliness and backsliding, and
warning their hearers to make haste to flee from the wrath to
20. A Great Religious Awakening. 381
come.
The people heard with trembling. The convicting Spirit of
God spoke to their hearts. Many were led to search the Scriptures
with new and deeper interest, the intemperate and immoral
were reformed, others abandoned their dishonest practices, and a
work was done so marked that even ministers of the state church
were forced to acknowledge that the hand of God was in the
movement.
It was God’s will that the tidings of the Saviour’s coming
should be given in the Scandinavian countries; and when the
voices of His servants were silenced, He put His Spirit upon the
children, that the work might be accomplished. When Jesus drew
near to Jerusalem attended by the rejoicing multitudes that, with
shouts of triumph and the waving of palm branches, heralded
Him as the Son of David, the jealous Pharisees called upon
Him to silence them; but Jesus answered that all this was in
fulfilment of prophecy, and if these should hold their peace, the
very stones would cry out. The people, intimidated by the threats
of the priests and rulers, ceased their joyful proclamation as they
entered the gates of Jerusalem; but the children in the temple
courts afterward took up the refrain, and waving their branches
of palm, they cried, “Hosanna to the Son of David!”608 When the
Pharisees, sorely displeased, said unto Him, “Hearest Thou what
these say?” Jesus answered, “Yea; have ye never read, Out of the
mouth of babes and sucklings Thou hast perfected praise?” As
God wrought through children at the time of Christ’s first advent,
so He wrought through them in giving the message of His second [368]
advent. God’s word must be fulfilled, that the proclamation of
the Saviour’s coming should be given to all peoples, tongues, and
nations.
To William Miller and his co-laborers it was given to preach
the warning in America. This country became the center of the
608 Matt. 21:8-16.
382 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
great Advent Movement. It was here that the prophecy of the
first angel’s message had its most direct fulfilment. The writings
of Miller and his associates were carried to distant lands. Wherever
missionaries had penetrated in all the world, were sent the
glad tidings of Christ’s speedy return. Far and wide spread the
message of the everlasting gospel, “Fear God, and give glory to
Him; for the hour of His judgment is come.”
The testimony of the prophecies which seemed to point to the
coming of Christ in the spring of 1844, took deep hold of the
minds of the people. As the message went from State to State,
there was everywhere awakened wide-spread interest. Many
were convinced that the arguments from the prophetic periods
were correct, and sacrificing their pride of opinion, they joyfully
received the truth. Some ministers laid aside their sectarian views
and feelings, left their salaries and their churches, and united in
proclaiming the coming of Jesus. There were comparatively few
ministers, however, who would accept this message; therefore
it was largely committed to humble laymen. Farmers left their
fields, mechanics their tools, traders their merchandise, professional
men their positions; and yet the number of workers was
small in comparison with the work to be accomplished. The
condition of an ungodly church and a world lying in wickedness,
burdened the souls of the true watchmen, and they willingly
endured toil, privation, and suffering, that they might call men
to repentance unto salvation. Though opposed by Satan, the
work went steadily forward, and the advent truth was accepted
[369] by many thousands.
Everywhere the searching testimony was heard, warning sinners,
both worldlings and church-members, to flee from the
wrath to come. Like John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ,
the preachers laid the axe at the root of the tree, and urged all
to bring forth fruit meet for repentance. Their stirring appeals
were in marked contrast to the assurances of peace and safety
that were heard from popular pulpits; and wherever the message
20. A Great Religious Awakening. 383
was given, it moved the people. The simple, direct testimony of
the Scriptures, set home by the power of the Holy Spirit, brought
a weight of conviction which few were able wholly to resist.
Professors of religion were roused from their false security. They
saw their backslidings, their worldliness and unbelief, their pride
and selfishness. Many sought the Lord with repentance and
humiliation. The affections that had so long clung to earthly
things they now fixed upon heaven. The Spirit of God rested
upon them, and with hearts softened and subdued they joined to
sound the cry, “Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of
His judgment is come.”
Sinners inquired with weeping, “What must I do to be saved?”
Those whose lives had been marked with dishonesty were anxious
to make restitution. All who found peace in Christ longed to
see others share the blessing. The hearts of parents were turned
to their children, and the hearts of children to their parents. The
barriers of pride and reserve were swept away. Heartfelt confessions
were made, and the members of the household labored for
the salvation of those who were nearest and dearest. Often was
heard the sound of earnest intercession. Everywhere were souls
in deep anguish, pleading with God. Many wrestled all night in
prayer for the assurance that their own sins were pardoned, or for
the conversion of their relatives or neighbors.
All classes flocked to the Adventist meetings. Rich and poor,
high and low, were, from various causes, anxious to hear for
themselves the doctrine of the second advent. The Lord held the
spirit of opposition in check while His servants explained the [370]
reasons of their faith. Sometimes the instrument was feeble; but
the Spirit of God gave power to His truth. The presence of holy
angels was felt in these assemblies, and many were daily added
to the believers. As the evidences of Christ’s soon coming were
repeated, vast crowds listened in breathless silence to the solemn
words. Heaven and earth seemed to approach each other. The
power of God was felt upon old and young and middle-aged.
384 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
Men sought their homes with praises upon their lips, and the glad
sound rang out upon the still night air. None who attended those
meetings can ever forget those scenes of deepest interest.
The proclamation of a definite time for Christ’s coming called
forth great opposition from many of all classes, from the minister
in the pulpit down to the most reckless, Heaven-daring sinner.
The words of prophecy were fulfilled: “There shall come in
the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying,
‘Where is the promise of His coming?’ for since the fathers fell
asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the
creation.”609 Many who professed to love the Saviour, declared
that they had no opposition to the doctrine of the second advent;
they merely objected to the definite time. But God’s all-seeing
eye read their hearts. They did not wish to hear of Christ’s
coming to judge the world in righteousness. They had been
unfaithful servants, their works would not bear the inspection
of the heart-searching God, and they feared to meet their Lord.
Like the Jews at the time of Christ’s first advent, they were not
prepared to welcome Jesus. They not only refused to listen to the
plain arguments from the Bible, but ridiculed those who were
looking for the Lord. Satan and his angels exulted, and flung the
taunt in the face of Christ and holy angels, that His professed
people had so little love for Him that they did not desire His
appearing.
“No man knoweth the day nor the hour,” was the argument
most often brought forward by rejecters of the advent faith. The
[371] scripture is, “Of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not
the angels of heaven, but My Father only.”610 A clear and harmonious
explanation of this text was given by those who were
looking for the Lord, and the wrong use made of it by their
opponents was clearly shown. The words were spoken by Christ
in that memorable conversation with His disciples upon Olivet,
609 2 Peter 3:3, 4.
610 Matt. 24:36, 3, 33, 42-51.
20. A Great Religious Awakening. 385
after He had for the last time departed from the temple. The
disciples had asked the question, “What shall be the sign of Thy
coming, and of the end of the world?” Jesus gave them signs,
and said, “When ye shall see all these things, know that it is
near, even at the doors.”611 One saying of the Saviour must not
be made to destroy another. Though no man knoweth the day
nor the hour of His coming, we are instructed and required to
know when it is near. We are further taught that to disregard His
warning, and refuse or neglect to know when His advent is near,
will be as fatal for us as it was for those who lived in the days of
Noah not to know when the flood was coming. And the parable
in the same chapter, contrasting the faithful and the unfaithful
servant, and giving the doom of him who said in his heart,
“My Lord delayeth His coming,” shows in what light Christ will
regard and reward those whom He finds watching, and teaching
His coming, and those denying it. “Watch therefore,” He says;
“blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when He cometh shall
find so doing.”612 “If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come
on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come
upon thee.”613
Paul speaks of a class to whom the Lord’s appearing will come
unawares. “The day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the
night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden
destruction cometh upon them, … and they shall not escape.” But
He adds, to those who have given heed to the Saviour’s warning,
“Ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake
you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of
the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.”614 [372]
Thus it was shown that Scripture gives no warrant for men to
remain in ignorance concerning the nearness of Christ’s coming.
611 Ibid.
612 Ibid.
613 Rev. 3:3.
614 1 Thess. 5:2-5.
386 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
But those who desired only an excuse to reject the truth closed
their ears to this explanation; and the words, “No man knoweth
the day nor the hour,” continued to be echoed by the bold scoffer,
and even by the professed minister of Christ. As the people
were roused, and began to inquire the way of salvation, religious
teachers stepped in between them and the truth, seeking to quiet
their fears by falsely interpreting the word of God. Unfaithful
watchmen united in the work of the great deceiver, crying, Peace,
peace, when God had not spoken peace. Like the Pharisees in
Christ’s day, many refused to enter the kingdom of heaven themselves,
and those who were entering in, they hindered. The blood
of these souls will be required at their hand.
The most humble and devoted in the churches were usually
the first to receive the message. Those who studied the Bible
for themselves could not but see the unscriptural character of the
popular views of prophecy; and wherever the people were not
controlled by the influence of the clergy, wherever they would
search the word of God for themselves, the advent doctrine
needed only to be compared with the Scriptures to establish its
divine authority.
Many were persecuted by their unbelieving brethren. In order
to retain their position in the church, some consented to be silent
in regard to their hope; but others felt that loyalty to God forbade
them thus to hide the truths which He had committed to their
trust. Not a few were cut off from the fellowship of the church
for no other reason than expressing their belief in the coming
of Christ. Very precious to those who bore this trial of their
faith were the words of the prophet, “Your brethren that hated
you, that cast you out for My name’s sake, said, Let the Lord
be glorified: but He shall appear to your joy, and they shall be
[373] ashamed.”615
Angels of God were watching with the deepest interest the
615 Isa. 66:5.
20. A Great Religious Awakening. 387
result of the warning. When there was a general rejection of the
message by the churches, angels turned away in sadness. But
there were many who had not yet been tested in regard to the
advent truth. Many were misled by husbands, wives, parents, or
children, and were made to believe it a sin even to listen to such
heresies as were taught by the Adventists. Angels were bidden
to keep faithful watch over these souls; for another light was yet
to shine upon them from the throne of God.
With unspeakable desire those who had received the message
watched for the coming of their Saviour. The time when they
expected to meet Him was at hand. They approached this hour
with a calm solemnity. They rested in sweet communion with
God, an earnest of the peace that was to be theirs in the bright
hereafter. None who experienced this hope and trust can forget
those precious hours of waiting. For some weeks preceding the
time, worldly business was for the most part laid aside. The
sincere believers carefully examined every thought and emotion
of their hearts as if upon their death-beds and in a few hours to
close their eyes upon earthly scenes. There was no making of
“ascension robes;”616 but all felt the need of internal evidence
that they were prepared to meet the Saviour; their white robes
were purity of soul,—characters cleansed from sin by the atoning
blood of Christ. Would that there was still with the professed people
of God the same spirit of heart-searching, the same earnest,
determined faith. Had they continued thus to humble themselves
before the Lord, and press their petitions at the mercy-seat, they
would be in possession of a far richer experience than they now
have. There is too little prayer, too little real conviction of sin,
and the lack of living faith leaves many destitute of the grace so
richly provided by our Redeemer.
God designed to prove His people. His hand covered a mistake
in the reckoning of the prophetic periods. Adventists did not [374]
616 See Appendix.
388 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
discover the error, nor was it discovered by the most learned of
their opponents. The latter said: “Your reckoning of the prophetic
periods is correct. Some great event is about to take place; but it
is not what Mr. Miller predicts; it is the conversion of the world,
and not the second advent of Christ.”617
The time of expectation passed, and Christ did not appear for
the deliverance of His people. Those who with sincere faith and
love had looked for their Saviour, experienced a bitter disappointment.
Yet the purposes of God were being accomplished:
He was testing the hearts of those who professed to be waiting
for His appearing. There were among them many who had been
actuated by no higher motive than fear. Their profession of faith
had not affected their hearts or their lives. When the expected
event failed to take place, these persons declared that they were
not disappointed; they had never believed that Christ would
come. They were among the first to ridicule the sorrow of the
true believers.
But Jesus and all the heavenly host looked with love and sympathy
upon the tried and faithful yet disappointed ones. Could
the veil separating the visible from the invisible world have been
swept back, angels would have been seen drawing near to these
steadfast souls, and shielding them from the shafts of Satan.

“First the Blade, Then the Ear”

26 Jan

The parable of the sower excited much questioning. Some of the hearers gathered from it that Christ
was not to establish an earthly kingdom, and many were curious and perplexed. Seeing their perplexity,
Christ used other illustrations, still seeking to turn their thoughts from the hope of a worldly kingdom to
the work of God’s grace in the soul. {COL 62.1}
“And He said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; and should
sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the
earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But
when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.” {COL
62.2}
The husbandman who “putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come,” can be no other than
Christ. It is
63
He who at the last great day will reap the harvest of the earth. But the sower of the seed represents
those who labor in Christ’s stead. The seed is said to “spring and grow up, he knoweth not how,” and
this is not true of the Son of God. Christ does not sleep over His charge, but watches it day and night.
He is not ignorant of how the seed grows. {COL 62.3}
The parable of the seed reveals that God is at work in nature. The seed has in itself a germinating
principle, a principle that God Himself has implanted; yet if left to itself the seed would have no power to
spring up. Man has his part to act in promoting the growth of the grain. He must prepare and enrich the
soil and cast in the seed. He must till the fields. But there is a point beyond which he can accomplish
nothing. No strength or wisdom of man can bring forth from the seed the living plant. Let man put forth
his efforts to the utmost limit, he must still depend upon One who has connected the sowing and the
reaping by wonderful links of His own omnipotent power. {COL 63.1}
There is life in the seed, there is power in the soil; but unless an infinite power is exercised day and
night, the seed will yield no returns. The showers of rain must be sent to give moisture to the thirsty
fields, the sun must impart heat, electricity must be conveyed to the buried seed. The life which the
Creator has implanted, He alone can call forth. Every seed grows, every plant develops, by the power
of God. {COL 63.2}
“As the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring
forth, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth.” Isa. 61:11. As in the natural,
so in the spiritual sowing; the teacher of truth must seek to prepare the soil of the heart; he must sow the
seed; but the power that alone can produce life is from God. There is a point beyond
64
which human effort is in vain. While we are to preach the word, we can not impart the power that will
quicken the soul, and cause righteousness and praise to spring forth. In the preaching of the word there
must be the working of an agency beyond any human power. Only through the divine Spirit will the
word be living and powerful to renew the soul unto eternal life. This is what Christ tried to impress upon
His disciples. He taught that it was nothing they possessed in themselves which would give success to
their labors, but that it is the miracle-working power of God which gives efficiency to His own word.
{COL 63.3}
The work of the sower is a work of faith. The mystery of the germination and growth of the seed he
cannot understand. But he has confidence in the agencies by which God causes vegetation to flourish. In
casting his seed into the ground, he is apparently throwing away the precious grain that might furnish
bread for his family. But
65
he is only giving up a present good for a larger return. He casts the seed away, expecting to gather it
manyfold in an abundant harvest. So Christ’s servants are to labor, expecting a harvest from the seed
they sow. {COL 64.1}
The good seed may for a time lie unnoticed in a cold, selfish, worldly heart, giving no evidence that it
has taken root; but afterward, as the Spirit of God breathes on the soul, the hidden seed springs up, and
at last bears fruit to the glory of God. In our lifework we know not which shall prosper, this or that. This
is not a question for us to settle. We are to do our work, and leave the results with God. “In the morning
sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand.” Eccl. 11:6. God’s great covenant declares
that “while the earth remaineth, seed-time and harvest . . . shall not cease.” Gen. 8:22. In the confidence
of this promise the husbandman tills and sows. Not less confidently are we in the spiritual sowing to
labor, trusting His assurance, “So shall My word be that goeth forth out of My mouth; it shall not return
unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent
it.” Isa. 55:11. “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with
rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” Ps. 126:6. {COL 65.1}
The germination of the seed represents the beginning of spiritual life, and the development of the
plant is a beautiful figure of Christian growth. As in nature, so in grace; there can be no life without
growth. The plant must either grow or die. As its growth is silent and imperceptible, but continuous, so
is the development of the Christian life. At every stage of development our life may be perfect; yet if
God’s purpose for us is fulfilled, there will be continual advancement. Sanctification is the work of a
lifetime. As our opportunities multiply, our experience will enlarge, and
66
our knowledge increase. We shall become strong to bear responsibility, and our maturity will be in
proportion to our privileges. {COL 65.2}
The plant grows by receiving that which God has provided to sustain its life. It sends down its roots
into the earth. It drinks in the sunshine, the dew, and the rain. It receives the life-giving properties from
the air. So the
67
Christian is to grow by co-operating with the divine agencies. Feeling our helplessness, we are to
improve all the opportunities granted us to gain a fuller experience. As the plant takes root in the soil, so
we are to take deep root in Christ. As the plant receives the sunshine, the dew, and the rain, we are to
open our hearts to the Holy Spirit. The work is to be done “not by might, nor by power, but by My
Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” Zech. 4:6. If we keep our minds stayed upon Christ, He will come unto
us “as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.” Hosea 6:3. As the Sun of Righteousness, He
will arise upon us “with healing in His wings.” Mal. 4:2. We shall “grow as the lily.” We shall “revive as
the corn, and grow as the vine.” Hosea 14:5, 7. By constantly relying upon Christ as our personal
Saviour, we shall grow up into Him in all things who is our head. {COL 66.1}
The wheat develops “first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” The object of the
husbandman in the sowing of the seed and the culture of the growing plant is the production of grain. He
desires bread for the hungry, and seed for future harvests. So the divine Husbandman looks for a
harvest as the reward of His labor and sacrifice. Christ is seeking to reproduce Himself in the hearts of
men; and He does this through those who believe in Him. The object of the Christian life is fruit
bearing–the reproduction of Christ’s character in the believer, that it may be reproduced in others.
{COL 67.1}
The plant does not germinate, grow, or bring forth fruit for itself, but to “give seed to the sower, and
bread to the eater.” Isa. 55:10. So no man is to live unto himself. The Christian is in the world as a
representative of Christ, for the salvation of other souls. {COL 67.2}
There can be no growth or fruitfulness in the life that is centered in self. If you have accepted Christ
as a personal
68
Saviour, you are to forget yourself, and try to help others. Talk of the love of Christ, tell of His
goodness. Do every duty that presents itself. Carry the burden of souls upon your heart, and by every
means in your power seek to save the lost. As you receive the Spirit of Christ–the Spirit of unselfish
love and labor for others–you will grow and bring forth fruit. The graces of the Spirit will ripen in your
character. Your faith will increase, your convictions deepen, your love be made perfect. More and more
you will reflect the likeness of Christ in all that is pure, noble, and lovely. {COL 67.3}
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering,
69
gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” Gal. 5:22, 23. This fruit can never perish, but will
produce after its kind a harvest unto eternal life. {COL 68.1}
“When the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.”
Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church. When the character of
Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own. {COL
69.1}
It is the privilege of every Christian not only to look for but to hasten the coming of our Lord Jesus
Christ, (2 Peter 3:12, margin). Were all who profess His name bearing fruit to His glory, how quickly
the whole world would be sown with the seed of the gospel. Quickly the last great harvest would be
ripened, and Christ would come to gather the precious grain. {COL 69.2}

“The Sower Went Forth to Sow”

25 Jan

The Sower and the Seed
By the parable of the sower, Christ illustrates the things of the kingdom of heaven, and the work
of the great Husbandman for His people. Like a sower in the field, He came to scatter the heavenly
grain of truth. And His parable teaching itself was the seed with which the most precious truths of His
grace were sown. Because of its simplicity the parable of the sower has not been valued as it should be.
From the natural seed cast into the soil, Christ desires to lead our minds to the gospel seed, the sowing
of which results in bringing man back to his loyalty to God. He who gave the parable of the tiny seed is
the Sovereign of heaven, and the same laws that govern earthly seed sowing govern the sowing of the
seeds of truth. {COL 33.1}
By the Sea of Galilee a company had gathered to see and hear Jesus–an eager, expectant throng.
The sick were there, lying on their mats, waiting to present their
34
cases before Him. It was Christ’s God-given right to heal the woes of a sinful race, and He now
rebuked disease, and diffused around Him life and health and peace. {COL 33.2}
As the crowd continued to increase, the people pressed close about Christ until there was no room
to receive them. Then, speaking a word to the men in their fishing boats, He stepped into the boat that
was waiting to take Him across the lake, and bidding His disciples push off a little from the land, He
spoke to the multitude upon the shore. {COL 34.1}
Beside the sea lay the beautiful plain of Gennesaret, beyond rose the hills, and upon hillside and plain
both sowers and reapers were busy, the one casting seed and the other harvesting the early grain.
Looking upon the scene, Christ said– {COL 34.2}
“Behold, the sower went forth to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell by the wayside, and the
birds came and devoured them” (R.V.); “some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth;
and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: and when the sun was up, they
were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and
the thorns sprung up, and choked them: but other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an
hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.” {COL 34.3}
Christ’s mission was not understood by the people of His time. The manner of His coming was not in
accordance with their expectations. The Lord Jesus was the foundation of the whole Jewish economy.
Its imposing services were of divine appointment. They were designed to teach the people that at the
time appointed One would come to whom those ceremonies pointed. But the Jews had exalted the
forms and ceremonies and had lost sight of their object. The traditions, maxims, and enactments of men
hid from them the lessons which God intended to
35
convey. These maxims and traditions became an obstacle to their understanding and practice of true
religion. And when the Reality came, in the person of Christ, they did not recognize in Him the fulfillment
of all their types, the substance of all their shadows. They rejected the antitype, and clung to their types
and useless ceremonies. The Son of God had come, but they continued to ask for a sign. The message,
“Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” they answered by demands for a miracle. Matt. 3:2.
The gospel of Christ was a stumbling block to them because they demanded signs instead of a Saviour.
They expected the Messiah to prove His claims by mighty deeds of conquest, to establish His empire on
the ruins of earthly kingdoms. This expectation Christ answered in the parable of the sower. Not by
force of arms, not by violent interpositions, was the kingdom of God to prevail, but by the implanting of
a new principle in the hearts of men. {COL 34.4}
“He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man.” Matt. 13:37. Christ had come, not as a king, but
as a sower; not for the overthrow of kingdoms, but for the scattering of seed; not to point His followers
to earthly triumphs and national greatness, but to a harvest to be gathered after patient toil and through
losses and disappointments. {COL 35.1}
The Pharisees perceived the meaning of Christ’s parable, but to them its lesson was unwelcome.
They affected not to understand it. To the multitude it involved in still greater mystery the purpose of the
new teacher, whose words had so strangely moved their hearts and so bitterly disappointed their
ambitions. The disciples themselves had not understood the parable, but their interest was awakened.
They came to Jesus privately and asked for an explanation. {COL 35.2}
This was the desire which Christ wished to arouse, that He might give them more definite instruction.
He
36
explained the parable to them, as He will make plain His word to all who seek Him in sincerity of heart.
Those who study the word of God with hearts open to the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, will not
remain in darkness as to the meaning of the word. “If any man willeth to do His will,” Christ said, “he
shall know of the teaching whether it be of God, or whether I speak from Myself.” John 7:17, R.V. All
who come to Christ for a clearer knowledge of the truth will receive it. He will unfold to them the
mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, and these mysteries will be understood by the heart that longs to
know the truth. A heavenly light will shine into the soul temple, and will be revealed to others as the
bright shining of a lamp on a dark path. {COL 35.3}
“The sower went forth to sow” (R.V.). In the East the state of affairs was so unsettled, and there was
so great danger from violence that the people dwelt chiefly in walled towns, and the husbandmen went
forth daily to their labor outside the walls. So Christ, the heavenly Sower, went forth to sow. He left His
home of security and peace, left the glory that He had with the Father before the world was, left His
position upon the throne of the universe. He went forth, a suffering, tempted man; went forth in solitude,
to sow in tears, to water with His blood, the seed of life for a world lost. {COL 36.1}
His servants in like manner must go forth to sow. When called to become a sower of the seed of
truth, Abraham was bidden, “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s
house, unto a land that I will show thee.” Gen. 12:1. “And he went out, not knowing whither he went.”
Heb. 11:8. So to the apostle Paul, praying in the temple at Jerusalem, came the message from God,
“Depart; for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.” Acts 22:21. So those who are called
37
to unite with Christ must leave all, in order to follow Him. Old associations must be broken up, plans of
life relinquished, earthly hopes surrendered. In toil and tears, in solitude, and through sacrifice, must the
seed be sown. {COL 36.2}
“The sower soweth the word.” Christ came to sow the world with truth. Ever since the fall of man,
Satan has been sowing the seeds of error. It was by a lie that he first gained control over men, and thus
he still works to overthrow God’s kingdom in the earth and to bring men
38
under his power. A sower from a higher world, Christ came to sow the seeds of truth. He who had
stood in the councils of God, who had dwelt in the innermost sanctuary of the Eternal, could bring to
men the pure principles of truth. Ever since the fall of man, Christ had been the Revealer of truth to the
world. By Him the incorruptible seed, “the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever,” is
communicated to men. 1 Peter 1:23. In that first promise spoken to our fallen race in Eden, Christ was
sowing the gospel seed. But it is to His personal ministry among men and to the work which He thus
established that the parable of the sower especially applies. {COL 37.1}
The word of God is the seed. Every seed has in itself a germinating principle. In it the life of the plant
is enfolded. So there is life in God’s word. Christ says, “The words that I speak unto you, they are
Spirit, and they are life.” John 6:63. “He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath
everlasting life.” John 5:24. In every command and in every promise of the word of God is the power,
the very life of God, by which the command may be fulfilled and the promise realized. He who by faith
receives the word is receiving the very life and character of God. {COL 38.1}
Every seed brings forth fruit after its kind. Sow the seed under right conditions, and it will develop its
own life in the plant. Receive into the soul by faith the incorruptible seed of the word, and it will bring
forth a character and a life after the similitude of the character and the life of God. {COL 38.2}
The teachers of Israel were not sowing the seed of the word of God. Christ’s work as a teacher of
truth was in marked contrast to that of the rabbis of His time. They dwelt upon traditions, upon human
theories and speculations. Often that which man had taught and written about
39
the word, they put in place of the word itself. Their teaching had no power to quicken the soul. The
subject of Christ’s teaching and preaching was the word of God. He met questioners with a plain, “It is
written.” “What saith the Scriptures?” “How readest thou?” At every opportunity, when an interest was
awakened by either friend or foe, He sowed the seed of the word. He who is the Way, the Truth, and
the Life, Himself the living Word, points to the Scriptures, saying, “They are they which testify of Me.”
And “beginning at Moses and all the prophets,” He opened to His disciples “in all the Scriptures the
things concerning Himself.” John 5:39; Luke 24:27. {COL 38.3}
Christ’s servants are to do the same work. In our day, as of old, the vital truths of God’s word are
set aside for human theories and speculations. Many professed ministers of the gospel do not accept the
whole Bible as the inspired word. One wise man rejects one portion; another questions another part.
They set up their judgment as superior to the word; and the Scripture which they do teach rests upon
their own authority. Its divine authenticity is destroyed. Thus the seeds of infidelity are sown broadcast;
for the people become confused and know not what to believe. There are many beliefs that the mind
has no right to entertain. In the days of Christ the rabbis put a forced, mystical construction upon many
portions of Scripture. Because the plain teaching of God’s word condemned their practices, they tried to
destroy its force. The same thing is done today. The word of God is made to appear mysterious and
obscure in order to excuse transgression of His law. Christ rebuked these practices in His day. He
taught that the word of God was to be understood by all. He pointed to the Scriptures as of
unquestionable authority, and we should do the same. The Bible is to be presented as the word of the
infinite God, as
40
the end of all controversy and the foundation of all faith. {COL 39.1}
The Bible has been robbed of its power, and the results are seen in a lowering of the tone of spiritual
life. In the sermons from many pulpits of today there is not that divine manifestation which awakens the
conscience and brings life to the soul. The hearers can not say, “Did not our heart burn within us, while
He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the Scriptures?” Luke 24:32. There are many
who are crying out for the living God, longing for the divine presence. Philosophical theories or literary
essays, however brilliant, cannot satisfy the heart. The assertions and inventions of men are of no value.
Let the word of God speak to the people. Let those who have heard only traditions and human theories
and maxims hear the voice of Him whose word can renew the soul unto everlasting life. {COL 40.1}
Christ’s favorite theme was the paternal tenderness and abundant grace of God; He dwelt much
upon the holiness of His character and His law; He presented Himself to the people as the Way, the
Truth, and the Life. Let these be the themes of Christ’s ministers. Present the truth as it is in Jesus. Make
plain the requirements of the law and the gospel. Tell the people of Christ’s life of self-denial and
sacrifice; of His humiliation and death; of His resurrection and ascension; of His intercession for them in
the courts of God; of His promise, “I will come again, and receive you unto Myself.” John 14:3. {COL
40.2}
Instead of discussing erroneous theories, or seeking to combat the opponents of the gospel, follow
the example of Christ. Let fresh truths from God’s treasure house flash into life. “Preach the word.”
“Sow beside all waters.” “Be instant in season, out of season.” “He that hath My word, let him speak
My word faithfully. What is the chaff
41
to the wheat? saith the Lord.” “Every word of God is pure. . . . Add thou not unto His words, lest He
reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” 2 Tim. 4:2; Isa. 32:20; Jer. 23:28; Prov. 30:5, 6. {COL 40.3}
“The sower soweth the word.” Here is presented the great principle which should underlie all
educational work. “The seed is the word of God.” But in too many schools of our day God’s word is set
aside. Other subjects occupy the mind. The study of infidel authors holds a large place in the educational
system. Skeptical sentiments are interwoven in the matter placed in school books. Scientific research
becomes misleading, because its discoveries are misinterpreted and perverted. The word of God is
compared with the supposed teachings of science, and is made to appear uncertain and untrustworthy.
Thus the seeds of doubt are planted in the minds of the youth, and in time of temptation they spring up.
When faith in God’s word is lost, the soul has no guide, no safeguard. The youth are drawn into paths
which lead away from God and from everlasting life. {COL 41.1}
To this cause may in great degree be attributed the widespread iniquity in our world today. When the
word of God is set aside, its power to restrain the evil passions of the natural heart is rejected. Men sow
to the flesh, and of the flesh they reap corruption. {COL 41.2}
And here, too, is the great cause of mental weakness and inefficiency. In turning from God’s word to
feed on the writings of uninspired men, the mind becomes dwarfed and cheapened. It is not brought in
contact with deep, broad principles of eternal truth. The understanding adapts itself to the
comprehension of the things with which it is familiar, and in this devotion to finite things it is weakened,
its power is contracted, and after a time it becomes unable to expand. {COL 41.3}
All this is false education. The work of every teacher
42
should be to fasten the mind of the youth upon the grand truths of the word of Inspiration. This is the
education essential for this life and for the life to come. {COL 41.4}
And let it not be thought that this will prevent the study of the sciences, or cause a lower standard in
education. The knowledge of God is as high as heaven and as broad as the universe. There is nothing so
ennobling and invigorating as a study of the great themes which concern our eternal life. Let the youth
seek to grasp these God-given truths, and their minds will expand and grow strong in the effort. It will
bring every student who is a doer of the word into a broader field of thought, and secure for him a
wealth of knowledge that is imperishable. {COL 42.1}
The education to be secured by searching the Scriptures is an experimental knowledge of the plan of
salvation.
43
Such an education will restore the image of God in the soul. It will strengthen and fortify the mind against
temptation, and fit the learner to become a co-worker with Christ in His mission of mercy to the world.
It will make him a member of the heavenly family; and prepare him to share the inheritance of the saints
in light. {COL 42.2}
But the teacher of sacred truth can impart only that which he himself knows by experience. “The
sower sowed his seed.” Christ taught the truth because He was the truth. His own thought, His
character, His life-experience, were embodied in His teaching. So with His servants: those who would
teach the word are to make it their own by a personal experience. They must know what it is to have
Christ made unto them wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption. In presenting the
word of God to others, they are not to make it a suppose-so or a may-be. They should declare with the
apostle Peter, “We have not followed cunningly devised fables when we made known unto you the
power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye-witnesses of His majesty.” 2 Peter 1:16.
Every minister of Christ and every teacher should be able to say with the beloved John, “The life was
manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life which was with
the Father, and was manifested unto us.” 1 John 1:2. {COL 43.1}
The Soil–by the Wayside
That with which the parable of the sower chiefly deals is the effect produced on the growth of
the seed by the soil into which it is cast. By this parable Christ was virtually saying to His hearers, It is
not safe for you to stand as critics of My work, or to indulge disappointment because it does not meet
your ideas. The question of
44
greatest importance to you is, How do you treat My message? Upon your reception or rejection of it
your eternal destiny depends. {COL 43.2}
Explaining the seed that fell by the wayside, He said, “When any one heareth the word of the
kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was
sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the wayside.” {COL 44.1}
The seed sown by the wayside represents the word of God as it falls upon the heart of an inattentive
hearer. Like the hard-beaten path, trodden down by the feet of men and beasts, is the heart that
becomes a highway for the world’s traffic, its pleasures and sins. Absorbed in selfish aims and sinful
indulgences, the soul is “hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” Heb. 3:13. The spiritual faculties are
paralyzed. Men hear the word, but understand it not. They do not discern that it applies to themselves.
They do not realize their need or their danger. They do not perceive the love of Christ, and they pass by
the message of His grace as something that does not concern them. {COL 44.2}
As the birds are ready to catch up the seed from the wayside, so Satan is ready to catch away the
seeds of divine truth from the soul. He fears that the word of God may awaken the careless, and take
effect upon the hardened heart. Satan and his angels are in the assemblies where the gospel is preached.
While angels of heaven endeavor to impress hearts with the word of God, the enemy is on the alert to
make the word of no effect. With an earnestness equaled only by his malice, he tries to thwart the work
of the Spirit of God. While Christ is drawing the soul by His love, Satan tries to turn away the attention
of the one who is moved to seek the Saviour. He engages the mind with worldly schemes. He excites
45
criticism, or insinuates doubt and unbelief. The speaker’s choice of language or his manner may not
please the hearers, and they dwell upon these defects. Thus the truth they need, and which God has
graciously sent them, makes no lasting impression. {COL 44.3}
Satan has many helpers. Many who profess to be Christians are aiding the tempter to catch away the
seeds of truth from other hearts. Many who listen to the preaching of the word of God make it the
subject of criticism at home. They sit in judgment on the sermon as they would on the words of a
lecturer or a political speaker. The message that should be regarded as the word of the Lord to them is
dwelt upon with trifling or sarcastic comment. The minister’s character, motives, and actions, and the
conduct of fellow members of the church, are freely discussed. Severe judgment is pronounced, gossip
or slander repeated, and this in the hearing of the unconverted. Often these things are spoken by parents
46
in the hearing of their own children. Thus are destroyed respect for God’s messengers, and reverence
for their message. And many are taught to regard lightly God’s word itself. {COL 45.1}
Thus in the homes of professed Christians many youth are educated to be infidels. And the parents
question why their children are so little interested in the gospel, and so ready to doubt the truth of the
Bible. They wonder that it is so difficult to reach them with moral and religious influences. They do not
see that their own example has hardened the hearts of their children. The good seed finds no place to
take root, and Satan catches it away. {COL 46.1}
In Stony Places
“He that receiveth the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon
with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while; for when tribulation or
persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.” {COL 46.2}
The seed sown upon stony ground finds little depth of soil. The plant springs up quickly, but the root
cannot penetrate the rock to find nutriment to sustain its growth, and it soon perishes. Many who make
a profession of religion are stony-ground hearers. Like the rock underlying the layer of earth, the
selfishness of the natural heart underlies the soil of their good desires and aspirations. The love of self is
not subdued. They have not seen the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and the heart has not been humbled
under a sense of its guilt. This class may be easily convinced, and appear to be bright converts, but they
have only a superficial religion. {COL 46.3}
It is not because men receive the word immediately, nor because they rejoice in it, that they fall
away. As soon
47
as Matthew heard the Saviour’s call, immediately he rose up, left all, and followed Him. As soon as the
divine word comes to our hearts, God desires us to receive it; and it is right to accept it with joy. “Joy
shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth.” Luke 15:7. And there is joy in the soul that believes
on Christ. But those who in the parable are said to receive the word immediately, do not count the cost.
They do not consider what the word of God requires of them. They do not bring it face to face with all
their habits of life, and yield themselves fully to its control. {COL 46.4}
The roots of the plant strike down deep into the soil, and hidden from sight nourish the life of the
plant. So with the Christian; it is by the invisible union of the soul with Christ, through faith, that the
spiritual life is nourished. But the stony-ground hearers depend upon self instead of Christ. They trust in
their good works and good impulses, and are strong in their own righteousness. They are not strong in
the Lord, and in the power of His might. Such a one “hath not root in himself”; for he is not connected
with Christ. {COL 47.1}
The hot summer sun, that strengthens and ripens the hardy grain, destroys that which has no depth of
root. So he who “hath not root in himself,” “dureth for a while”; but “when tribulation or persecution
ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.” Many receive the gospel as a way of escape
from suffering, rather than as a deliverance from sin. They rejoice for a season, for they think that
religion will free them from difficulty and trial. While life moves smoothly with them, they may appear to
be consistent Christians. But they faint beneath the fiery test of temptation. They cannot bear reproach
for Christ’s sake. When the word of God points out some cherished sin, or requires self-denial or
sacrifice, they are offended. It
48
would cost them too much effort to make a radical change in their life. They look at the present
inconvenience and trial, and forget the eternal realities. Like the disciples who left Jesus, they are ready
to say, “This is an hard saying; who can hear it?” John 6:60. {COL 47.2}
There are very many who claim to serve God, but who have no experimental knowledge of Him.
Their desire to do His will is based upon their own inclination, not upon the deep conviction of the Holy
Spirit. Their conduct is not brought into harmony with the law of God. They profess to accept Christ as
their Saviour, but they do not believe that He will give them power to overcome their sins. They have
not a personal relation with a living Saviour, and their characters reveal defects both hereditary and
cultivated. {COL 48.1}
It is one thing to assent in a general way to the agency of the Holy Spirit, and another thing to accept
His work as a reprover calling to repentance. Many feel a sense of estrangement from God, a realization
of their bondage to self and sin; they make efforts for reform; but they do not crucify self. They do not
give themselves entirely into the hands of Christ, seeking for divine power to do His will. They are not
willing to be molded after the divine similitude. In a general way they acknowledge their imperfections,
but they do not give up their particular sins. With each wrong act the old selfish nature is gaining
strength. {COL 48.2}
The only hope for these souls is to realize in themselves the truth of Christ’s words to Nicodemus,
“Ye must be born again.” “Except a man be born from above, he can not see the kingdom of God.”
John 3:7, 3, margin. {COL 48.3}
True holiness is wholeness in the service of God. This is the condition of true Christian living. Christ
asks for an
49
unreserved consecration, for undivided service. He demands the heart, the mind, the soul, the strength.
Self is not to be cherished. He who lives to himself is not a Christian. {COL 48.4}
Love must be the principle of action. Love is the underlying principle of God’s government in heaven
and earth, and it must be the foundation of the Christian’s character. This alone can make and keep him
steadfast. This alone can enable him to withstand trial and temptation. {COL 49.1}
And love will be revealed in sacrifice. The plan of redemption was laid in sacrifice–a sacrifice so
broad and deep and high that it is immeasurable. Christ gave all for us, and those who receive Christ will
be ready to sacrifice all for the sake of their Redeemer. The thought of His honor and glory will come
before anything else. {COL 49.2}
If we love Jesus, we shall love to live for Him, to present our thank offerings to Him, to labor for
Him. The very labor will be light. For His sake we shall covet
50
pain and toil and sacrifice. We shall sympathize with His longing for the salvation of men. We shall feel
the same tender craving for souls that He has felt. {COL 49.3}
This is the religion of Christ. Anything short of it is a deception. No mere theory of truth or
profession of discipleship will save any soul. We do not belong to Christ unless we are His wholly. It is
by halfheartedness in the Christian life that men become feeble in purpose and changeable in desire. The
effort to serve both self and Christ makes one a stony-ground hearer, and he will not endure when the
test comes upon him. {COL 50.1}
Among Thorns
“He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this
world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.” {COL 50.2}
The gospel seed often falls among thorns and noxious weeds; and if there is not a moral
transformation in the human heart, if old habits and practices and the former life of sin are not left
behind, if the attributes of Satan are not expelled from the soul, the wheat crop will be choked. The
thorns will come to be the crop, and will kill out the wheat. {COL 50.3}
Grace can thrive only in the heart that is being constantly prepared for the precious seeds of truth.
The thorns of sin will grow in any soil; they need no cultivation; but grace must be carefully cultivated.
The briers and thorns are always ready to spring up, and the work of purification must advance
continually. If the heart is not kept under the control of God, if the Holy Spirit does not work
unceasingly to refine and ennoble the character, the old habits will reveal themselves in the life. Men may
profess to believe the gospel; but unless they are sanctified
51
by the gospel their profession is of no avail. If they do not gain the victory over sin, then sin is gaining the
victory over them. The thorns that have been cut off but not uprooted grow apace, until the soul is
overspread with them. {COL 50.4}
Christ specified the things that are dangerous to the soul. As recorded by Mark He mentions the
cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things. Luke specifies the cares,
riches, and pleasures of this life. These are what choke the word, the growing spiritual seed. The soul
ceases to draw nourishment from Christ, and spirituality dies out of the heart. {COL 51.1}
“The cares of this world.” No class is free from the temptation to worldly care. To the poor, toil and
deprivation and the fear of want bring perplexities and burdens. To the rich come fear of loss and a
multitude of anxious cares. Many of Christ’s followers forget the lesson He has bidden us learn from the
flowers of the field. They do not trust to His constant care. Christ cannot carry their burden, because
they do not cast it upon Him. Therefore the cares of life, which should drive them to the Saviour for help
and comfort, separate them from Him. {COL 51.2}
Many who might be fruitful in God’s service become bent on acquiring wealth. Their whole energy is
absorbed in business enterprises, and they feel obliged to neglect things of a spiritual nature. Thus they
separate themselves from God. We are enjoined in the Scriptures to be “not slothful in business.” Rom.
12:11. We are to labor that we may impart to him who needs. Christians must work, they must engage
in business, and they can do this without committing sin. But many become so absorbed in business that
they have no time for prayer, no time for the study of the Bible, no time to seek and serve God. At times
the longings of the soul go out for holiness and heaven; but there
52
is no time to turn aside from the din of the world to listen to the majestic and authoritative utterances of
the Spirit of God. The things of eternity are made subordinate, the things of the world supreme. It is
impossible for the seed of the word to bring forth fruit; for the life of the soul is given to nourish the
thorns of worldliness. {COL 51.3}
And many who are working with a very different purpose, fall into a like error. They are working for
others’ good; their duties are pressing, their responsibilities are many, and they allow their labor to
crowd out devotion. Communion with God through prayer and a study of His word is neglected. They
forget that Christ has said, “Without Me ye can do nothing.” John 15:5. They walk apart from Christ,
their life is not pervaded by His grace, and the characteristics of self are revealed. Their service is
marred by desire for supremacy, and the harsh, unlovely traits of the unsubdued heart. Here is one of
the chief secrets of failure in Christian work. This is why its results are often so meager. {COL 52.1}
“The deceitfulness of riches.” The love of riches has an infatuating, deceptive power. Too often those
who possess worldly treasure forget that it is God who gives them power to get wealth. They say, “My
power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth.” Deut. 8:17. Their riches, instead of
awakening gratitude to God, lead to the exaltation of self. They lose the sense of their dependence upon
God and their obligation to their fellow men. Instead of regarding wealth as a talent to be employed for
the glory of God and the uplifting of humanity, they look upon it as a means of serving themselves.
Instead of developing in man the attributes of God, riches thus used are developing in him the attributes
of Satan. The seed of the word is choked with thorns.
53
{COL 52.2}
“And pleasures of this life.” There is danger in amusement that is sought merely for self-gratification.
All habits of indulgence that weaken the physical powers, that becloud the mind, or that benumb the
spiritual perceptions, are “fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.” 1 Peter 2:11. {COL 53.1}
“And the lusts of other things.” These are not necessarily things sinful in themselves, but something
that is made first instead of the kingdom of God. Whatever attracts the mind from God, whatever draws
the affections away from Christ, is an enemy to the soul.

{COL 53.2}
When the mind is youthful and vigorous and susceptible of rapid development, there is great
temptation to be ambitious for self, to serve self. If worldly schemes are successful, there is an inclination
to continue in a line that deadens conscience, and prevents a correct estimate as to what constitutes real
excellence of character. When circumstances favor this development, growth will be seen in a direction
prohibited by the word of God. {COL 53.3}
In this formative period of their children’s life, the responsibility of parents is very great. It should be
their study to surround the youth with right influences, influences that will give them correct views of life
and its true success. Instead of this, how many parents make it their first object to secure for their
children worldly prosperity. All their associations are chosen with reference to this object. Many parents
make their home in some large city, and introduce their children into fashionable society. They surround
them with influences that encourage worldliness and pride. In this atmosphere the mind and soul are
dwarfed. The high and noble aims of life are lost sight of. The privilege of being sons of God, heirs of
eternity, is bartered for worldly gain.
54
{COL 53.4}
Many parents seek to promote the happiness of their children by gratifying their love of amusement.
They allow them to engage in sports, and to attend parties of pleasure, and provide them with money to
use freely in display and self-gratification. The more the desire for pleasure is indulged, the stronger it
becomes. The interest of these youth is more and more absorbed in amusement, until they come to look
upon it as the great object of life. They form habits of idleness and self-indulgence that make it almost
impossible for them ever to become steadfast Christians. {COL 54.1}
Even the church, which should be the pillar and ground of the truth, is found encouraging the selfish
love of pleasure. When money is to be raised for religious purposes, to what means do many churches
resort? To bazaars, suppers, fancy fairs, even to lotteries, and like devices. Often the place set apart for
God’s worship is desecrated by feasting and drinking, buying, selling, and merrymaking. Respect for the
house of God and reverence for His worship are lessened in the minds of the youth. The barriers of
self-restraint are weakened. Selfishness, appetite, the love of display, are appealed to, and they
strengthen as they are indulged. {COL 54.2}
The pursuit of pleasure and amusement centers in the cities. Many parents who choose a city home
for their children, thinking to give them greater advantages, meet with disappointment, and too late
repent their terrible mistake. The cities of today are fast becoming like Sodom and Gomorrah. The
many holidays encourage idleness. The exciting sports–theatergoing, horse racing, gambling,
liquor-drinking, and reveling–stimulate every passion to intense activity. The youth are swept away by
the popular current. Those who learn to love amusement for its own
55
sake open the door to a flood of temptations. They give themselves up to social gaiety and thoughtless
mirth, and their intercourse with pleasure lovers has an intoxicating effect upon the mind. They are led on
from one form of dissipation to another, until they lose both the desire and the capacity for a life of
usefulness. Their religious aspirations are chilled; their spiritual life is darkened. All the nobler faculties of
the soul, all that link man with the spiritual world, are debased. {COL 54.3}
It is true that some may see their folly and repent. God may pardon them. But they have wounded
their own souls, and brought upon themselves a lifelong peril. The power of discernment, which ought
ever to be kept keen and sensitive to distinguish between right and wrong, is in a great measure
destroyed. They are not quick to recognize the guiding voice of the Holy Spirit, or to discern the devices
of Satan. Too often in time of danger they fall under temptation, and are led away from God. The end of
their pleasure-loving life is ruin for this world and for the world to come. {COL 55.1}
Cares, riches, pleasures, all are used by Satan in playing the game of life for the human soul. The
warning is given, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world,
the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the
eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” 1 John 2:15, 16. He who reads the
hearts of men as an open book says, “Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be
overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness and cares of this life.” Luke 21:34. And the apostle Paul by
the Holy Spirit writes, “They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and
hurtful lusts, which
56
drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil; which, while some
coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” 1
Tim. 6:9, 10. {COL 55.2}
Preparation of the Soil
Throughout the parable of the sower, Christ represents the different results of the sowing as
depending upon the soil. In every case the sower and the seed are the same. Thus He teaches that if the
word of God fails of accomplishing its work in our hearts and lives, the reason is to be found in
ourselves. But the result is not beyond our control. True, we cannot change ourselves; but the power of
choice is ours, and it rests with us to determine what we will become. The wayside, the stony-ground,
the thorny-ground hearers need not remain such. The Spirit of God is ever seeking to break the spell of
infatuation that holds men absorbed in worldly things, and to awaken a desire for the imperishable
treasure. It is by resisting the Spirit that men become inattentive to or neglectful of God’s word. They are
themselves responsible for the hardness of heart that prevents the good seed from taking root, and for
the evil growths that check its development. {COL 56.1}
The garden of the heart must be cultivated. The soil must be broken up by deep repentance for sin.
Poisonous, Satanic plants must be uprooted. The soil once overgrown by thorns can be reclaimed only
by diligent labor. So the evil tendencies of the natural heart can be overcome only by earnest effort in
the name and strength of Jesus. The Lord bids us by His prophet, “Break up your fallow ground, and
sow not among thorns.” “Sow to yourselves in righteousness; reap in mercy.” Jer. 4:3; Hosea 10:12.
This work He desires to accomplish for us, and He asks us to co-operate with Him.
57
{COL 56.2}
The sowers of the seed have a work to do in preparing hearts to receive the gospel. In the ministry
of the word there is too much sermonizing, and too little of real heart-to-heart work. There is need of
personal labor for the souls of the lost. In Christlike sympathy we should come close to men individually,
and seek to awaken their interest in the great things of eternal life. Their hearts may be as hard as the
beaten highway, and apparently it may be a useless effort to present the Saviour to them; but while logic
may fail to move, and argument be powerless to convince, the love of Christ, revealed in personal
ministry, may soften the stony heart, so that the seed of truth can take root. {COL 57.1}
So the sowers have something to do that the seed may not be choked with thorns or perish because
of shallowness of soil. At the very outset of the Christian life every
58
believer should be taught its foundation principles. He should be taught that he is not merely to be saved
by Christ’s sacrifice, but that he is to make the life of Christ his life and the character of Christ his
character. Let all be taught that they are to bear burdens and to deny natural inclination. Let them learn
the blessedness of working for Christ, following Him in self-denial, and enduring hardness as good
soldiers. Let them learn to trust His love and to cast on Him their cares. Let them taste the joy of
winning souls for Him. In their love and interest for the lost, they will lose sight of self. The pleasures of
the world will lose their power to attract and its burdens to dishearten. The plowshare of truth will do its
work. It will break up the fallow ground. It will not merely cut off the tops of the thorns, but will take
them out by the roots. {COL 57.2}
In Good Ground
The sower is not always to meet with disappointment. Of the seed that fell into good ground the
Saviour said, This “is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and
bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” “That on the good ground are they,
which, in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.”
{COL 58.1}
The “honest and good heart” of which the parable speaks, is not a heart without sin; for the gospel is
to be preached to the lost. Christ said, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Mark 2:17. He has an honest heart who yields to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. He confesses his
guilt, and feels his need of the mercy and love of God. He has a sincere desire to know the truth, that he
may obey it. The good heart is a believing
59
heart, one that has faith in the word of God. Without faith it is impossible to receive the word. “He that
cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.”
Heb. 11:6. {COL 58.2}
This “is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it.” The Pharisees of Christ’s day closed their
eyes lest they should see, and their ears lest they should hear; therefore the truth could not reach their
hearts. They were to suffer retribution for their willful ignorance and self-imposed blindness. But Christ
taught His disciples that they were to open their minds to instruction, and be ready to believe. He
pronounced a blessing upon them because they saw and heard with eyes and ears that believed. {COL
59.1}
The good-ground hearer receives the word “not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of
God.” 1 Thess. 2:13. Only he who receives the Scriptures as the voice of God speaking to himself is a
true learner. He trembles at the word; for to him it is a living reality. He opens his understanding and his
heart to receive it. Such hearers were Cornelius and his friends, who said to the apostle Peter, “Now
therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.” Acts
10:33. {COL 59.2}
A knowledge of the truth depends not so much upon strength of intellect as upon pureness of
purpose, the simplicity of an earnest, dependent faith. To those who in humility of heart seek for divine
guidance, angels of God draw near. The Holy Spirit is given to open to them the rich treasures of the
truth. {COL 59.3}
The good-ground hearers, having heard the word, keep it. Satan with all his agencies of evil is not
able to catch it away. {COL 59.4}
Merely to hear or to read the word is not enough. He who desires to be profited by the Scriptures
must meditate
60
upon the truth that has been presented to him. By earnest attention and prayerful thought he must learn
the meaning of the words of truth, and drink deep of the spirit of the holy oracles. {COL 59.5}
God bids us fill the mind with great thoughts, pure thoughts. He desires us to meditate upon His love
and mercy, to study His wonderful work in the great plan of redemption. Then clearer and still clearer
will be our perception of truth, higher, holier, our desire for purity of heart and clearness of thought. The
soul dwelling in the pure atmosphere of holy thought will be transformed by communion with God
through the study of Scriptures. {COL 60.1}
“And bring forth fruit.” Those who, having heard the word, keep it, will bring forth fruit in obedience.
The word of God, received into the soul, will be manifest in good works. Its results will be seen in a
Christlike character and life. Christ said of Himself, “I delight to do Thy will, O My God; yea, Thy law is
within My heart.” Ps. 40:8. “I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent Me.”
John 5:30. And the Scripture says, “He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even
as He walked.” 1 John 2:6. {COL 60.2}
The word of God often comes in collision with man’s hereditary and cultivated traits of character and
his habits of life. But the good-ground hearer, in receiving the word, accepts all its conditions and
requirements. His habits, customs, and practices are brought into submission to God’s word. In his view
the commands of finite, erring man sink into insignificance beside the word of the infinite God. With the
whole heart, with undivided purpose, he is seeking the life eternal, and at the cost of loss, persecution,
or death itself, he will obey the truth. {COL 60.3}
And he brings forth fruit “with patience.” None who receive God’s word are exempt from difficulty
and trial; but
61
when affliction comes, the true Christian does not become restless, distrustful, or despondent. Though
we can not see the definite outcome of affairs, or discern the purpose of God’s providences, we are not
to cast away our confidence. Remembering the tender mercies of the Lord, we should cast our care
upon Him, and with patience wait for His salvation. {COL 60.4}
Through conflict the spiritual life is strengthened. Trials well borne will develop steadfastness of
character and precious spiritual graces. The perfect fruit of faith, meekness, and love often matures best
amid storm clouds and darkness. {COL 61.1}
“The husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he
receive the early and latter rain.” James 5:7. So the Christian is to wait with patience for the fruition in his
life of the word of God. Often when we pray for the graces of the Spirit, God works to answer our
prayers by placing us in circumstances to develop these fruits; but we do not understand His purpose,
and wonder, and are dismayed. Yet none can develop these graces except through the process of
growth and fruit bearing. Our part is to receive God’s word and to hold it fast, yielding ourselves fully to
its control, and its purpose in us will be accomplished. {COL 61.2}
“If a man love Me,” Christ said, “he will keep My words; and My Father will love him, and we will
come unto him, and make our abode with him.” John 14:23. The spell of a stronger, a perfect mind will
be over us; for we have a living connection with the source of all-enduring strength. In our divine life we
shall be brought into captivity to Jesus Christ. We shall no longer live the common life of selfishness, but
Christ will live in us. His character will be reproduced in our nature. Thus shall we bring forth the fruits
of the Holy Spirit–“some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.” {COL 61.3}

Teaching in Parables

24 Jan

In Christ’s parable teaching the same principle is seen as in His own mission to the world. That we
might become acquainted with His divine character and life, Christ took our nature and dwelt among us.
Divinity was revealed in humanity; the invisible glory in the visible human form. Men could learn of the
unknown through the known; heavenly things were revealed through the earthly; God was made
manifest in the likeness of men. So it was in Christ’s teaching: the unknown was illustrated by the known;
divine truths by earthly things with which the people were most familiar. {COL 17.1}
The Scripture says, “All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; . . . that it might be
fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things
which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.” Matt. 13:34, 35. Natural things were
the medium for the spiritual; the things of nature and the life-experience of His hearers were connected
with the truths of the written word. Leading thus from the natural to the spiritual kingdom, Christ’s
parables
18
are links in the chain of truth that unites man with God, and earth with heaven. {COL 17.2}
In His teaching from nature, Christ was speaking of the things which His own hands had made, and
which had qualities and powers that He Himself had imparted. In their original perfection all created
things were an expression of the thought of God. To Adam and Eve in their Eden home nature was full
of the knowledge of God, teeming with divine instruction. Wisdom spoke to the eye and was received
into the heart; for they communed with God in His created works. As soon as the holy pair transgressed
the law of the Most High, the brightness from the face of God departed from the face of nature. The
earth is now marred and defiled by sin. Yet even in its blighted state much that is beautiful remains.
God’s object lessons are not obliterated; rightly understood, nature speaks of her Creator. {COL 18.1}
In the days of Christ these lessons had been lost sight of. Men had well-nigh ceased to discern God
in His works. The sinfulness of humanity had cast a pall over the fair face of creation; and instead of
manifesting God, His works became a barrier that concealed Him. Men “worshiped and served the
creature more than the Creator.” Thus the heathen “became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish
heart was darkened.” Rom. 1:25, 21. So in Israel, man’s teaching had been put in the place of God’s.
Not only the things of nature, but the sacrificial service and the Scriptures themselves–all given to reveal
God–were so perverted that they became the means of concealing Him. {COL 18.2}
Christ sought to remove that which obscured the truth. The veil that sin has cast over the face of
nature, He came
19
to draw aside, bringing to view the spiritual glory that all things were created to reflect. His words
placed the teachings of nature as well as of the Bible in a new aspect, and made them a new revelation.
{COL 18.3}
Jesus plucked the beautiful lily, and placed it in the hands of children and youth; and as they looked
into His own youthful face, fresh with the sunlight of His Father’s countenance, He gave the lesson,
“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow [in the simplicity of natural beauty]; they toil not, neither
do they spin; and yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of
these.” Then followed the sweet assurance and the important lesson, “Wherefore, if God so clothe the
grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe
you, O ye of little faith?” {COL 19.1}
In the sermon on the mount these words were spoken to others besides children and youth. They
were spoken to the multitude, among whom were men and women full of worries and perplexities, and
sore with disappointment and sorrow. Jesus continued: “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall
we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (for after all these things do the
Gentiles seek:) for your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.” Then spreading
out His hands to the surrounding multitude, He said, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His
righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matt. 6:28-33. {COL 19.2}
Thus Christ interpreted the message which He Himself had given to the lilies and the grass of the
field. He desires us to read it in every lily and every spire of grass. His words are full of assurance, and
tend to confirm trust in God.
20
{COL 19.3}
So wide was Christ’s view of truth, so extended His teaching, that every phase of nature was
employed in illustrating truth. The scenes upon which the eye daily rests were all connected with some
spiritual truth, so that nature is clothed with the parables of the Master. {COL 20.1}
In the earlier part of His ministry, Christ had spoken to the people in words so plain that all His
hearers might have grasped truths which would make them wise unto salvation. But in many hearts the
truth had taken no root, and it had been quickly caught away. “Therefore speak I to them in parables.”
He said; “because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. . . . For
this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed.”
Matt. 13:13-15. {COL 20.2}
Jesus desired to awaken inquiry. He sought to arouse
21
the careless, and impress truth upon the heart. Parable teaching was popular, and commanded the
respect and attention, not only of the Jews, but of the people of other nations. No more effective
method of instruction could He have employed. If His hearers had desired a knowledge of divine things,
they might have understood His words; for He was always willing to explain them to the honest inquirer.
{COL 20.3}
Again, Christ had truths to present which the people were unprepared to accept or even to
understand. For this reason also He taught them in parables. By connecting His teaching with the scenes
of life, experience, or nature, He secured their attention and impressed their hearts. Afterward, as they
looked upon the objects that illustrated His lessons, they recalled the words of the divine Teacher. To
minds that were open to the Holy Spirit, the significance of the Saviour’s teaching unfolded more and
more. Mysteries grew clear, and that which had been hard to grasp became evident. {COL 21.1}
Jesus sought an avenue to every heart. By using a variety of illustrations, He not only presented truth
in its different phases, but appealed to the different hearers. Their interest was aroused by figures drawn
from the surroundings of their daily life. None who listened to the
22
Saviour could feel that they were neglected or forgotten. The humblest, the most sinful, heard in His
teaching a voice that spoke to them in sympathy and tenderness. {COL 21.2}
And He had another reason for teaching in parables. Among the multitudes that gathered about Him,
there were priests and rabbis, scribes and elders, Herodians and rulers, world-loving, bigoted,
ambitious men, who desired above all things to find some accusation against Him. Their spies followed
His steps day after day, to catch from His lips something that would cause His condemnation, and
forever silence the One who seemed to draw the world after Him. The Saviour understood the
character of these men, and He presented truth in such a way that they could find nothing by which to
bring His case before the Sanhedrim. In parables He rebuked the hypocrisy and wicked works of those
who occupied high positions, and in figurative language clothed truth of so cutting a character that had it
been spoken in direct denunciation, they would not have listened to His words, and would speedily have
put an end to His ministry. But while He evaded the spies, He made truth so clear that error was
manifested, and the honest in heart were profited by His lessons. Divine wisdom, infinite grace, were
made plain by the things of God’s creation. Through nature and the experiences of life, men were taught
of God. “The invisible things of Him since the creation of the world,” were “perceived through the things
that are made, even His everlasting power and divinity.” Rom. 1:20, R. V. {COL 22.1}
In the Saviour’s parable teaching is an indication of what constitutes the true “higher education.”
Christ might have opened to men the deepest truths of science. He might have unlocked mysteries which
have required many centuries of toil and study to penetrate. He might have made suggestions in scientific
lines that would have
23
afforded food for thought and stimulus for invention to the close of time. But He did not do this. He said
nothing to gratify curiosity, or to satisfy man’s ambition by opening doors to worldly greatness. In all His
teaching, Christ brought the mind of man in contact with the Infinite Mind. He did not direct the people
to study men’s theories about God, His word, or His works. He taught them to behold Him as
manifested in His works, in His word, and by His providences. {COL 22.2}
Christ did not deal in abstract theories, but in that which is essential to the development of character,
that which will enlarge man’s capacity for knowing God, and increase his efficiency to do good. He
spoke to men of those truths that relate to the conduct of life, and that take hold upon eternity. {COL
23.1}
It was Christ who directed the education of Israel. Concerning the commandments and ordinances
of the Lord He said, “Thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou
sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest
24
down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be
as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy
gates.” Deut. 6:7-9. In His own teaching, Jesus showed how this command is to be fulfilled–how the
laws and principles of God’s kingdom can be so presented as to reveal their beauty and preciousness.
When the Lord was training Israel to be the special representatives of Himself, He gave them homes
among the hills and valleys. In their home life and their religious service they were brought in constant
contact with nature and with the word of God. So Christ taught His disciples by the lake, on the
mountainside, in the fields and groves, where they could look upon the things of nature by which He
illustrated His teachings. And as they learned of Christ, they put their knowledge to use by co-operating
with Him in His work. {COL 23.2}
So through the creation we are to become acquainted with the Creator. The book of nature is a
great lesson book, which in connection with the Scriptures we are to use in teaching others of His
character, and guiding lost sheep back to the fold of God. As the works of God are studied, the Holy
Spirit flashes conviction into the mind. It is not the conviction that logical reasoning produces; but unless
the mind has become too dark to know God, the eye too dim to see Him, the ear too dull to hear His
voice, a deeper meaning is grasped, and the sublime, spiritual truths of the written word are impressed
on the heart. {COL 24.1}
In these lessons direct from nature, there is a simplicity and purity that makes them of the highest
value. All need the teaching to be derived from this source. In itself the beauty of nature leads the soul
away from sin and worldly attractions, and toward purity, peace, and God.
25
Too often the minds of students are occupied with men’s theories and speculations, falsely called science
and philosophy. They need to be brought into close contact with nature. Let them learn that creation and
Christianity have one God. Let them be taught to see the harmony of the natural with the spiritual. Let
everything which their eyes see or their hands handle be made a lesson in character building. Thus the
mental powers will be strengthened, the character developed, the whole life ennobled. {COL 24.2}
Christ’s purpose in parable teaching was in direct line with the purpose of the Sabbath. God gave to
men the memorial of His creative power, that they might discern Him in the works of His hand. The
Sabbath bids us behold in His created works the glory of the Creator. And
26
it was because He desired us to do this that Jesus bound up His precious lessons with the beauty of
natural things. On the holy rest day, above all other days, we should study the messages that God has
written for us in nature. We should study the Saviour’s parables where He spoke them, in the fields and
groves, under the open sky, among the grass and flowers. As we come close to the heart of nature,
Christ makes His presence real to us, and speaks to our hearts of His peace and love. {COL 25.1}
And Christ has linked His teaching, not only with the day of rest, but with the week of toil. He has
wisdom for him who drives the plow and sows the seed. In the plowing and sowing, the tilling and
reaping, He teaches us to see an illustration of His work of grace in the heart. So in every line of useful
labor and every association of life, He desires us to find a lesson of divine truth. Then our daily toil will
no longer absorb our attention and lead
27
us to forget God; it will continually remind us of our Creator and Redeemer. The thought of God will run
like a thread of gold through all our homely cares and occupations. For us the glory of His face will
again rest upon the face of nature. We shall ever be learning new lessons of heavenly truth, and growing
into the image of His purity. Thus shall we “be taught of the Lord”; and in the lot wherein we are called,
we shall “abide with God.” Isa. 54:13; 1 Cor. 7:24. {COL 26.1}

The Minstrel's Wife

A worship leader's missus and her views from the pew

STOP WALKING DEAD!

slaying the zombie in you through Jesus --

Life of Yan ♥

My Name is Yanira Vargas. I am a Senior at Washington State University. I love all things expression and creative. I was in a relationship with my childhood best friend of 4 years, who happens to have had passed away with stage 3 brain cancer. I still believe in God, and in the beauty of mircles. Join me and embark on this journey with me.

The New New World Order

So long as there remain the righteous people of God to stand firm.

Faith Love n Desire

Only Jesus is your best friend....

Attenti al Lupo

www.attentiallupo2012.com

Kristi Ann's Haven

Jesus-Yeshua Saves!!

keithgarrettpoetry

Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever

Jesus. God Loves Bummyla

Teaching The World About Jesus

Ray Ferrer - Emotion on Canvas

** OFFICIAL Site of Artist Ray Ferrer **

Gabriel Lucatero

I have a real job. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram don't pay the bills yet.

Journey Through Recovery

Amy McCalister's Journey Through Recovery

Ace News Services

" This is our daily news that we feel is important & we want to tell people about the truth behind the story "

Gospel Relevance

Gospel-Centered Resources For The Gospel-Driven Life

%d bloggers like this: