The Signs of the Times

December 30, 1886

Intelligent Faith


“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12. ST December 30, 1886, par. 1

The Jews rejected Christ; but they were self-deceived. They hated his teachings, because he exposed the secrets of their hearts and reproved their sins. They chose darkness rather than light, and would not come to the light, fearing that their deeds would be manifest. “This is the condemnation,” said Christ, “that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” The Jews rejected Christ until their eyes were so blinded by the moral darkness that they thought they were doing God service in crucifying the Son whom he had sent unto them to be a messenger of light and hope. ST December 30, 1886, par. 2

Very many are in danger of a similar deception. God does not compel men to believe. He sets light before them, and Satan presents his darkness. While the deceiver is constantly crying, Light is here, truth is here; Jesus is saying, “I am the truth; I have the words of eternal life. If any man follow me, he shall not walk in darkness. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine.” ST December 30, 1886, par. 3

Sufficient evidence is given to balance our minds on the side of truth. If we love God, and desire to do his will, we shall choose the light and reject the darkness. But if we desire to carry out our own plans, and maintain the independence of the natural heart, like the Jews we shall refuse to submit to God; and we shall be in danger of as great deception as came upon them, and in our blind infatuation we may go to as great lengths as they did, and yet flatter ourselves that we are doing the will of God. ST December 30, 1886, par. 4

Minds that are submitted to Satan's control are led farther and farther from the light of truth into error and darkness. He has great power to entangle souls by confusing the minds of those who do not walk in the light which a kind Providence permits to shine upon their pathway. If he gains the least advantage, he will push it to the utmost; he will watch every opportunity to advantage his cause and ruin human souls. ST December 30, 1886, par. 5

Christ warned his disciples: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” Here is a test which all may apply if they will. None need be left in uncertainty and doubt. There is always sufficient evidence upon which to base an intelligent faith. But God will never remove from any man all occasion for doubts. Those who love to dwell in the atmosphere of doubt and questioning unbelief can have the unenviable privilege. He who turns from the weight of evidence because there are a few things that he cannot make plain to his finite understanding, will be left to the cold, chilling atmosphere of unbelief and skepticism, and will make shipwreck of faith. ST December 30, 1886, par. 6

It should not be considered a virtue to be on the side of the doubting rather than on the side of the believing. Jesus never praised unbelief, never commended a doubting, questioning spirit. He gave to his nation evidence of his Messiahship in the miracles he wrought; but there were some who reasoned these evidences away, and in every good work found something to question and censure. ST December 30, 1886, par. 7

The centurion who desired Christ to come and heal his servant felt unworthy to have Jesus come under his roof; but his faith was so strong that he entreated him just to say the word, and the work of healing would be done. “When Jesus heard it, he marveled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven; but the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the self-same hour.” ST December 30, 1886, par. 8

Jesus here exalts faith in contrast with doubt. He shows the cause of stumbling on the part of the children of Israel. Their unbelief would lead to the rejection of light and would result in their condemnation and overthrow. ST December 30, 1886, par. 9

Thomas would not believe unless he could put his finger into the prints of the nails, and thrust his hand into the side of his Lord. He received the evidence he desired; but Jesus reproved his unbelief: “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” ST December 30, 1886, par. 10

When Christ sent out the twelve, he commanded them: “And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, inquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. And when ye come into a house, salute it. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of Judgment, than for that city.” ST December 30, 1886, par. 11

Jesus warned those whom he sent out to preach the gospel to beware of men; for they would be delivered up to the councils, and scourged in the synagogues. Men's hearts are no softer today than when Christ was upon the earth. They will scourge with the tongue of slander and falsehood. They will, with their evil surmisings, see fraud and dishonesty where all is right, and where perfect integrity exists. ST December 30, 1886, par. 12

Noah preached to the men of his time that God would give them one hundred and twenty years in which to repent of their sins and find refuge in the ark. This was abundant time in which to turn from their sins, overcome bad habits, and form righteous characters. But they refused the gracious invitation to repent and be saved. They denounced the preacher of righteousness as a visionary character, a fanatic, and an alarmist, and laughed to scorn what they termed his superstitious fears and forebodings. But though the merciful warning of God was rejected with mockery and derision, their unbelief did not hinder the predicted event. They were left in darkness to follow the curse that their own sinful hearts had chosen; but the flood came, and great was the wrath of God which was seen in the general ruin. ST December 30, 1886, par. 13

“As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.” This is the attitude of the world today. Men reject the truth of God, as they did in Noah's time. ST December 30, 1886, par. 14

God's word is our standard; but how few follow it. And yet we are responsible for our influence. Many lose their interest in the truth of God, because they have taken unbelief into close connection with themselves. They breathe the atmosphere of doubt, of questioning, of infidelity; their faith is imperceptibly undermined, and finally destroyed. The influence of the world and of selfishness is carried about by many who profess to be following the Bible. They are like a cloud, chilling the atmosphere in which others move. The baleful influence of sin poisons the life of the soul, and our only safety is in separation from those who walk in its darkness. ST December 30, 1886, par. 15

Our religion will be of little worth to our fellow-men, if it is only theoretical, and not practical. We must be steadfast in the faith; we must not be movable. We have our work before us, which is to cause the light of truth, as revealed in the law of God, to shine in upon other minds, and lead them out of darkness. This work requires determined, persevering energy, and a fixed purpose to succeed. ST December 30, 1886, par. 16

“If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” The greatest triumph given to us by the religion of Christ is control over ourselves. Our natural propensities must be controlled. Few realize what this is. They do not know their own weakness; and the natural sinfulness of the human heart often paralyzes their best endeavors. There must be a coming out from the world, and a nearness to God, if we would be adopted into the family of Heaven as children of the great King. We must walk by faith. When we do the will of God, we shall know of the doctrine. Our feet will be planted on the rock of eternal truth, and we shall not be swept away by the doubt and skepticism of an unbelieving age. ST December 30, 1886, par. 17