The Review and Herald

614/1902

April 5, 1892

“It Is Not for You to Know the Times and the Seasons”

[Sermon at Lansing, Mich., September 5, 1891.]

(Concluded.)

EGW

We would ask you what time have you set in which you have determined to give your heart to God without reserve? What time have you set for seeking for perfection of character through faith in the righteousness of Christ? Is it tomorrow? Tomorrow you may be cold in death. Is it next week? Next week your hands may be folded across your breast, and your eyes may be sealed in their last sleep, and it may be too late for you to perfect a character for heaven. I want to ask our ministers, What kind of character do you think the Lord will accept in his kingdom? Do you know God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent? Is the love of God abiding in your souls? Are you dwelling in Christ, and Christ in you? If you are, you are safe; but if you are not, there is no safety for you. Do not allow your minds to be diverted from the all-important theme of the righteousness of Christ by the study of theories. Do not imagine that the performance of ceremonies, the observance of outward forms, will make you an heir of heaven. We want to keep the mind steadfastly to the point for which we are working; for it is now the day of the Lord's preparation, and we should yield our hearts to God, that they may be softened and subdued by the Holy Spirit. RH April 5, 1892, par. 1

“Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.” But when the Holy Spirit is in the heart, the minister will manifest it to others by his godly life and holy conversation. Do you think that the minister who has no burden for souls is fit for the sacred office to which he has been ordained?—No; he does not know what it means to keep his own soul in the love of God. The minister should realize that souls are the purchase of the blood of Christ, ransomed at an infinite cost. Can the minister who is standing under the shadow of Calvary engage in jesting and joking, and indulge his carnal propensities? Would such a one be a safe guide for the flock of God? Would he not cause them to stumble? He would cause them to stumble; for he would not discern between the sacred and the common, and eternity would be lost out of his reckoning. RH April 5, 1892, par. 2

We should all realize that an angel is writing every word and action in the book of record, and the things done in secret are to be proclaimed upon the housetop. What we need in this time of peril is a converted ministry. We need men who realize their soul poverty, and who will earnestly seek for the endowment of the Holy Spirit. A preparation of heart is necessary that God may give us his blessing, but this heart work is not done. O, when will the ministry awake to the solemn responsibilities that are laid upon them, and earnestly plead for heavenly power? It is the Holy Spirit that must give edge and power to the discourse of the minister, or his preaching will be as destitute of the righteousness of Christ as was the offering of Cain. Both ministers and people need to open the door to Christ. He says, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: 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.” Thank God for that promise, for it is given to those who have made mistakes and failures. Jesus says, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” May God help us to do this work in sincerity and in contrition of soul. RH April 5, 1892, par. 3

When ministers enter the desk, they should do so feeling their dependence upon God, that they may work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, and all the glory should be given to God; for it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. This is the co-operation that God requires. What is the trouble that the flock of the Lord is sickly and ready to die? Why is it that spiritual food is not supplied? Are the ministers of the Lord eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the Son of God? Jesus says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.... It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” My heart is drawn out to the hungry flock in Michigan, and you who have not fed on the living Bread, who have not drank of the healing streams of salvation, and do not know where to lead the flock of God that they may find refreshment, for Christ's sake, do not try to minister in the sacred desk, until you have an experience in the things of God. Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” When the word of God is in the heart, it exerts a sanctifying influence over the character, and men are brought into harmony with God. If truth and light are in the heart, you will bring love and light and blessing to the churches. You will not be as shadows casting the gloom of unbelief and darkness upon the people. Jesus wants to take your hand, and lead you, and will you not give yourselves to him? Talk of what Jesus did, how he left his glory, and came to seek and to save that which was lost. RH April 5, 1892, par. 4

If God has sent you to preach, he has provided that you shall go weighted with the graces of the Spirit of God, and with a message of truth that will be as meat in due season to the hungry flock of God. You will realize that you are standing between the living and the dead, and that you are a spectacle unto the world, to angels, and to men. The minister is to reveal Christ, not to exhibit himself to the people. Youth is not to be urged as an excuse for lightness and trifling; for the apostle exhorts that young men be sober-minded, and remember that they are to render an account to God for the influence they exert. Young men, if you have had no special sense of sin, if you are possessed of a spirit of trifling, do not seek to minister in the sacred desk, and jeopardize your own soul and the souls of others, and leave the impression on the world that you are representatives of the solemn truth for this time. Unless Jesus is formed within, the hope of glory, you will be a curse and not a blessing to the congregation, for the minister cannot bring the people to a higher standard than that which he himself reaches. But those who sincerely repent and turn to the Lord, will find in him a personal Saviour. He is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him. He will save you from yourself, from every defilement, from all your foolishness. You are to believe in him, to “trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.” When you love Jesus, you will not grieve him by indulging sin in yourself; for you will realize that he came not to save you in your sins, but from your sins. John says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” RH April 5, 1892, par. 5

Those whom God has called to the ministry are to give evidence by the influence they exert, that they are fit for the holy calling in which they are found. Paul writes, “Be thou an example of the believers.” Then shall young ministers be excused for their lightness and trifling? Shall the church be expected to listen to their words, to receive their testimony, when their example misrepresents the character of Christ, and leads away from the path cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in? What can we think of churches that will listen to the testimony of men who have no power in prayer, no fervency in their devotion, no freedom in personal labor for souls? The Lord has commanded, “Be ye holy in all manner of conversation.” “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them; for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” The proof of the minister's call to preach the gospel is seen in his example and work. God desires men in the ministry who will esteem highly the things which he esteems, and preserve the sanctity of truth, and not do as did Nadab and Abihu. They discerned not the difference between the sacred and the common. Their senses were blunted with indulgence in wine, and they offered strange fire before the Lord. They did not realize the sacredness of the work in which they were engaged. There are some now who profess to be ministers of the Lord who talk of the things of God as they would talk of some business transaction. O, we need the heavenly enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. The churches will never become the light of the world unless they turn unto the Lord to serve him with full purpose of heart. RH April 5, 1892, par. 6

The people of God are called to be the light of the world, a city that is set upon a hill, not to be hidden; and if the church is ever to fulfill its divine mission, we must be filled with the love of Jesus. Our hearts must be so full of his matchless grace that when we meet each other, we shall take our brethren by the hand, and say, “Hear what the Lord hath done for my soul.” Our minds must be stayed upon God until, by beholding, we shall become changed into the same image. Then we shall talk of the power of God, of the goodness and mercy and love of our heavenly Father; and as we talk of the matchless charms of our divine Redeemer, our hearts will be melted and subdued by the Holy Spirit, and those around us will behold us, and know that we have been with Jesus and learned of him. RH April 5, 1892, par. 7

Then if one comes among you professing to be a preacher of righteousness, who mingles with the truth words of foolishness and jesting, who carries no burden for souls, take him aside, and in the spirit of love and meekness, tell him that he cannot feed the church of God when he himself does not know what it means to feed on the bread of life. Let the father plead that he is seeking to follow the example of Abraham, and commanding his children and his household to keep the way of the Lord. Let the mother urge that a right example be given to her children. Let trifling and joking be banished from the conversation of the minister, but let his speech be seasoned with grace; let the light and love of Jesus shine in his example and precept, that souls may be won for the Master. RH April 5, 1892, par. 8

Follow the instruction of the word of God, in dealing with your ministering brethren. Paul says, “Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father, and the younger men as brethren.” There may be occasion to speak of their errors to those who have long been in the ministry, but let it be done as a matter of entreaty, and not rebuke. The younger ministers are to be treated as brethren, and may God help us that we may help one another. We must have a living connection with God. We must be clothed with power from on high by the baptism of the Holy Spirit, that we may reach a higher standard; for there is help for us in no other way. RH April 5, 1892, par. 9