The Review and Herald

627/1902

July 5, 1892

The Privilege of the Follower of Christ

[Sermon at North Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia, January 2, 1892.]

EGW

Text.—“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.” Ephesians 3:14-21. RH July 5, 1892, par. 1

From this scripture we are to understand what is the privilege of every follower of Christ. Our standard has been too low; our expectations have been too limited. We must make our aims higher than we have made them in the past; for it is possible for us to be filled with all the fullness of God, to have Christ abiding in our hearts by faith. Christ has died for us, and we are not to think that we are of no value before the Lord; for the cross of Calvary reveals the fact that we are valued by the infinite sufferings of the Son of God. As we have been purchased by the blood of Christ, should we not search the word of God that we may know what are our privileges, and by faith lay hold of unseen realities? We should understand our relation to God and his relation to us. The Lord declares that if we will come out and be separate, and touch not the unclean, he will receive us, and be a father unto us, and we shall be his sons and his daughters. Again and again Paul addresses the people of God as “dear children,” as “obedient children.” This is the test of our relation to God: Do we render obedience to him? Do we manifest his Spirit in our lives? Can we perceive the difference between the sacred and the common? Our religion is to be carried into our home, into our business, into all the affairs of life. The heart is not to be so engaged in worldly matters that we cannot appreciate eternal things. RH July 5, 1892, par. 2

Those who have a healthy experience in the Christian life, will be better fitted for their duties in business life, for their responsibilities in the home and in the church, than if they were but half-hearted followers of Christ. The Saviour has said: “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” We are to strive, to agonize, to enter in at the strait gate; for many shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able. It will take something more than mere seeking to enter in at the strait gate; for the gate to death is wide, and the road broad, and easy of access, and many there be that go in thereat. If we would enter in at the strait gate, we must be partakers of the sufferings of Christ. We must know what it is to practice self-denial, that we may come into sympathy with the Father and Son. Jesus said: “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” RH July 5, 1892, par. 3

As Jesus looked upon the world, he saw such misapprehension of the character of God, such darkness covering the earth, and gross darkness the people, that his heart was drawn out in compassion for mankind. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Jesus came to plant the cross between heaven and earth, between divinity and humanity. There he offered himself to God as a lamb without blemish, a spotless sacrifice for the sins of men. What means it that the divine Victim hangs there in dying agony?—It means that not one jot or tittle of the law could be set aside to save the transgressor of law, for whom Christ became substitute and surety. Christ consented to become man's sacrifice on Calvary's cross, and in him divine justice and mercy met together, so that God could pardon the transgressor, and vindicate his justice, and uphold his throne in righteousness. RH July 5, 1892, par. 4

It is by beholding Christ upon the cross of Calvary that the sinner is drawn to his Saviour; and as he realizes that Christ has died for him, his heart is melted into contrition and tenderness. He repents toward God because he has transgressed the divine law, and he has faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ as his substitute and surety. RH July 5, 1892, par. 5

This is the work that is before every soul who has transgressed the law of God,—repentance toward God for breaking his commandments, which has caused the death of his Son, and faith toward him who imputeth his righteousness unto us. But there is a great misapprehension in regard to what is genuine faith. It is not a mere intellectual assent to truth, or a nominal acceptance of the fact that Christ has died for the salvation of men. Genuine faith works by love, and purifies the soul. There are some who declare that all we have to do is to believe in Jesus, and they think it makes no difference if we trample upon the divine precepts. These statements show that this class do not understand the fundamental principles of the plan of salvation. Genuine faith in Christ will not lead a man to transgress the law; for Christ is not a minister of sin. RH July 5, 1892, par. 6

When the angel announced the birth of Christ to Mary, he said: “Thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins.” When John called the attention of his followers to Jesus, he exclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” RH July 5, 1892, par. 7

The only definition the Bible gives of sin is that it is “the transgression of the law.” While we are to repent toward God for the transgression of the law, we are not to look to the law for remission of sins, or for justification. Neither are we to imagine that repentance for past sin will be all-sufficient; for in order to be saved, we must have faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. When we accept Christ as our sacrifice, our substitute, our righteousness, then we behold the Father in a different light from that in which too many have regarded him in the past. We have blamed the Father for our sufferings. In ignorance and blindness to his infinite love, our hearts have been full of murmuring toward him; for the enemy had cast his shadow athwart our pathway, and clothed God with his own satanic character. But Christ came to reveal the Father, to roll back the shadow that Satan had cast over humanity, that men might behold God clothed in the divine attributes of his nature. RH July 5, 1892, par. 8

Our Saviour does not promise that those who follow him shall have no difficulties. Satan will continually seek to misrepresent God to every mind. The apostle says, “Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Satan would make the Christian warfare as hard as possible for every one who is determined to follow Christ; for it is his purpose to fasten every soul in deception. RH July 5, 1892, par. 9

Christ came to our world because he saw that it was impossible for man to overcome in his own behalf. He came to be the head of the church, to give his own life, that man might have everlasting life. He withstood all the temptations and devices of the enemy, and step by step passed over the ground where Adam fell, and redeemed his disgraceful failure. He was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin. Satan was on his track at every step, and in the wilderness he assailed him with the three leading temptations with which man is overcome,—appetite, presumption, and ambition. All over the world we see how appetite has controlled the reason, and beclouded the perceptions of men, and has taken the foundation from the character. Through the indulgence of appetite, men have come to a position where it is impossible for them to discern the light of God. The world is full of the wrecks of humanity because of indulgence of appetite. After Jesus had endured a fast of forty days, the tempter came to him, and said: “If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That men shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” RH July 5, 1892, par. 10

We are not to be presumptuous, and place ourselves in the way of temptation, trusting that God will deliver us from the power of the enemy. When the tempter came to Christ to lead him to presumption, he came quoting the Scripture. “And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” If we are in the path of duty, if we are in the place where the angels of God can have charge over us, we may expect to be kept in all our ways; for God will be our helper; but if we rush into danger, following our own feeble judgment, and led by our own desires, we shall get into sorrow and difficulty. If we persist in presumption, we cannot expect that God will deliver us; for we are not following in the footsteps of Jesus. We must follow our Lord, just as trained soldiers follow their leader. RH July 5, 1892, par. 11

When Satan failed to induce Christ to act presumptuously, he took him to a high eminence, and “showed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the Devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them; for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will, I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.” Satan had come to Christ, saying, “If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread,” and now Jesus gave him evidence of his divinity. He rebuked the enemy. Divinity flashed through humanity, and Jesus said: “Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” Are we doing this? Are we worshiping the Lord in spirit and in truth? Everything is to be held in subordination to the service of God. The temptation is presented to us from every side to serve ourselves, to serve the world, to serve Satan; but we are to overcome as Christ also overcame. RH July 5, 1892, par. 12