General Conference Bulletin, vol. 2




(Tuesday Afternoon, March 2, 1897.)

LET us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. GCB January 1, 1897, page 9.1

We need to have the whole of this in our minds at one time. Rest has been laid out before us, God’s own rest; think of it. God calls us to enjoy his own rest, just as he gives us his own peace. Let us give diligence therefore to enter into rest. Now somebody with that verse before him, and with his finger on it, will ask, How are we going to do that? how are we going to labor? whose labor is it? how are we going to labor, by which we enter into rest? There is no chance for any question if you look at it; think what it says: “Lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief,“. For we which believe do enter into rest. How do we labor to enter into rest?—Believe. This is the work of God, that ye believe. Faith is the labor that brings rest. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. So what is it upon which we rest, and which gives the rest?—The Word of God. For the word of God is living, powerful, active. Instead of “active,” suppose we take the original Greek word, simply transferred, and not translated. The original word is “energy.” The Word of God is energetic, or, it is energy; that is better. The Word of God is living, and it is energy. This thought is conveyed to us in the connection: Let us give diligence to enter into rest, lest we fall after the example of unbelief, for the Word of God is living, it is energy. Now, what lesson is there in that?—Let the Word work, because there is energy in it. So when we read the Word of God, let us receive it as it is indeed, the Word of God which effectually worketh in them who believe. GCB January 1, 1897, page 9.2

The farthest away from this truth is when we think we must do the work ourselves, leaving the Word of God out of the question. The next step is supposed to be a wonderful advance; namely, when people think they can take the word and world it themselves. But the word itself works, and our rest is in letting it work in us. GCB January 1, 1897, page 9.3

You know that Word in Colossians 3:16; “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom.” It seems to me that that would be a thing that we would jump at, such a prospect as that, expressing, as we so often do, our sense of lack of knowledge. We say that we cannot see, that we do not know what to do; and if we really believe that, it seems to me we would eagerly seize this, let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom. That is though, all wisdom for us if we will let the word dwell in us. Brethren, it seems to some a wonderfully hard saying for one to say, “You do not believe the Word;” but we do not half believe it, because we read the plain statement of what the Word is, how it furnishes all might and all wisdom, that it is self-existing, living, full of energy, works effectively in the one who receives it and lets it be in him; and yet we do not let it work in us, while professing to desire what it offers. Somebody will say, I cannot see how it is going to work out. Of course you cannot see, and you never will see, and you don’t need to see. Let the Word of God dwell in you richly and it will do the work. It is the Word which is to be put into us, implanted in us. The word is a seed for we read, “being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.” But we cannot see how it is going to be done, and therefore we do not believe it. When we meet an infidel, and he will say that he does not believe anything but what he can see, we scout the idea, and yet we do the same thing over and over again. If we can’t see it, of course it can’t be done. Did you ever read in the fourth chapter of Mark, twenty-sixth verse and onward, what the Lord says about the kingdom of God? GCB January 1, 1897, page 9.4

And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; and should sleep, and rise night and day. GCB January 1, 1897, page 9.5

Perfectly content, because he knows exactly how the seed germinates, springs up and bears fruit?—No, it does not say so at all. “And the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how.” Is n’t it wonderful that farmers can sleep nights? They cast the seed into the ground, and they may say, “I can’t see how it’s going to grow.” Of course they can’t, because it is in the ground, and they have no business to see it. It is not for them to see at all. You don’t knew how it is going to be done, and you do not need to know how it is going to be done, because you do not have to do it. God is going to do the work, and is n’t it enough if he knows how? Suppose somebody gives Brother Kilgore a piece of work to do, and I sit down and groan and they because I do not know how to do that work. He has to do the work, and I fret because I don’t know how. Now, we profess to believe that God does the work, but we hold ourselves aloof, because we can’t see how he does the work. What business is it of ours, so long as he does it? He has the work to do, and he has the power to do it. GCB January 1, 1897, page 9.6

Again: Christ said, “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there? for behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” That is it, the two texts fit together perfectly. The seed is the Word of God, and if put into an individual, if he will let it be there,—if he will not insists upon digging it up,—if it is put there and allowed to remain, it grows, and he does not know how. It is not with observation. He can’t see it. It is an implanted seed, and he is content to let it grow because he has confidence in the germ of life in that seed that it is energetic and will work its way out. There is a mighty power in a peach seed. Put it into the ground, and that seemingly dead kernel will spring up and grow, we do not know how. But God knows how. You know what the Lord says about the man that can’t see, and that is bothering about a thing that is not given him to see. It is the very same question, too, that we have under consideration. Somebody will say “How do the dead rise, and with what body to they come? I don’t understand about that. I can’t see how it is done.” “Thou fool,” he says “bothering about what you do not know anything about.” For you do not have to raise the deal. God gives it a body. “That which thou sowest is not quickened except it die.” “God giveth in a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed has own body.” So when the seed—the Word—is planted in a person, and he lets it be, simply less it dwell in his flesh, God will give this seed a body. “To every seed its own body.” It will transform the man in accordance with itself. GCB January 1, 1897, page 10.1

The Word of God is living, energetic, sharper than any two-edged sword; because the sharpest two-edged sword can no more than get in between the joints; but the word of God pierces to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, into ever fiber of the being. There is not a part of the being, there is not an atom so small, but that the Word of God pierces it. Do you believe it? The Word of God is life. It is God’s own life, because the Word is God. You see that we come back to our first lessons, the one lesson that we need, because it contains everything. It is the lesson of God in his works, of his word in his works, for the Word is God. The Word of God is not simply certain printed letters. The Word is living. What we have written here is only a form of the Word—a description of the Word, if you please, an accurate description or picture of it; it tells us what the word is, what it will do and what we may expect of it; but the Word itself is life. It is full of motion and energy, and is sharper than any two-edged sword, because it pierces to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and discerns even the thoughts and intents of the heart. There is nothing that is not manifest in his sight, because all things are naked and open to the eyes of him with whom we have to do. Wherever the living power of God is, there is God, with perception, with energy, with sensitiveness. (You understand what I mean by that word “sensitiveness.” Not that kind of sensitiveness that men have, that gets hurt every time a person looks at them crosswise, but it is full of feeling and perception.) There is not an atom in the living body but there is the Word of God present because that is the life of the body. GCB January 1, 1897, page 10.2

How does God knew all about us?—He is there on the spot. “We have not an high priest which cannot be reached with the feeling of our infirmities.” Or rather, which cannot have sympathy. That is the Greek word. The word “sympathy” is simply the Greek word transferred, and that is the word which is here used. What does sympathy mean?—It means suffering with. So we have not an high priest which cannot suffer with our infirmities. Leave out the negatives and what do you have?—We have an high priest who can suffer, and who does suffer with our infirmities. The Word of God is present in every place, and is bearing the infirmities of the flesh, because the Word of God was made flesh, and feels and knows all that the flesh bears. Wherever there is life, there is God. GCB January 1, 1897, page 10.3

Talk about hiding from the Lord. Don’t you see it is an impossibility to hide ourselves from God? “Whither shall I flee from thy presence?” It cannot be done, because wherever you go, “thou art there.” He knows because he feels. Is there anything that God knows by study and research? Does God, by setting himself to investigate a matter, learn something that he never knew before?—O no; that cannot be, because that would argue imperfection on the part of God. It cannot be. He knows it simply because he knows it; because he exists. He knows how we feel because he feels it. That is the only way anybody can know how another feels. You know this. Nobody can sympathize with another in any affliction unless he has passed through that same affliction. That is plain. Only he who has passed through anything can sympathize and suffer with one. Now, Christ suffers with us in our infirmities. The Word knows us, because it is in us. Every weakness of the human body, every infirmity, everything that touches and affects us, everything that causes us pain, whether it is material or physical, every injury, every wound, everything that depresses us, the Lord knows it and feels it, because he is there. If it were not for God’s presence in us, we could not feel anything, because we should have no life. Christ is our life, so that if there is any difference, he feels our pains even more acutely than we do. GCB January 1, 1897, page 10.4

Is there anything to rejoice over in that thought? Is there any comfort in that? Why, it is all the comfort in the world. Now put with this Isaiah 53:11, and we shall get one grand, comforting thought: “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.” GCB January 1, 1897, page 11.1

See? By his knowledge you shall justify many, for you shall bear their iniquities. GCB January 1, 1897, page 11.2

(A voice) The German reads, He is bearing their iniquities. GCB January 1, 1897, page 11.3

That is it. Behold, the Lamb of God bears. That is true. He takes sin away, and he takes it away because/he bears the sin of the world. He bears all things. How?—By the word of his power. That word you see, is in us bearing,living, acting, energetic, and it fills it. Everything is clear, open, because he is there, because he fills it, and by his knowledge shall he justify many, for he bears their iniquity. Well, then, you and I can be glad that the Lord knows all about us because of the knowledge by which he justifies us. How does he know?—Because he feels. All right, then; let him bear it. You have it all. Then you are justified, delivered, free. O, there is the comfort of it! GCB January 1, 1897, page 11.4

O, this opens up so wide a field, so many different things, I just stand in wonder! Which one shall we start out on first from this central station? Why, everything that God has for us, all truth, branches out from this. What line shall we study first? Let us look at the question of religious liberty a moment. It begins right with the individual. There is freedom. What is the bondage?—Sin. You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. We are set free from what?—From sin. But think that is not all. God is with us, in us, continually bearing our infirmities. You know what Stephen said about the Jews, that “about the space of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness.” He literally “suffered” their ways, for all their sins pressed on him. He says, “Thou hast made me to serve with thy sins, thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities. I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake.” Isaiah 43:24, 25. GCB January 1, 1897, page 11.5

Do you take that in? Do you see that point? Says God, Thou hast worn me out, wearied me, with thine iniquities. Why?—Because it was his life his Word, that bore it; because we piled the sin upon him, and continued to pile it upon him, and would not allow the Word to do that for which it was there all the time; viz., to take away the iniquity: God says, “I, even I, am he that blotteth our thy sin.” What for?—“For mine own sake,”—in order to get rid of all this burden of sin that is piled upon him,—that is what he does it for, because he is weary of it. He says, I will do all that for mine own sake, that I may be clear from it. Doesn’t that give us a firmer hold, stronger ground for confidence and trust and rejoicing, in the Lord? GCB January 1, 1897, page 11.6

(A voice) Yes. GCB January 1, 1897, page 11.7

Here I am; all my burden of sin is on God, on God’s own life. Now he says, For mine own sake I will blot it out; it wearies me. Notwithstanding that our sins wearied the Lord all these years, he has been with us, patiently enduring it. He did n’t get excited and irritable, and turn about and say, Go away; I will not endure this any longer. Did n’t it stir his mind to have all that done?—Yes. But O, the infinite patience of God! He waited, waited; the long-suffering of God waited, and his long-suffering is salvation. If God had n’t been long-suffering, I could not be saved. But he waited all those long years, waited, waited, waited; and by and by his loving patience got through the thick roll of sin that had been drawn over my eyes, and I consented to let him have his own way. Now can any man who knows the Lord, and how God bears with him,—can he go about trying to regulate others, and set them right?—He cannot; it is impossible. GCB January 1, 1897, page 11.8

(A voice), He is the only man that won’t do that. GCB January 1, 1897, page 11.9

Certainly. No matter how much a man may claim to believe in religious liberty, if he doesn’t know the freedom that God alone gives, the time will come when he will seek to compel others. This knowledge of God will make us wonderfully charitable with one another. What a renovation it would make in our church work, if every one knew this! What forbearance and kindness, forbearing one another in love, and dealing tenderly with those who are out of the way. That would make a vast difference in the church, make a vast difference in our dealing with those who do not know the Lord and those who in their ignorance are fighting against the Lord. It would make a vast difference in our talking about being persecuted, and others opposing us. We have no opponents. Those who we sometimes think are opposing us are opposing the Lord; opposing the truth. We only need to be patient, and trust. I remember reading a Jewish legend,—it comes from the Talmud, I think,—very striking, even if it be not true, and I do not know any reason why it may not be true, except that it does not seem to be in keeping with the character of Abraham. An old man came to Abraham’s tent one night asking for lodging, and Abraham hospitably took him in; but when something to eat was set before him, he began without recognition of any supreme being. Abraham asked him why he did not give thanks to God. He said he did not recognize God. He worshiped the fire, and did not see any other being to worship; so Abraham, in his zeal for God, thrust him out of the tent. By and by a storm arose, and the Lord came called, “Abraham, where is that old man I sent to you for shelter?”—“O, he worshippeth not thee, and I cast him out.” And the Lord said, “I have endured him for one hundred years; could not you endure him for one night?” GCB January 1, 1897, page 11.10

When I think of how much the Lord has had to endure from me, and of the wonderful patience he has had, and has still, O, it is so easy to have not only sympathy and patience, but love for those who are ignorant, and who are out of the way. Well, if we learn this lesson, we shall have the key of religious liberty, and everybody has got to learn it if he gets to heaven. I tell you, brethren, this religious liberty is not a side issue that some two or three may have, and they are to carry it on, and we do not know anything about it, because it is too deep for us; brethren, if you do not know anything about it, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven. It is just as deep as the salvation of God, as broad as that, as simple as that. It is the question of life, the life of the Word of God, which is living, energy, and working,—self-working,—it is righteousness. Therefore if the Word is in us, it will work out righteousness. Take the verse before us: Let us therefore hold fast our confession—in your Bibles it is “profession,” but it is confession in the Revised Version, and that is the exact rendering—let us hold fast our confession. What is the confession?—The confession is, that Jesus is come in the flesh. Now let us hold fast the confession of our faith. What is the trouble with us?—It is that we do not hold fast to our confession. If we confess and continue to hold fast the confession,—that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, that the Word is nigh us, even in our mouth and in our heart, the word of faith which we preach—if we shall confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus, that he is come in our flesh, and shall believe in our heart that God hath raised him from the dead—that he is a living power, we shall be saved. It is simple, is it not? Can you see how it is done? No, we cannot see how it is done, but it is true. It is the mystery of the seed planted, which grows, although you cannot see the life in it. You cannot see any indications of life in it, but it is there. You cannot see how it does grow, when it grows; but it springs up, we know not how. That is the mystery of the Word,—the seed in us. GCB January 1, 1897, page 12.1

Now when we confess, and then let the Word have free course to be glorified, it does the work; it works us; it manifests itself in good works in our lives. “Not by works done in righteousness which we did ourselves [as we read in the third chapter of Titus], but according to his mercy he saves us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour. That being justified by grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which believe in God may be careful,”—to do good works?—No; but “that we which believe in God might be careful to keep good works.” These things are profitable. It is not that we should be careful to do good works, but to keep the good works which God gives us, and let the good works work. That is justification by faith; and it is the message itself; it is everything. Now, why will you limit it? How many works will it do? “The man of God may be thoroughly furnished unto all good works”—except the works of the Conference? Will it do these good works in the man too? It is ample for all good works. But have not you all said that the Word of God is good to a certain extent; but then God leaves it to us to work it out? That is a mistake. The Word is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works; and that is the Word, the inspired Word, the Word breathed in. Christ breathed on his disciples, and said, Receive ye the Holy Ghost; and so he breathes into us the living Word, and we receive it, and believe that it is the living Word, and this new, energetic, and living way, we live by faith just as the body lives by breathing. GCB January 1, 1897, page 12.2

I will tell you the trouble; when we start out on life of this kind, it means the giving of one’s self to the Word; it means thinking upon the Word, letting the Word itself dominate our thoughts. A good deal easier thing than that is to get together an hour or two, or several hours, and plan how we shall do, and resolve to work those plans, and then we do not have to think any more. It is a good deal easier to think a little once in a while than it is to think all the time, and when the Word abides in us, it will keep us thinking and working,—the Word is active energy; it works. GCB January 1, 1897, page 12.3

Now there is another line; this works righteousness. It means righteousness then, to us, the law of God working in us, working out its own righteousness in us. And this pertains to temporal as well as eternal things; for godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise not only of the life which now is, but of that which is to come. GCB January 1, 1897, page 13.1

God himself is personally present in all his works. He himself is the energy that is manifest in all creation. God himself is force, the force that is manifest in all matter. When we went to school and studied heathen philosophy, we learned that matter itself possessed certain properties, did we not?—that force was inherent in matter. That is to say, we learned that matter was God, and God was out of the question. But God himself is force; he is power,—and Jesus Christ is the wisdom of God, and the power of God. Now suppose we recognize the fact that we all live through the life of God, and only by the life of God. In the beginning everything manifested the perfection of God’s life. In the creation, the new creation, everything was good and perfect. God beheld all things, and they were very good. Christ, who descended into the grave, has also ascended, that he might fill all things. That is, to make all things as they were in the beginning; everything to be full of his life. Is everything full of God’s life now?—O, no; men are not. Men have held down the truth—Christ—in unrighteousness. But by recognizing, and yielding to the Spirit, we may be filled with all the perfection of God. God designs to fill us, even in our mortal bodies. Then, when the time comes, the process will be carried a step further, and the bodies be made immortal, and free from corruption. There is but one life, God’s life, and therefore but one law, and that law is the law of life, the law of the Spirit of life, the law of God’s life. It is not a thing he has arbitrarily laid down, but it is simply the result of God’s existence. GCB January 1, 1897, page 13.2

We talk about natural and moral law. What is the difference? Take, for instance, the plants that grow according to certain laws. We can observe that certain kinds of plants, when uninterfered with, always grow in a certain way, and other plants always conform to a certain law, and we say, These plants grow according to a law! But what law?—The law is God’s life in them, God’s life that chooses for them the place and the thing which is best for them; that which will tend to their most perfect development after their kind. His life in them is called natural law, because nothing more is expected of them than simply to grow. They have not the order of intelligence and accountability that man has. Now man is a higher order of plant. He is a plant of the highest order, a movable plant, which God designed for the very highest position in the universe. The life of God in him, if unhindered and not interfered with, will bring him up to the perfection which God designed for him; he is a moral being,—that is, he has to do with right and wrong, and therefore the life in him works morality, and so it is called the moral law. But what is the difference? It is one law in all, bringing every created thing, from the lowest vegetable up to man, to the perfection which God has planned for it after its kind; bringing the grass to perfection as grass, and bringing the vine,—a higher order of plant with a higher office to serve,—to perfection as a vine; and the oak-tree, still more powerful, to perfection as an oak-tree; and the man to perfection as a man; but one life in it all, one law through it all. But then we do not see the fulness of God’s life manifested in man, because he represses it; therefore, for man’s sake and on man’s account, we do not see the fulness of life in the rest of creation. GCB January 1, 1897, page 13.3

The curse of God is upon the earth, because of man’s sin. God said, “Because thou hast done this, when thou tillest the earth, it shall not yield its strength to thee.” And because it does not yield its strength, what does it bring forth?—Thorns and thistles. These are not a new creation, not something especially created sin order to be a curse. ‘God did not create sin in order to curse man, but sin is a curse because it represses the life of God, which seeks unhindered circulation. The curse is a repression of it, a perversion of it, a holding of it down. So the curse that came on the earth was simply man’s dominion sympathizing with him. Man had fallen, and the same fall and the same curse passed over onto the earth, and so it does not yield its strength. The fulness of God’s life is not manifest in it. It is in sympathy with man, and because the fulness of God’s life is not manifested, instead of bringing forth a perfect plant, it brings forth a plant with thorns on it. Where there should be fruit or flower, the imperfect, degenerate plant brings forth a thorn. How many of you have actually seen this thing, so that you can illustrate it? How many have seen a plum-tree in a neglected garden, uncultivated and uncared for, that was all covered with thorns? If that tree had been cultivated and cared for, it would not have been covered with thorns, but would have had fruit on it. It is simply degeneration. It does not yield its strength any more. GCB January 1, 1897, page 13.4

Because of the curse, we do not see anything in its perfection, yet in the inanimate creation, that is, in plants, we find the life of God most perfectly manifested. In the beginning God said, “Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed ... and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.” We take the corn and the wheat, and there is life in them. We eat them, and the life that is in them comes into us and becomes our lives. We are built up by the life of God that is in them. The life that was in that growing plant is stored up now in the seed, and when we take it and assimilate it, all the mighty power that was manifested in bringing the seed out of the ground and perfecting it, becomes ours, and may be manifested in us; and if we will only be just as subservient, just as pliable, just as passive in the hands of God as the plant is, then we shall have the perfection of God’s life wrought out in us, even in our poor, mortal bodies. On account of the original sin, the curse is now upon the earth, so that some things have the life of God less fully than others. There is a difference even in plants. Some are now poisonous, whereas in the beginning there was nothing that would cause death. Now for the practical application of this matter,—for the consideration of the relation which the food we eat sustains to our religious life. But the hour has expired, and we must take this up next time. GCB January 1, 1897, page 13.5