Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 19 (1904)

294/345

Ms 106, 1904

Sermon/Words of Encouragement

Washington, D. C.

April 30, 1904

See variant Ms 108, 1904. Portions of this manuscript are published in 5MR 116-118.

Sabbath, April 30, 1904

Sermon, S.D.A. Memorial Church, Washington, D.C.

We need to understand the meaning of the instruction given in the first chapter of Second Peter. “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ,” writes his second epistle “to them that have obtained like precious faith” with himself. In order that we may realize the importance of God’s claims upon us, we need constantly to cherish the faith that the early Christians cherished. This faith is obtained not through any righteousness of our own, but “through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” [Verse 1.] 19LtMs, Ms 106, 1904, par. 1

To those who have obtained the faith that filled the hearts of Christians in Peter’s time are written the words: “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord.” [Verse 2.] In the light of this instruction, how important it is that we give strict attention to the formation of character! He who by faith daily lays hold firmly upon the Invisible One will reveal the character of Jesus. With lowliness of heart he will accept Christ’s invitation to the weary and the heavy laden. Instead of unloading his burdens upon his neighbor, with whose heart-sorrows and burdens he is unacquainted, he will seek rest by taking upon himself the yoke of Christ. Let us abide in Jesus. Then He alone—formed within, the hope of glory—will appear in our every word and deed. 19LtMs, Ms 106, 1904, par. 2

“According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue.” [Verse 3.] 19LtMs, Ms 106, 1904, par. 3

Before us there has been placed an open door, which no man can shut. In the third of Revelation we read: “Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it.” [Verse 8.] Why are we so slow to enter this door? The promises given us are yea and amen. Christ declares: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every man that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” [Matthew 7:7, 8.] 19LtMs, Ms 106, 1904, par. 4

Are we not inexcusable for unloading all our troubles upon our neighbors? Are we not thus insulting God? Is not this why there is among us so much spiritual feebleness? Why do we not take everything to the Lord in prayer? He stands at the head of humanity, enabling men through His sacrifice to become partakers of the divine nature—to lay hold upon an infinite power that will transform them into the likeness of the Divine. 19LtMs, Ms 106, 1904, par. 5

In co-partnership with Christ, we are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling by doing the works He bids us do. We are to be meek and lowly. Trials sometimes come to lead us to humble ourselves before Him and to depend wholly upon Him for grace and guidance. We cannot afford to live without Christ’s presence; for perfection of character comes only through the gift of His righteousness. When we are in trouble, let us go to Him instead of to some defective human being. We have a Friend in Jesus, and we are without excuse for placing upon our brethren and sisters the burdens that our Saviour alone is able to bear for us. 19LtMs, Ms 106, 1904, par. 6

Peter writes of “the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord.” [2 Peter 1:2.] To know Jesus is to know that He is my personal Saviour; to know that He pities me—that upon His sympathizing heart He bears the wounds of my transgressions. 19LtMs, Ms 106, 1904, par. 7

My brethren and sisters, this is the great Medical Missionary, the greatest Medical Missionary that ever stood on earthly soil. Sometimes when I speak of Him, it seems as if the fountain of my heart would break at the thought of how wicked the world is today notwithstanding the fact that they have among them a Medical Missionary ready to help them at any time. 19LtMs, Ms 106, 1904, par. 8

Let us guard against speaking words that discourage. Let us resolve never to engage in evil speaking and backbiting. Let us refuse to serve Satan by implanting seeds of doubt. Let us guard against cherishing unbelief or expressing it to others. Many, many times I have wished that there might be circulated a pledge containing a solemn promise to speak only those words that are pleasing to God. There is as great need for such a pledge as there is for one against the use of intoxicating liquor. Let us begin to discipline the tongue, remembering always that we can do this only by disciplining the mind; for “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” [Matthew 12:34.] 19LtMs, Ms 106, 1904, par. 9

Through the help that Christ can give, we shall be able to learn to bridle the tongue. Sorely as He was tried on the point of hasty and angry speech, He never once sinned with His lips. With patient calmness He met the sneers, the taunts, and the ridicule of His fellow workers at the carpenter’s bench. Instead of retorting angrily, He would begin to sing one of David’s beautiful psalms; and His companions, before realizing what they were doing, would unite with Him in the hymn. What a transformation would be wrought in this world, if men and women today would follow Christ’s example in the use of words! 19LtMs, Ms 106, 1904, par. 10

“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” [2 Peter 1:4.] 19LtMs, Ms 106, 1904, par. 11

Little do we realize the prevalence of evil among those who claim to be Christians. We, as believers, are exhorted to cultivate the Christian graces. Immediately after holding before us the hope of escaping from the corruption that is in the world through lust, the apostle further declares: “And beside this, giving all diligence, 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 (love).” [Verses 5-7.] 19LtMs, Ms 106, 1904, par. 12

Daily we have a sum to prove; daily we are to add these graces to the character we are perfecting. Faithfulness in the carrying out of this scripture in the life-practice will result in the conversion of hundreds and of thousands, as upon the day of Pentecost. 19LtMs, Ms 106, 1904, par. 13

“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. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and can not see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.” [Verses 8, 9.] 19LtMs, Ms 106, 1904, par. 14

When we submit to the solemn rite of baptism, we testify to angels and to men that we are purged from our old sins, and that henceforth, having died to the world, we will “seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” [Colossians 3:1.] Let us not forget our baptismal vow. In the presence of the three highest powers of heaven—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—we have pledged ourselves to do the will of Him who, over the rent sepulcher of Joseph, declared, “I am the resurrection and the life.” [John 11:25.] Christ forgives every penitent sinner, and as the forgiven one, at the time of baptism, rises from the watery grave, he is declared a new creature, whose life is hid with Christ in God. Let us ever remember that it is our high privilege to be purged from our old sins. 19LtMs, Ms 106, 1904, par. 15

Faithfulness to our baptismal vow gives the heart-preparation needful for sinning souls. O how many we might save! As I look over the congregation before me, I realize that there is a work for every church member to do. All may not have lived up to their baptismal vow; but let every erring one do all in his power to redeem the past, turning from the path that has led astray to the path of humble obedience. You, my brother, my sister, are to win heaven and a life that measures with the life of God. You know not how soon your own life may be taken away. Have you secured the better life? Make sure of salvation, I beg of you, while you still have the opportunity. 19LtMs, Ms 106, 1904, par. 16

“Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.” [2 Peter 1:10.] 19LtMs, Ms 106, 1904, par. 17

This is the only election regarding which the Bible speaks. Fallen in sin, we may become partakers of the divine nature and attain to a knowledge far in advance of any scientific learning. By partaking of the flesh and the blood of our crucified Lord, we shall gain life eternal. In the sixth of John we read: “Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life. ... It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” [Verses 54, 63.] None need lose eternal life. Every one who chooses daily to learn of the heavenly Teacher will make his calling and election sure. Let us humble our hearts before God, and follow on to know Him whom to know aright is life eternal. 19LtMs, Ms 106, 1904, par. 18

“Give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” [2 Peter 1:10, 11.] 19LtMs, Ms 106, 1904, par. 19

Here are your life insurance papers. This is not an insurance policy, the value of which some one else will receive after your death; it is a policy that assures you a life measuring with the life of God—even eternal life. O what an assurance! what a hope! Let us ever reveal to the world that we are seeking for a better country, even a heavenly. Heaven has been made for us, and we want a part in it. We cannot afford to allow anything to separate us from God and heaven. In this life we must be partakers of the divine nature. Brethren and sisters, you have only one life to live. O let it be a life of virtue, a life hid with Christ in God! 19LtMs, Ms 106, 1904, par. 20

Unitedly we are to help one another gain perfection of character. To this end, we are to cease all criticism. Onward and still onward we may advance toward perfection, until at last there will be ministered unto us an abundant entrance into the heavenly kingdom. 19LtMs, Ms 106, 1904, par. 21

“Wherefore,” says Peter, “I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance.” [Verses 12, 13.] 19LtMs, Ms 106, 1904, par. 22

Supposing we were to cherish a remembrance of the bright chapters in our Christian experience, and dwell upon these in our testimony meetings; would not this be pleasing to God? If unbelievers are present in these meetings, they will recognize the right ring in such testimonies. Why?—Because angels of God are with those who have gained a personal knowledge of Christ Jesus, and these angels will impress hearts. 19LtMs, Ms 106, 1904, par. 23

The Work in Washington

In the city of Washington there is much to be done. I am thankful to God for the privilege of seeing the land that has been purchased for our institutional work in this place. The securing of this land was in the Lord’s providence, and I praise God that our brethren had the faith to take this forward step. 19LtMs, Ms 106, 1904, par. 24

As I look over this city, I realize the magnitude of the work to be accomplished. Let every professing Christian feel the necessity of self-denial. Let every one guard against the tendency to expend, for the gratification of mere vanity, money that belongs to God—especially in this time when our people are making every effort possible to build in the capital of the nation memorials that will stand in vindication of present truth. Let us study the use of every penny. Some may have formed habits of extravagance; let every such an one now choose another way—the way of obedience and self-denial. 19LtMs, Ms 106, 1904, par. 25

God now calls upon every believer in this center to act his individual part in helping to build up the work that must be done. If you do your duty faithfully, you will find no time for dwelling upon the little trials and annoyances and perplexities that come to you. As the result of laboring earnestly to provide facilities for the salvation of unbelievers, and for the training of many of our own people for soul-saving service, you will find that your souls are refreshed with heaven’s richest blessings. 19LtMs, Ms 106, 1904, par. 26

In some respects the situation in Washington reminds me of our pioneer experiences in Cooranbong, Australia. There we secured fifteen hundred acres in the heart of the woods and began the work of establishing a school. With willing hands the workmen toiled early and late. One by one, at great personal sacrifice to many of our dear brethren and sisters in Australasia, the school buildings were erected. 19LtMs, Ms 106, 1904, par. 27

Before this work was finished, the problem of providing a meetinghouse at Cooranbong arose. This problem proved to be a perplexing one. It seemed that we had done about all we could, and that it would be impossible to raise means sufficient for erecting a suitable house of worship. Finally, during a council meeting in which the matter was receiving consideration, I offered to go through our settlement and try to secure gifts of labor and material. Accompanied by my secretary, I visited the workmen living for miles around and solicited help. Just at this time it happened that several of the carpenters, who had been laboring on the school buildings, were temporarily out of employment; and these men generously responded, offering to work on the proposed meetinghouse at a very low wage—less than one-half the usual rate. Several worked for nothing a portion of the time. 19LtMs, Ms 106, 1904, par. 28

The erection of the meetinghouse was pushed forward rapidly. In the providence of God, two hundred pounds came to me from the Wessels family in Africa, just as we were ready to secure lumber; this money brought great relief, as it enabled us to proceed without delay. Many smaller gifts came in. Within a remarkably short time, the building was completed. 19LtMs, Ms 106, 1904, par. 29

It looks as if we may hope to have here in Washington some experiences similar to those we had in Australia, and to receive the same blessings that we received there. May God help us to do what we can in this place. May He give us hearts willing to make sacrifices. O I am thankful, so thankful, that the work which for nearly twenty years I have hoped would be done at the nation’s capital has now been begun! As we plan and labor, let us do a great deal more praying than talking. If we lean heavily upon the Mighty One, and live on the plan of addition, the heavenly graces will be multiplied unto us, and we shall see of the salvation of God. 19LtMs, Ms 106, 1904, par. 30

Sometimes I hardly know how to express my gratitude to God because the work in this place has actually begun. We are to remember that we can now see simply the alpha; we desire to see the omega. Having begun, let us not cease our efforts before completing the work. Christ declares, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending.” [Revelation 1:8.] He has been with us at the beginning; and He will round out all the work we shall do, if by faith we continue to walk in the way in which He leads. 19LtMs, Ms 106, 1904, par. 31

Let us talk faith, and not unbelief; let us praise God and go forward. The Lord is good, and greatly to be praised. At every step let us praise Him from whom all blessings flow. 19LtMs, Ms 106, 1904, par. 32