Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 7 (1891-1892)


Ms 10, 1891

Sermon/Thoughts on John 3

Harbor Heights, Michigan

August 2, 1891

Portions of this manuscript are published in TDG 223; RC 356; 6MR 51. +Note

John 3:14-19. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” 7LtMs, Ms 10, 1891, par. 1

When we have a promise that is so rich and so full as this that I have read to you, I inquire, What excuse have any of us for unbelief? What excuse have you to say, I don’t think the Lord hears my prayer? I wish I could believe I was a Christian, or I wish I could have the evidence that I was a child of God. Feelings are very changeable, but here are the precious words of eternal life. What is evidence? Is it a flight of feeling? Is it an emotion of the heart that gives you the evidence that you are a child of God? But here is the precious Word of eternal life and it gives us the assurance that we may lay hold on the hope set before us in the gospel by living faith. 7LtMs, Ms 10, 1891, par. 2

We may reach up to Jesus Christ, who is our advocate in the heavenly courts. We need a friend at court. We have been sinning, been disobedient, been transgressors, and it is of the highest consequence to us that we have a friend at court to plead our cases to the Father. He says, If I be lifted up I will draw all men unto Me. Well, will all be drawn? Christ draws, but will they respond to the drawing? Will they come? The invitation here in Revelation is this: “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come, and let him that heareth say, Come, and let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.” [Revelation 22:17.] 7LtMs, Ms 10, 1891, par. 3

It is not only the minister that is to say “come,” but “let him that heareth say, come.” Then you must hear to a purpose, and as you hear the message, you begin to talk it and you say, “come.” The coming to you is everything. And as you see that you may come, the privilege is so large, so undeserving, that you feel that you want everybody to have the same privilege with yourself, so that we are laborers together with God. That is our work. God says, Come, the Spirit says, Come, the bride says, Come, and whosoever heareth says, Come. Oh that more will, with <their consistent godly life and with> the words of their lips say, Come. What does it do? It takes in the whole purpose of the mind. It takes in your action. It is not only by precept, but by example, that you carry the living example with you that heaven is worth something, that Christianity is worth striving for. 7LtMs, Ms 10, 1891, par. 4

We are to watch. Christ said, Watch <unto prayer.> [1 Peter 4:7.] He does not deceive any of us; He takes us to an eminence, shows us the confederacy of evil and the strength of the powers of darkness that are arrayed against all who would have faith in Jesus Christ, and <tells us to count the cost, but He does more for us,> He does not leave us there <without still further encouragement.> He does not show us trials and conflicts and leave us without help <to fight the battles.> But He tells us that God has His angels that minister unto those who shall be heirs of salvation. [Hebrews 1:14.] Round about His throne are thousands and thousands <and ten times ten thousands> of angels. What is their work? It is to do the bidding of Jesus Christ their Master. And what do they do? They tell you that Christ chose you, that heavenly angels are with you, and they remain with you. 7LtMs, Ms 10, 1891, par. 5

You can have but little strength to war against principalities and powers and spiritual wickedness in high places, but here is One who points you to the help heaven sent, that [for] every soul however strong or weak you may be—here is the help that comes to every soul from heaven—that in this conflict they may be victors. That is why Christ was lifted up, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him might not perish, but have eternal life.” [John 3:16.] Now we have the example. 7LtMs, Ms 10, 1891, par. 6

We say we do believe that Jesus Christ died, but is He your personal Saviour? Here is the faith part of it. Is He your personal Saviour? Do you grasp Him by the living hand of faith? Do you reach out your hand to Him and say, as did Peter, “Save, Lord, or I perish”? [Matthew 14:30.] He will save you. You remember there the disciples were toiling with the ship; and they gave up all hope of reaching the land. While in their dread peril they see One coming toward them, stepping on the foam-crest billows as He would on solid earth, and they were afraid and said, It is a spirit; but Christ says, “It is I, be not afraid.” [Verse 27.] 7LtMs, Ms 10, 1891, par. 7

Oh, <how much> “It is I,” means. <It means> everything to us when we are in trouble or perplexities. Can you not hear His voice? Can you not hear Him saying, “It is I, be not afraid”? Well, He is addressing Himself to us. Whatever your weakness or trial, Christ <is near you.> [He] says, It is I, be not afraid. The <disciples> were glad and welcomed Him into the ship, but Peter said, “Bid me come to you on the water;” and He said, “Come.” [Verses 28, 29.] As He came to Jesus, as long as he fixed his eyes upon Jesus he could walk. But then he looked down upon the billows, and saw them rolling <and beating about him,> and he saw right there that there was but little hope, for just as soon as he looked down he began to sink; and he threw up his arms to Jesus and said, Save, Lord, or I perish. [Verse 30.] 7LtMs, Ms 10, 1891, par. 8

Did ever anyone lift their hands to Jesus and say, “Save, Lord, or I perish,” and He pass them by? Never, never. He is a Jesus that hears the faintest cry. We need [none] of us faint or cry or be discouraged. We need not faint [when] like Peter, we may look to the darkness and trials around us. Why don’t we look to Jesus? I ask you, Have you not got your eye off from Jesus and looking at the trials and troubles until you become conformed to the same image? There is the trouble. You forget you have a Helper. Now as soon as he cried to Jesus, He helped him. Why, where is your faith? He did not have faith to look right at Jesus. 7LtMs, Ms 10, 1891, par. 9

By beholding we become changed. Our unbelief is exchanged for living faith, and we reflect His divine image, and we grow more and more into the likeness of Jesus Christ. The Lord took the hand of Peter and he was saved. And thus we have a Saviour; and in every trial we are to trust in the Lord God of Israel and He will be our Helper. 7LtMs, Ms 10, 1891, par. 10

You remember there was one who was a paralytic; he could not get to Jesus, and he [had] heard He was the mighty Healer. So his friends said, We will take you to Jesus that you can get into His presence. They inspired the man with hope, and the man by responding, inspired them with hope. But there was a crowd about the house, and it was a dense crowd that always followed Jesus, and they hung upon His words. As they approached the house they could not get through to Jesus. The suggestion was made that they open the roof and let the afflicted man down so he could see Jesus and Jesus could see him; and they did so, and let him down just where Jesus was; and there the pitiful, suffering [one] cast his eyes upon the only hope there was for him. So He wants us to do, whatever our condition. He wants us to consider we are hopeless unless we trust in the merits of a crucified and risen Saviour. 7LtMs, Ms 10, 1891, par. 11

Jesus knew how to help that soul, and He said, Thy sins be forgiven thee. The burden of his sins weighed upon his soul, and his case had been pronounced hopeless, but, “Thy sins be forgiven thee.” The Pharisees took up the point, Who is this that forgives sins? But Jesus read their hearts like an open book, and He said, Why is it easier to heal this man or to say thy sins be forgiven thee? He said there was no difference, but that you may know that the Son of man has power to forgive sins, He said, Take up thy bed and walk. [Matthew 9:2-6.] 7LtMs, Ms 10, 1891, par. 12

Now what if he [the paralytic] had just remained there and said, You just let me have evidence that I am healed and I will take up my bed very quickly and walk. He did not wait for that. No; he believed the word of the One who had spoken to him. And the joy that came into his heart, as the peace of Christ came into his soul! He fastened his faith upon Christ, and he at once had power which he exercised, and he took up his bed and walked. And there was great rejoicing; and they said, We have not seen anything like this before! The great power of God was there; the man was healed. There was God glorified. 7LtMs, Ms 10, 1891, par. 13

But suppose we are in a condition of helplessness in regard to faith, and say, When you give me evidence, I will believe; but until then I cannot believe. Is that the way you talk? Is that the way you talk to your family? O, how we dishonor God. He says, They that believe on Me shall not perish but have eternal life. Have you faith? Do you believe Christ? Is He your personal Saviour? Is He cleansing you from sin because He is able? Do you believe it? Is He your Saviour, One who can save to the uttermost, who died on the cross for you? I believe it; and in the strength of the faith He has given me, I have been enabled to travel since I was seventeen years old. I have proved Him, and I have tested Him, and I know that He never fails me; He has never done it yet. 7LtMs, Ms 10, 1891, par. 14

I was but a child, and I had no voice to utter a sound; yet it was God’s will that I should give the message to the people. My father said, Ellen, if God wants you to go—as the physicians have said your case is hopeless—if God says, “Go,” someone will come right to the door, and the way will be opened. My brother-in-law came to the door and took me and my sister, and then began my labors and my travels from place to place. I must move forth in faith, and for more than five minutes I stood; then everything broke away, and I spoke to them for two hours with a voice clear and full, and the moment I had ceased speaking my voice was gone. And thus I traveled for three months and then the voice was given to me, and I have had it ever since. From that time, I have been traveling. I believe in God, and He has never failed me. 7LtMs, Ms 10, 1891, par. 15

I want you to believe in Him, and I want you to have the consolation wherewith I am comforted in believing Jesus Christ as a present Saviour and Helper, and One that can save to the uttermost. The condition does not exist in our worthiness or unworthiness; but the condition is that we believe God, and then, in that belief, take hold of the arm of Infinite Power. We cannot make ourselves perfect; but we should place ourselves under the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness, welcome them, and believe we have them, and we will say, It is for me Christ died. He died that I might have them, and I will not be deprived of one of these blessings; but I will have the help that the children of God seek for. Then you keep urging your case. How? What does that mean when it says, “Fight the good fight of faith”? [1 Timothy 6:12.] The enemy will come up with all his rays of darkness and unbelief and will endeavor to get you off of the right path. 7LtMs, Ms 10, 1891, par. 16

When you sit down at the dining table in our boarding tent, it is all-important that you keep your words clean and pure, and not of that common, low, cheap sort of chit-chat, if you expect the Holy Spirit to come into your midst as you assemble together. Our Saviour dined with publicans and sinners, and He was not tainted or corrupted in the least by the society or conversation around Him; but He was all the time sowing the seed of life, in words that would take root in the soil of the heart. 7LtMs, Ms 10, 1891, par. 17

Now, if Christ is abiding in the soul, there come forth from the treasure house of the heart good things; if Christ is not abiding there, there is a satisfaction in the cheap, low, and frivolous jesting and joking which is a hindrance to you spiritually, because the angels of God cannot be with you; and you do not bring forth [from] the treasures of the heart such [things] that the angels of God can be with you and you can make impressions upon the minds of those who are around you. Christ is ready to diffuse light, and we must be ready, in our turn, to reflect that light. We must be ready to gather every jewel that comes from Jesus, and when we speak, let the jewels drop from the lips; then there will be nothing like commonness or cheapness in our conversation. We are children of the heavenly King, and therefore we are to be partakers with Christ of His sufferings, that we may be partakers with Him of His glory. 7LtMs, Ms 10, 1891, par. 18

And when we see that our influence is to follow [us], we want that influence guarded by sacred sentinels, that that influence shall not scatter in thought away from Christ. If we are members of the royal family, we want that every act of our lives shall show forth the praises of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. There is power for us if we will have it. There is grace for us if we will appreciate it. The Holy Spirit is waiting our demand if we will only demand it with that intensity of purpose which is proportionate to the value of the object we are in pursuit of. We want to know how it is with our souls. Can we say, “It is well, it is well with my soul,” because “I can read my title clear in mansions in the skies”? 7LtMs, Ms 10, 1891, par. 19

I have a pledge—it is from Him that made the world. Jesus Christ was sent into the world, and He took upon Himself our nature, so that we need not say, He does not know what temptations I have to meet. “Tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin,” He stands as our Exemplar. [Hebrews 4:15.] While we are associating in the world we will see injustice. One may complain saying, I am not treated as I ought to be; there is favoritism everywhere. I see it; but what difference is it how I am treated, so long as I have a chance for my soul? While you are thinking thus, I want you to remember He was tempted in all points like as I am. And He says He will succor those who are tempted. [Hebrews 2:18.] Just praise God. Let love come right into your heart, and let it swell forth in praise. 7LtMs, Ms 10, 1891, par. 20

If you have Jesus, who had divinity and humanity combined in Him and erected the cross midway between divinity and humanity, thus drawing the sinner to the cross so that when the Father comes with that retinue of angels and sees that cross, He says, “It is enough; I accept the sacrifice.” “I accept it”—what does that mean? Sinner, You may come. Come right along with your load of sin; come right along with your burdens; come right along with your griefs. 7LtMs, Ms 10, 1891, par. 21

When the sinner comes, and looks at the cross, he says, Oh, it was there that Jesus died for me. He did not die for me because I was righteous, but because I was a sinner, that He might impute unto me His righteousness, that He might take away my sin. Then should not we be the happiest people in all the earth? I want to know why we do not hear the song of triumph and praise from human lips <as we once heard it.> I want to know why there is not a volume of <praise> ascending to God. 7LtMs, Ms 10, 1891, par. 22

Do you think that you eat His flesh and drink His blood? He says, My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. And when the disciples were offended because they could not understand it, He said, It is my word; that is spirit and that is life. [John 6:55, 63.] Then take the Word and eat it, and assimilate it, and digest it; take it, make it your own; it is your meat and your drink. 7LtMs, Ms 10, 1891, par. 23

And when the devil comes up with that lot of nonsense for you to speak before others, of a low nature, of cheap, low talk, you just look into memory’s hall and say, I have the promises of God; I will look at the richness of these promises; and then begin to hand forth something that Jesus has said, something a great deal brighter and more precious than can issue from you. It is something that comes from the fountain of life. “I will be in him a well of water.” How? “Springing up into everlasting life.” [John 4:14.] Oh there is truth springing from the heart that is nourished with the water of life, pure and refreshing, that will direct the thoughts of all around us to the Fountain head. 7LtMs, Ms 10, 1891, par. 24

Oh that God may baptize us with His Spirit! Oh that we might, when associated together, not one of us give a cheap remark, not one give a remark that will draw out a laugh, as though he thought he were wonderfully smart. God does not call you smart; He calls you foolish. You do not know God and Jesus Christ. But if you know God and Jesus Christ, you will have remarks to make that will be as precious as gold. Has He not given us the precious pearls, and the precious jewels of truth? Will you not unearth them? Did He not come here for that purpose, that He might reinstate them in our heart? Was not the Comforter sent to bring to our remembrance the things we have forgotten? This is the work of the Comforter. Then what we want is the power of Christ in our hearts every moment. 7LtMs, Ms 10, 1891, par. 25

We read, “Young men likewise exhort to be”—frivolous minded? No, “sober minded.” Of course, if this calls on young men for sobriety, it certainly includes those of maturer age. Now it says, “But speak thou the things that become sound doctrine: that the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things: that they may teach the young women to be sober, love their husbands, love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the Word of God be not blasphemed. Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of a contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.” Titus 2:1-8. 7LtMs, Ms 10, 1891, par. 26

There is to be no foolishness in our life or course of action. We ought to be uplifting our souls to the Mighty One. What is the matter with us, that we do not show forth the praises of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvelous light? We are to be living epistles, known and read of all men. And the reason we are not is because we choose the cheap, and not the exalted, the high, the immortal, the eternal. Jesus wants us to exalt ourselves with the banner of Jesus Christ. We want to bear it with us always. We want to strengthen every soul in God. What would I give for a minister that goes into the desk and preaches a discourse with the solemn truths that we bear at this time, and then goes out and his conversation is light, trifling and narrow? His words carry no weight. He has not been sent by Jesus Christ. He does not know his mission or his work. 7LtMs, Ms 10, 1891, par. 27

And instead of sitting down in the family and jesting and joking, the true minister will say, My brethren, I want to tell you what is truth. Sit down here with me. I want to talk the truth to you. You should preach less; teach the Bible in the family; read and explain. You can do more at the family circle than in all the sermonizing. We cannot speak but that His truth will fall from our lips, showing that we have His grace in our hearts. It will be understood by all that we are indeed walking with God; that we have talked with Him, and that we understand Him and the power of His grace. In all things show yourselves a pattern of good works wherever you are. 7LtMs, Ms 10, 1891, par. 28

I am sorry that [at] our meeting last night there were not more out. I am sorry because I wanted the truth to be represented in this place. I wanted that there should be character given to our work. Is there anything as important as to leave a right impression upon human minds? Have you your own pleasure, your own ways, your own inclinations uppermost in your minds? And are you trying to direct your ways according to your own ideas and desires? God pity you, if you cannot, when the roll is called, answer, Here am I; Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do? How shall I stand in that army as a faithful soldier of Jesus Christ? 7LtMs, Ms 10, 1891, par. 29

I will read further, “Sound speech, that can not be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.” [Verse 8.] Wonderful, is it not? “No evil thing to say of you.” You may preach weeks in a place to a people as dark as midnight, and unless you reach them through God, your efforts are in vain. We must reach the people through God. Brethren, let us elevate the standard. Let us put away every trifling word, and let our spirits be in harmony with the spirit of Jesus Christ. That is what we want. 7LtMs, Ms 10, 1891, par. 30

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.” [Verses 11-15.] But let every one that wants to follow after our Redeemer walk as He walked, speaking not as fools but as wise. The Lord God of heaven will put His seal and His superscription upon us, and the angels of God will be around about us. 7LtMs, Ms 10, 1891, par. 31

But unless you encourage the society of the heavenly angels, there may be the most solemn discourse preached, but the very moment you get out of the meeting, if you let yourself loose, you will reveal just what you are. You show whether the truth has been mingled “with faith in them that heard it” [Hebrews 4:2], or whether it has gone out like water from a leaky vessel. If the truth has taken hold of your soul it is for you to show it in your conversation. 7LtMs, Ms 10, 1891, par. 32

Do you think, teachers and ministers, that you can reach the people by partaking of their foolishness and by linking with them to do as they do, to act as they act? I tell you, No. While you work together you can be, not going about with a long face, but cheerful, without jesting or joking. You can be elevating your soul by drinking in the waters of salvation. As your soul is refreshed you are refreshing all around you. There will be a word here and a word there just like apples of gold in pictures of silver. You will be building up your souls in Christ. 7LtMs, Ms 10, 1891, par. 33

If you are seeking to make a display of dress, you are not acting in accordance with the mind of God. Clothe yourselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety. That does not mean that we should go with our eyes dropped down, so that we cannot look anyone in the face. No, but modest in your appearance, words, and dress. Your dress, however, will not recommend you to God one particle; but you hang out the colors and thus show to the world on whose side you are. We want to be a people who shall stand forth as representatives of Jesus Christ. Look at His life—a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed. May the Lord God of heaven put His Spirit upon us. 7LtMs, Ms 10, 1891, par. 34

We want to cultivate charity. We may cultivate that love which Christ manifested—love for every soul for whom He died. But do not show in that affection, especially for the opposite sex, a lovesick sentimentalism. Do not, I beseech of you, reveal anything of this weakness and thus cause your good to be evil spoken of. No, that will not answer. You are to love as Christ loved—pure, holy, and undefiled. It is a love that is spotless, and you are to abstain from every appearance of evil. When we do that we shall carry a weight with us in our profession. Right here on this ground, in our associations together, we should manifest this kind of love. 7LtMs, Ms 10, 1891, par. 35

I remember that there was a class in the state of Maine who would get together and act like a parcel of children. They would laugh and joke and talk foolishness. They were ministers and laymen who professed the holy truth of God and to believe in Christ’s soon coming. They would laugh and joke and say, “It is no time to flee when the wolves are not around.” But, brethren and sisters, when we are together we should represent Christ to each other. We want a high estimation of each other. 7LtMs, Ms 10, 1891, par. 36

We are sizing one another up, whether we know it or not. And if one utters a light or trifling word, and another catches it and carries it a little further, and another taking it up carries it a little further still, notwithstanding they may seem to be in harmony with the thought, and may laugh or smile, yet we are every one being sized up. And every one is being reckoned by the heavenly intelligences. That record is exactly in accordance with your actions. But not only this, you are sized up by those around you. They weigh the weight of your character and your sincerity. They weigh you in the scales of their judgment. Although they may unite with you, apparently, you will never stand as high in their opinions again, as devout Christians. 7LtMs, Ms 10, 1891, par. 37

What we want is, while together, not to push one another down hill, but to help one another climb heavenward; help one another to get into the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness, for God is above the ladder. The ladder is to climb; it is not to go back a single step, but to climb heavenward. Heaven is what we want, and we want to bring all we can right into our present life, our present enjoyment. And when we enjoy Christ and the fulness of His salvation, you will see countenances here that will speak; countenances here that will tell you that Christ is formed within, the hope of glory; that Christ is there; that His life is there; that His joy is there; that His peace is there. That is a person that I can counsel with. He will cite me to God and heaven. 7LtMs, Ms 10, 1891, par. 38

I implore you not to choose the society of the frivolous and the cheap, but of such ones as that, that you may be uplifted by them. If you do not uplift those with whom you associate, they will surely drag you down. God grant that we may have power divine and above ourselves, that will bring us off conquerors, and more than conquerors through Him that hath loved us. 7LtMs, Ms 10, 1891, par. 39