The Signs of the Times


March 16, 1882

Sanctification Through Obedience to the Truth


Christ prayed for his disciples, “Sanctify them through thy truth. Thy word is truth.” In every age, God has committed to his people some special truth which is directly opposed to the desires and purposes of the natural heart. It is no argument against the truth, that there are few ready to accept it. The word of God was received with little favor when priests and people, Pharisees and publicans, listened to the divine Teacher. ST March 16, 1882, Art. A, par. 1

Christ brought to men truths glowing with the light of Heaven, showing in contrast the darkness of error and revealing the superstition, self-righteousness, and bigotry of that age. His heart overflowed with sympathy for the poor, the ignorant, the afflicted, and the fallen. He healed the sick, comforted the desponding, cast out devils, raised the dead, and made known to all the words of eternal life. The priests and elders, who professed to be the expositors of divine truth, were sending forth no rays of heavenly light to a benighted people. In their self-righteousness they held themselves aloof from those who most needed help. When One came to do the work which they had left undone, they felt that his life was a constant rebuke to them; and they feared that he would turn the people from their teachings. Their hearts were filled with pride, love of ostentation, and desire for praise. They despised Christ's humility and self-denial. They hated the purity while they feared the power of his teachings. They refused to accept him themselves, and bent all their energies to hinder others. Against these professed leaders of the Jewish people, Christ brings the terrible accusation, “Ye have taken away the key of knowledge. Ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.” ST March 16, 1882, Art. A, par. 2

Reformers of the present time will meet with the same discouragements as did their Master. Men are no more favorable to Bible simplicity or to practical godliness than in Christ's day. Few accepted the world's Redeemer; few will now accept the message of his servants. Though the multitude eagerly flocked around him to receive temporal blessings, yet Christ sadly declares, “Ye will not come to me that ye might have life.” Thus the mass of mankind are today seeking earthly good, to the neglect of eternal riches. ST March 16, 1882, Art. A, par. 3

When Christ was upon earth, frowning priests and angry rulers threatened the people with exclusion from the synagogue, and thus kept many from hearing the great Teacher. Today the so-called “orthodox” ministers by similar threats deter their hearers from listening to the words of Christ's ambassadors. Many fear even to study the word of God for themselves, lest they shall be convinced. Young persons who find no attractions in the Bible, and who have never searched its pages, will, parrot-like, repeat the sayings of opposers to the truth. They imagine that it savors of manly independence to talk of having a mind of their own, when in fact they merely echo the opinions and sentiments of others. What the minister says in the desk, against the truth, is greedily devoured by those who love to have it so, and his assumptions, though wholly destitute of Scripture proof, are repeated as conclusive evidence. ST March 16, 1882, Art. A, par. 4

Those words of inspiration are even more applicable today than when first uttered: “The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so. And what will ye do in the end thereof?” A solemn question indeed; but how few give heed to it. ST March 16, 1882, Art. A, par. 5

Christ says of the people in his day, “For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes; and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” The Jews willfully closed their eyes and their ears, and barred their hearts with prejudice, lest they should see a better way, and thus be aroused from their pleasant dreams of carnal security. The people of the present generation are pursuing the same course. The great mass of mankind are unwilling to exchange error for truth. They are satisfied with their present condition, and have no desire to be converted. ST March 16, 1882, Art. A, par. 6

New truth is constantly unfolding; at every step, new and clearer light is shining upon the pathway of God's people, that they may go onward and upward. We are to be sanctified through obedience to the truth. For want of this Bible sanctification, the soul of many a professed Christian has become a desecrated shrine, the haunt of hollow formalism, of selfishness and hypocrisy, pride and passion. Thousands are living on in guilty unconsciousness of their sin and danger, despising the Saviour's warnings, treating his ambassadors with contempt, and their words as idle tales. ST March 16, 1882, Art. A, par. 7

The servants of Christ may at times feel almost disheartened as they see that there are many obstacles to the progress of the truth, and the work seems to move slowly. But their duty remains the same. They are to sow the seed of truth beside all waters. Whatever their difficulties and trials, they can carry all to God in prayer. They can weep between the porch and the altar, saying, “Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach.” By study of the Scriptures and earnest, wrestling prayer, they may become strong in the strength of the mighty one. Labor on, brethren, while the day lasts. The night cometh, in which no man can work. The world must be warned, and God has called us to this work. If we neglect our duty, souls will be lost through our unfaithfulness. ST March 16, 1882, Art. A, par. 8

A serious and perhaps unsuspected hindrance to the success of the truth is to be found in our churches themselves. When an effort is made to present our faith to unbelievers; the members of the church stand back, as though they were not an interested party, and let all the burden rest upon the minister. I know that for this reason the labor of our most able ministers has been at times productive of little good. The very best sermons may be preached, the message may be just what the people need, and yet no souls are gained as sheaves to present to Christ. ST March 16, 1882, Art. A, par. 9

In laboring where there are some already in the faith, the minister should at first seek not so much to convert unbelievers, as to secure his army of workers. He is not merely to present the truth from the desk, but as the shepherd of the flock he should care for the sheep and the lambs, searching out the lost and straying, and bringing them back to the fold. He should visit every family, not merely as a guest, to enjoy their hospitality, but as Christ's servant to inquire into the spiritual condition of every member of the household. His own soul must be imbued with the love of God; by kindness, love, and courtesy, he should win his way to the hearts of all, and then labor faithfully for the good of parents and children, entreating, warning, encouraging, as the case demands. ST March 16, 1882, Art. A, par. 10

A constant effort to promote personal piety should be seen in the minister's public labors. Sermon after sermon should not be given on the prophecies alone. Practical religion should have a place in every discourse. The discourses should be short, and to the point, and followed by a spirited social meeting. Sometimes the social meeting would have the best influence to come first. Let every member of the church feel a duty to labor wisely, skillfully, and earnestly. Let all bear testimony with the one object in view, to glorify God, to gain a deeper experience themselves and to save souls. Thus the church will be kept working with the minister, the careless will be aroused to seek a reconversion themselves, and then they are prepared to work for others. This is good generalship. The results will be found to be far better than if the minister performed all the labor alone. ST March 16, 1882, Art. A, par. 11

Each church can enjoy the labors of a minister but a short time at best. Hence they should seek to gain the greatest possible benefit from his labors. During his stay among them, they should give less attention to their temporal affairs, and all stand ready to second the efforts of the Lord's messenger. ST March 16, 1882, Art. A, par. 12

It is harder to reach the hearts of men today than it was twenty years ago. The most convincing arguments may be presented to sustain the truth, and yet sinners seem as far from repentance and conversion as ever. The work of saving souls is no child's play. It requires earnest, untiring labor to wrench the prey of Satan from his grasp. But God will sustain his servants in the work which he has himself committed to their hands. Said Christ to the first disciples, as they toiled upon the sea of Galilee, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” When the gospel net is cast, let there be a watching by the net, with tears and earnest prayer. Let the workers determine not to become discouraged; and not to let go the net until it is drawn ashore, with the fruit of their labor. Sometimes, indeed, we may say with Peter, “We have toiled all the night and have taken nothing,” but still it is the Master's command, as of old, “Let down the net on the right side of the ship,”—work on in faith, and God will give success. ST March 16, 1882, Art. A, par. 13

Jesus bids us as a people, Go forward. There are higher attainments, a purer love, a deeper experience for us, if we will consecrate ourselves to God, and humbly take him at his word. The reason why we have no greater confidence and joy is that there is in us an evil heart of unbelief. Our Heavenly Father is more willing to give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him than are earthly parents to give good gifts to their children. Let us shake off the spiritual paralysis that dishonors God and imperils our souls. If we draw near to God, he will draw near to us. We must not wait for better opportunities, for strong persuasions, or for holier tempers. We can do nothing of ourselves. We must trust to Jesus’ power to save. He is holding out to us the crown of life, and desires us to accept it. Let us come to him, just as we are, and we shall find a present help in our time of need. ST March 16, 1882, Art. A, par. 14

The sweet sense of sins forgiven, the light and love which Christ alone can give, fill the soul with subdued, solemn joy. The assurance that we are under the protection of Omnipotence imparts new courage and confidence, inspires a hope that is as an anchor to the soul, sure and steadfast, entering into that within the vail. With this assurance we have a source of strength unknown before. Whatever the duty which God requires, we are ready cheerfully to perform it. So long as we have the presence of our Saviour, difficulties cannot dismay nor dangers appall us. If we were only as free to speak of the blessings we receive from God as we are to talk of doubts and discouragements, we would enjoy far more of his presence. “Whoso offereth praise, glorifieth God.” Let us praise God more, and complain less; let us talk of the love of Jesus, and his wondrous power, and we shall be brought nearer and nearer to our Saviour. ST March 16, 1882, Art. A, par. 15

Shall we not consecrate ourselves to God without reserve? Christ, the King of glory, gave himself a ransom for us. Can we withhold anything from him? Shall we think our poor unworthy selves too precious, our time, our property, too valuable to give to Jesus? No, no; the deepest homage of our hearts, the ablest service of our hands, our talents of ability and of means, all are but too poor to bring to our Redeemer. ST March 16, 1882, Art. A, par. 16

“Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a tribute far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my life, my soul, my all.”
ST March 16, 1882, Art. A, par. 17