Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 5 (1887-1888)


Ms 8, 1888

Sermon/Advancing in Christian Experience

Minneapolis, Minnesota

October 20, 1888

This manuscript is published in entirety in 1888 121-128. +Note

2 Peter 1:1-12. 5LtMs, Ms 8, 1888, par. 1

Now mark, it is these graces, this righteousness, that is to be constantly added; and “if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that you shall be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of [our] Lord Jesus Christ.” [Verse 8.] 5LtMs, Ms 8, 1888, par. 2

Now here is subject matter that we might dwell upon, subject matter for many discourses; but we want to present merely a few ideas to your mind at this time, and we want you to see the necessity of progress. You cannot be a fruitful Christian and have a knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ unless you are a practical Christian, unless you are making progress all the time in divine life. This is all important. Many seem to think that as soon as they go down into the water and receive baptism and their names are entered upon the church book, then the work is all done, whereas they might have tasted of the knowledge of the world to come, they might have received the evidence that they are children of God; but they cannot retain it unless they go on making progress. 5LtMs, Ms 8, 1888, par. 3

It is impossible for them to obtain a knowledge of Jesus Christ and of His light and knowledge unless they are advancing and are learners, adding grace to grace. If they do not bring into their households practical religion, they will soon loose it all. They will go into the meeting and carry through a form and pray and exhort and perhaps hold some office in the church, but unless they are making advancement all the time, there is a decided want, and they will swing back to their old position of ungodliness, just like any other sinner. It is important that we keep all the time adding grace to grace, and if we will work upon the plan of addition, God will work on the plan of multiplication. Just as fast as we add, God multiplies His graces unto us. 5LtMs, Ms 8, 1888, par. 4

Those who live doing the works of the enemy, yet bearing the name of the Lord, are lying; they profess to believe the Bible, yet they are working right away from it in their lives and character. In the place of representing Jesus in the character that they give to the world, they represent the works of Satan, the works of darkness. Any such names that may be on your church books, although they may give of their means to help to sustain [the church], notwithstanding all that, they are stumbling blocks to the church every day they are in it. 5LtMs, Ms 8, 1888, par. 5

Now, what we want to present is how you may advance in the divine life. We hear many excuses: I cannot live up to this or that. What do you mean by this or that? Do you mean that it was an imperfect sacrifice that was made for the fallen race upon Calvary, that there is not sufficient grace and power granted us that we [may] work away from our natural defects and tendencies, that it was not a whole Saviour that was given us? or do you mean to cast reproach upon God? Well, you say, it was Adam’s sin. You say, I am not guilty of that, and I am not responsible for his guilt and fall. Here all these natural tendencies are in me, and I am not to blame if I act out these natural tendencies. Who is to blame? Is God? Why did God let Satan have this power over human nature? These are accusations against the God of Heaven, and He will give you an opportunity, if you want it, of finally bringing your accusations against Him; then He will bring His accusations against you, when you are brought into His court of judgment. 5LtMs, Ms 8, 1888, par. 6

How is it that He is pleading, “I know all the evils and temptations with which you are beset, and I sent My Son Jesus Christ to your world to reveal to you My power, My mightiness, to reveal to you that I am God and that I will give you help in order to lift you from the power of the enemy and give you a chance that you might win back the moral image of God.” God sent His Son, who was as Himself, one with the Father, and He bore insult and shame and mockery for us and suffered at last the ignominious death upon Calvary. Satan met Him with opposition just as soon as He came into the world, but He met it all; He did not swerve a bit. Had it not been for the power that God gave Him, He could not have stood the assaults of the enemy, but He did. Although He had him to meet at every step and was pressed step by step, yet here was the battle fought in this world with the powers of darkness. 5LtMs, Ms 8, 1888, par. 7

Why was not the devil destroyed? Why do you ask such a question? Did not God know what was best? Would it not have destroyed their confidence in God? Would it not have cast a reflection upon God if He had destroyed him, him that had taken hold of the very heart of the universe and the world that was created? The only way to show the disposition of Satan was to give him a chance to develop himself as one who would be worthy of condemnation and death. So the God of heaven, while He did not destroy Satan, gave His Son to counteract the influence of Satan, and when He gave His Son, He gave Himself, and here was the image of God that was brought to our world. What for? That we might become mighty with God. 5LtMs, Ms 8, 1888, par. 8

Christ had to meet the enemy. What had he [Satan] been doing prior to [Christ’s] coming to this earth? Why, he had been trying to gain the hearts of evil men and evil women. When Christ came to our world, Satan had been working with all the deceptive powers that he could command, with his angels, to gain the hearts of evil men and women, and combined with Satan they will work on the children of disobedience. It seems that when Christ made His appearance in our world, Satan had planted himself on the throne as the sovereign of this world. He had the control of human minds. He had taken human bodies and wrought upon them so that they were possessed with demons. He wrought upon them so that the moral image of God was almost obliterated in them. He was weaving himself into the Jewish nation, and they were led captive and would not acknowledge Christ and the evidence that they had from God. They would not acknowledge Christ as the Son of God, notwithstanding the mighty evidences which accompanied Him. 5LtMs, Ms 8, 1888, par. 9

Now [Christ] takes the field and commences to press back this power of moral darkness. In Luke He announced what His work [was] to be (Luke 4:18, 19). Now that was the mission of our Saviour, and even while He announced at Nazareth what His work was, [and] they witnessed to the precious words which came from His lips, Satan was on the ground. And there is no meeting but that he is there, and as the truth is being impressed on minds, Satan presents the difficulties. 5LtMs, Ms 8, 1888, par. 10

The questions began to come up, Is not this the son of Joseph and Mary? What is this that He claims? ... Then Christ was reinstated in regard to this matter, and they all began to say, Is not this Joseph’s son? We have seen Him walking with His father to the carpenter’s shop. Christ said to them, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” [Verse 21.] But here a state of unbelief arose, Is not this Joseph’s son? 5LtMs, Ms 8, 1888, par. 11

Now this widow was a heathen woman. God did not send Elijah to those who were in Samaria. Why? Because they had great light, blessings, and privileges and did not live up to them. And because they had had this great light and had not lived up to it, they were the most hardhearted people in the world, the hardest to impress with the truth. They were not susceptible to the influences of the Spirit of God. So it was on this occasion. [There were] many lepers in Israel, and none of them were cleansed save Naaman, the Syrian. What was the matter? He showed that [those who] had lived up to the light [they] had [were] in a more favorable position before God than those on whom He had bestowed great light, power, and spiritual advantages and yet [had not made] their lives correspond to their advantages and privileges. They knew what it [the truth] was, and they were wroth. 5LtMs, Ms 8, 1888, par. 12

What did they do in their madness? They “rose up and thrust him out of the city.” [Verse 29.] Could their eyes have been opened, they would have beheld angels of God all around Him, that all heaven was engaged in this warfare between Christ and the prince of the powers of this world. They could have seen this, but their eyes were holden that they might not see it. 5LtMs, Ms 8, 1888, par. 13

Here I want to tell you what a terrible thing it is, if God gives light and it is impressed on your heart and spirit, [for] you [to do] as they [did]. God will withdraw His Spirit, unless His truth is accepted. But [Christ] was accepted by some; the witness was there that He was God. But a counter influence pressed in, and the evil angels were working through the congregation to raise doubts that would cause hearts to disbelieve, so that [they] would shut out every ray of light that God would permit to shine. No more could [Christ] do in such a place. You can see what a hold [Satan] had and what mistakes the people had made; they had not advanced. Because they had not advanced, they had been working under the generalship of Satan and yet claimed that they were working under the generalship of God. But God had nothing to do with their unbelief and [their] rising up against Jesus Christ. 5LtMs, Ms 8, 1888, par. 14

I wish you could see and feel that if you are not advancing, you are retrograding. Satan understood [this]; he knew how to take advantage of the human mind, and he had taken advantage of the human family ever since they had first stood upon the field of battle against the powers of darkness. Christ knew what the warfare was to be. 5LtMs, Ms 8, 1888, par. 15

Who was watching this warfare that was going on? Who was watching when Christ stood on the banks of Jordan and offered such a prayer as heaven had never listened to before, and a light like a dove broke forth from the heavens, and a voice was heard to say, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”? [Matthew 3:16, 17.] [There] were those who heard these things and spread the news every where among the Jews, and it went from one to the other, so this manifestation of [God’s] power was not lost at that time. 5LtMs, Ms 8, 1888, par. 16

What does that say to us? “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” It says to you, I, God, have sent My Son into your world, and through Him is opened all heaven to fallen man. After the sin of Adam, man was divorced from God, but Christ came in. He was represented through the sacrificial offerings, until He came to our world. But here Christ offers this prayer, and what does it say to us? The human race is accepted in the Beloved. His long human arm encircles the race, while with His divine arm He grasps the throne of the Infinite, and He opens to man all of heaven. The gates are ajar today. Christ is in the heavenly sanctuary, and your prayers can go up to the Father. 5LtMs, Ms 8, 1888, par. 17

Christ says, If I go away, I will send you the Comforter [John 16:7], and when we have the Holy Spirit, we have everything. We have knowledge, wisdom, power, and we have a connection with the God of wisdom, the greatest Teacher the world ever knew. When the heaven was opened to man and God said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” He said it to us. Your prayers, through faith in your substitute, Jesus Christ, are accepted. God accepts Christ, our substitute. He took human nature upon Himself and fought the battles that human nature is engaged in. He is connected with the divine and was to fight the battles with Satan. 5LtMs, Ms 8, 1888, par. 18

Now, what we want you to see is the relation which you sustain to the work of God. What condescension God has shown that He should give His Son that we might defeat the powers of darkness! God was not the originator of sin in order that He might rid the human race of sin! Here was the law of God, and He could not alter it a jot or tittle. It was a representation of His character. He could not change it, because it is by that law that we are to be judged in the last day. It is no excuse to say that iniquity abounds and that the law of God is done away or changed or altered. It is this that causes the existence of iniquity. This is the very work that Satan commenced in heaven, and he will carry it forward to the end. I ask you, What position shall we take that we may be partakers of the divine nature? Why should we not see in that law the righteousness of Jesus Christ? Christ comes in and imputes to me His righteousness in His perfect obedience to that law. 5LtMs, Ms 8, 1888, par. 19

Here the battle is before us. We see the battle, how Christ contended with the powers of darkness, and we see what He has done, why the cross of Calvary had been erected between God and man. Then what? God gives to His Son all, and man comes to Christ, and God and man are united at the cross. Here “righteousness and [peace] have kissed each other”; “mercy and truth [are] met together.” [Psalm 85:10.] This is drawing man to the cross where Christ died in behalf of man, to elevate the law of Jehovah, but not [to] lessen it one iota. Could He have done this, Christ need not have died. The cross of Calvary will stand in the judgment and testify to every one the immutability and changeless character of the law of God, and not a word can be offered for sin in that day. 5LtMs, Ms 8, 1888, par. 20

“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” [John 12:32.] What does that mean? The work must be carried on, and this little world was chosen to carry on this work. All the universe of heaven was interested in the great work. Every world that God has created is watching to see how the battle between the Lord of light and glory and the powers of darkness will end. Here is Satan, who has been seeking with all his power to shut out the true character of God so that the world could not understand it, and under a garb of righteousness he works upon many who profess to be Christians, but they represent the character of Satan instead of the character of Jesus Christ. And if he works on the children of disobedience [and] they claim to be Christians, don’t you see that they misrepresent my Lord? They misrepresent the character of Jesus every time that they lack mercy, every time that they lack humility. 5LtMs, Ms 8, 1888, par. 21

Satan, by instigating in man a disposition to transgress the law of God, mystifies the character of God. Someone must come to vindicate the character of God, and here is Christ, who stands as the representation of the Father, and He is to work out the salvation of the human race. 5LtMs, Ms 8, 1888, par. 22

That wonderful plan of salvation will bear investigation. All heaven is interested in this work. Up to the time when Christ died, though He was human, He was without sin, and He must bear His trials as a human being. There was to be no miracle interposed for Him. There had been miracles wrought for Him, as at the time they were going to cast Him over the brow of the hill. [Miracles] have been wrought for men who have been followed by mobs, when the angel of the Lord would take their arms and protect the servants of God against the work of Satan. 5LtMs, Ms 8, 1888, par. 23

I knew something of this in my early experience. I know whereof I am speaking. My husband ... (Incident [related] of an angel’s walking by his side through a mob). 5LtMs, Ms 8, 1888, par. 24

All can testify what God has wrought in these [cases]; then just such things will take place with us as [they] did with Christ. He was to work no miracle for Himself, but angels protected His life till the time came when He was to be betrayed by one of His disciples, till He was to bleed out His life on Calvary’s cross, and Satan stirred up the minds [of men] to think that the angels of heaven were indifferent. But everyone was watching the contest with interest. From the moment that [Christ] knelt in prayer on the sod of Gethsemane till He died on the cross and cried out, “It is finished” [John 19:30], the angels and all the universe of God looked on with the greatest interest. When those words were spoken, the plan was completed—the plan whereby Satan’s power should be limited and broken and whereby [Christ] should finally die—was wrought out by Jesus Christ. And when He rose from the dead, His triumph was complete. Satan knew that the battle with Him was lost, but yet he is at enmity with God. 5LtMs, Ms 8, 1888, par. 25

It is man that has apostatized from God. Satan works on [men’s] minds trying to instill his devices into their minds and make them think that he is at last to be the sovereign of this world. But not so, for the God of heaven dwells and reigns and has children on the earth that He will translate to heaven without their seeing death when He shall come with power and great glory. We want to ask, What excuse have you when this has been done in your behalf? Just as soon as the trial was ended and Christ was hanging on the cross, Satan thought he had gained the victory, but just as soon as [Christ] arose, that thought was uprooted forever for every world that God had ever created. It was to be the final thing. Never again could he have the least power over the worlds or in heaven. 5LtMs, Ms 8, 1888, par. 26

The justice of God was seen in that He gave Christ to die to save man, for the law condemned man to death, but the righteousness of Christ was brought in and imputed to him that he might be brought back to his loyalty to God. And when [Christ’s] work was done, the news was heralded through the heavenly hosts. When Jesus arose triumphant over the grave and when He ascended from the Mount of Olivet, He was not only in sight of a few disciples, but many were looking on. There was a multitude of angels; thousands upon thousands beheld the Son of God as He ascended on high. And as He approached the city of God, their voices were raised, and the highest angels sang, “Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.” The question arises, “Who is this King of glory?” Then the answer comes back, “The Lord of hosts,” the Lord of hosts, He is King. [Psalm 24:7-10.] Then the gates are thrown back and the heavenly train enter in, and the angels would bow in adoration before the Son of God, but He waves them back. Not yet. He must first hear from the Father that the sacrifice has been accepted, and He says, I have a request. Well, what is that request? That those “whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am.” [John 17:24.] Then comes the answer, Let all the angels worship Him, and they bow in adoration before Him, and they touch their golden harps and raise their voices in praise, saying, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain and lives again, a conqueror. And how the arches of heaven ring with rejoicing! 5LtMs, Ms 8, 1888, par. 27

Now Christ is in the heavenly sanctuary. And what is He doing? Making atonement for us, cleansing the sanctuary from the sins of the people. Then we must enter by faith into the sanctuary with Him. We must commence the work in the sanctuary of our souls. We are to cleanse ourselves from all defilement. We “must cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the [fear] of God.” [2 Corinthians 7:1.] Satan will come and tempt you, and you will give way to his temptations. What then? Why, come and humble your hearts in confession and by faith grasp the arm of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary. Believe that Christ will take your confession and hold up His hands before the Father—[hands] that have been bruised and wounded in our behalf—and He will make an atonement for all who will come with confession. What if you cannot understand about this matter? He says, “He that lacketh these things [is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins].” [2 Peter 1:9.] 5LtMs, Ms 8, 1888, par. 28

Now brethren and sisters, I want you to see that you must “add to your faith, virtue; [and to virtue, knowledge;] and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity. For if these things be in you, [and abound,] they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” [Verses 5-8.] 5LtMs, Ms 8, 1888, par. 29

Now when you commence to work, Satan is going to work in an opposite direction, and if you are unkind and harsh and not seen in the house of God bearing your cross, you have not the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ; you do not discern Him and His love and matchless purity. 5LtMs, Ms 8, 1888, par. 30

Many will say, I am saved, I am saved, I am saved. Well, have they been cleansed from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit? and can they cleanse themselves by the righteousness of the law? Jesus Christ came to this world, and there is His righteousness to impart upon the children of men that are obeying the law of God. The whole world can say, I am saved, as well as any transgressor today. They can say, I believe on Christ that He is my Saviour, but why do they disregard His law, which is the transcript of His character? When they disregard the law of Jehovah, they disregard the Lord Jesus Christ. 5LtMs, Ms 8, 1888, par. 31

Now, I want to say to you before closing that we have a wonderful friend in Jesus, who came to save His people from the transgression of the law. What is sin? The only definition of sin is that it is the transgression of the law. Then here is Jesus Christ, who comes right in and imparts His righteousness to us; we cannot overcome in our own strength, but by faith in Him. If you will believe on Jesus Christ, you will have Him today. You must believe that He is your Saviour now and that He imputes to you His righteousness because He has died and because He has been obedient unto every requirement of that transgressed law of God. If you do this, you will have a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Adam and Eve lost Eden because they transgressed that law, but you will lose heaven if you transgress it. 5LtMs, Ms 8, 1888, par. 32

We can be filled with all the fulness of God. Our lives may measure with the life of God. Then can we press back the powers of darkness. Glory to God in the highest! I love Him because He first loved me. I will magnify His name. I rejoice in His love, and when we shall enter in through the gates into the city, it will be the highest privilege to cast my crown at His feet. Why? because He gave me the victory, because He wrought out the plan of salvation. And when I look at the glory, and at the saints redeemed, just like a flash will I cast my crown at the feet of my Redeemer. It is His; it was He who purchased my redemption. Glory to God in the highest! Let us praise Him and talk of His mightiness and of what He will do for us. Let us keep His law, and then He can trust us, for He has a law and He will reward obedience to that law; He will give us a crown of glory. 5LtMs, Ms 8, 1888, par. 33

Now, brethren, we are almost home; we shall soon hear the voice of the Saviour, richer than any music, saying, [Your] warfare is accomplished. Enter into the joy of thy Lord. Blessed, blessed benediction; I want to hear it from His immortal lips. I want to praise Him; I want to honor Him that sitteth on the throne. I want my voice to echo and re-echo through the courts of heaven. Will you be there? Then you must educate your voice to praise Him on earth, and then you can join the heavenly choir and sing the song of Moses and the Lamb. God help us and fill us with all fulness and power, and then we can taste of the joys of the world to come. 5LtMs, Ms 8, 1888, par. 34