The Review and Herald

641/1902

November 1, 1892

The Necessity of Co-operation With God

(Concluded.)

EGW

“Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.... For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” It is essential to have faith in Jesus, and to believe you are saved through him; but there is danger in taking the position that many do take in saying, “I am saved.” Many have said: “You must do good works, and you will live;” but apart from Christ no one can do good works. Many at the present day say, “Believe, only believe, and live.” Faith and works go together, believing and doing are blended. The Lord requires no less of the soul now, than he required of Adam in paradise before he fell,—perfect obedience, unblemished righteousness. The requirement of God under the covenant of grace is just as broad as the requirement he made in paradise,—harmony with his law, which is holy, and just, and good. The gospel does not weaken the claims of the law; it exalts the law and makes it honorable. Under the New Testament, no less is required than was required under the Old Testament. Let no one take up with the delusion so pleasant to the natural heart, that God will accept of sincerity, no matter what may be the faith, no matter how imperfect may be the life. God requires of his child perfect obedience. RH November 1, 1892, par. 1

In order to meet the requirements of the law, our faith must grasp the righteousness of Christ, accepting it as our righteousness. Through union with Christ, through acceptance of his righteousness by faith, we may be qualified to work the works of God, to be co-laborers with Christ. If you are willing to drift along with the current of evil, and do not co-operate with the heavenly agencies in restraining transgression in your family, and in the church, in order that everlasting righteousness may be brought in, you do not have faith. Faith works by love and purifies the soul. Through faith the holy Spirit works in the heart to create holiness therein; but this cannot be done unless the human agent will work with Christ. We can be fitted for heaven only through the work of the holy Spirit upon the heart; for we must have Christ's righteousness as our credentials if we would find access to the Father. In order that we may have the righteousness of Christ, we need daily to be transformed by the influence of the Spirit, to be a partaker of the divine nature. It is the work of the holy Spirit to elevate the taste, to sanctify the heart, to ennoble the whole man. RH November 1, 1892, par. 2

Let the soul look to Jesus. “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” No one will be forced to look to Christ; but the voice of invitation is sounding in yearning entreaty, “Look and live.” In looking to Christ, we shall see that his love is without a parallel, that he has taken the place of the guilty sinner, and has imputed unto him his spotless righteousness. When the sinner sees his Saviour dying upon the cross under the curse of sin in his stead, beholding his pardoning love, love awakes in his heart. The sinner loves Christ, because Christ has first loved him, and love is the fulfilling of the law. The repenting soul realizes that God “is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The Spirit of God works in the believer's soul, enabling him to advance from one line of obedience to another, reaching on from strength to greater strength, from grace to grace in Christ Jesus. RH November 1, 1892, par. 3

God justly condemns all who do not make Christ their personal Saviour; but he pardons every soul who comes to him in faith, and enables him to work the works of God, and through faith to be one with Christ. Jesus says of these, “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one [this unity brings perfection of character]; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” The Lord has made every provision whereby man may have full and free salvation, and be complete in him. God designs that his children shall have the bright beams of the Sun of righteousness, that all may have the light of truth. God has provided salvation for the world at infinite cost, even through the gift of his only begotten Son. The apostle asks, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” Then if we are not saved, the fault will not be on the part of God, but on our part, that we have failed to co-operate with the divine agencies. Our will has not coincided with God's will. RH November 1, 1892, par. 4

The Redeemer of the world clothed his divinity with humanity, that he might reach humanity; for it took the divine and the human to bring into the world the salvation that was needed by fallen man. Divinity needed humanity that humanity might afford a channel of communication between God and man. Man needs a power out of and above himself to restore him to the likeness of God; but because he needs divine aid, it does not make human activity unessential. Faith on the part of man is required; for faith works by love and purifies the soul. Faith lays hold upon the virtue of Christ. The Lord does not design that human power should be paralyzed; but by co-operating with God, the power of man may be efficient for good. God does not design that our will should be destroyed; for it is through this very attribute that we are to accomplish the work he would have us to do both at home and abroad. He has given to every man his work; and every true worker sheds forth light to the world, because he is united with God and Christ and heavenly angels in the grand work of saving the lost. From divine association he becomes more and more intelligent in working the works of God. In working out what divine grace works in, the believer becomes spiritually great. He who works according to his intrusted ability will become a wise builder for the Master; for he is under the apprenticeship to Christ, learning to work the works of God. He will not shun burdens of responsibility, for he will realize that each one must lift in the cause of God to the extent of his ability, and he places himself under the pressure of the work; but Jesus does not leave his willing and obedient servant to be crushed. It is not the man who carries heavy responsibilities in the cause of God who needs your pity; for he is faithful and true in co-operation with God; and through union of divine and human effort, the work is made complete. It is he who shuns responsibilities, who has no realization of the privilege to which he is called, who is an object of pity. RH November 1, 1892, par. 5

The upbuilding of the kingdom of God is retarded or urged forward according to the unfaithfulness or fidelity of human agencies. Unfaithfulness to the cause of Christ makes manifest that love is lacking in the human agent. It was the love of Christ that constrained him to come and seek and save that which was lost. But the love of Christ does not seem to constrain those who profess his name; for a deathlike slumber is upon the human agents, and the work is hindered by failure of the human to co-operate with the divine. Men may pray, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven,” but fail in acting upon this prayer in their lives. The living Christian is one who has not left his first love, and his candlestick is not removed out of its place. But those who do not maintain their consecration to God are blind, and cannot see afar off, and have forgotten that they were purged from their old sins. But though you may be weak, erring, frail, sinful, and imperfect, the Lord holds out to you the offer of partnership with himself, inviting you to come under divine instruction. Uniting with Christ, you may work the works of God. “Without me,” said Christ, “ye can do nothing.” RH November 1, 1892, par. 6

We are to work the works of Christ, to learn the lesson he presented to his disciples, and reflect his character to the world. Isaiah says, “Thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward.” This is the righteousness of Christ which goes before us, and the glory of the Lord is to be our rearward. Ye churches of the living God, study this promise, and consider how your lack of faith, of spirituality, of divine power, is hindering the coming of the kingdom of God. Were everyone of you living missionaries, the gospel would be speedily proclaimed in all countries, to all peoples, nations, and tongues. This is the work that must be done before Christ shall come in power and great glory. I call upon the church to pray earnestly that you may understand your responsibilities. Are you individually laborers together with God? If not, why not? When do you mean to do your God-appointed work? God is working, the agencies of heaven are at work that the prayer may be fulfilled, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” Man is the agent through whom God works for man, and yet how few have given themselves unreservedly to work the works of God. Man can accomplish nothing without Jesus, and yet it is so arranged in the plan of salvation, that its great object cannot be consummated without human co-operation. Our work may appear small and unimportant, and yet we are laborers together with God. Jesus has given us every temporal and spiritual blessing; he died to make propitiation for our sins and to reconcile us to God. He has sent forth light and truth, that we should walk in the beams of the Sun of righteousness, and not in the sparks of our own kindling. RH November 1, 1892, par. 7

“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” He who hath this hope in him learns from the Scriptures that he must be a worker together with God. There can be no such thing as a slothful Christian. “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” RH November 1, 1892, par. 8

Those who are waiting to behold a magical change in their characters, without a determined effort on their part, will be disappointed. With our limited powers we are to be as holy in our sphere as God is holy in his sphere. To the extent of our ability we are to make manifest the truth and love and excellence of the divine character, and for this reason we must draw from the living fountain. As the wax takes the impression of the seal, so the soul is to take the impression of the Spirit of God, and retain the moral image of Christ. We are to become partakers of the divine nature, realizing in our experience the vigor and perfection of spiritual life. RH November 1, 1892, par. 9

We are to look unto Jesus, and by beholding him, we are to become changed. “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” “He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.... For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” RH November 1, 1892, par. 10

Jesus “came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” Of these the Saviour says, “The Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.” “O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it; that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.” RH November 1, 1892, par. 11

Christ came to reveal to the world the knowledge of the character of God, of which the world was destitute. This knowledge was the chief treasure which he committed to his disciples to be communicated to men. The truth of God had been hidden beneath a mass of tradition and error. The sacrificial offerings which had been instituted to teach men concerning the vicarious atonement of Christ, to teach them that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins, had become to them a stumbling-block. All that was spiritual and holy was perverted to their darkened understanding. They were blinded by pride and prejudice so that they could not see to the end of that which was abolished. Jesus came to change the order of things that then existed, and reveal to them the character of the Father. He drew aside the veil which concealed his glory from the eyes of mortals, and made manifest to the world the only true and living God, whom to know aright is life eternal. RH November 1, 1892, par. 12