Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists


Sermon—Parable of the Fig-Tree

“A certain man had a fig-tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig-tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it; and if it bear fruit, well; and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.” Luke 13:6-9. HS 180.2

The Jewish nation was represented as the fig-tree which God had planted in his vineyard. This people he had taken unto himself as his own. They had been greatly favored with temporal and spiritual blessings, and he looked to them to bring forth the fruits of righteousness. Year after year he had come to them hoping to find fruit, but had found none. He had been long forbearing. Justice had urged, “Cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?” But mercy pleaded for still another trial. The Dresser of the vineyard will put forth yet one more effort to save the fruitless tree. The Son of God will come in person to plead with the chosen people. He will take upon himself humanity, and set before them the example of his own life. If this fails to bring them to repentance, it is their last trial. “After that thou shalt cut it down.” In the terrible destruction which came upon the Jewish nation we read the fate of the unfruitful tree. HS 180.3

Under the symbol of the fig-tree, Christ represents, not the Jews only, but all who have neglected to improve the gifts of Heaven. He has bestowed upon us greater blessings than were granted to his ancient people, and he claims of us fruit corresponding to the gifts bestowed. What is this fruit? It is a pure and holy character; godliness, self-denial for others’ good, meekness and lowliness of heart. Jesus claims penitence, faith, and obedience. He came to leave for men a perfect model of character. He was obedient to all the requirements of his Father. If we follow him, we shall in our life carry out the precepts of God's holy law. HS 180.4

Dear brethren, He who has given you talents, has by these sacred trusts made you capable of bearing precious fruit to his glory. Through Christ, God has opened heaven before you, and all needful grace is brought within your reach. The Saviour died that by his grace you might become partakers of the divine nature. He expects you to bear fruit. With what interest has he watched and waited for some returns for his great sacrifice. HS 180.5

Consider, I pray you, the solemn lesson of this parable. The dresser of the vineyard pleads for a respite for the doomed fig-tree; but if it still bear no fruit, he himself declares, “After that thou shalt cut it down.” May not this be the position of some now before me? May they not be even now receiving the last trial? The divine illumination, the example of perfect goodness, are granted us. From time to time, new opportunities, new lessons, are given. And what will be the result? If we are careless and neglectful, we know not how soon the word may be spoken of us, “Cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?” HS 180.6

How many years have we been in the Lord's garden? and what profit have we brought to the Master? How are we meeting the inspecting eye of God? Are we increasing in reverence, love, humility, confidence in God? Do we cherish gratitude for all his mercies? Are we seeking to bless those around us? Do we manifest the spirit of Jesus in our families? Are we teaching his word to our children, and making known to them the wonderful works of God? The Christian must represent Jesus by both being good and doing good. Then there will be a fragrance about the life, a loveliness of character, which will reveal the fact that he is a child of God, an heir of heaven. HS 181.1

Brethren, be no longer slothful servants. Every soul must battle against inclination. Christ came not to save men in their sins, but from their sins. He has made it possible for us to possess a holy character; do not, then, be content with defects and deformities. But while we are to seek earnestly for perfection of character, we must remember that sanctification is not the work of a moment, but of a lifetime. Said Paul, “I die daily.” Day by day the work of overcoming must go forward. Every day we are to resist temptation, and gain the victory over selfishness in all its forms. Day by day we should cherish love and humility, and cultivate in ourselves all those excellencies of character which will please God and fit us for the blessed society of heaven. To all who are seeking to accomplish this work, the promise is very precious, “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.” HS 181.2

Every Christian will have a missionary spirit. To bear fruit is to work as Christ worked, to love souls as he has loved us. The very first impulse of the renewed heart is to bring others also to the Saviour: and just as soon as a person is converted to the truth, he feels an earnest desire that those in darkness should see the precious light shining from God's word. HS 181.3

We are grateful that a few in Copenhagen have accepted the truth of God. Missionaries are needed to spread the light of truth in these great cities, and the children of God—those whom he calls the light of the world—ought to be doing all they can in this direction. You will meet with discouragements, you will have opposition. The enemy will whisper, What can these few poor people do in this great city? But if you walk in the light, you can every one be light-bearers to the world. Do not seek to accomplish some great work, and neglect the little opportunities close at hand. We can do very much by exemplifying the truth in our daily life. The influence which we may thus exert cannot be easily withstood. Men may combat and defy our logic; they may resist our appeals; but a life of holy purpose, of disinterested love in their behalf, is an argument in favor of the truth that they cannot gainsay. Far more can be accomplished by humble, devoted, virtuous lives than can be effected by preaching when a godly example is lacking. You can labor to build up the church, to encourage your brethren, and to make the social meetings interesting; and you can let your prayers go out, like sharp sickles, with the laborers into the harvest field. Each should have a personal interest, a burden of soul, to watch and pray for the success of the work. HS 181.4

You can also in meekness call the attention of others to the precious truths of God's word. Young men should be instructed that they may labor in these cities. They may never be able to present the truth from the desk, but they could go from house to house, and point the people to the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. The dust and rubbish of error have buried the precious jewels of truth; but the Lord's workers can uncover these treasures, so that many will look upon them with delight and awe. HS 182.1

There is a great variety of work, adapted to different minds and varied capabilities. In the day of God not one will be excused for being shut up to his own selfish interests. And it is by working for others that you will keep your own souls alive. Do you shrink from this work because there is a cross connected with it? Remember that self must be denied if you would win Christ. Earnest, unselfish effort will garner sheaves for Jesus. The humble worker who obediently responds to the call of God, may be sure of receiving divine assistance. The Lord is a mighty helper. If the workers will rely wholly upon him, he will accomplish a great work through them. HS 182.2