Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 19 (1904)

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Ms 108, 1904

Sermon/“Simon Peter, a servant ...”

Washington, D. C.

April 30, 1904

Variant of Ms 106, 1904.

11 a.m., Sabbath, April 30, 1904

Sermon, M St. Memorial Church, Washington, D.C.

“Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” [2 Peter 1:1.] 19LtMs, Ms 108, 1904, par. 1

We need to understand the meaning of these words. The apostle Peter writes to those who are of “like precious faith” with himself. In order that we may realize God’s claims upon us, we need constantly to cherish the same faith that the early Christians cherished. We obtain this faith not through any righteousness of our own, but “through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” [Verse 1.] 19LtMs, Ms 108, 1904, par. 2

Daily we should act as if we realized the infinite cost of the great Gift made by God to this world. What a Gift was His! Christ came to our world not to maintain us in sin, but to take sin away from us, in order that we might not be left an offense to God through transgression. 19LtMs, Ms 108, 1904, par. 3

To those who through the righteousness of Christ have obtained the precious faith that existed in 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 cease permitting our minds to be engrossed with minutiae of but little consequence! Let us dwell only on those things that we can take with us into the higher school. We need to learn that it is our privilege to receive an education from the Source of all power, from the One who can daily give us a hold upon Him who is invisible. By faith we are to accept the grace that He came to bring to us. And in order to receive this grace in its fulness, we must have a living experience; we must understand what God requires of us individually. 19LtMs, Ms 108, 1904, par. 4

Every Christian should give strict attention to the formation of character. He who by faith daily lays hold firmly upon the Invisible One will reveal to all around him the character of Christ Jesus and will become a pattern of meekness. 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. “Come unto Me,” pleads the Saviour, “all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” [Matthew 11:28-30.] Let us hide in Christ. Then He alone—formed within, the hope of glory—will appear in our every word and deed. 19LtMs, Ms 108, 1904, par. 5

“According as His divine power hath given unto us all things (not a limited amount) that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue.” [2 Peter 1:3.] 19LtMs, Ms 108, 1904, par. 6

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 one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” [Matthew 7:7, 8.] 19LtMs, Ms 108, 1904, par. 7

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 not we take everything to the Lord in prayer? Have we forgotten what He has done for us? Christ laid aside His royal robe and kingly crown, clothed His divinity with humanity, and left the royal courts in order to come to this world as the Redeemer of a fallen order of beings. He came to the help of humanity at a time when Satan seemed to be gaining supreme control. For our sake Christ became poor, that through His poverty we might become rich. Although He was the Majesty of heaven, the King of glory, the Only Begotten of God, He chose to be born of poor parentage, and to live in a place of which the Jews inquired, “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” [John 1:46.] He came not to stand in the highest place of worldly honor, but to stand at the head of humanity, enabling men and women through His sacrifice to become partakers of the divine nature—to lay hold of an infinite power that will transform them into the likeness of the Divine. 19LtMs, Ms 108, 1904, par. 8

In co-partnership with Christ, we are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, by doing the very works He bids us do. We are to be meek and lowly of heart. Trials sometime 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 in our hearts; 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. 19LtMs, Ms 108, 1904, par. 9

Many make the mistake of dwelling upon the defects of others. This is liable to result in their becoming as bad as those whom they criticize and condemn. “By beholding we become changed.” [2 Corinthians 3:18.] Christ is our Example. In all points He has been tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Satan failed in his every effort to lead Christ to commit sin. The Saviour “was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.” [Isaiah 53:5.] He has borne the penalty of the sin of every human being; and He will deliver every one who comes to Him in penitence, seeking for pardon and overcoming grace. 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 108, 1904, par. 10

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; it is to know that He pities me—that upon His sympathizing heart He bears the wounds of my transgressions. 19LtMs, Ms 108, 1904, par. 11

Brethren, 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 the world’s wickedness today, notwithstanding the fact that they have in their midst a Medical Missionary ready to help them at any time. 19LtMs, Ms 108, 1904, par. 12

Christ has declared, “He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto My Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” [John 14:12, 13.] To all who ask in faith will be imparted grace and power in rich measure. 19LtMs, Ms 108, 1904, par. 13

Our Redeemer desires that we have His praise constantly in our hearts and upon our lips. He desires that we bring Him to the remembrance of the world that has fallen under the curse of sin. He desires that our voices shall be uplifted in joyful praise and thanksgiving. Those who faithfully honor Him from day to day will be clothed with the beauty of holiness. 19LtMs, Ms 108, 1904, par. 14

During the earthly ministry of our Saviour, His disciples were His constant companions. As He conversed with them, others would overhear His words and would unite with the little company, in order to hear more of the instruction concerning the things of heaven. Thus is the kind of conversation in which the Lord is pleased to have us engage—conversation that will turn the thoughts of the hearers toward heaven. Christ, through the agency of the Holy Spirit, will make impressions upon all who hear. But if our minds are centered on dress, on selfish pleasure, or on trials, and we talk regarding these things, Christ cannot glorify His name and advance the interests of His kingdom by impressing the hearts of those who hear these words. We often lose much by neglecting to improve our opportunities for using aright the talent of speech. Let us learn to praise God for the wondrous work He has done. Let us learn true politeness to God by giving to the people a noble, elevated conception of our heavenly Father whom we profess to love and serve. 19LtMs, Ms 108, 1904, par. 15

Jesus “hath called us to glory and virtue.” [2 Peter 1:3.] He desires us to come into a position more glorious than that which we have hitherto occupied. He desires us to catch the rays of divine light that come from Himself and, by beholding, to become changed into His likeness. Let us refuse to serve Satan by talking doubt. He is ever seeking to implant doubt in the minds of men and women. Let us guard against cherishing unbelief or expressing it to others. By talking of Christ Jesus and of His matchless love, we shall impart that which has been imparted by Him to us, and in this way we shall become “laborers together with God.” [1 Corinthians 3:9.] 19LtMs, Ms 108, 1904, par. 16

Our passionate impulses are of no benefit to others or to ourselves; our safety lies in talking of the wondrous love of Christ. A knowledge of what He has done for our salvation will lead us to view Him in a most glorious light and will cause our petty trials and troubles to sink into insignificance. We shall be living on an elevated plane far above those things that often lead to alienation. Uplifted ourselves, we shall be able to put our arms beneath the sad and the discouraged and uplift them. Our conversation will be of an elevated character, and our actions will be a praise to God. 19LtMs, Ms 108, 1904, par. 17

Let us guard against speaking words that discourage. Let us resolve never to engage in evil speaking and backbiting. 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 108, 1904, par. 18

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 fully what they were doing, would unite with Him in the hymn. 19LtMs, Ms 108, 1904, par. 19

What a transformation would be wrought in this world if men and women today would follow Christ’s example in the use of words! Let us speak kindly and patiently. Let us put our arms around those who are weak, and speak encouragingly to them. The Lord directs us to strengthen the weak hands that hang down and to make straight paths for our own feet, lest the lame be turned out of the way. Brethren and sisters, we are dealing with eternal realities. There is a hell to shun, a heaven to win. Let us constantly bear this in mind. 19LtMs, Ms 108, 1904, par. 20

“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 108, 1904, par. 21

Little do we realize the prevalence of evil among those who claim to be Christians. Let us put away all desire for position of worldly honor and turn to Christ, remembering that He is our King, our Joy, our Deliverer. He is the Light of the world. 19LtMs, Ms 108, 1904, par. 22

Those who seek to separate from themselves the evil that is in the carnal heart 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 108, 1904, par. 23

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 daily life will result in the conversion of hundreds and of thousands, as upon the day of Pentecost. 19LtMs, Ms 108, 1904, par. 24

“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 cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.” [Verses 8, 9.] 19LtMs, Ms 108, 1904, par. 25

It is at the time of baptism that 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, at 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 arises from the watery grave at the time of his baptism, 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 108, 1904, par. 26

Faithfulness to our baptismal vow gives the heart-preparation needful for winning 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 blot out the past and turn 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 108, 1904, par. 27

As I look over the city of Washington, I realize that a great work is still to be done. 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 this city memorials that will stand in vindication of the truth. Let us study the use of every penny and avoid wasting any of God’s money by needless expenditures. Some may plead that they have always indulged selfish pride, but our customary practices offer no excuse for sin. God is calling upon us to choose another way—the way of obedience and self-denial. 19LtMs, Ms 108, 1904, par. 28

“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 108, 1904, par. 29

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: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. ... Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life: and I will raise him up at the last day. ... 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 51, 54, 63.] 19LtMs, Ms 108, 1904, par. 30

Shall we not accept the great salvation offered us? Let us take a step in advance and continue to move forward, following step by step in the Saviour’s footsteps. 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 108, 1904, par. 31

“Wherefore the rather, brethren, 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 108, 1904, par. 32

Here are your life insurance papers. This is not an insurance policy, the value of which some one 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 a promise! what a hope set before us! Let us ever reveal to the world that we have something above the sordid things of this earth; that we are seeking for a better country, even an 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! Let the life be hid with Christ in God. 19LtMs, Ms 108, 1904, par. 33

Unitedly we are to take hold in a daily effort to help one another gain perfection of character. To this end we are to cease all criticism. Let us criticize ourselves and learn to hate the things of this world that once we loved. Onward and still onward we may advance toward perfection, until at last there will be ministered unto us an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. 19LtMs, Ms 108, 1904, par. 34

“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 108, 1904, par. 35

Supposing we were to cherish a remembrance of the good 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 will impress hearts. The Lord has promised that if we work on the plan of addition, He will work on the plan of multiplication. “Grace and peace,” He says, “be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord.” [Verse 2.] Having a knowledge of our heavenly Father and of His Son, we shall be filled with happiness; we shall behold the countenance of Jesus, beaming with love, and shall be made like Him. 19LtMs, Ms 108, 1904, par. 36

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 here. The securing of this land was a good step, and I praise the Lord that our brethren had the faith to take this step. God now calls upon every one of you to act your individual part in helping to build up the work here. 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 own souls are refreshed with heaven’s richest blessings. 19LtMs, Ms 108, 1904, par. 37

In some respects the situation here 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 108, 1904, par. 38

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 108, 1904, par. 39

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 108, 1904, par. 40

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 were received there. Some may say, “It would look strange to work so enthusiastically here.” What if it should? Very strange things will be seen before the Lord’s second coming. And some of these strange things will cause men to learn the meekness and lowliness of Christ. Conversion, itself, is a very strange thing. There are a few, only, who know the meaning of genuine conversion. 19LtMs, Ms 108, 1904, par. 41

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 capital of the nation has now been begun. As we plan and labor, let us do a great deal more praying than talking. Let us lean heavily upon the Mighty One and live on the plan of addition; for then the heavenly graces will be multiplied unto us, and we shall see of the salvation of God. 19LtMs, Ms 108, 1904, par. 42

Sometimes I hardly know how to express my gratitude to God over the fact that 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. Says Christ, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending.” [Revelation 1:8.] He has been with us at the beginning; and He is the One who will round out all the work we shall have to do if by faith we continue to walk in the way in which He leads. 19LtMs, Ms 108, 1904, par. 43

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 108, 1904, par. 44