General Conference Daily Bulletin, vol. 8

February 23, 1899

“True Education” General Conference Daily Bulletin 8.

EJW

E. J. Waggoner

Sypnosis of Lesson By Dr. E. J. Waggoner.

Bible Study — The Child Jesus an Example — No Real Knowledge Without Knowing God — The Nature of Truth — All Found in Christ. GCDB February 23, 1899, page 70.1

I think the same text we began with last night will serve us still: “The word of the Lord came to John in the wilderness.” “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.” What a wonderful thing it is to have the word of the Lord come to us! There is power in that word. John was in the wilderness, away from men, and there the word of the Lord came to him. How did he get it? It came to him, and he recognized it as the word of the Lord, and that word was power and wisdom to him, and in him. “He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion.” GCDB February 23, 1899, page 70.2

So when the word of the Lord comes to a person, what comes to him? — Power, wisdom, discretion. “For the Lord giveth wisdom; out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.” “For the Lord giveth wisdom,” not a part, but the whole, all one can have. Then, apart from what one gets from the mouth of the Lord he can not understand anything and he can not know anything. Then we have a basis here for education. Out of the Lord’s mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. GCDB February 23, 1899, page 71.1

Out of the Lord’s mouth cometh the word, which he breathes forth, the word that made the heavens. You remember the text, don’t you? “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.” So the word of the Lord is the breath of God. Therefore, all scripture is the breathing of God, and “is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” GCDB February 23, 1899, page 71.2

Hear Job: “I said, Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach them wisdom. But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.” “In reality it is the spirit in man and the breathing of the Almighty that giveth understanding; whether he be old or young has nothing to do with it. That is demonstrated in the little boy Jesus who was talking with the old doctors. There were many present of mature years; but there was one of only a few years who could teach them wisdom. Why? — Because it was the Spirit and the inspiration of the Almighty that gave him understanding. Now God is no respecter of persons. The Spirit is given freely to every one who asks. GCDB February 23, 1899, page 71.3

These are fundamental principles. We all say amen to them, because they are simply the word of God; but we don’t stick to them. Time and again I am reminded of an occurrence in my boyhood. I was playing on the ice with one of my mates, and he had a long pole in his hand with which to keep himself afloat in case he were to fall through one of the air-holes in the ice. He carried the pole very bravely until he fell through one of these air-holes, then he dropped the pole and clutched the ice. GCDB February 23, 1899, page 71.4

So here are these simple truths, just as simple as the word of God can make them, and we read them. We believe them — why, of course we believe them; we could not be Seventh-day Adventists if we did not believe them, for it is according to our profession of faith to believe the Bible — until we get to the place where we apply them, and then they go. GCDB February 23, 1899, page 71.5

It is the Spirit and the breathing of the Almighty that gives understanding; and that Spirit of Christ is the spirit of meekness and humility, of receptivity or teachableness. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” Jesus was not a prodigy; he was an example and pattern. Therefore the wisdom that was manifested in the child Jesus at twelve years of age is simply the wisdom that should be in every child at that age, and the wisdom that might be, would be, in every child at that age, if that child was subject to the inspiration of the Almighty. GCDB February 23, 1899, page 71.6

When Jesus came before the people, they were astonished at his doctrine, and they said, How does this man know? Mark you, they did not say, He does not know anything; no; their question was, How did he learn? We never had him in our school; he has no diploma; then how is it possible for a man to have wisdom greater than we, when he did not go through the set form and ways? Yet in every question asked of him he knew what to say or what not to say; he knew when a question ought not to be answered. It takes a good deal of wisdom to know that. GCDB February 23, 1899, page 71.7

Take this text: “We speak of wisdom among them that are perfect; yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to naught: but we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory.” We preach “as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.... For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak.” GCDB February 23, 1899, page 71.8

Let us consider this matter. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” That is, if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is not a Christian. That is a simple proposition; the Spirit of God marks one as a child of God, a son of God, as one with the Lord Jesus Christ. But the Spirit is given to us for a definite purpose, as we read here. What for? — “That we might know.” We just cut the scripture right off there for a moment. It is given to us that we may know. GCDB February 23, 1899, page 71.9

How much can a person know who does not know the Lord? It may seem to some as though it is drawing the thing too fine if it is stated that a person knows nothing, if he does not know God; or that a person can not know anything, if he has not received the Spirit of God. But let us see. “We have received, not the spirit of the world [that is a different spirit from the Spirit of God], but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.” GCDB February 23, 1899, page 71.10

The Spirit is given to us in order that we may “know the things that are freely given to us of God.” Since God does not do things in vain, it follows that without the Spirit we can not know the things that are given to us of God? — “He giveth to all, life, breath, and all things.” “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” In him were all things created in heaven and on earth — things that you can see, and things that you can not see. “All things were made by him,” and for him; and “he is before all things, and in him all things exist.” GCDB February 23, 1899, page 71.11

“Now we have received ... the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.” Or, to put it short, we have received the Spirit which is of God, that we may know all things. Since God does not do things in vain, without that gift of the Spirit we can not know the things that God has given to us — and he has given to us all things; therefore without the Spirit of God we can not know anything. GCDB February 23, 1899, page 71.12

Everybody does not see that. You think that is just a sort of logical quibble, a turn, a play upon words. It is not. It is just the recognition of a simple fact. If we recognized that simple fact, and held to it, every one of us would be at the entrance of the school that would teach us all things. The examination is simply this: It consists of only one question, Do you know the Lord Jesus Christ? That is the examination question that admits one into the university course, the course in which one may learn all things. When he knows the Lord, and knows the Spirit of God, then he has the key of knowledge. GCDB February 23, 1899, page 71.13

[A. T. Jones: I recently read in “The Desire of Ages” that the key of knowledge is faith working by love.] GCDB February 23, 1899, page 71.14

But faith working by love — what does it do? What is its first effect? — It purifies the heart. This brings us to the same thing again. The one question, the answer to which admits any person and every person into the university course, is, Do you know and believe the Lord Jesus Christ? GCDB February 23, 1899, page 71.15

[A. T. Jones: In Christ nothing avails but faith, which works by love.] GCDB February 23, 1899, page 71.16

Yes: nothing is of any avail but faith, which works by love, which is the key of knowledge. GCDB February 23, 1899, page 71.17

[Voice in congregation:Is not receiving the Spirit the examination, instead of knowing the Lord?] GCDB February 23, 1899, page 71.18

What is the difference? GCDB February 23, 1899, page 71.19

[Voice: Well, knowing the Lord reaches clear on — knowing all that we will ever know.] GCDB February 23, 1899, page 71.20

I do not know what is the difference between the two things — receiving the Spirit, or knowing the Lord. GCDB February 23, 1899, page 71.21

[Voice: Well, the Spirit comes and teaches us to know the Lord.] GCDB February 23, 1899, page 71.22

Yes; but then you know the Lord. GCDB February 23, 1899, page 71.23

[Voice: A little.] GCDB February 23, 1899, page 71.24

Yes: but you know the Lord. Never mind “little” or “much;” you know the Lord. Why, you can ask a little child, Do you know the Lord? — “Well, yes, a little.” Of course it is only a little child, and he can not know so much as he will know by and by, after a few hundred thousand years; but this one thing it knows, — it knows the Lord. The child knows its father. It says, “I know him so easy.” But that is not to say that the child knows all that the father knows. There is a difference there. The child may know its father without knowing all that the father knows. That is a matter of time. Of course we shall never know all that our Father in heaven knows; but we will never know anything that he knows if we do not know him. GCDB February 23, 1899, page 71.25

“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” And they said, “We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?” And he said, “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house forever: but the Son abideth forever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” Notice the difference in the two statements. In the first place it says: “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” The truth is the Son; the Son is the truth. “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Then how much does anybody know who does not know the truth? [Congregation: He does not know anything.] Do you say, Oh, he has got to have a good lot of knowledge? Do you not see the very fact of our difficulty? We have been educated wrong; and we have to get rid of some of the things that we think we know in order that we may begin to know. What is truth? — Christ is truth, and his name is “I Am.” Three different times in the 8th of John we find him applying this title to himself. It appears only once in our version, but it occurs three times: “Before Abraham was, I am.” Also, in another place he says, “If ye believe not that I am, ye shall die in your sins.” That is what it is, literally. Again, “When ye shall have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am.” It is through the cross of Christ that we know God. His name is “I Am” — that is, the one who is. He is the one who is, the one who was, and the one who is to come. It is being, being, being, all the time. He is before all things, and all things are in him, and he is the beginning of everything that is. All things were made by him, and without him was not anything. Therefore there is nothing outside of him. Is not that clear and simple enough? In the Sanskrit, to which we trace our English language, the word for “truth” is simply a word signifying “that which is.” Truth is something which is. Where can a thing be which is not? Can there be any such thing? The mere statement that it is not, states the whole case. It is not there — there is nothing there. “It is not.” Rachel mourned for her children, and was not comforted, “because they were not.” She did not have any children. GCDB February 23, 1899, page 71.26

Then you see that you can not have anything unless you have something that is. And there is nothing except in Christ. Is not that clear enough? Then what is not in the Lord Jesus Christ is nothing. Oh, you say, you are so narrow. It is too bad that Jesus Christ is so narrow, and that knowing the Lord is such a limited knowledge! We want to know something more than that. [A. T. Jones: So did Eve.] Yes; Eve did, and we are reaping the results. GCDB February 23, 1899, page 71.27

There is no occasion for boasting, or for depreciating other men. The Spirit of the Lord works in a good many men besides us. The Spirit of the Lord strives with men, to enlighten every man that comes into the world, just to the extent that that man is willing to receive it, even though he is not professing to know the Lord; for there are people who do not profess to be Christians who are much nearer Christ than a great many who make such profession. But the Lord tells us of a class of people who are “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth,” — always learning, but never learning anything. There is no profit in that. The man who is always learning will seem to have stored up a vast mass of something; but he never comes to the knowledge of the truth, and without the truth, a man can not know anything. GCDB February 23, 1899, page 71.28

Brethren, the trouble with us is that we are preaching and teaching, and professing to believe that we have all of eternity before us; but when we come to the matter of education, we act as though eternity was nothing, — as though that were all to be left out. What would you think of a person who should plan and expect to live for years, and then make all his plans for only a day? Knowledge to be knowledge indeed, must lay hold of something that is. Jesus Christ is, and he is going to be to all eternity to come, — he always is, he always will be; and whatever really is — we are now using the word in its simplest significance — whatever is, always will be. Therefore, what a person really knows, — and he can not know anything unless he knows the truth, — that thing shall endure forever, and that knowledge will carry that man along with it to eternity, so that he will live forever. GCDB February 23, 1899, page 71.29

“What shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” You know that there are a great many people who are amassing property. And then the question is, How much did he leave? Well, he didn’t take anything with him — he had to leave it all. How much has he got? [Voice: Nothing.] What is the use of it, then? He might just as well have spent his time in doing nothing. He might just as well never have been. What is the use, then, of gathering together that which he can not hold? And more than all, what is the use of gathering together that which is not worth holding? GCDB February 23, 1899, page 71.30

Take the men that the world call great, the great conquerors, who gathered kingdoms to themselves. Take Alexander, who conquered the world. How much of it has he? — Nothing. How much of it, then, did he really have? — He never had it at all. He did not have anything. Take Jesus Christ, who had not where to lay his head; how much of it has he? — He has the whole of it, because the one who holds the thing is the one who has it. GCDB February 23, 1899, page 71.31

Here is a person who has not much education, and here is one that has a great deal, as the world goes. But let this poor, despised man, called an ignoramus, who knows the Lord Jesus Christ, come to the day of judgment; and let this man who has all the polish and culture of all the schools, come to the same place, not knowing the Lord, — who knows the most? That ignorant man may not have so great a range of things to show; but he knows the Lord; and he has the key of knowledge, and all eternity in which to study. I think he has the best education. What is the thing which we ought to study, then? — The Lord himself, the word of the Lord; and it is no narrow education; “for in him are all things.” GCDB February 23, 1899, page 72.1

Now, this is just the same question that we were studying last night, — the question of receiving the Spirit, and having the Spirit of prophecy, the spirit of discernment; for, as we read, “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual discerneth all things.” When we come to the Lord Jesus Christ for wisdom, confessing that we do not know anything, and receive from him alone, it will not be a narrow course, but a real grasp of real things. Let it be in natural science, or any other branch, he will have that mind which perceives, so that when he goes to study the thing, he will see more in it in a short time than he who does not have the mind of the Spirit of God ever can see in it. So that man who is called ignorant, who knows the Lord, may even in this life know more than that other man who has a great mass of facts, and does not know the Lord. For it is the spirit in man and the breath of the Almighty that give him understanding. When Jesus stood there in that upper chamber with the disciples, what did he do? — He breathed on them, and said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” That is what God did with Adam in the beginning. The Lord God made man of the dust of the earth, and breathed upon him, — breathed into him. There was the inspiration of the Almighty. Then what did man become? — A living soul. The breath of the Lord made Adam a very good man. What was he good for before the Lord breathed on him? — He was not good for anything as a man. He was utterly useless as a man — simply a clod. He was just as good as any stone; just as good as any lump of earth; but useless as a man, worthless, good for nothing. Then God breathed into him, and he became a very good man. Oh, what a blessed thing it would be if we could always live, by consciously receiving the breath of the Almighty! And we may. Why? — Because that very same breath which was breathed into Adam is breathed into the soul of every man. We live by breathing the same breath that was given to Adam. GCDB February 23, 1899, page 72.2

Oh, how marvelously near the Lord is. When I come here so close to Brother Corliss, and talk with him, he feels my breath upon his cheek, don’t you? [Elder Corliss: Yes, sir.] When I get so near that I can whisper in his ear, and he feels my breath on his cheek, that is very close communion, is it not? How near the Lord is, then, to every one of us! How near? — So near that we can feel his breath fanning our cheeks every moment. And the inspiration of the Almighty gives understanding. My friends, if we recognize that, — if we take the truth of which that stands as a representative, — then we will have the key to all knowledge; and that is inspiration. God would have his word breathed into every soul; then they would know the word of God, not that somebody tells them that it is the word of God, but because they hear it from him, and talk with him, and receive it from him; for he has given the Spirit to breathe into us his life, that we may know, and that will lead us in the right way. GCDB February 23, 1899, page 72.3

Now there is such a thing, such a possibility, as the Spirit of God taking possession of man, and using that man, and thinking through that man; for the scripture says, — and you often quote it, — “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts.” When a man forsakes his way and his thoughts, what is left? [Voice: He is empty.] There is nothing there. He has no way, and no thoughts. There is nothing left. What next? — “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” When the Lord says, Forsake your way, and forsake your thoughts, what does he expect? He will put his ways into us. Now, when the Lord Jesus Christ thinks in you and me, that thought will be worth something, will it not? That will be a thought worth preserving; for the thoughts of the Lord are — how long? — To all generations. They continue forever. The thought of the Lord endures. “All scripture is given by inspiration from God” — by the breathing in of God. Now it is not enough that it was breathed into David, and Moses, and Isaiah, and Paul, and John; it was breathed into them, and being breathed into them, it was their life; but what good is it to me that John, and Paul, and Moses, and Isaiah had life, if I do not have life? Therefore the same word which was breathed into them may be, and should be, by the same Spirit, breathed into us, and then we have knowledge; “for the Lord God giveth wisdom; out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.” GCDB February 23, 1899, page 72.4

Just one text more — that blessed statement concerning Christ in the 11th chapter of Isaiah! “There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots; and the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord: and shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord,” literally, “shall make him breathe the fear of the Lord”; or, as the French version gives it, “shall make him inspire the fear of the Lord.” What is the fear of the Lord? — “The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” GCDB February 23, 1899, page 72.5

We have read something about short courses. It does not take very long to know the Lord. Then, when one knows the Lord, and brings everything right to the standard of that knowledge, — knows nothing except the Lord, — a very short course will suffice for him to begin to get hold of that knowledge, and he has all eternity before him in which to keep on learning. Nobody gets very much in school. The education of a man is received out in the world, at work. None of us learned very much in school compared with what we have learned since we have left school. Therefore, in school we ought to get the right start, and get in the right way, and keep in the right way. That is the way of the Lord; yea, it is the Lord himself, who is the way. Then we have got the way, which is the way everlasting. GCDB February 23, 1899, page 72.6

There is no one who has not much to learn, and every one must come under the training of Jesus Christ; he calls all to become his students. GCDB February 23, 1899, page 72.7