The Review and Herald


June 11, 1889

Man's Failure to Comprehend Divinity in Humanity

[Sermon at Potterville, Mich., November 29, 1888.]


When Christ was upon earth, it was difficult for those with whom he daily associated to realize that he was divine. It was difficult for the members of his own family to comprehend the fact that he was the Son of God. It seemed hard for them to realize that divinity wore the garb of humanity. Again and again he was obliged to declare his position as the Son of God. They were so dull of perception that they could not distinguish the divine from the human. Although they believed that his works were of a miraculous character, they could not fully understand their nature, and he had to state his authority and his position. RH June 11, 1889, par. 1

Christ assumed humanity in order that he might reach mankind where they were. He came and worked in the form of man for the sake of rescuing a fallen race. He left us an example of what tenderness, what kindness, what love should be manifested in efforts to save souls from ruin. We are to imitate Christ. The people should be able to discern the Spirit of Christ in his followers; and when the Spirit of God works with your efforts, you will not work in vain. The people will see that God works in you, and they will be moved by his Spirit to accept the truths that you present before them. The preacher should do something more than simply to please the taste, and convince the intellect. His words should reach the hearts of his hearers. And when men and women are led to accept the truth through the instrumentality of man, they should not give honor to the man, but they should realize that his efforts have been successful because divine power has accompanied his work, and give the glory to God. It is the truth that he has presented to them that should receive their acceptance and favor. There are many who place themselves in a similar position to that of the Jews in the time of Christ, and they will not hear the word of truth, because their minds are filled with prejudice; but those who refuse heaven's light will be rejected of God just as his ancient people were when they refused to receive the teachings of Christ. God is no respecter of persons. He sent his truth to all, and he expects men to receive it, and to diffuse its light to others. This is the work that God would have us do. RH June 11, 1889, par. 2

Let us connect with Christ, and then we shall have a power that the world cannot give, or take away. Said the apostle, speaking of the gospel, “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” God would make known to his saints what is the glory of the mystery of Christ. There are depths and heights of unsearchable riches in the truth of God. Why should ministers make the truth powerless before the people because they themselves lack spiritual life and devotion, because they are not connected with God? Are you not commanded to warn every man, and teach every man in all wisdom? Are you sharpening your powers, brethren, by bringing them in contact with difficult problems in the word of God? Says the apostle, “The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” When the ministers receive wisdom from above, the power of God will accompany their efforts. Why should we not present the truth in such a way that it may wield its divine influence upon the people? Why do you bring yourself with your coldness between the people and the truth, and so keep the truth from doing its work upon their hearts? Why do you go to the people with your heart as cold as an iron wedge, and expect to win souls to Christ? You want your lips touched with the living coal from off the heavenly altar. The influence of the truth is elevating and ennobling. The divine must combine with the human if you would make your way amid the moral darkness and the spiritual stagnation of the world. Let every one go to work. Search the Scriptures, plead as did Moses, “If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.” When the request of Moses was granted, did he settle down in content, and seek no further blessing?—No. He still pleaded with God until his faith reached the point where he could say, “I beseech thee, show me thy glory.” Do you think Moses was presumptuous, and should have been rebuked? God did not rebuke him. The feet of Moses were upon hallowed ground, and when he pleaded with God for a view of his glory, the Lord said, “I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. And the Lord said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: and it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a cleft of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by.” RH June 11, 1889, par. 3

The goodness and glory of the Lord were to pass before mortal man; and if you plead with the Lord for his help, plead with him for a view of his glory, the blessing of the Lord will come upon you. When you come to speak before the people, your heart will be filled with love, filled with warmth and divine moisture. When this love is in your heart, the truth will strike its way through coldness and worldliness to the very hearts of the people. It will make its way through all pride and formality, and will leaven the soul with its power until Jesus will be enthroned in the heart. RH June 11, 1889, par. 4

When Christ abides with you, and you abide with him, you will have something more to say than you have said in the years that are past. You will have a message that will cut through the fleshly tables of the heart, a message that will divide between the joints and marrow, and discern the thoughts and intents of the heart. If we would have wisdom and knowledge to enable us to go through the time of trouble that is before us, we must be gathering it now by daily exercise of faith. We do not desire that you should be anxious about the time of trouble, but we want you to take up your work right where it is, and do it faithfully day by day. There are souls in your own church and neighborhood that need help. Those who show promise of becoming efficient laborers in the Lord's moral vineyard, should be sent to our College, that they may fit themselves to carry this message of truth to the people. All around us there is talent that should be utilized in the cause of God. Christ did not go to the schools of learning, and take men of high attainment to do his work, for he could not use them. They had an understanding of forms and ceremonies, but that was about all. Jesus called the unlearned fishermen to his work; but before he sent them forth, he took them into his school, and taught them himself, that they might be fitted for winning souls for eternal life. Brethren and sisters, are you doing your work right in your own homes? Do you realize that the night is coming, in which no man can work? RH June 11, 1889, par. 5

The apostle did his work with thoroughness. He wrote of the character of his work in presenting Christ, and said, “Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus; whereunto, I also labor, striving according to his working which worketh in me mightily.” The power of God should go with the truth, and the Lord is just as willing to impart that power to you as he was to impart it to the apostle Paul. He wants you to be in a position where you may work for your fellow-men. He wants the ministers to use much of the time that they spend in sermonizing, in earnest effort for the salvation of souls. RH June 11, 1889, par. 6

Go forth bearing precious seed. All lightness and trifling must be put aside in this solemn work. Go forth weeping, with your heart subdued and contrite, and doubtless you will come again with rejoicing, bringing your sheaves with you. You may have glorious success. You may be a co-worker with Christ. Do not be exclusive. Do not seek out a few with whom you delight to associate, and leave all others to take care of themselves. Suppose you do see weakness in one, and folly in another, do not stand aloof from them, and only associate with those who, you think, are about perfect. The very souls you despise, need your love and sympathy. Do not leave a weak soul to struggle alone, to wrestle with the passions of his own heart without your help and prayers, but consider yourself, lest you also be tempted. If you do this, God will not leave you to your own weakness. You may have sins greater in his sight than the sins of those you condemn. Do not stand off, and say, “I am holier than thou.” Christ has thrown his divine arm around the human race. He has brought his divine power to man that he might encourage the poor, sin-sick, discouraged soul to reach up for a higher life. O, we need more of Christ's spirit and much less of self. We need the converting power of God upon our hearts daily. We need the mellowing spirit of Christ to subdue and soften our souls. The only way for those to do who feel that they are whole, is to fall upon the Rock and be broken. Christ can put his mold upon you, if you will empty your heart of its selfishness. RH June 11, 1889, par. 7

Jesus has given us instruction as to what we should do. He says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” What do these words mean? They mean that our lives must be fashioned after the pattern of Christ's life. We must reach perfection of character, or we can never inherit the kingdom of heaven. There is a work for each one of us to do in God's great moral vineyard. Christ has given to every man his work. How many become so interested in the work of some other person, that they neglect their own work altogether! You are to do your work. God does not expect that the man with one talent, will do as much as the man who has five talents. Let every soul see to it that his work is done to the very best of his ability. If you grow fearful in doing the Lord's work, just stop where you are, and ask God to show you his goodness, for you have lost sight of his mercy and faithfulness. You have become separated from Christ. You have gone so far away from him, that you can scarcely hear the sound of his voice, and cannot distinguish the words of comfort that come from his lips. RH June 11, 1889, par. 8

As soon as you gain a clear view of the power and goodness of Christ, your murmuring will cease. You will not pick at the faults of others. It is Phariseeism that leads men to exalt themselves by depreciating their brethren. An experience that some of us had some years ago at Battle Creek comes to my mind. There were several ministers who were very much disturbed because we kept the Sabbath and worked on Sunday. They went to the officers of the law, and said, “We have a petition to place before you. We want you to arrest these people who are keeping Saturday, and working on Sunday.” The officer said, “I have heard that these people are quiet, law-abiding, honest, and religious people, and I see no occasion for interfering with them.” Then the minister showed him a petition that pleaded for a law to prohibit Sabbath-keepers from working on Sunday. The officer took the paper, and tore it to pieces, and said, “Get out, you bigots!” Brethren, I fear that there are bigots among us. Stop picking flaws in the character of others, and attend to your own work. When persons come to you with miserable tales of the mistakes and misdoings of others, do not listen to them. Say to yourself, “Is it my work to go and help settle this matter? If it is, God help me.” But if it is not your work, let it alone. RH June 11, 1889, par. 9

We should live by faith on the Son of God, as the Son lived by faith in the Father. Says Christ, “As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.” Are you doing it, brethren? We read again, “This is the bread that came down from heaven; not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead; he that eateth of this bread shall live forever.... Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?” They could not distinguish the divine nature under the garb of humanity. They could not realize the divine character of the work of the Son of God. Just so it is with the work today. There are many who cannot distinguish the divine from the common. And why?—Because they have separated their souls from God. God has given us his precious word, and on our knees we should study it, until his light shall break upon us, and we have a message that we cannot withhold from others. RH June 11, 1889, par. 10

Who is on the Lord's side? He is reaching out with his long human arm enfolding suffering humanity, while with his divine arm, he is grasping the throne of the Infinite. God help us, brethren, that we may understand the goodness, the mercy, the compassion, and the love of our Saviour. Let us make haste to get out of our Phariseeism. Let us seek God with all our hearts. Ministering brethren, are you prepared to go out, and awake the people to their solemn responsibilities? Are you ready to go forth as David went forth? He inquired of the Lord if he should battle with the Philistines, and the Lord told him that when he heard the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees, he should go out to battle, for he would be with him to smite the hosts of the Philistines. So it should be with you. When you feel the Spirit of God, when you see the opening of his providence, you should go forth; for the power of God will be with you. May the Lord help you and me so to bear the message that it shall be a savor of life unto life, and not of death unto death. RH June 11, 1889, par. 11