Bible Echo and Signs of the Times


May 15, 1892

The Poor in Spirit


“And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him; and he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:1-3. BEcho May 15, 1892, par. 1

The words of our lesson are from the lips of no other than the Majesty of heaven; of him who was equal with the Father, one with God. “Blessed are”—those who are filled with joyful emotion? who are highly elated? who feel that they are rich in spiritual attainment?—No. “Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” To be poor in spirit is to feel our deficiency and need because we have sinned and come short of the glory of God. It is this that causes us to mourn. But are we to conclude that Jesus would have us always lamenting our poverty of spirit, our lack of spiritual grace?—No; for by beholding we become changed, and if we talk of our poverty and weakness, we shall only become more poverty stricken, more feeble in spiritual things. To be poor in spirit is to be never satisfied with present attainments in the Christian life, but to be ever reaching up for more and more of the grace of Christ. The poor in spirit is one who looks upon the perfection of character, and is ever responding to the drawings of Christ, and who, in obtaining nearer and nearer views of Christ's perfect righteousness, sees in contrast his own unworthiness and unlikeness to Him who is glorious in holiness. BEcho May 15, 1892, par. 2

He that is poor in spirit does not make a parade of his poverty; he shows that he is of this class by manifesting humility and meekness, by not depreciating others that he may exalt himself. He has no time for doing this; he sees too many defects in his own character which demand his attention. As he beholds the infinite love and mercy of God toward sinners, his heart is melted. He feels his poverty; but instead of calling attention to his weakness, he seeks continually for the riches of the grace of Christ, for the robe of his righteousness. The language of his heart is, “Less of self, and more of thee.” He desires Jesus. He knows that there is nothing in himself whereby he can procure the freedom which Christ has purchased for him at the infinite price of his precious blood. He sees that the good works which he has done are all mingled with self, and he can take no glory to himself because of his attainments in the Christian life. He realizes that there is merit in naught else than the blood of Christ. But it is because of this very realization that he is blessed; for if he did not feel his need, he would not obtain the heavenly treasure. BEcho May 15, 1892, par. 3

When Christ was upon earth, the Pharisees made bitter complaint against him because he was the friend of publicans and sinners. They said to his disciples, “Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, he said unto him, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.” The Pharisees felt that they were whole; they felt that they were rich and increased with goods and had need of nothing, and knew not that they were poor and miserable and blind and naked and wretched. They were satisfied with their moral condition; but Jesus said, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” It is the needy that Jesus is seeking. Brethren and sisters, do you feel that you are needy? Are you saying, as did the Greeks that came to Jerusalem, “We would see Jesus”? The Greeks came to seek Jesus at a time when the Pharisees were upon his track, trying by every possible way to find something whereby they could accuse, condemn, and kill him. How grateful was the sincere desire and confidence of the Greeks to the Master at this time of trial and sorrow. The Greeks wanted to see him because they had heard of his mighty works, they had heard of his wisdom and truth; and they believed on him, for they had searched the prophecies and felt assured that he was the desire of their hearts. BEcho May 15, 1892, par. 4

The great danger with the people who profess to believe the truth for this time is, that they will feel as if they were entitled to the blessing of God because they have made this or that sacrifice, done this or that good work for the Lord. Do you imagine, because you have decided to obey God, that he is under obligation to you, and that you have merited his blessing by thus doing? Does the sacrifice you have made look of sufficient merit to entitle you to the rich gifts of God? If you have an appreciation of the work that Christ has wrought out for you, you will see that there is no merit in yourself or in your work. You will see your lost condition. There is but one thing to do, and that is to look continually to Jesus, to believe in him whom the Father hath sent. BEcho May 15, 1892, par. 5

At one time the people asked Jesus, “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” Now the question is, Are we doing this? Do we feel our need? God has committed to us sacred trusts. The hereditary trusts of patriarchs and prophets have come down along the lines to us, and through them precious light has shone upon us. We have received divine enlightenment, and yet we have not made the advancement in the pathway of holiness that we should have made. Our obligation and responsibility have been faithfully pointed out; but we have not taken hold upon the strength of God that we might fulfil our obligations to him. We have failed to make the Holy Spirit the theme of our thought and instruction. BEcho May 15, 1892, par. 6

Jesus said to his disciples. “It is expedient that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” The Comforter is to come as a reprover, as one who is to lay open before us our defects of character, and at the same time to reveal to us the merit of him who was one with the Father, giving hope to the hopeless. Jesus says, “He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.” In Christ dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and we are to be complete in him. With all our defects of character, we are to come to him in whom all fulness dwells. BEcho May 15, 1892, par. 7

But many of you say, “I have prayed, I have tried, I have struggled, and I do not see that I advance one step.” Have you thought that you were earning something, that you were by your struggles and works paying the price of your redemption? This you never can do. Christ has paid the price of your redemption. There is only one thing that you can do, and that is to take the gift of God. You can come in all your need, and plead the merits of a crucified and risen Saviour; but you cannot come expecting that Christ will cover your wickedness, your daily indulgence in sin, with his robe of righteousness. The people of God are to be as branches grafted into the living Vine, to be partakers of the nature of the Vine. If you are a living branch of the true Vine, Jesus will prove you by trial, by affliction, that you may bring forth fruit more abundantly. BEcho May 15, 1892, par. 8

The reason that we have not more of the Spirit and power of God with us is that we feel too well satisfied with ourselves. There is a marked tendency among those who are converted to the truth, to make a certain measure of advancement, and then settle down into a state of stolidity, where no further progress is attained. They stand right where they are, and cease to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. But the religion of Christ is of a character that demands constant advancement. The Lord does not design that we shall ever feel that we have reached to the full measure of the stature of Christ. Through all eternity we are to grow in the knowledge of him who is the head of all things in the church. If we would draw upon his grace, we must feel our poverty. Our souls must be filled with an intense longing after God, until we realize that we shall perish unless Christ shall do the work for us. BEcho May 15, 1892, par. 9

As we come to feel our utter reliance upon Christ for salvation, are we to fold our hands, and say, “I have nothing to do; I am saved; Jesus has done it all”?—No, we are to put forth every energy that we may become partakers of the divine nature. We are to be continually watching, waiting, praying, and working. But do all that we may, we cannot pay a ransom for our souls. We can do nothing to originate faith, for faith is the gift of God; neither can we perfect it, for Christ is the finisher of our faith. It is all of Christ. All the longing after a better life is from Christ, and is an evidence that he is drawing you to himself, and that you are responding to his drawing power. You are to be as clay in the hands of the potter; and if you submit yourself to Christ, he will fashion you into a vessel unto honor, fit for the Master's use. The only thing that stands in the way of the soul who is not fashioned after the divine Pattern is that he does not become poor in spirit; for he who is poor in spirit will look to a higher Source than himself that he may obtain the grace that will make him rich unto God. While he will feel that he cannot originate anything, he will say, “The Lord is my helper.["] BEcho May 15, 1892, par. 10