The Review and Herald

565/1902

February 3, 1891

Sermon at Otsego

EGW

In company with Elder Rousseau and his wife, I left Battle Creek, October 3, 1890, to attend meetings at Otsego, Mich. We went by private conveyance, and as we passed through the different towns on our way, we had many serious thoughts in regard to the work to be done in spreading the light of truth in these small villages. Are there not in Battle Creek church persons who are free from responsibilities in connection with our institutions there, who could enter Harmonia, Augusta, Gull Lake, Richmond, and other places near Battle Creek? Have the members of the Battle Creek church have the true missionary spirit? Are they following the example of Christ? He did not remain in the pleasant courts of heaven, and leave a world to perish. Where are our home missionaries? May the Lord awaken an interest in the hearts of those who could do this work, that the light may shine into darkened places. Those who are content to sit under the clear light of truth Sabbath after Sabbath, and do nothing to diffuse this light, will lose the light themselves. If we would keep the light, we must be constantly giving it out. Jesus did not neglect the villages. The record declares, “He went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him, and certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, and Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.” Not only Christ, but his disciples also, labored in the cities and villages; and those who had been in the truth longer than the new converts, ministered unto him of their substance. RH February 3, 1891, par. 1

Jesus left his glorious home, and went without the camp, bearing reproach; and shall those who have received the sacred treasures of truth, crowd together into large communities, and leave the work committed to them undone? Mark the example of the divine Teacher: “The people sought him, and came unto him, and stayed with him, that he should not depart from them. And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent.” “In the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. And Simon and they that were with him followed after him. And when they had found him, they said unto him. All men seek for thee. And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also; for therefore came I forth. And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils.” RH February 3, 1891, par. 2

No one who professes to be a follower of Christ is left without some burden of responsibility. He is to let his light shine forth to the world. All heaven is interested for the salvation of souls. The angels that excel in strength have their commission to work for the perishing souls of men. Thousands and tens of thousands are engaged in active warfare, seeking to repulse the hosts of darkness, setting captives free from the power of the enemy. If angels are thus engaged, shall we be indifferent? God means that we shall all be laborers together with him. The least of all saints is to keep himself in the love of God, that he may not be a burden to others, but be able to lift with the active workers. Satan and his agents are working to destroy the Church of Christ, and it is necessary that every soul should be on the alert, helping on the great mission of the Redeemer. RH February 3, 1891, par. 3

Seven discourses were given at Otsego, five by Bro. Rousseau, and two by myself. I longed for physical strength that I might engage still more actively in the work. I had freedom in speaking to the people on Sabbath, but the social meeting that followed the discourse was not marked by the promptness, zeal, and earnestness that characterize the meetings where the people have on the whole armor of God. We long to see those who profess the truth for this time, show works corresponding to its importance and value. We are to be living witnesses for God. Those who have received the truth into the heart and life cannot withhold a living testimony of gratitude, showing forth the praises of Him who has called them out of darkness into his marvelous light. RH February 3, 1891, par. 4

On Sunday Bro. Rousseau spoke in the forenoon, and I in the afternoon. As I spoke in feebleness, I realized that power was given me of God; my faith was strengthened, and I knew that God would be with me as I went to fill various appointments in different States. I realized my great physical weakness, and was prepared to appreciate the help and strength that had been imparted to me by Him who has said to his workers, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” I believed the promise of God, and was able to say, “I will go forth trusting that the Lord will do the work that humanity alone cannot do.” “Without me,” said Christ, “ye can do nothing.” But with Christ we can do all things. RH February 3, 1891, par. 5

I spoke to the people of Otsego from the fourth and fifth verses of the second chapter of Revelation: “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” The people to whom these words are addressed have many excellent qualities, which are recognized by the True Witness; “nevertheless,” he says, “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” Here is a want that will have to be supplied. All the other graces fail to make the deficiency. The church is counseled to “remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.... He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; to him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” RH February 3, 1891, par. 6

In these words are warnings, reproofs, threatenings, promises, from the True Witness, he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand. “The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches; and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.” RH February 3, 1891, par. 7

When this church is weighed in the balance of the sanctuary, it is found wanting, having left its first love. The True Witness declares, “I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles and are not, and hast found them liars: and hast borne, and has patience, and for my name's sake hast labored, and hast not fainted.” Notwithstanding all this, the church is found wanting. What is the fatal deficiency?—“Thou hast left thy first love.” Is not this our case? Our doctrines may be correct; we may hate false doctrine, and may not receive those who are not true to principle; we may labor with untiring energy; but even this is not sufficient. What is our motive? Why are we called upon to repent?—“Thou hast left thy first love.” Let each member of the church study this important warning and reproof. Let each one see if in contending for the truth, if in debating on the theory, he has not lost the tender love of Christ. Has not Christ been left out of the sermons, and out of the heart? Is there not danger that many are going forward with a profession of the truth, doing missionary work, while the love of Christ has not been woven into the labor? This solemn warning from the True Witness means much; it demands that you shall remember from whence you are fallen, and repent, and do the first works; “or else,” says the True Witness, “I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” O that the church might realize its need of its first ardor of love! When this is wanting, all other excellences are insufficient. The call to repentance is one that cannot be disregarded without peril. A belief in the theory of the truth is not enough. To present this theory to unbelievers does not constitute you a witness for Christ. The light that gladdened your heart when you first understood the message for this time, is an essential element in your experience and labors, and this has been lost out of your heart and life. Christ beholds your lack of zeal, and declares that you have fallen, and are in a perilous position. RH February 3, 1891, par. 8

In presenting the binding claims of the law, many have failed to portray the infinite love of Christ. Those who have so great truths, so weighty reforms to present to the people, have not had a realization of the value of the atoning Sacrifice as an expression of God's great love to man. Love for Jesus, and Jesus’ love for sinners, have been dropped out of the religious experience of those who have been commissioned to preach the gospel, and self has been exalted instead of the Redeemer of mankind. The law is to be presented to its transgressors, not as something apart from God, but rather as an exponent of his mind and character. As the sunlight cannot be separated from the sun, so God's law cannot be rightly presented to man apart from the divine Author. The messenger should be able to say, “In the law is God's will; come, see for yourselves that the law is what Paul declared it to be,—‘holy and just and good.’” It reproves sin, it condemns the sinner, but it shows him his need of Christ, with whom is plenteous mercy and goodness and truth. Though the law cannot remit the penalty for sin, but charges the sinner with all his debt, Christ has promised abundant pardon to all who repent, and believe in his mercy. The love of God is extended in abundance to the repenting, believing soul. The brand of sin upon the soul can be effaced only through the blood of the atoning Sacrifice. No less an offering was required than the sacrifice of Him who was equal with the Father. The work of Christ—his life, humiliation, death, and intercession for the lost man—magnifies the law, and makes it honorable. RH February 3, 1891, par. 9

Many sermons preached upon the claims of the law have been without Christ, and this lack has made the truth inefficient in converting souls. Without the grace of Christ it is impossible to take one step in obedience to the law of God. Then how necessary that the sinner hear of the love and power of his Redeemer and Friend! While the ambassador for Christ should plainly declare the claims of the law, he should make it understood that none can be justified without the atoning sacrifice of Christ. Without Christ there can be only condemnation and a fearful looking for of fiery indignation, and final separation from the presence of God. But he whose eyes have been opened to see the love of Christ, will behold the character of God as full of love and compassion. God will not appear as a tyrannical, relentless being, but as a father longing to embrace his repenting son. The sinner will cry with the psalmist, “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.” All despair is swept from the soul when Christ is seen in his true character. RH February 3, 1891, par. 10