The Review and Herald

617/1902

April 26, 1892

Christ's Instruction to His Followers

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

(Continued.)

EGW

Text.—“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” Matthew 10:16. RH April 26, 1892, par. 1

In the great work before us we are to cultivate those qualities of character that will make us persons of wisdom and discernment; and as we do this, we shall better understand the sacred nature of the cause in which we are engaged. Our characters must be of such a stamp that our association with the people will result in leading them to take a consistent course when they embrace the present truth. Those who labor for Christ should be men and women of great discretion, so that those who do not understand their doctrines may be led to respect them, and regard them as persons void of fanaticism, void of rashness and impetuosity. Their discourses and conduct and conversation should be of a nature that will lead men to the conclusion that these ministers are men of thought, of solidity of character, men who fear and love their heavenly Father. They should win the confidence of the people, so that those who listen to the preaching may know that the ministers have not come with some cunningly devised fable, but that their words are words of worth, a testimony that demands thought and attention. Let the people see you exalting Jesus, and hiding self. The sentiment of your heart should be, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Exalt his matchless power and grace, but let self be crucified, let self be hidden in Christ. RH April 26, 1892, par. 2

When perplexities crowd upon you, and the people oppose the truth, you are not to say indifferently or impatiently, “Well, there is no use, I can do them no good.” Come to them in the Spirit of Christ, “in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;” for “the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient.” You are to come to the people in sympathy, and be clothed with humility as with a garment. The Lord has set his people to be a light to others, and the grace of God should be seen in all your conversation and conduct. The spirit of kindness must characterize your dealings with all men. RH April 26, 1892, par. 3

You will be tempted to deal harshly with those who are reported to you as in error. Persons will come to you with accusations against this brother or that sister, and you may feel stirred with indignation, and feel that you must immediately set things in order, but you must remember that you are to be as wise as a serpent, as harmless as a dove. Those who are so ready to accuse their brethren might better be attending to their own defects of character instead of seeking to expose the failings of others. Do not let these reports move you to act in a hasty, unchristlike manner. Let God put his Spirit upon you, that you may not go according to human judgment, but be directed as God would have you go. Sit low at the feet of Jesus and learn of him how you are to deal with your brethren, and with the momentous truths that are committed to you to give to the world. RH April 26, 1892, par. 4

“Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” These words should have an influence on the minds of all those who profess the truth. The Lord has not sent us to criticise and condemn the world. Even Christ came not to condemn, but to redeem lost humanity. You have no right to find fault with those who do not believe as you do. You are not to criticise the minister who is sent to you, and say he is too liberal, or he is at fault in this or that, if he is preaching the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. No matter what you may think, do not allow your tongue to utter condemnation of that which you do not understand. Do not sow the seed of unbelief and discord. Silence is eloquence, and we greatly need to learn this eloquence. When you hear your brethren speaking evil of others, tell them not to judge, not to condemn. Jesus says, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?” Persons have criticised those who were digging deep in the mines of knowledge, and their criticism, if heeded, would crush out the very powers that God would have men develop and strengthen. This talking against others must be stopped among those who profess to be the children of God. RH April 26, 1892, par. 5

How much evil is done by unwise condemnation of others. O, whatever we do, let us not interpose ourselves between souls and God. How often has criticism of others, in the church or in the world, resulted in closing the door by which most precious truths might have found an entrance to hearts, and souls might have been converted to God. We need to humble ourselves at every step, and lift up the Man of Calvary, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. Talk of the loveliness of the character of Christ. We are charged to be “holy in all manner of conversation.” The Lord says, “Be ye holy; for I am holy.” We must perfect a Christlike character, or we shall never enter into the kingdom of heaven. We are to have self hidden behind Jesus. We are to learn in his school meekness and lowliness of heart. All self-sufficiency must be put far from us. We are to come to a position before God where we can present the sacred, elevated truth in the demonstration of the Spirit and with power, so that there will be no savor of self about it. There is often such a mingling of self with the truth, that the hearers turn away in disgust. O, we must understand to a much greater extent the will and the way of God. RH April 26, 1892, par. 6

Jesus says, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves.” But you need not meet the wolves in the same spirit that they themselves possess. You are to be “as harmless as doves.” In meeting those who are fierce of spirit, you must manifest meekness and love, and the manifestation of this spirit will frequently change the spirit of the wolf, and a wonderful transformation will take place. “But beware of men.” Do not open to men all your counsels. Do not put implicit confidence in those who know not God, and open to them the whole of the sacred treasure of the truth. “For they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues.” This does not mean simply that you will be scourged in the synagogues with the tongue, as many of you are today in the pulpits of the land, but that men making high professions will treat you with violence. “And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.” The light is to be brought before kings and before the great men of the earth, although they may receive it in the same manner in which Pharaoh received the testimony of the servants of the Lord, and ask, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice?” RH April 26, 1892, par. 7

Kings, governors, and great men will hear of you through the reports of those who are at enmity with you, and your faith and character will be misrepresented before them. But those who are falsely accused will have an opportunity to appear in the presence of their accusers to answer for themselves. They will have the privilege of bringing the light before those who are called the great men of the earth, and if you have studied the Bible, if you are ready to give an answer to every man that asketh you of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear, your enemies will not be able to gainsay your wisdom. You now have an opportunity to attain to the greatest intellectual power through the study of the word of God. But if you are indolent, and fail to dig deep in the mines of truth, you will not be ready for the crisis that is soon to come upon us. O that you would realize that each moment is golden. If you will live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God, you will not be found unprepared. If your work is wrought in God, and you will do as Christ has commanded you, your intellect will expand; for “the entrance of thy words giveth light.” David exclaims, “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts.” RH April 26, 1892, par. 8

“But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.” You are now to get ready for the time of trial. Now you are to know whether your feet are planted on the eternal Rock. You must have an individual experience, and not depend upon others for your light. When you are brought to the test, how do you know that you will not be alone, with no earthly friend at your side? Will you then be able to realize that Christ is your support? Will you be able to recall the promise, “Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world?” There will be invisible ones all about you bent upon your destruction. Satan and his agents will seek in every way to make you waver from your steadfastness to God and his truth. But if you have an eye single to his glory, you need not take thought as to how you shall witness for his truth. “Take no thought how or what ye shall speak: ... for it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.” How can the Spirit of God communicate with you? It is the Holy Spirit that is to bring to your remembrance whatsoever Jesus has said unto you. Are you now hearing the words of Christ? Does the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom? The reason that we do not know more of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is that men would be lifted up in self, and take the glory to themselves, if God should crown their efforts with success. O if you were hidden in Christ, if you were on the Rock of Ages, when you are brought before kings and great men, it would be evident that Jesus was at your side, and you would know just what answer to give, for the Spirit would give you what you should utter. Praise God for this promise! RH April 26, 1892, par. 9

The time is not far off when the people of God will be called upon to give their testimony before the rulers of the earth. Not one in twenty has a realization of what rapid strides we are making toward the great crisis in our history. The angels of God are holding the four winds, and this leads many to cry, Peace and safety; but there is no time for vanity, for trifling, for engaging the mind in unimportant matters. We must empty the soul temple of every defilement, and let the Spirit of God take full possession of the heart, that the character may be transformed. RH April 26, 1892, par. 10

(To be concluded.)