Gospel Workers 1892

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Popular Holiness Meetings

[From a Sermon to the General Conference of 1883.]

Those who would follow Christ must be grounded upon the principles of truth. They need to understand what the Bible teaches in regard to faith, and sanctification through the truth. They must be so established in this knowledge that they cannot be moved to take false positions on the doctrine of holiness, but will be able to illustrate in their lives the practical workings of this heaven-given principle. The people of God must be able to distinguish between the genuine and the spurious. GW92 226.1

There are those who profess holiness, who declare that they are wholly the Lord's, who claim a right to the promises of God, while they do not render obedience to his commandments. These transgressors of the law claim everything that is promised to the children of God, but this is simply presumption; for John tells us that “he that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected; hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” Jesus says, “I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.” [John 15:10.] Obedience is the true sign of discipleship. “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” [Matthew 7:21.] GW92 226.2

It is true that there are many who have never had the light of present truth, who, through the grace given them of Christ, are keeping the law as far as they understand it. Those who are thus living up to the best light they have, are not of the class whom the apostle John condemns. His words apply to those who boast of believing in Jesus, who claim holiness, while they lightly regard the requirements of the law of God. While they talk of the love of Jesus, their love is not deep enough to lead to obedience. The fruit they bear, shows the character of the tree. It proves that their faith is not genuine. Yet this class, though entitled to nothing, though they have no right to the promises of God, boldly claim all his blessings. While they give nothing, they claim everything. They close their ears to the truth, refuse to listen to the plain “Thus saith the Lord,” but by professing holiness they deceive many, leading souls away by their pretentious faith that has no foundation. GW92 227.1

We as a people have fallen into the opposite error. We acknowledge the claims of God's law, and teach the people the duty of rendering obedience. We believe in giving everything, but we do not see that we must take as well as give. We fail to have that trust, that faith, which keeps the soul abiding in Christ. We claim little, when we might claim much; for there is no limit to the promises of God. Through a lack of faith, many who seek to obey the commandments of God have little peace and joy; they do not correctly represent the sanctification that is to come through obedience to the truth. They are not anchored in Christ. Many feel a lack in their experience; they desire something which they have not; and thus some are led to attend holiness meetings, and are charmed with the sentiments of those who break the law of God. GW92 227.2

It is our duty to preach faith, to present the love of Christ in connection with the claims of the law; for neither can be rightly understood without the other. In every discourse the love of God, as manifested in Christ, the sinner's only hope, should be dwelt upon until the people realize something of its power and preciousness. If this is done as it should be, it will not be said of this people that they teach the law but do not believe in repentance, faith, and conversion. We want these subjects to be blended as God has blended them; then will the truth be presented in its completeness, not as a mere theory, but as a power that will transform the character. It will then be preached in demonstration of the Spirit and with power. Then those who have accepted the doctrines of the Bible will not be unfed; they will feel the vivifying influence of the Holy Spirit. GW92 228.1

There is no safety, much less benefit, for our people in attending these popular holiness meetings; let us rather search the Scriptures with much carefulness and earnest prayer, that we may understand the ground of our faith. Then we shall not be tempted to mingle with those who, while making high claims, are in opposition to the law of God. GW92 228.2

We must not have a sensational religion, which has no root in truth. Solid instruction must be given to the people upon the reasons of our faith. They must be educated to a far greater extent than they have been in the doctrines of the Bible, and especially in the practical lessons that Jesus gave to his disciples. The believers must be impressed with their great need of Bible knowledge. There must be pains-taking effort to fasten in the minds of all, the solid arguments of the truth; for every one will be tested, and those who are rooted and grounded in the work of God will be unmoved by the heresies that will arise on all sides; but if any neglect to obtain the necessary preparation, they will be swept away by errors that have the appearance of truth. At our camp-meetings, sermons should be delivered of such a character as will prepare the hearers to give a reason of the hope that is in them with meekness and fear. I have been shown that but a small number of the people in our churches know for themselves what constitutes the third angel's message. This fact should enable us to realize the need of Bible classes. At our camp-meetings especially, there should be daily classes for Bible study. Instruction should be given on the subjects of faith and Christian experience, and there should be seasons of earnest prayer. Then the influence of our camp-meetings would not be of so transitory a character, but would leave an abiding impression.—MS. GW92 228.3