Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4 (1883 - 1886)


Ms 19a, 1886

Sermon/Lessons From the Life of Abraham

Basel, Switzerland

March 27, 1886

Formerly Undated Ms 128. Portions of this manuscript are published in 1BC 1093-1094; TDG 95; CTr 76, 80; 6MR 5-6.

Genesis 19:1-3. Lot had been kept with Abraham’s household, and he had become so molded that he had the same courteous spirit that Abraham manifested. These men appeared just like other men when they came to Lot, and if a spirit of courtesy had not been cultivated by Lot, he might have perished with the rest of Sodom. But the wickedness of the inhabitants of Sodom was so great that they would have abused the men that brought this message and were entertained by Lot. But angels of God protected Lot from being torn in pieces by the rabble that were outside his door. He smote them with blindness so that they could not find the door. 4LtMs, Ms 19a, 1886, par. 1

After this exhibition of their wickedness, these angels opened to Lot the object of their visit. They asked Lot if he had any sons or daughters in that place, to bring out of the city. Lot was permitted to go to those of his relatives and to tell them that the city was to be destroyed, and that they must flee from it. But all his entreaties and all his warnings were of no avail to them. They mocked at what they called his superstitious fears. Why, here was Sodom just as it had been, and there was no evidence in anything that their eyes beheld that led them to think that there was a destruction before them. But the angel, as Lot returned, was in haste and bade them flee out of Sodom. Well, Lot was, as it were, stupefied at the thought that he must go without his property, and with only his wife and two children with him. The angels laid hold upon them and led them out of the city. Why, the angel said, we can do nothing until you get out of the city. And just as soon as they were out of the city and on their way towards the mountain, then the angel said to them, Flee for your life, and tarry not in all the plain. And the command was, Look not behind you. 4LtMs, Ms 19a, 1886, par. 2

It was a tremendous test for Lot. He pitched his tent toward Sodom, and he was rich in treasures and possessions. But he must leave it all and he must flee and he must not look behind him with a thought of regret. The wife of Lot turned her eyes toward the city for what she had left there, and the curse of God came upon her and she was turned into a pillar of salt. Lot makes the plea that he is not able to get to the mountains, and he wants to make his home this side of the mountains, and it is granted to him. But he did not dare to tarry in the place he had thought was a place of refuge, for the wickedness of Sodom had reached there. He learned by experience that the angels knew much better than he where he ought to go. The angels pointed to the mountains and bade him flee there, and he finally did. 4LtMs, Ms 19a, 1886, par. 3

Now we can see that when Lot made his home in Sodom he made a mistake. Here he not only lost all his positions, but he lost his children, all but two. This is a lesson to us that we should take to heart. There may be very flattering openings to the children of God, but they must look on every side of the question before deciding. The very first question with every soul of us should be, How will it be with my soul? What kind of influences will be around my family and my children? All that may be gained by worldly prosperity at the sacrifice of one moral principle is a terrible loss. 4LtMs, Ms 19a, 1886, par. 4

God promised to Abraham and his seed after him that they should have possessions and lands, and yet they were only strangers and sojourners. The inheritance and lands which are to be given not only to Abraham but to the children of Abraham will not be until after this earth is purified. Abraham will then receive the title to his farm, his possessions, and the children of Abraham will have a title to their possessions. Every one of us should constantly bear in mind that this earth is not our dwelling place, but that we are to have an inheritance in the earth made new. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah symbolizes to us how this world will be destroyed by fire. It is not safe for any one of us to build our hopes in this life. We want first to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness. The Sodomites had passed the boundary of mercy, and no more light was granted to them prior to their destruction. Had the warning gone through these cities of the plain, and had they been told just what was to come, who of them would have believed it? They would no more have accepted the message, and God knew it, than the sons-in-law of Lot. 4LtMs, Ms 19a, 1886, par. 5

Sodom and Gomorrah were like the Garden of Eden. The Lord had lavished His blessings upon that portion of the earth. Everything was beautiful, everything was lovely, and yet it did not lead men to honor the Giver. When the Lord rained the fire and brimstone from heaven to consume Sodom and Gomorrah, what a desolation! How easily could the blast of God make that beautiful situation and unsightly place. 4LtMs, Ms 19a, 1886, par. 6

There is a lesson in this destruction of Sodom to those who live in Christ’s day, and the message comes down the lines to our time. Matthew 11:20-24. We can see that it was according to the proportion of light that shone upon them that their guilt was measured. And this is a lesson to every one of us before whom God has opened the precious light of truth. It is impossible for me to describe to you my feelings as I passed through the cities on my way to Bienne and Lausanne. I looked upon these large cities that we passed through, and the message of warning has not reached them. I thought of you here in Basel who have the privilege of associating together and building up each other in the faith, and I thought, No light for these places. The very commonness of hearing the truth from week to week, and of receiving the efforts of the servants of God in your behalf, it loses its value in the minds of many of you. 4LtMs, Ms 19a, 1886, par. 7

But I would inquire if our dear friends here seek to respond to the light that God is letting shine upon them? It is not the amount of light that comes to us individually that will save us, but it is the use that we make of this light that is given us from heaven. Light has been flashed upon our pathway, and we want to know how much better it makes us. Has it discovered to us our imperfections of character? and has it perfected us so that we cease to sin? You should every one of you that meet together here from Sabbath to Sabbath consider that you are greatly privileged. You should regard it as a school that you are in to be educated, and to develop characters which will fit you to be a blessing to others which are in darkness. Here you may feel that you have accepted the truth, that you understand it, and you may stop there and go no further. It is one thing to accept and hold the truth, and another thing to have the truth as it is in Jesus. While you are engaged in labor, while your hands and minds are employed in doing useful work, there is a necessity of meditation and reflection and earnest prayer. You want this light that comes from heaven to do something for you. You want that faith that is represented as gold. You want to cultivate the love of Jesus in your heart, and you want to bear in mind that the very angels that appeared to Abraham and to Lot may be in your midst though you may not see them. Everything that you shall do in the different departments and branches of your work, you want to bear in mind that you are doing it as unto God and not unto man. There is a great and solemn work to be done for the cities of Switzerland, and you know not but that God may be fitting you up to bear the message to these cities. 4LtMs, Ms 19a, 1886, par. 8

But there is another point that I want to impress upon your mind. You should every one labor to reach the highest standard as representative men and women, because your example will tell upon those who have wrought in connection with this church and this office of publication. God expects you in your influence to show that the truth has sanctified the soul. As you seek in the strength of God to advance and grow up into the stature of Christ Jesus, you want to have seasons of meditation and prayer that you may be capable of being channels of light. Christ says, “Ye are the light of the world.” [Matthew 5:14.] You are called, while you are placed in connection with this office, to let the light be shining out into different parts of the world. And if, while you are engaged in this solemn work, you should be letting your prayers ascend to God that the truth you are handling may bring souls to Christ, angels will be round about you. 4LtMs, Ms 19a, 1886, par. 9

I know that our danger will be to be content with a feeble experience; but if you are closely connected with Jesus Christ, the Source of light and wisdom, you may become strong men and women in Christ. We are so willing to be content without any special evidence of our nearness to God that we fail where we might make a success. Every provision has been made by Jesus that we might not only believe an unpopular truth, but that we might have joy in Him. The truth works by love and faith works by love, and it purifies the soul. There will be efforts made in this city to present the truth to those that will hear it. 4LtMs, Ms 19a, 1886, par. 10

Now the question is, Are you gaining in the knowledge of the truth? Have you a living connection with Jesus Christ? You see Abraham had, and he talked with angels, and he could ask a favor of them. You see that Moses had a living connection with God, and his earnest petition was that he might see the glory of God. “Show me Thy glory,” was his petition. [Exodus 33:18.] Well now, the Lord did not rebuke him for making that request; he was not presumptuous in trying to know more of God and His glory. But we see that that mighty man of faith was hid in a cleft of the rock, and the hand of God was placed over the rock, and then He revealed to him His glory. 4LtMs, Ms 19a, 1886, par. 11

We have not earnestness enough in our faith or in our experience. I am anxious that these young men should be educated to know what it is to trust God fully. You want an individual experience in the things of God; and should you press your petitions to the throne of grace, “Give me, Jesus, clearer and more distinct views of Thy purity, Thy love, and Thy power,” you would receive answers to your prayers. Your souls would be touched, and your lips, as with a living coal from off His altar. Why, your words would be of such a different character from just the common utterances that we hear from day to day. Why? Because Christ is treasured in the heart, and out of the treasures of the heart the mouth speaks, and you are thus training yourselves for the kingdom of heaven. The lower you lie in humility at the foot of the cross, the more clear and forcible is the glory and loveliness of Christ to you. Your very hearts ought to glow with the love of Jesus. Christ said to His disciples that it was His will that their joy should be full [John 15:11], and the one reason that it is not is because you have so faint and indistinct views of the power and loveliness of Jesus. You want to study the character of Christ and pattern after it. 4LtMs, Ms 19a, 1886, par. 12

I hope there is not one of you that will settle down with a contented position because you believe the truth. Just as long as there is a soul to save in all the world you want to press yourselves to the Source of all light and power that you may save these souls. You do not care to have an earthly, worldly mold upon your experience. You have souls to save or to lose, and you want a great deal more of Jesus brought into your lives, into your character, and into your experience. You can be a help and blessing to one another by being true in every position where you are, by feeling that you are God’s representatives upon the earth; that you cannot allow a cheap, mean thought or action to come into your life because you are purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ. I have thought that many of us forget that we are soldiers for Jesus Christ, that we are fighting the good fight of faith, that we are keeping our eye fixed upon the Author of our salvation, and that it is the privilege of every one of us to be conquerors. Well then, if we are pressing toward the mark of the prize, we are pitching our tent a great ways from Sodom. You do not see the attractions in sin and evilness, but the whole power of your intellect, your thought, and being is thrown on the side of the God of heaven. 4LtMs, Ms 19a, 1886, par. 13

If Satan did not tempt you, you would have no battles to fight. But he will come with his temptations and present them before you in various forms; but you must resist him, steadfast in the faith. This is the warfare in which we are engaged; and by meeting these obstacles and overcoming them, you are gaining in spiritual sinew and strength for those which await you. Now Christ said to those who were lightening to His lessons, If these wicked inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah had had the instruction that they had, they would have repented; and if the light that God has permitted to shine upon you is not cherished, if you place the sacred truth upon a level with common things, you will be more guilty before God than those whom Christ addressed than the inhabitants of Sodom. Do not allow the truth, because it is so often repeated to you, to become a matter of no special benefit; but let it be fitting us day by day for the society of heavenly angels in the kingdom of God. 4LtMs, Ms 19a, 1886, par. 14