The Review and Herald

329/1902

November 17, 1885

The Grace and Mercy of God

EGW

Text: “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” John 7:37. RH November 17, 1885, par. 1

Once a year, at the feast of tabernacles, the children of Israel called to mind the time when their fathers dwelt in tents in the wilderness, as they journeyed from Egypt to the land of Canaan. The services of the last day of this feast were of peculiar solemnity; but the greatest interest centered in the ceremony that commemorated the bringing of water from the rock. When in a golden vessel the waters of Siloam were borne by the priests into the temple, and, after being mingled with wine, were poured over the sacrifice on the altar, there was great rejoicing. A multitude of voices, mingled with the sound of the trumpet and the cymbal, united in ascribing praise to the most high God; for in their minds the water flowing from the smitten rock was associated with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which they expected to receive when the Messiah should come. RH November 17, 1885, par. 2

On this occasion, above all the confusion of the crowd and the sounds of rejoicing, a voice is heard: “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” The attention of the people is arrested. Outwardly all is joy; but the eye of Jesus, beholding the throng with the tenderest compassion, sees the soul, parched, and thirsting for the waters of life. And yet many who were eagerly seeking to satisfy the wants of the soul by a round of empty ceremonies, to quench their thirst from cisterns that hold no water, understood not their great need. They manifested great outward joy that the fountain had been opened, but they refused to drink of its life-giving waters themselves. RH November 17, 1885, par. 3

The gracious invitation, “Come unto me, and drink,” comes down through all the ages to our time. And we may stand in a position similar to that of the Jews in the time of Christ, rejoicing because the fountain of truth has been opened to us, while its living waters are not permitted to refresh our thirsty souls. We must drink. It is our privilege and duty to drink, and refresh our own souls; and then, by our words of courage and holy joy and triumph, to encourage and strengthen others. We must express, in words and actions, the benefits of the great salvation that has been provided for us. RH November 17, 1885, par. 4

The fountain of life has been opened for us at immense cost. And yet how many there are who extol and admire it, who will not drink of its healing, health- and life-giving waters. But the voices of those who do drink, will be tuned to loftiest praise. The reason why there is not more gladness and rejoicing in God, is that so few drink of the living waters. Many point others to the crystal stream; they invite others to drink; but they themselves do not taste its pure waters. RH November 17, 1885, par. 5

There is divine grace for all who will accept it; yet there is something for us to do. We often hear it said that it is what Jesus has done for us, and not anything that we can do for ourselves, that will secure for us heaven. This may be true in one sense, but in another it is not true. There is a work for us to do to fit ourselves for the society of angels. We must be like Jesus, free from the defilement of sin. He was all that he requires us to be; he was a perfect pattern for childhood, for youth, for manhood. We must study the pattern more closely. RH November 17, 1885, par. 6

Jesus was the Majesty of heaven; yet he condescended to take little children in his arms and bless them. He whom angels adore, listened with tenderest love to their lisping, prattling praise. We must be like him in noble dignity, while our hearts are softened and subdued by the divine love that dwelt in the heart of Christ. Our conduct should be characterized by simplicity, and we should come close to the hearts of our brethren, loving them as Christ has loved us. RH November 17, 1885, par. 7

We have a work to do to fashion the character after the divine model. All wrong habits must be given up. The impure must become pure in heart; the selfish man must put away his selfishness; the proud man must get rid of his pride: the self-sufficient man must overcome his self-confidence, and realize that he is nothing without Christ. Every one of us will be sorely tempted; our faith will be tried to the uttermost. We must have a living connection with God; we must be partakers of the divine nature; then we shall not be deceived by the devices of the enemy, and shall escape the corruption that is in the world through lust. RH November 17, 1885, par. 8

We need to be anchored in Christ, rooted and grounded in the faith. Satan works through agents. He selects those who have not been drinking of the living waters, whose souls are athirst for something new and strange, and who are ever ready to drink at any fountain that may present itself. Voices will be heard, saying, “Lo, here is Christ,” or “Lo there;” but we must believe them not. We have unmistakable evidence of the voice of the True Shepherd, and he is calling upon us to follow him. He says, “I have kept my Father's commandments.” He leads His sheep in the path of humble obedience to the law of God, but He never encourages them in the transgression of that law. RH November 17, 1885, par. 9

“The voice of a stranger” is the voice of one who neither respects nor obeys God's holy, just, and good law. Many make great pretensions to holiness, and boast of the wonders they perform in healing the sick, when they do not regard this great standard of righteousness. But through whose power are these cures wrought? Are the eyes of either party opened to their transgressions of the law? and do they take their stand as humble, obedient children, ready to obey all of God's requirements? John testifies of the professed children of God: “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” RH November 17, 1885, par. 10

None need be deceived. The law of God is as sacred as his throne, and by it every man who cometh into the world is to be judged. There is no other standard by which to test character. “If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Now, shall the case be decided according to the word of God, or shall man's pretensions be credited? Says Christ, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” If those through whom cures are performed, are disposed, on account of these manifestations, to excuse their neglect of the law of God, and continue in disobedience, though they have power to any and every extent, it does not follow that they have the great power of God. On the contrary, it is the miracle-working power of the great deceiver. He is a transgressor of the moral law, and employs every device that he can master to blind men to its true character. We are warned that in the last days he will work with signs and lying wonders. And he will continue these wonders until the close of probation, that he may point to them as evidence that he is an angel of light and not of darkness. RH November 17, 1885, par. 11

Brethren, we must be beware of the pretended holiness that permits transgression of the law of God. Those cannot be sanctified who trample that law under their feet, and judge themselves by a standard of their own devising. A certain lawyer asked Jesus a decisive question, “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered him, “What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right; this do, and thou shalt live.” Here, then, it is distinctly stated that eternal life depends on obedience to all the precepts of the law of God. RH November 17, 1885, par. 12

In separating ourselves from the world as God's commandment-keeping people, we have experienced the power and opposition of the enemy. As we have made advance moves at the command, “Go forward,” we have had occasion to rejoice that angels of God have gone before us, and prepared the way. We have, as it were, crossed the Red Sea, and have again and again realized the hand of God in our deliverance. It becomes us to call to mind these evidences of divine favor, and to offer up thanksgiving and praise that the Captain of our salvation, concealed by the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, has been, and still is, leading us into all truth. RH November 17, 1885, par. 13

Well would it be for us to have a feast of tabernacles, a joyous commemoration of the blessings of God to us as a people. As the children of Israel celebrated the deliverance that God wrought for their fathers, and his miraculous preservation of them during their journeyings from Egypt to the promised land, so should the people of God at the present time gratefully call to mind the various ways he has devised to bring them out from the world, out from the darkness of error, into the precious light of truth. We should often bring to remembrance the dependence upon God of those who first led out in this work. We should gratefully regard the old way-marks, and refresh our souls with memories of the loving-kindness of our gracious Benefactor. RH November 17, 1885, par. 14

We are indeed strangers here, and pilgrims to a better country. Our prospective home is the heavenly Canaan, where we shall drink of the “pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.” But as we journey onward, what a blessed privilege is ours to accept the invitation of Christ, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” Let us rejoice in the goodness of God, and show forth the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light. RH November 17, 1885, par. 15