Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 5 (1887-1888)


Ms 16, 1887

Sermon/Behold What Manner of Love

Zurich, Switzerland

May 22, 1887

Portions of this manuscript are published in CC 29; 8MR 406-407. +Note

1 John 3:1-3. The beloved disciple has his eye fixed upon the marvelous love of an infinite God. He cannot find language with which he can measure this love, but he calls upon the world to behold it. The only way that we can measure the love of our heavenly Father is by beholding the cross of Calvary. It was an astonishment and a marvel to all heaven that God could give His only beloved Son to die for sinful man. But this is to us an expression of the love of God to man. 5LtMs, Ms 16, 1887, par. 1

We see that our heavenly Father placed such value upon man, although he had fallen by transgression, that He consented to give His darling Son to a life of self-denial, a life of self-sacrifice, a life of shame and an ignominious death, that He might save the fallen race. And the apostle John calls upon us to behold this love. [Verse 1.] We never can appreciate that love unless we meditate upon it. We must allow no human affection to interpose between our love to God in any sense. 5LtMs, Ms 16, 1887, par. 2

Here is the one great center of attraction. When we take in that love in its full significance, then will we respond to it in willing service. We shall love the Lord our God with all the heart, and we shall love Him with all the soul and with all the strength. This takes all there is of man. Everything of an earthly character is secondary to this. There are many who believe that Christ has shown great love in giving His life for the fallen race, but they would leave the impression upon minds that God Himself is a stern judge. The reason for this is that they do not contemplate the love of our heavenly Father as it really is. We need to behold that love more critically; we need to talk of it in our families; we need to become familiar with it. When we bring the love of God into our life’s experience, it will testify of its breadth and depth and height. Our heavenly Father has placed Himself before us with the endearing name of Father, and we may, if we contemplate His love, have such implicit confidence in the promises of God that they will surely be verified to us. 5LtMs, Ms 16, 1887, par. 3

It is the privilege of every son and daughter of God to be in close relation with our heavenly Father. Our power is not in the wisdom of man. It is the wisdom of an infinite God, which gives us access to the souls of the people. It is well for us to have our attention called away from the things of an earthly character to those of the heavenly. It is because our soul’s service is more upon earthly things than upon heavenly that we have so little power in the world with the people. 5LtMs, Ms 16, 1887, par. 4

When we exalt the love of God as it is, then we shall have that trust, that confidence in God that a child has in its earthly father. We read, “If a son ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?” [Luke 11:11.] If an earthly parent will do these good things for his child, how much more will your heavenly Father do these things for you because you ask Him. 5LtMs, Ms 16, 1887, par. 5

I have thought how it must grieve the Spirit of God to see how little confidence those who claim to be children of God place in their heavenly Father. There are many who claim to be traveling the Christian road to a better country, but they seem to be led into great uncertainties. They express a great desire to have confidence that they are indeed the children of God, and they have pled before God that He would show them in a dream or give them some wonderful exercise of feeling as evidence that He did bless them. Is there anything equal to the promises in the Word of God? Here is my assurance. I plant my feet upon the promises of the Word of God. If God has so loved fallen man that He has not withheld His beloved Son in their behalf, how much more shall He not with Him freely give us all things! We want to gather the precious pearls of God’s promises and present them right before Him. Our God has said it, and His Word stands in truth from everlasting to everlasting. 5LtMs, Ms 16, 1887, par. 6

When we come to God, and are willing to take the assurance that He has given us in His Word, we shall have that faith which works by love and purifies the soul. God has done all for us that a God could do that we should have a living confidence in His promises. Can you tell me anything more that our heavenly Father could do for us than what He has done to inspire faith in His promises? 5LtMs, Ms 16, 1887, par. 7

The difficulty rests with us. We are not willing to go any further than we can see, and yet the sons and daughters of God must walk by faith. But there are conditions even to the promises of God. He declares to us that if we love Him, we shall keep His commandments. “If ye love Me, keep My commandments.” “He that hath My commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me.” John 14:15, 21. 5LtMs, Ms 16, 1887, par. 8

Christ Himself has said, “If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine.” [John 7:17.] It is the privilege of every one of us individually to become acquainted with the Word of God. We need not walk in darkness, for Christ is light. He says that those who follow Him shall not walk in darkness, but they shall have the Light of life. [John 8:12.] My heart is very anxious that those who claim to be children of God should show their obedience to all of God’s commandments. We manifest our love for our heavenly Father when we have respect to all of His commandments. He says, “If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” [John 15:7.] 5LtMs, Ms 16, 1887, par. 9

It has not been my study how I should meet the customs and habits of this world. The world did not know my Jesus. “Which none of the princes of this world knew; for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” [1 Corinthians 2:8.] But why did they not know it? Because the light of prophecy stood right in the way of their own advantage. Therefore they closed their eyes and ears and their understanding lest they should see the truth. 5LtMs, Ms 16, 1887, par. 10

We want to read the Bible much more than we do. We want to understand this guidebook which shows us the waymarks to heaven. If God has given us reasoning powers, it is that we should individually exercise the powers He has given us. 5LtMs, Ms 16, 1887, par. 11

When the lawyer asked of Christ what he should do in order that he might have eternal life, our Saviour did not tell him that he must depend upon a good state of feeling, but He answered, “What is written in the law?” The lawyer answered, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.” Christ said, “Thou hast answered right; this do, and thou shalt live.” [Luke 10:25-28.] 5LtMs, Ms 16, 1887, par. 12

How earnestly are we struggling for a temporal life in this world! We see poor invalids traveling from country to country, in order that they may preserve the short life they may have here; and yet our lifetime here at the best is very short, and Christ stands forth and presents to the invalids and the sick that life which measures with the life of God—a life without sorrow, without burden, without care. No sickness there, no pain, no trials. He wants you to take your mind away from the perishable things of this life and take hold of the eternal life. He wants you to behold the love of an infinite God, to talk of it and to dwell upon it. As you bring the love of your heavenly Father into your hearts and into your lives, then you are leaving a bright track heavenward for those who want to find the way of life. 5LtMs, Ms 16, 1887, par. 13

And the apostle Paul recounts the difficulties and trials that we find in this life. We know that he knew what severe afflictions were, but he travels on, with his eye fixed upon the future immortal inheritance. Listen to the triumphant cry of victory as he passes on toward heaven. There come sounding down the lines to our time these words, “Our light affliction which is but for a moment, working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” [2 Corinthians 4:17.] Never can you measure the length and breadth and depth of the precious love of God. The apostle declares that it is not looking at those things which close up the way that give us strength. He says, “While we look not at the things which are seen,” which are temporal, “but at the things which are not seen,” which are eternal. [Verse 18.] 5LtMs, Ms 16, 1887, par. 14

We want to bring all the heaven that it is possible for us to bring into this life, and by doing this we shall fulfil the injunction of our Saviour. He says to His disciples, “Ye are the light of the world.” [Matthew 5:14.] And he enjoins upon them, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” [Verse 16.] It would be sad if those who profess to love our heavenly Father should misrepresent Him. If we live in the light of His countenance, we shall reflect His glory to all around us. If we bring the light and glory of heaven into our religious service, we place the religion of Jesus Christ upon that high and elevated plane where the Bible places it. 5LtMs, Ms 16, 1887, par. 15

Many seem to think that they must beg pardon of all the world for being a Christian. John did not regard it so. He says, “Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.” [1 John 3:1.] The Christian does not take a step down to a low level; he is constantly progressing forward, and the religion of Jesus Christ never degrades the receiver. It refines his taste; it sanctifies his judgment. Why should it not, when he is in connection with a pure and holy God, and the power which is invested in God He imparts to His sons and daughters? “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, ... and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” [2 Corinthians 6:17, 18.] Do we esteem the favor of high heaven above all the favors upon the earth? Here is the promise that we shall become members of the royal family, that we shall be children of the heavenly King. And when heart and flesh shall fail here, we have a hope as an anchor of the soul cast into that within the veil, both sure and steadfast. That anchor fastens into the broken body of Jesus Christ; and there is not one of us who is living in harmony and obedience to God [who] should [not] be full of joy. 5LtMs, Ms 16, 1887, par. 16

Do you not think that our heavenly Father would be honored if we should talk more of His love toward the children of men? Why should we not talk upon these things? Enoch, we read, walked with God 300 years. That was a long time to be in communion with Him. He did not maintain that that communion was disagreeable to him, but he communed with God because it was agreeable to him, and he loved it so well, and he loved the society of God so that he was taken to heaven without seeing death. 5LtMs, Ms 16, 1887, par. 17

It is those who love the yoke of Christ, who lift His burdens, with their eyes fixed upon the mark of the prize before them, who can be the best people upon the earth. When difficulties and trials arise here, they look right over to the future immortal life and forget all about their trials. Like Paul they look not at, they talk not about the things which are seen, but at the things which are eternal. 5LtMs, Ms 16, 1887, par. 18

Suppose that all here tonight who profess to be sons and daughters of God should practice their faith in the precious words of God. Suppose that they should practice from this time forward the religion of the Bible. Suppose they should come out from the world and be separate, and touch not the unclean. Suppose that they should make God first, last, and best in everything here. 5LtMs, Ms 16, 1887, par. 19

We have a friend in God, we have a heavenly Father to whom we can come with all our sadness and difficulties, who has said He would receive us. Our precious Saviour left the royal courts of heaven, He clothed His divinity with humanity and came to a world all seared and marred with the curse; and He was to reach with His long human arm to the very depths of human woe and misery. While mortal man, with only human power, could fail to reach the oppressed and suffering, the long human arm of Christ encircles our race; and with His divine arm He grasps the throne of the Infinite and He thus connects the earth that has been divorced from the continent of heaven to the God of heaven, and He unites finite man with the infinite God. 5LtMs, Ms 16, 1887, par. 20

We are not in a state of feebleness; we are connected with the Source of the highest power. Again I say that Christians ought to be the best people upon the face of the earth. Christ is able to bring every soul to His throne at last. He will cleanse them from the impurity of sin. 5LtMs, Ms 16, 1887, par. 21

He condescends to come to man and reason with him. He says, “Come now, and let us reason together: 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.] Then I inquire, Why is it that those who profess to believe in Jesus Christ have so little comfort and enjoyment in their Christian life? 5LtMs, Ms 16, 1887, par. 22

Our Saviour, when here upon the earth, met and overcame the powers of darkness, that He might obtain the victory over them in behalf of man; and through His infinite condescension and power, He opens before us a heaven of bliss. Why do we not talk of this more? Why are not our souls all aglow with the love of God? It is because we do not study the Bible and carry out its teachings and practice them in our life. When the judgment is set and the books are opened, shall we regret that we have talked so much of Jesus? Shall we not feel that we have lost a great deal to ourselves and to the work because we have not talked more of Jesus and His love to the world? We want to be sure that our life is hid with Christ in God. We want to be diligent to make our calling and election sure. We want this to be the main study of our life. We want that life, that eternal life which has been purchased for us at such an infinite cost. 5LtMs, Ms 16, 1887, par. 23

It has been my life study since I was eleven years of age that I might place my feet in the road cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in. I do not expect this path will be smooth and without trouble, but my precious Jesus traveled that path before me, and He has beat down the thorns and rough places and made a smooth path for my feet, and I will follow in His footsteps and choose the suffering part of religion. I want to be a partaker with Christ of His sufferings, and then I have the promise that I will be partaker with Him of His glory. 5LtMs, Ms 16, 1887, par. 24

Now I want that your tongues will be tuned to the praise of God. He has brought us out of darkness into His marvelous light, that we may show forth His praise. How many words of praise do you give to Jesus in your families? When you gather together and speak with one another, do you talk of Jesus and His love? Do you not talk of things that are temporal and earthly and forget all about the Saviour? 5LtMs, Ms 16, 1887, par. 25

If professed Christians should bring the precious Jesus into their lives here, what a testimony they would have to bear to the world of the precious love of Jesus. Their hearts, in contemplating the matchless love of God, could but speak forth His praises. Do we expect to join the redeemed company in heaven above? Shall we be of that company that shall cry, “Worthy, worthy is the Lamb that was slain, and who lives again”? Then let me tell you that every one of us must learn the song here. We cannot be in the city of God and our tongues not tuned to sing His praise. We want here to have the love of God in our life and character. 5LtMs, Ms 16, 1887, par. 26

We believe our precious Saviour is soon to come in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. When He comes, we want to see Him as He is and be made like Him. John declares that everyone who hath this hope in Him purifies himself, even as He is pure. [1 John 3:3.] 5LtMs, Ms 16, 1887, par. 27

Our precious Saviour does not save men in their sins, but He saves them from their sins, and therefore we want to be putting away sin and iniquity out of our hearts. When you are disposed to cling to sin, I point you to Calvary—the precious Saviour dying under the load of human guilt. How can we sin when we see the offensive character of sin in the sight of God? We want to separate everything from our characters that would separate us from God. We want that our souls should be sanctified, elevated by the truth of God. Search your Bibles that you may know what is truth. 5LtMs, Ms 16, 1887, par. 28

I cannot run any risk in this matter. I take my position under the blood-stained banner of Prince Emmanuel, and I consider it the greatest honor that can be bestowed upon me to be a child of God, an heir of heaven. Shall I see Him whom my soul loves? Shall I dwell with Him through the ceaseless ages of eternity? Will He lead me by the side of the water of life? Will He be my joy and the crown of my rejoicing in the kingdom of glory? Well, He shall be my rejoicing here in this life. I magnify my Redeemer. I know His matchless charms. I have tasted and I have found that the Lord is good. The promises of God have sustained me in the fiercest affliction that could come to mortals. I am not afraid to commit the keeping of my soul to Him until that day. 5LtMs, Ms 16, 1887, par. 29

How many that are before me tonight will march into that city as conquerors? How many will go in there having a right to the tree of life? It is not a question with me, What will the world say? but, What does God say in His Word? Says Christ, “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” [Revelation 22:14.] 5LtMs, Ms 16, 1887, par. 30

What are we doing for the poor souls who are around us who are out of Christ? Where are the living missionaries for God? Whose names are registered upon the church book? Do we, as John says, “behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God”? [1 John 3:1.] We want to be living epistles, known and read of all men. Then although the world does not know us or recognize us, we are known by the God of heaven. 5LtMs, Ms 16, 1887, par. 31

Shall we from this moment turn our attention decidedly to the God of heaven? Will you bring Him into your life and character? Will your testimony be here, What the Lord has done for me? Oh, we can indeed be a light unto the world, and may it be my privilege to meet you there around the great white throne, and may your voices be lifted in praise and adoration to Him that sitteth upon the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever. 5LtMs, Ms 16, 1887, par. 32