The Signs of the Times


August 6, 1885

The Power of the Truth

[A sermon delivered in Oakland, Cal., July 11, 1885.]


Text: “Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” John 17:17-19. ST August 6, 1885, par. 1

This prayer of the world's Redeemer comprehends much more than has been thought, and I wish that the truths here taught might be impressed upon all our hearts. “Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth.” “For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” Every one of us who professes to believe in Christ is embraced in this prayer, and has a responsibility which it is impossible to throw off. We are required to be sanctified, not simply that we may be benefited personally, but that we may help others. ST August 6, 1885, par. 2

In these days it is difficult for the truth to find access to the human heart. You know that on one occasion when Jesus entered into the temple, he found there “those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting.” Thus the sacred courts of the Lord's house were converted into a place of merchandise, where greed and avarice flourished. As the eye of Jesus swept over the scene of busy traffic, divinity flashed through his humanity. He “cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money-changers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” The traffic suddenly stopped, and the throng of buyers and sellers fled as though a company of armed men were pursuing them. With bated breath the priests and rulers looked upon him who was clothed with such majesty and power; and, as though a flash of light from Heaven had revealed the truth to their beclouded minds, the conviction forced itself upon them that this was no common man. ST August 6, 1885, par. 3

As Christ found it difficult to obtain access to the temple courts because they were lumbered with things that should never have been there, so is the human heart closed against the truth because it is lumbered with the cares and burdens of this world. It has received the worldly mould. The prince of the powers of darkness is playing the game of life for the soul. He is working with every device that he can invent, with all deceivableness of unrighteousness, to separate man from God. The lust of the flesh, the pride of life, the vanities of the world, have taken possession of the soul-temple, and no room is left for Jesus. But when the heart is once brought under the power of the truth, even its secret recesses feel the renewing and transforming influence. To those who have lumbered the soul-temple with worldly cares, and desecrated it with buyers and sellers, we would say, Take these things hence, and let the truth have possession of the soul. Jesus stands knocking at your heart, pleading, “If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Will we let the Lord of glory enter? Will we make room for the truth of heavenly origin? ST August 6, 1885, par. 4

Jesus says: “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” If you will make room for Jesus, and cleanse the soul from the defilement of sin, you may enjoy perfect peace with God. But some will ask, How am I to do this? By an entire surrender of your will and your way to God. The peace of God will not rule in your hearts while you retain your worldly ambitions and indulgences. The passions that have held possession of the soul must be removed. When we profess the truth, it is our privilege and duty to show to the world that it has had a transforming power upon the life and character. ST August 6, 1885, par. 5

Why is it so hard for many to walk uprightly before God? It is because they are trying to serve two masters, a thing which the Saviour declares no man can do. If they would give themselves to Jesus, he would take possession of the soul, and every wrong desire, every false ambition, every evil purpose, would be brought into subjection to the will of God. This is the sanctification that Christ meant when he said, “I sanctify myself.” This is the sanctification that he desired for his disciples when he prayed, “Sanctify them through thy truth.” We profess to be sons and daughters of the Lord; the chosen ones of Christ, of whom he says, “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, ever as I am not of the world.” What right have we to let the things of the world take possession of the heart and engross our energies? What right have we to make the heart a highway for the world's travel, or to imitate its customs and practices? We cannot serve God and mammon. We must come out from the world, and be separate. Its fashions are not to control us; its principles are not to be our principles. ST August 6, 1885, par. 6

If the worldly element is allowed to take possession of the heart, things that are not approved of God will seem right, and the religious life will be mixed with error. The perceptions will not be clear and distinct to understand the word and will of the Lord. There is danger of pursuing this course of disobedience until the wrong is gilded over, conscience is blunted, and the self-deceived one believes himself on the highway of holiness when he is on the downward road to perdition. ST August 6, 1885, par. 7

The work of the overcomer is a close and trying work. We have individually to fight the good fight of faith, and war against the powers of darkness; for when the truth commences the work of purifying the soul-temple, the conflict between good and evil begins in earnest. ST August 6, 1885, par. 8

A minister who is professedly preaching the gospel, in conversation with a sister learned that she was conscientiously keeping the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. “Well,” said he, “you are right so far as the argument is concerned. Saturday is the true day to keep; the Bible is clear on that point. But,” he added, “I do not keep it, because it would create confusion. The Lord will overlook this in me because it is so inconvenient, so contrary to the custom of society. And then I do not think it really makes any difference what day I observe, because I am sanctified; you know that makes every difference. But stick to your faith, for you have the right of it.” Here is a man who claims to be sanctified while living in disobedience to the word of God; but what is there that sanctifies outside of the truth? ST August 6, 1885, par. 9

Said Christ: “Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” Two classes are here represented,—those who are sanctified through the truth, and the many who profess to be sanctified while knowingly breaking the law of God. The true foundation is the commandments of God; and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Men may erect a standard of righteousness of their own aside from that presented in the word of God; but their hope, like the house built upon the sand, will surely fall. ST August 6, 1885, par. 10

We are to listen to what God says, and be obedient to his word. It is not long sermons or prayers, it is not the things which we say, but it is the things we do, the characters we form, that makes us acceptable to God. The truth should influence our daily life, and then when we associate together the tongue will not run upon unimportant, frivolous things. ST August 6, 1885, par. 11

“Ye are the light of the world,” says Christ. Therefore “let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.” In the death of Christ the priceless treasures of Heaven were poured out to humanity. Can we keep such precious riches to ourselves? Oh! we should lift up the risen Saviour before the people, and tell them what a dear Redeemer we have found. We are his representatives; let us walk worthy of our calling. The reason why we have no greater influence to win souls to Christ is that we are not doers of the word. When we do the works of Christ, when the truth becomes a living principle in the soul, we shall have power with God and men. Others will take knowledge of us, that we have been with Jesus and learned of him, and our very presence will be an influence for good. We shall not dare to sin, lest others follow our example of folly. ST August 6, 1885, par. 12

“Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean, and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” Says the True Witness, “I know thy works.” Then let us be careful that we are not half-way Christians. We can be brought into perfect harmony with God and his truth; but there is much for us to resist. We should search our Bibles, and learn what the Scriptures say in relation to our duty. ST August 6, 1885, par. 13

Said Christ: “Take ye heed, watch and pray; ... for the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.” Not one of us is excused from the duties here enjoined. We are to watch every avenue of the soul, lest Satan come in and desecrate the temple of the heart, which should be wholly consecrated to God. We are to watch lest passion take possession of the soul, to watch lest selfish thoughts are cherished. The reason why there is not more vitality and power in the church is that we do not work and watch as we should. We should stand as faithful sentinels at the post of duty. I pray that the grace of Christ may come into our hearts, and that we may be ever watching for opportunities to do good. ST August 6, 1885, par. 14

One who is truly converted will find no satisfaction in devoting God-given probationary time to the preparation of apparel, the outward adorning of the body. To such, the pride of life, the vanities and follies of the world, will be a very inferior matter. They will ever feel, I am in the presence of God; his eye discerns every thought of vanity, every attempt to extol and glorify self. If the time that is wasted in vain attempts to make the outward appearance attractive, were devoted to the study of the Bible, to earnest prayer for the grace of Christ, the meek and quiet spirit which is the heavenly adorning of the soul, and will never perish, how easy, how pleasant, would the service of Christ become. The promise would be fulfilled, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.” ST August 6, 1885, par. 15

There is a constant warring of the flesh against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh. The pollutions cherished in the soul war against the pure, sanctifying truth. Some have advanced the idea that if we are once in grace, we are always in grace. But our work is to overcome every day. Temptations press upon every hand; do we resist them, and come off victor in the name of Christ? ST August 6, 1885, par. 16

When we become children of God, our names are written in the Lamb's book of life, and they remain there until the time of the investigative Judgment. Then the name of every individual will be called, and his record examined by Him who declares, “I know thy works.” If in that day it shall appear that all our wicked deeds have not been fully repented of, our names will be blotted from the book of life, and our sins will stand against us. If the professed believer becomes self-confident, if in word or spirit he breaks the least precept of God's holy law, he misrepresents Jesus, and in the Judgment the awful words will be spoken, “Blot out his name from the book of life; he is a worker of iniquity.” But the Father pities the self-distrustful, God-fearing soul, harassed though he may be with doubts and temptations. Jesus pleads for him, and confesses his name before the Father and his holy angels. ST August 6, 1885, par. 17

He who is to be our judge knows our works. He understands every temptation and trial, and I am glad of it. He knows the circumstances that surround every soul. He knows our weaknesses, and is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. “If any man sin,” says John, “we have an advocate with the Father! Jesus Christ the righteous.” Oh, how precious is the name of Jesus, and how precious every name that he confesses before the Father! When our gracious Redeemer says of the poor penitent, “He is mine; I have graven his name on the palms of my hands,” the answer comes, “I will not blot his name from the book of life, but his sins shall be remembered against him no more.” ST August 6, 1885, par. 18

The promise is, “Let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me.” There is power in the blood of Christ to remove sin. Poor, trembling sinner, today you are the prisoner of hope. Jesus lives, and because he lives you may live also. ST August 6, 1885, par. 19

Said the angel of God to John, as he beheld the multitudes of the redeemed gathered about the throne: “These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple.” Through the blood of the Lamb it is the privilege of every one of us to make our life a glorious victory. We shall have trials and difficulties to meet, but if we sanctify ourselves by obedience to the truth, the God of Israel will be our strength. “Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord, his going forth is prepared as the morning.” The Lord wants to give power to his people. He wants them to rejoice in the God of their salvation. He wants them to be conformed to his image, that when he comes, he may receive them to himself. If we lay hold upon the arm of Infinite Power, it will sustain us through every conflict and discouragement of life, and will finally place a crown of glory upon our heads, and bring us to share the eternal reward of the righteous. ST August 6, 1885, par. 20

“Blessed are they that do His commandments,” says the Saviour, “that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” “And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it, and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it.” “And there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth,” “but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.” ST August 6, 1885, par. 21