The Review and Herald

616/1902

April 19, 1892

Christ's Instruction to His Followers

[Sermon at North Fitzroy, Australia, January 9, 1892.]

EGW

Text.—“And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom unto Israel? And he said unto them, it is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Acts 1:4-8. RH April 19, 1892, par. 1

Jesus spoke these words just before his ascension to heaven; for the record says, “When he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.” These were the last words of the Saviour to his disciples, and in them we see the commission which was given them, and the work that they were to do. They were to be witnesses unto Christ to the uttermost parts of the earth. The very same charge has been given to us as was given to them, and how desirous should we be to fulfill our Lord's commission to save those that are lost and to glorify God in the world. It seems strange that Christ should direct the disciples to begin their work in Jerusalem, the very place where the spirit of Satan had been most manifest in opposition and enmity to the Prince of life. It was there that he had been hunted, persecuted, denied, and betrayed. It was there that he had suffered in the judgment hall, there he had been mocked, insulted, scourged, there he had been put to grief and shame, and lifted up to die on the cross. It was there that the priests and rulers, who had not responded to his divine teaching and mission, had mocked him who was dying to redeem the children of men. There it was that they had railed on him, and reviled him, wagging their heads, and saying, “Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the king of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.” RH April 19, 1892, par. 2

The chief priests and rulers who rejected the Son of God had gone from one degree of blindness to another in their hardness and unbelief. They had refused the first rays of divine light, and at last by their own perversity and stubbornness they were completely blinded to the evidences of the divinity of Christ. Brethren, it is a terrible thing to refuse to receive the first ray of light; for you will thus be led to reject greater light. After truth has once appealed to your heart in vain, the succeeding evidences of its sacred character will become dimmer to your understanding, and how great is your darkness. By rejection of light, the perception will become blunted, and you will have no power to discern between the sacred and the common. Then grieve not the Holy Spirit of God. This was the condition of those who rejected the Saviour. Because of their stubborn refusal of his teachings, they were led at last to crucify the Son of God. RH April 19, 1892, par. 3

In Jerusalem where our Lord had been crucified, the disciples were to begin their work as witnesses of Christ. From this city their work was to extend through all Judea and Samaria, unto the uttermost parts of the earth. But it was not so strange that they were to begin to preach the gospel in this wicked city, when we remember that they were to tarry at Jerusalem until they should be indued with power from on high. They were to wait for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Man of himself can do nothing. His only efficiency is in Christ. The Lord has said to his disciples, “Without me ye can do nothing.” We cannot win souls to Christ unless we ourselves are acquainted with God. The only way by which we shall draw men to Christ is by drawing nigh to God ourselves. RH April 19, 1892, par. 4

While Jesus was with his disciples, he had instructed them as to how to go forth to gather sheaves for the heavenly garner. They had listened to his discourses; they had heard his daily teaching; they had walked and talked with the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world, and from his daily instruction, they had learned of the Master how to work for the elevation of humanity. Jesus had looked upon the fields, and had said to his disciples. “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.” “And when he had called his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.... These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not.” They were to go where Christ himself had been, where he had made friends in the cities of Judea. In fulfilling his command, for the first time they were alone in the work, and without the Master. How many times did they long to have a few words with Jesus. How much they wanted to have his counsel and sympathy in the different cases that were brought to their attention. He had given them power to glorify God, to heal the sick, to cast out devils, to preach the glad tidings of salvation to the poor. But they were to go to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” The time had not yet come to go to the Gentiles and to the Samaritans, and if they had first preached the gospel to these, they would have lost their influence among the Jews who were first to hear the message of God. RH April 19, 1892, par. 5

Among the children of Israel there were many who were hungering and thirsting for light and knowledge, and Jesus sent forth his disciples two and two, that they might bring the tiding of his love to these longing hearts. Why is it that we have departed from the method of labor which was instituted by the great Teacher? Why is it that the laborers in his cause today are not sent forth two and two? “O,” you say, “we have not laborers enough to occupy the field.” Then occupy less territory. Send forth the laborers into the places where the way seems to be opened, and teach the precious truth for this time. Can we not see the wisdom of having two go together to preach the gospel? One may be an excellent preacher, but he may be in need of education in personal labor out of the desk. No minister is sufficiently equipped for his work who does not know how to meet the people at their homes, and come into close relation to their needs. The people should be allowed to ask questions concerning subjects presented that seem to be obscure to them. The light of God is to be brought before their vision. How often when this has been done, and the minister has been able to answer their inquiries, has a flood of light broken into some darkened mind, and hearts have been comforted together in the faith of the gospel. This is the way we are to work in order to flash the light into the minds of those who are seeking a knowledge of the way of salvation. RH April 19, 1892, par. 6

We must have the light of Christ in our own hearts in order to give it to others. We want the light to practice by, a living principle in the soul, that the character may be transformed. The preacher cannot bring the people to a higher standard than he himself reaches. But when the laborer for God works in humility, God will bless and strengthen him, and crown his labors with success. RH April 19, 1892, par. 7

We are to learn that humility is before honor. The apostle writes. “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” We are not to have a put on humility. There is such a thing as humility on stilts, a humility that parades itself before men to be seen of them. The humility that God will honor is that humility which is the result of the soul's realization of its helplessness. This is the lesson that the workers in all branches of the cause need to learn. When this is learned, they will exert an influence that will be a savor of life unto life. We want to be joined to Christ by living faith. There are too many who are satisfied with having their names on the church book, while their names are not registered in the books of heaven. It is not your profession, but your course of action, that will determine whether or not you are Christians. We are nearing the judgment, and we should strive to spend the little time that intervenes between the present and the coming of Christ, in an intelligent manner. We should seek to have the mind filled with valuable knowledge, not with wood, hay, and stubble. By wise cultivation our ability should increase, that we may have growing power to understand the sacred teachings of Christ. We are to become teachers of the mysteries of the gospel. RH April 19, 1892, par. 8

The exhortation that Paul gave to Timothy should be heeded by every young man who would become a co-laborer with Christ. He says, “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” This is the line along which you should educate yourselves. But if you are indolent, and satisfied with seeking merely the superficial side of truth, you will miss the mark. Jesus has commanded, “Search the Scriptures.” We are to feed on the word of God, to live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. RH April 19, 1892, par. 9

When the disciples went forth, they were to preach that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, and they were not to burden themselves with money or scrip. The Saviour added, “Into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, inquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go hence.” There is no question as to where you shall take up your abode when you go forth to preach the gospel, or what shall be the character of the people with whom you are to dwell. You are to go to the best place, among the people who can be a blessing to you, and whom you can benefit, those who will receive your instruction, and whose influence will tell on the side of truth. Then you can work with courage. RH April 19, 1892, par. 10

“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.” RH April 19, 1892, par. 11