The Signs of the Times


March 9, 1882

The Light of the World


Said Christ to his disciples, “Ye are the light of the world.” As the sun goes forth in the heavens to fill the world with brightness, so must the followers of Jesus shed the light of truth upon those who are groping in the darkness of error and superstition. But Christ's followers have no light of themselves. It is the light of Heaven that falls upon them, which is to be reflected by them to the world. Jesus speaks through clay. Let men beware how they slight or reject the words of his representatives, for in so doing they are rejecting Christ. ST March 9, 1882, par. 1

A great responsibility rests upon the professed followers of Jesus. If they present to the world self instead of Christ, they will have a fearful account to render at the day of final reckoning. But none need thus to fail. Our compassionate Redeemer has provided for us the help we need. He is waiting to kindle in every heart that will receive his words such love as he alone can inspire. He will impute his own righteousness to the sincere penitent, and will fit him to become a witness for Christ. ST March 9, 1882, par. 2

The light of life is freely proffered to all. Every one who will, may be guided by the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness. Christ is the great remedy for sin. No man can plead his circumstances, his education, or his temperament, as an excuse for living in rebellion against God. The sinner is such by his own deliberate choice. Said our Saviour, “This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” The reason why there are so many of the present time to oppose the truth is, they love some indulgence which the word of God condemns. Hence they hate the light which reveals their sin. ST March 9, 1882, par. 3

There are many styled by the world liberal, generous-hearted, noble men whom God looks upon as wicked and corrupt. He sees not as man sees. His thoughts are not as our thoughts. Many in their self-complacency attempt to gloss over the defects in their lives and characters, and flatter themselves that all is well. To come to the light would reveal their danger, and strike the death-blow to their self-satisfaction. Then they would see the importance of a holy life, and their own need of Christ as a Saviour. ST March 9, 1882, par. 4

Many of those who profess to believe the Bible, and even to expound its sacred truths, are yet living in the indulgence of some cherished sin—living as though there were no God whose eye could search the inmost recesses of the soul. They are blessed with Heaven's bounties, and yet they express no more gratitude to the Giver than do the beasts of the field. They may now have no sense of their own sinfulness; but when summoned before the great white throne, they will in speechless terror stand condemned. The excuses now so flippantly urged to shield themselves from the divine requirements, they dare not mention with the eye of the Judge looking upon them. They knew their Master's will, but did it not, and they will be beaten with many stripes. ST March 9, 1882, par. 5

When the claims of God are presented, those who love sin evince their true character by the satisfaction with which they point to the faults and errors of professed Christians. They are actuated by the same spirit as their master, Satan, whom the Bible declares to be the “accuser of the brethren.” Let an evil report be started, and how rapidly it will be exaggerated and passed from lip to lip! How many will feast upon it, like vultures upon a heap of garbage. Whether the slanderous tale comes with or without proof, they give it ready credence, showing a strength of faith that is surprising. And yet these very persons will refuse to believe the truths of God's word so long as there is the semblance of an excuse for doubt. ST March 9, 1882, par. 6

The fact that some professed Christians are not what they should be, does not prove that religion is at fault, but only that these persons are not faithfully obeying its teachings. Neither does it prove that the church is corrupt. Does she not deal with an offending member, and separate from her company those who persist in all evil way? But the very ones who make the most of a person's faults while he is a member of the church, will, when he is expelled, turn about and sympathize with him, declaring the church to be uncharitable and severe. It is thus that Satan works through his agents, to turn men away from the Light of life. ST March 9, 1882, par. 7

The true Christian, “he that doeth truth, cometh to the light that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” His godly life and holy conversation are a daily testimony against sin and sinners. He is a living representative of the truth which he professes. Of these true-hearted followers, Jesus declares that he is not ashamed to call them brethren. Every one who at last secures eternal life will here manifest zeal and devotion in the service of God. He will not be ready to flee at the approach of trial, hardship, or reproach. He does not search the Scriptures to find some excuse for resistance to the truth. He does not inquire, What will my friends say, if I take my position with the people of God? To know his duty, is to do it heartily and fearlessly. He follows the light, as it shines upon his path, regardless of consequences. The God of truth is on his side, and will never forsake him. All apparent losses for Christ's sake will count to him as infinite gain. ST March 9, 1882, par. 8

Our thoughts and purposes are the secret springs of action, and hence determine the character. Every thought, feeling, and inclination, though unseen by men, is discerned by the eye of God. With what care, then, should we examine our hearts in the light of the divine law, and compare ourselves with the one faultless Pattern, that no defect may be found upon us in the day of God. We cannot afford to make a mistake in a matter in which eternal interests are involved. ST March 9, 1882, par. 9

The rebellious purpose formed in the heart needs not expression by word or act to consummate the sin, and bring the soul into condemnation. The unlawful word or deed is but the fruition of the evil which has taken root in the heart; the outward evidence that temptation has prevailed, and hell has triumphed. Says the apostle, “Every man is tempted [that is, enters into temptation] when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed.” God has provided the means by which we may resist temptation. These are the study of his word, and earnest prayer. In his encounters with the prince of darkness our Saviour prefaced every answer with the words, “It is written.” It was the word of God that vanquished Satan. Those who make that word their study are arming themselves with weapons of divine power against the attacks of the foe. “Thy word,” said the psalmist, “have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” ST March 9, 1882, par. 10

Every Christian should be a diligent student of the Scriptures. The word of God, believed and obeyed, exerts a transforming power upon the life and character. Its sublime truths, its pure and holy principles, strengthen the intellect, ennoble the affections, enlighten the understanding. How great the loss which they sustain who neglect this store-house of eternal riches. ST March 9, 1882, par. 11

We should know why we believe as we do, and should be able to give to others the reasons for our faith. But this will require effort. The mind grows by what it is fed upon. The understanding gradually adapts itself to the subjects which it is required to grasp. If allowed to dwell only upon the things of this life, it becomes dwarfed and enfeebled. If absorbed in vanity and folly, it will after a time almost lose the power of growth. To secure strength and vigor, the mind must be tasked; and there is no other means by which this can be so successfully accomplished as by the study of the Scriptures. ST March 9, 1882, par. 12

Hours are worse than wasted when spent in the society of those who are not seeking to improve in mind or morals. Idle gossip, frivolous chitchat, the cruel slander, the base innuendo, weaken the intellect and corrupt the heart. Time is precious. We have but a brief space in which to prepare for the future life. All who expect to dwell hereafter with the pure and holy, must here obtain a fitness for such society. Let the moments heretofore squandered in idleness and folly be henceforth devoted to prayer and the reading of God's word. This discipline every Christian may have, and, rightly improved, it will make him wise unto eternal life. ST March 9, 1882, par. 13

Many accept the theory of the truth, whose hearts have not felt the renewing power of divine grace. They do not wholly renounce their former life of sin and folly. They do not see the work which must be wrought in them by the Holy Spirit before they can be transformed from Satan's subjects to sons of God. In his words to Nicodemus, Christ explained the nature and importance of true conversion. He solemnly declares, “Except a man be born again,”—unless he receive a new heart, new desires, purposes, and motives, leading to a new life—“he cannot see the kingdom of God.” He must no longer remain in subjection to the power of sin. He is no longer to be a willing subject to the enemy of Christ. He is to become an heir of God by faith, a son of God by adoption. ST March 9, 1882, par. 14

Those who have experienced the new birth have but entered upon the Christian life. To such are addressed the words of the apostle, “As ye have received the Lord Jesus Christ, so walk ye in him.” In the storm of opposition, the whirlwind of strife that we are called to meet, it is sometimes hard to maintain the patience and gentleness of Christ, hard to meet the railing accusation with words of Scripture truth. But such must be the Christian's course. God has promised grace for every trial. By patient endurance we may become strong, by failure we may learn success, and through apparent defeat we may conquer. ST March 9, 1882, par. 15

Let not those be discouraged who are sorely tried and tempted, and who feel that they have not strength to cope single-handed with the power of evil. God asks you to become co-laborers with him. You need not wait for great opportunities nor ask for extraordinary talents. Use the ability that you now have. Do not weary yourself with anxiety about the success of your efforts, but quietly, faithfully do what you can, leaving the result with God. Though surrounded by the darkness of unbelief, you may let your daily life be a light to the world, a living testimony to the power of divine grace. The influence of that testimony will widen and deepen, so long as you are connected with the God of wisdom and power. Be assured that your memorial is written above, and in the day of God some at least among the redeemed will call you blessed. ST March 9, 1882, par. 16