Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4

402/448

Ms 44, 1886

Sermon/The Cross Before the Crown

Nimes, France

October 22, 1886

This manuscript is published in entirety in 3MR 93-99.

8 p.m., October 22, 1886

(Nimes, 6th discourse,)

Text: “Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and then He shall reward every man according to his works.” Matthew 16:24-27. 4LtMs, Ms 44, 1886, par. 1

Here we have the plain statement of Christ that if we follow Him we must take up the cross. Self-denial and the cross lie directly in our pathway on our journey heavenward. The consequence of shunning the cross is found in the words of my text: “Whosoever will save his life shall lose it.” [Verse 25.] The great infinite sacrifice was made that we might be saved. By coming from heaven to this earth, Christ has made a way for our escape. 4LtMs, Ms 44, 1886, par. 2

Our Saviour has represented His first advent, and the treatment He received, by the parable of the vineyard. “A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went into a far country for a long time.” Luke 20:9. The account is continued in Luke 20:10-17. God first sent His prophets to ancient Israel, but their message was not heeded, and as a last resort He sent His Son, that the hearts of the people might be reached and be turned unto God; but they killed His Son. This was the work of Satan by the hands of those that he has gathered under his banner. 4LtMs, Ms 44, 1886, par. 3

Christ was “despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” Isaiah 53:3. What was it that brought such sorrow? It was not on His own account, but for the sins of the people. He realized their condition, and this was the reason that He felt such sorrow as He wept over Jerusalem and uttered the lamentable words, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not. Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” Luke 13:34. 4LtMs, Ms 44, 1886, par. 4

He does not say that they could not, but would not. How can we explain the treatment of Him who loved us to that extent that He laid down His life for us? This treatment was a marvel to the angels of heaven—to see the Creator of this world, the Majesty of heaven, treated with such contempt. His condescension is without parallel. 4LtMs, Ms 44, 1886, par. 5

The souls of men are valued by the Son of God, and if we do not value eternal life sufficiently to make a sacrifice for it, then we shall lose eternal life. What is it to lose life? It is when the truth is clearly set before us and we refuse to accept because a cross is involved. The Creator of heaven has a right to the faculties He has given us, and it is for our own good and advantage that we give these powers to God and to His service. 4LtMs, Ms 44, 1886, par. 6

Here is a business that man cannot give to others, but in which each individual has his own work to do. We need to give our hearts to God. To do this we shall meet with crosses. Nothing should stand in the way of duty. Even if losses in business should have to be made, it should not keep us from discharging our duty. Our purpose should be to obey God so that Christ’s death will not be in vain in our behalf. 4LtMs, Ms 44, 1886, par. 7

We must have the same integrity and principle that were found in Joseph and Daniel. Joseph was so established in principle that he could resist the great temptation that was brought upon him, because he had determined to obey God. Daniel was brought to a test, and he purposed in his heart that he would worship the true God, notwithstanding the decree. He here saw that principle was at stake, and because of integrity he was cast into the lions’ den. But here God did not forget him. All heaven had been watching his case, to see if he would be faithful to his God. When the trial came, angels were his companions. They stopped the lions’ mouths and delivered him. When the king saw the real object of the wise men, to rid Daniel of his power, then the king was wroth and destroyed the enemies of Daniel. 4LtMs, Ms 44, 1886, par. 8

So it was with his three companions. They were tested in refusing to worship the great image that the king had set up. Those three youths did not fear the king and told him plainly that they could not violate their consciences by worshiping a false god. This caused the king to be furious, and he ordered that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than it was wont to be made and ordered those God-fearing children to be cast into it. But God did not forsake them, and those whom the king had called to execute his demands in order to set before them the penalty of disobedience were consumed by the fire. Here in full view of the king he saw in that furnace those whom he had cast in, walking in the midst of the fire, and he also saw the fourth form like the Son of God. So you can see that the king was not ignorant of God and of His Son. These three Hebrew children had been a shining light in Babylon. This had its weight and influence, and when the king saw that the God they had worshiped was able to preserve them even in such an heated furnace, he called them forth, and not a smell of fire was upon their garments. Then they told the king how their deliverance came. 4LtMs, Ms 44, 1886, par. 9

There was the case of the apostle James, who was beheaded. When the king saw that it pleased the Jews, Peter was brought forth and cast into prison; but God sent His angel to deliver him. The prison doors flew open at the presence of this mighty angel. The bands of Peter were loosed. He was awakened by the touch of the angel, and Peter was amazed because of the light. He could not understand it, but thought that he saw a vision. The angel requested him to gird himself and put on his sandals. Peter was so astonished that he thought not of his garments. God always has a care for the true and faithful, and He sent His messengers from heaven and opened the gates and set His servant free. Prayers had been made in Peter’s behalf. They expected that he would have to suffer death; and when they heard his voice at the gate, they were astonished. 4LtMs, Ms 44, 1886, par. 10

Case after case of this nature has transpired during the world’s history, and the test will come to all who are obeying the truth. He that seeks to save his life shall lose it; but on the other hand, he that is willing to lose his life for the sake of truth shall find eternal life. We want to know that heaven is interested in our welfare. Christ and angels are looking on with intense interest to see if the souls of men appreciate the great sacrifice in their behalf. We should constantly consider that we are in the presence of holy angels. 4LtMs, Ms 44, 1886, par. 11

Satan is also watching his chances to lead us astray. He will present attractions that will lead our minds from God. But shall we not watch his devices, and be constantly seeking the aid of God to keep us from Satan’s allurements? We must press toward the mark of the high calling of God in Jesus. We must not lay off the armor for one moment. 4LtMs, Ms 44, 1886, par. 12

You will hear the cry “Only believe.” Satan believed and trembled. We must have a faith that works by love and purifies the heart. The idea prevails that Christ has done all for us and that we can go on transgressing the commandments and will not be held accountable for it. This is the greatest deception that the enemy ever devised. We must take our position that we will not violate the commandments at any cost, and be in that spiritual condition that we can educate others in spiritual things. 4LtMs, Ms 44, 1886, par. 13

Saint Paul ceased not his efforts in going from house to house to warn his fellow men of their duty to love God, “Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” Acts 20:21. Repentance of what? Why, of violating the commandments; and faith in our Saviour, that His blood will cleanse us from all our sins. 4LtMs, Ms 44, 1886, par. 14

No one can repent for us. Each individual has this to do. Christ would not have come to this earth if the commandments had not been broken. He came not to save us in our sins, but from our sins. There is no true happiness in transgression, but in obedience. Our merit is in the blood of Christ. But men think they can transgress and shun the cross, and yet enter into the city. 4LtMs, Ms 44, 1886, par. 15

“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Mark 8:36, 37. “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and then He shall reward every man according to his works.” Matthew 16:27. The reward will not be according to his faith, but according to his works, and the life will be eternal with Jesus. In order to obtain this we must be obedient, and not only apply our powers, but if necessary give our lives. 4LtMs, Ms 44, 1886, par. 16

Satan will bring his temptations, and if he is to be resisted, we must pray to God for deliverance. If there ever was a time that we needed to pray, it is in these last days. The Word is no more bound than it was when Christ was upon the earth. We shall have Satan and evil men to combat, but we also shall have messengers of light to help us. It is for us to gather upon our pathway all the rays of light, and not listen to error, for if we do we shall be turned away from truth. We have no time to listen to fables. Christ’s prayer was, “Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth.” John 17:17. We want the truth and we want to give Him all our powers, that when He comes, His benediction will rest upon every one of us, and we shall receive the reward. 4LtMs, Ms 44, 1886, par. 17

If we have shunned the truth to save our lives, then we shall lose eternal life. We have a soul to save or to lose. We must work out our salvation with fear and trembling. We must press against the darkness and take hold of the mighty arm of God. We have but a little time to prepare for eternity. May the Lord help us to overcome and win the crown and see the King in His beauty. Then we shall have not lived in vain. 4LtMs, Ms 44, 1886, par. 18