Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4

365/448

Ms 11, 1886

Sermon/Christ’s Controversy With the Devil

Copenhagen, Denmark

July 25, 1886

Portions of this manuscript are published in CTr 216, 288. +Note

Luke 24:49-53, Acts 1:9-11. Here is the promise that the very same Jesus that ascended up into heaven should so come in like manner as He went into heaven. And we read that they returned to Jerusalem with great joy. Now this joy was not because they were parted from their Redeemer and they were to no more have His company upon the earth, but the joy was that that Saviour that went up into heaven would come again <in like manner as He ascended,> and they should see Him. As He ascended, His hands were stretched out in blessing <upon> His disciples, as they stood gazing at Him <in the heavens to catch the last sight of their ascending Lord.> Floating down from the clouds come these words, “Lo I am with you even unto the end of the world.” [Matthew 28:20.] 4LtMs, Ms 11, 1886, par. 1

Now why should we not believe that the very same Jesus would so come in like manner as He went into heaven? Our Redeemer came into this world at His first advent, and He was not accepted by the children of men. And all <that> the world could endure of their Redeemer was the few years He was with them upon the earth, and they wanted to get rid of Him <almost as soon as His mission commenced.> John says, “The world knew Him not,” and they would not accept Him because they knew Him not. [John 1:10, 11.] The question that every one of us has to settle is: Am I prepared for the coming of the Son of man? If you have accepted your Saviour by living faith, if you have repented of your sins, then you are in that position of acceptance with God that if Christ should come, you would meet Him in peace. 4LtMs, Ms 11, 1886, par. 2

Now Christ will not come to our earth until He has sent a warning of His coming, and there is to be a wonderful scene that is to take place at His second advent. Adam and Eve transgressed the law of God, and because of their transgression they fell from their holy estate; and the precious Saviour consented that He would save the fallen race by becoming their substitute and surety. He would take their sin and guilt upon Himself and give man another trial, another opportunity. Now let us notice the steps that the Son of man had to take in order to carry out the plan of salvation. He steps down from the royal throne, lays aside His royal robes, clothes His divinity with humanity, and consents to come to this world. And it is right <here> in this world that was to be the field of battle where Christ and Satan, the prince of this earth, should here engage in conflict. And the question was here to be settled: How could God be just and true to His law and yet justify the sinner? This could only be done by the sacrifice of the Son of God. Not one precept of the law could be changed or altered to meet man in his fallen condition, and here is where Satan started in his rebellion to work against the law of Jehovah. And the question was raised: Is that law changeable in the slightest degree? As soon as the decision should be made in heaven that that law was changeable in the slightest particular, then there was a reflection cast upon God’s wisdom and character, and the very fact that Christ came into our world and died man’s sacrifice testifies to the immutability of the law of Jehovah. Supposing that every individual in the world should acknowledge that the rule of God’s great moral standard was honorable, and obey it, they would not stand in the position they do today. God gave His rules, His statutes, and His laws to govern His family in heaven and in earth. Now Satan thought that in tempting Adam and Eve that he could have man as his agent with him to work against the law of God. And here was Christ the Saviour of the world who consented for our sakes to become poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich; and if Christ endured the test that was brought to bear one hundredfold greater than that which was brought upon Adam, then that law will stand forever. It was difficult to uproot Satan from the affection of the angels in heaven. He took the position that the law of God was against the heavenly intelligences, and here the warfare and controversy between Christ and Satan was started in heaven and is going on in the earth to the present day. 4LtMs, Ms 11, 1886, par. 3

This controversy between Christ and Satan was witnessed not only by the heavenly intelligences, but by all the worlds that God had created. Here the power [arises] that claims to have the right to change times and laws; [it] is the man of sin. But does he have power to change times and laws? No. Because God’s law is written in the tables of stone, engraven with His own finger, and placed in the temple of God in heaven, and that great moral standard will be the criterion that will judge every being upon the face of the earth, both dead and living. But here now Satan claims that his work while in heaven was for the benefit of the heavenly intelligences; and the mystery is: how did sin enter into our world? Just as soon as you can understand how sin came, then it will be proved that it is not sin. There is no excuse for sin. There is no sign of a reason for sin, but here the battle is to be fought right here upon this earth between Christ and the powers of darkness. Our Saviour as He stood on the banks of Jordan prays a petition such as angels never listened to before, and the heavens were opened and the glory of God like a dove of burnished gold encircled the Son of God, and from the highest Heaven the voice is heard, saying, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” [Matthew 3:16, 17.] 4LtMs, Ms 11, 1886, par. 4

It was because God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son a sacrifice for man. And the testimony that is borne from Heaven is, Ye are accepted in the beloved. Why, the sin of our first parents cut off all earth from heaven and separated man from God. But Christ, the Son of God, has come to be our surety, our substitute, and through Him the heavens are opened, the gates are ajar, and light will come to the children of men. And the praise that may go up from the children of God enters into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. No longer can we say that there is a separation, that we cannot approach our God, for we can draw near to Him through Jesus Christ. The long human arm of Christ encircles the race while with His divine arm He grasps the throne of the Infinite, and thus He unites earth with heaven. He was the ladder which Jacob saw, the base of which rested upon the earth, while the topmost round reached into the highest heaven. And here is the connection between God and man, and heaven and earth. Jacob saw angels of God ascending and descending this ladder of shining brightness, and God was above it. 4LtMs, Ms 11, 1886, par. 5

It was impossible for man on his own account to meet the requirements of the law of God, and keep it. And here Heaven has furnished help to be with us in every temptation, and this help is Jesus. And while that Christ went into the wilderness of temptation to bear the severest temptations, He was tempted in all points as Adam was tempted, and He passed over the very ground where Adam stumbled and fell. Adam failed in obedience to God’s commandments. Christ now is to stand where Adam stood, bearing humanity, and to overcome in behalf of the race where Adam fell. And Christ withstood the test on every point; He resisted on the point of appetite. He overcame the enemy; He was tempted upon the point of ambition, and presumption, and He overcame the enemy on these points. And here the great temptation of the attractions and allurements of the world that would be presented to man was presented to Christ; if He would only worship Satan, the whole world should be his. Here are the great leading temptations wherewith man will be beset. And the Saviour of the world overcame and obtained the victory on every point, and in this He redeemed Adam’s disgraceful fall. 4LtMs, Ms 11, 1886, par. 6

Why, God saw that it was impossible for man to overcome in his own behalf. He had not moral power, but here is the divine Son of God come to bring to man moral power, to unite with man’s human effort, that man might be a conqueror in the name and strength of Jesus Christ. Now these temptations will be presented to us as they were presented to the Son of God. It will be upon the point of appetite that Satan will work to overthrow the race. And we see what victories he gains upon the human family. We see through the indulgence of appetite that the moral powers are debased. Here are the precious talents and mental powers enfeebled through the indulgences of the appetite. You will hear those that have given up their God-given manhood declare: I cannot overcome the habit of using tobacco and liquor. They have sacrificed their God-given manhood to a lustful appetite. Do they forget that our Saviour came into the world and was in the wilderness of temptation 40 days and 40 nights bearing the test of temptation upon the point of appetite in order to give us light? Had Christ yielded upon a single point and had not overcome, then you could say: I cannot overcome. But here Christ fought the battle with the power of darkness, and He came off victorious, saying to every son and daughter of Adam, You may overcome in your own behalf, on your own account, through Jesus Christ. 4LtMs, Ms 11, 1886, par. 7

The work of temptation is to be brought right into our lives here upon this earth, and we are to regain the image of God which has been destroyed because of sin. Jesus has made it possible that you can be transformed to the divine image, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. But here we see that the power of Satan is opened upon the Son of God every day of His ministry here upon the earth. All Heaven is watching the controversy, how it is going on. Here upon the earth Satan stirs up the enmity that is in the human mind to resist the salvation that has been brought to them at such an infinite cost. He was the light of the world, and yet the world knew Him not. He created the world, and yet the world would not acknowledge Him. But when His life was sought for, the Majesty of heaven had to go from place to place; Heaven marked this. And He was despised and rejected of men; He was mocked at, reviled; but when He was reviled, He reviled not again. But Satan did not stop his persecutions until Christ hung upon the cross of Calvary. All heaven and all the worlds God had created were watching the controversy; would Christ carry out the plan He had undertaken, to lift man from the pit of sin, that he might stand with Him upon His throne? The enmity of Satan stirred up the men to cry: Crucify Him, crucify Him, and release unto us Barabbas. All this was taken notice of by the heavenly angels. And upon the cross, as the Son of God cried out, “It is finished,” then the plan of salvation had been carried out for the fallen race. [John 19:30.] Why, the angels hid their faces from the sight when they saw the Majesty of heaven in His dying agony. The sun refused to shine, and the very earth groaned out in agony as it witnessed its dying Author. The rocks were rent, and the horrors of the darkness covered the earth. And those who saw the darkness declared that it was the Son of God that had been put to death. 4LtMs, Ms 11, 1886, par. 8

Then the Saviour of the world was laid in Joseph’s new tomb, but the angels of God were watching that tomb. The Roman guard were also keeping their weary watch around that tomb. But how feeble was the power of man when God sent His angel to work for His Son. The mighty angel from glory clothed with the panoply of Heaven pierces the darkness and rolls the stone away. Why, the Roman guard could no more endure the light of that angel; they fell like dead men to the ground. But they had seen the mighty glory of the angel; they had seen Jesus walk forth from the tomb as a mighty conqueror. The angels of God had prostrated themselves before Him in adoration; and while the Roman guard was hired to testify to a lie, yet there was evidence on the back of this that no one need be deceived. 4LtMs, Ms 11, 1886, par. 9

When Christ arose, a multitude of captives came forth with Him from their graves and went into the city to testify that Christ has risen, and we are risen with Him. Thus the crucifixion and resurrection of the Son of God testified that the law of God was immutable, unchangeable. The great rebel was uprooted from the thoughts of every one as they saw Christ’s resurrection; the question was settled that the law of God was immutable and covered all that were in heaven and in earth, and all the created intelligences. Christ was with His disciples 40 days and 40 nights and then, in my text, it says He was taken up from them into heaven; and the multitude of captives were with Him; and a multitude of the heavenly host was around Him; and as they approached the city of God, the angel that was accompanying Him said, “Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lifted up, ye ever lasting doors, that the King of glory may come in.” And the sentinels ask, “Who is this King of glory?” And the answer comes back with music rolling up to the gates of heaven, “Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in.” And again the question comes, “Who is this King of glory? The Lord of Hosts, the Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates, even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.” [Psalm 24:7-9.] And the heavenly train passes within the gates of the city; and while the angels are about to worship Him, He waves them back, Not yet; He must hear from the lips of the Father that the sacrifice is accepted. And then He has a request to make, and that request is that “those that Thou hast given Me shall be with Me where I am.” [John 17:24.] He does not forget those who are struggling with the temptations of the enemy upon earth: “They must be with Me where I am.” And the answer comes back from the God of heaven, “And let all the angels of God worship Him.” [Hebrews 1:6.] And there the song echoes and reechoes through the courts of heaven, “Worthy, worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory.” [Revelation 5:12.] 4LtMs, Ms 11, 1886, par. 10

Now this Saviour is our intercessor, making an atonement for us before the Father. “If we sin we have an advocate with the Father, even Jesus Christ the righteous.” [1 John 2:1.] And that precious Saviour is coming again. Many spiritualize this second coming all away. But the very same Jesus that ascended up into heaven, the angels said He would come in like manner. Those eyes will behold Him in His beauty as He comes to this earth, and those who have waited for Him and loved Him He will crown with glory, honor, immortality, eternal life. When He cometh the second time, it is [not] to wear the crown of thorns, it is not to have that old purple robe placed upon His divine form; the voices will not be raised, Crucify, Him, crucify Him, but there is a shout from the angelic host and from those who are waiting to receive Him, Worthy, worthy is the Lamb that was slain. A divine conqueror. In the place of the crown of thorns, He will wear the crown of glory; in the place of that old kingly robe, that they put in mockery upon Him, He will wear a robe whiter than the whitest white. And these hands that were bruised with the cruel nails will shine like gold. His eyes are like a flame of fire to search creation through. And the righteous dead come forth from their graves, and they that are alive and remain are caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall they ever be with the Lord. And they will listen to the voice of Jesus, sweeter than any music that ever fell on mortal ear, Your warfare is accomplished, come ye blessed of My Father, enter into the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the earth. 4LtMs, Ms 11, 1886, par. 11

Now I want you should have this riveted in your mind that all this sacrifice of the Son of God was not to abolish the law of Jehovah, but to establish it. But while nearly all the world is making void the law of Jehovah, He will have a people that will keep His law. We want you to inquire that if that law has any claim upon you, what is now your position before God, tonight? God required obedience from our first parents, and because they did not render obedience to Him they fell from their estate. Now He requires obedience from every son and daughter that lives upon the face of the earth, and He will accept nothing less than perfect obedience from every one of us. All the false ideas that are held against God and His law the people are willing to accept, but it is because the human mind chooses fables rather than the truth of God. They want an easier way than that to resist evil and to be obedient to God’s requirements. 4LtMs, Ms 11, 1886, par. 12

An infinite sacrifice was paid in your behalf, and we want to know now what are you willing to do for Jesus. Are you willing to give all there is of you to Him? your mental powers and ability and every organ of the body? You have been bought with an infinite price, ye are not your own, and then will you give to God all that which He has purchased with His own blood? Or will you draw back and say, I cannot, oh, I cannot lift the cross of Christ. But you must lift that cross, and in lifting it, it lifts you—this the pledge to you of everlasting life. We are not to confer with flesh and blood, but we are to inquire what saith the Lord? What does Jesus require of me? And as Christ denied self and sacrificed at every step, so must we if we would sit with Him upon His throne. And then what do we get? Everlasting life, an eternal weight of glory. The streets are all of pure gold, like transparent glass; and there is the tree of life whose leaves are for the healing of the nation. Everything is lovely; there is no sickness, no sorrow, no pain, no death there; but our life there will measure with the life of God. 4LtMs, Ms 11, 1886, par. 13

And we inquire how is it that we can turn away from this great inducement for the things of this life? Paul inquires, Who has bewitched you? [Galatians 3:1.] It is the bewitching power of Satan that has so eclipsed the Word that the mind takes in only the things of time and sense. I must have eternal life, cost what it may. I must be on the Lord’s side if the whole world is against me. I will not stand with the great rebel who commenced his work in heaven and is working against God’s law. I will stand under the bloodstained banner of Prince Immanuel and at last will hear Him say: Ye have kept My Father’s commandments. Blessed are they that do His commandments, for they shall have right to the Tree of life and shall enter in through the gates into the city. 4LtMs, Ms 11, 1886, par. 14