Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 5 (1887-1888)


Ms 17, 1888

Sermon/A Chosen People

Minneapolis, Minnesota

October 21, 1888

This manuscript is published in entirety in 1888 129-131.

“Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. ... Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; having your conversation honest among the Gentiles; that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.” [1 Peter 2:9-12.] 5LtMs, Ms 17, 1888, par. 1

These words point out the high standard that we should maintain before the world. The God of heaven has done everything that He could do to win our allegiance. He made an infinite sacrifice that we might be brought out of darkness into His marvelous light. 5LtMs, Ms 17, 1888, par. 2

Claiming possession of the world, Satan determined to get possession also of the minds of men. He comes to them with the advantages offered by the world and says, “All these shall be yours if you will worship me.” [Matthew 4:9.] And many, lured on by the prize held out by him, bow at his shrine. 5LtMs, Ms 17, 1888, par. 3

With a mighty arm and with wonderful manifestations of His power, God brought Israel out of Egypt. He made them His chosen people and gave them His law. He said to them: “Thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God .... Know therefore that the Lord thy God, He is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations.” [Deuteronomy 7:6-9.] 5LtMs, Ms 17, 1888, par. 4

To us also have been spoken the words, “Ye are a chosen nation.” [1 Peter 2:9.] Our work is to show forth the praises of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. How are we to do this? By showing to the world that we are a commandment-keeping people, walking in harmony with God’s law, by never losing sight of His goodness and love, and by making everything in our lives subordinate to the claims of His Word. Thus we shall be representatives of Christ, showing forth in our lives a transcript of His character. 5LtMs, Ms 17, 1888, par. 5

“But,” one says, “I thought the commandments were a yoke of bondage.” It is those only who break the law that find it a yoke of bondage. To those who keep the law, it is life and joy and peace and happiness. The law is a mirror into which we may look and discern the defects in our characters. Should we not be grateful that God has provided a means whereby we may discover our shortcomings? 5LtMs, Ms 17, 1888, par. 6

There is no power in the law to save or to pardon the transgressor. What then does it do? It brings the repentant sinner to Christ. Paul declares, “I have taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to the Jews and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” [Acts 20:20, 21.] Why did he preach repentance? Because the law of God had been transgressed. Those who have broken the law must repent. Why did he preach faith in Christ? Because Christ is the One who has redeemed sinners from the penalty of the law. The Law points to the remedy for sin—repentance toward God and faith in Christ. 5LtMs, Ms 17, 1888, par. 7

Do you wonder that Satan wants to get rid of the law? He and all his agencies are striving to trample underfoot the commandments of Jehovah and to erect a standard of their own. We are to show that God’s chosen people will keep His commandments, refusing to swerve to the right or to the left in disobedience. They are to show that the truth of heavenly origin has done great things for them, that its converting power has taken hold of their souls. 5LtMs, Ms 17, 1888, par. 8

Paul declares, “I had not known sin but by the law. ... I was alive without the law once; but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” [Romans 7:7-9.] The commandments remained the same, but Paul died. 5LtMs, Ms 17, 1888, par. 9

In true conversion, the sinner is first convicted of his real condition. He realizes that he is a transgressor of God’s law and that the Lord has claims upon him which He will not relinquish. He sees that the connection between himself and God has been broken, but that if he repents of his transgression, confesses his sin, and takes hold by faith upon the grace of Christ, the connection that has been broken will be restored. 5LtMs, Ms 17, 1888, par. 10

If God could have changed His law to meet man in his fallen condition, Christ need not have come to this world. Because the law was immutable, unchangeable, God sent His only begotten Son to die for the fallen race. But did the Saviour take upon Himself the guilt of human beings and impute to them His righteousness in order that they might continue to violate the precepts of Jehovah? No, no! Christ came because there was no possibility of man’s keeping the law in his own strength. He came to bring him strength to obey the precepts of the law. And the sinner, repenting of his transgression, may come to God and say, “O Father, I plead forgiveness through the merits of a crucified and risen Saviour.” God will accept all who come to Him in the name of Jesus. 5LtMs, Ms 17, 1888, par. 11

In order for man to obtain eternal life, divine power must unite with human effort, and this power Christ came to place within our reach. He says, “Without me ye can do nothing.” [John 15:5.] And He says again, “If ye shall ask anything in My name, I will do it.” [John 14:14.] We have a right to lay hold of the arm of infinite power. When Christ came to the world, all heaven was poured out in this one great gift. God Himself came to us in Christ. “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip?” Christ said. “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?” [Verse 9.] 5LtMs, Ms 17, 1888, par. 12

My object in speaking these words to you today is to lead you to take your minds off the things of this world and place them on the things of eternity. If your affections are set on things above, if in the daily life you are seeking to follow the perfect pattern, you need never be discouraged. The enemy may seek to cast his dark shadow between you and Christ, but your faith is to pierce the gloom. What are we in this world for? To represent Christ and to be a blessing to our fellow men. Christ is to be formed in us, the hope of glory. We are to live His life, that our lives may show forth to the world the love of God and power of the gospel. 5LtMs, Ms 17, 1888, par. 13

When God’s people take their eyes off the things of this world and place them on heaven and heavenly things, they will be a peculiar people because they will see the mercy and goodness and compassion that God has shown to the children of men. His love will call forth a response from them, and their lives will show to those around them that the Spirit of God is controlling them, that they are setting their affections on things above, not on the things of the earth. 5LtMs, Ms 17, 1888, par. 14

In thinking of heaven, we may put our imagination to the utmost stretch and think the loftiest thoughts that we are capable of thinking, and our minds will grow weary in the effort to comprehend the breadth and depth and height of the subject. It is impossible for our minds to take in the great themes of eternity. It is impossible for us even to make an effort to understand these things without the effort effecting our whole character for good and having an uplifting influence on our minds. As we think of how Christ came to our world to die for fallen man, we understand something of the price that was paid for our redemption, and we realize that there is no true goodness or greatness apart from God. 5LtMs, Ms 17, 1888, par. 15

Only by the light shining from the cross of Calvary can we know to what depths of sin and degradation the human race has fallen through sin. Only by the length of the chain let down from heaven to draw us up can we know the depths to which we had sunk. And it is only by keeping the unseen realities in view that we can understand anything of the wonderful theme of redemption. 5LtMs, Ms 17, 1888, par. 16