The Review and Herald

461/1902

October 30, 1888

The Co-operation of Man With God

[Remarks at Tramelan, Switzerland, February 4, 1885.]

EGW

Text: “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12. RH October 30, 1888, par. 1

There is a work that every one of us must do if we would be saved in the eternal world. But while we must on our part do what God has given us to do, we must realize that, having done all, we should come far short of salvation, did not the Lord on his part do that which finite, sinful man cannot do for himself. The religious life is wholly dependent upon the blending of both human and divine forces. Man is to work out his own salvation, but he cannot do this without divine aid; and although Christ has paid an infinite price to save the souls of men from everlasting ruin, he will not do that part of the work which was left for man to perform. We are to live by faith. We are not to be controlled by impulse and feeling, but the principles of God's law must govern our lives. While we look to Jesus as the source of all power, we shall not fail to receive help in every time of need, “for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” RH October 30, 1888, par. 2

In the work of salvation, God requires the cooperation of man. The Christian must put forth strenuous exertions, and God will unite divine grace with his human effort. The servant of God must avail himself of the precious privileges and opportunities that are given to him, that he may become efficient and successful in copying the divine Pattern. In the work of salvation the grace of Christ is united with a willing and obedient service, on the part of man. The sincerity of our profession of love to God will be made manifest by our earnest endeavors to fulfill the requirements of his law. Those who are the servants of God will renounce all evil habits and associations. There will be constant and earnest efforts made to lift up the soul from its defilement. There will be repentance toward God for past transgressions, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ,—a faith that says, “I believe that God for Christ's sake has forgiven my sins.” Supplication will be made to God for his transforming grace. RH October 30, 1888, par. 3

We are not to be altogether passive, thinking that there has been no task allotted to those who would win immortality. No; no; God calls upon us to do our best with the powers that he has given us,—to put to the stretch every faculty, and exercise every ability, that we may not fail of everlasting life. That man can be saved in indolence, in inactivity, is an utter impossibility. There is a constant conflict before those who would win eternal life. Faith and works go hand in hand. That man has nothing to do but to believe, is a fallacy and a most dangerous doctrine. Faith without works is dead. A man saved in his sins would be out of harmony with the plan of redemption and the work of God. Sin must be hated, and put away. The works of the flesh must be warred against. The Christian cannot be an idler. No sluggard ever engages in a determined opposition to inclination and folly. He will not be found on the defensive when Satan presses his temptations upon the soul. Those who would inherit eternal life must subdue pride, conquer passion, walk in the light as God is in the light. They must run in the way of God's commandments. They must make use of all the helps that providence has placed within their reach, looking constantly unto Jesus, the author and the finisher of their faith. Christ says, “Without me, ye can do nothing.” RH October 30, 1888, par. 4

We want to understand how to do our work intelligently, and this makes the searching of the Scriptures a necessity. If we neglect to study the word of God,—a duty which Christ has especially enjoined,—we shall be left to the subtle delusions and errors of the world. “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” Not only must we read the word of God; but prayer must be offered, that the truth of its teaching may find an entrance into our hearts, and may be received, believed, and acted upon. We must know what is truth, in contrast with error, and then we must weave it into our lives, and exemplify it in our characters, that all with whom we associate may see our good works, and glorify our Father which is in heaven. We are to conduct ourselves in such a way in all our affairs that God will be pleased with our course. We are required to put as much more earnestness into our religious life than into our common, business life, as heavenly treasure is of more value than earthly. Has God given you tact and ability to be employed in earthly things? Is this God-given ability esteemed of too much value to be used in the matters that pertain to your eternal interests? What false ideas prevail in regard to the salvation of the human soul! RH October 30, 1888, par. 5

We see ingenuity displayed in the inventions and the productions of human skill. Why not bring this very tact and power into the work of God? Do we not need the taste, the talent, the strong ability, and the measure of knowledge as much in the cause of Christ, as in the affairs of this world? God is not pleased when we devote all our powers to the achievement of worldly success. We should give our best energies to the service of God, in doing that work which will outlive the mere transitory things of this life. We commit sin when we talk of our weakness and inability. It is an offense to God for his children to do this, when Jesus, through taking upon himself the nature of man, has exalted humanity, and has brought the fallen race into favor with God, and has opened to us the resources of power and the treasures of his grace. “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him freely give us all things?” RH October 30, 1888, par. 6

As we engage in the contest against unrighteousness, we are invited to lean upon Christ for strength. Those who venture in the path of self-pleasing bring tact and talent into their work, that they may accomplish their end; and the Lord requires that those who serve him shall bring into their life-work, intelligence and tact and an experimental knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. RH October 30, 1888, par. 7

Those who take the position that Christ has done it all, and that we need not obey the requirements of God, will fail of everlasting life. But what a terrible thing it is to trample upon the holy commandments of the Lord,—to be unthankful, unholy, and so lose the soul at last. We should seek most earnestly to make our calling and our election sure. We should search diligently that we may know the conditions upon which salvation is promised, and then we should carefully comply with the conditions. Daniel and his companions were greatly favored of God, because they fulfilled his requirements. The inspired record states that “as for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom.” Every hour, every day, comes to us freighted with great responsibilities and terrible significance, from the fact that we are either laborers together with God, or agents of the enemy of all righteousness. RH October 30, 1888, par. 8

The most powerful agencies, the most impelling motives have been set in operation by the God of heaven, in order that man may be saved. The plan of redemption has been devised, and those who fail of securing eternal life will have no one but themselves to blame. God has made every provision for the redemption of the lost. It is the corrupt heart that closes against truth and holiness. Those who turn away from so great salvation, for the fleeting joys of this world, are registered in heaven in the lamentable words, “Lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.” In vain has Jesus died for the souls of those who reject his mercy. RH October 30, 1888, par. 9

My soul cries unto God in hunger for the revelation of his truth. O that I may have that faith that grasps the precious promises that God has given to all those who will obey him, walking in the light as he is in the light. If it had not been for the great condescension and goodness of God, there would have been no hope for our souls. I thank God every day for the great plan of redemption. All that will, may come and be saved. We can obtain power from the Saviour of men, which will make us more than conquerors. It is our duty to overcome indolence, to speak of our inability and weakness, but to put mind and soul and body to the task of working out our own salvation with fear and trembling. Talk no more of doubts; but dwell upon the matchless love of Jesus. Let his praise be continually in your heart and upon your lips. When this is your condition, you will not fail to give to others the right impression as to what constitutes a Christian. You should show to all around you that Jesus is a tower of strength. In him the Christian may rejoice. Through his name we may receive the forgiveness of sin, and the treasures of his grace. RH October 30, 1888, par. 10

Let us lay hold of the blessed hope that has been set before us in the gospel. We may contemplate the plan of salvation hour by hour, day by day, year by year, until we shall see as we are seen, and known as we are known; and yet we shall find an infinity beyond. Although we devote our whole life to the study of the truth of God, we shall have but a limited comprehension of the work of God in the salvation of lost man. If we walk in the light, our light will be constantly growing brighter; and the more light we receive, the more light we shall shed upon the pathway of others. RH October 30, 1888, par. 11

But Christ never works without the co-operation of man. He says, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Christ represents himself as calling to you to open the door. But you are to respond to that call. You are to open the door of the heart. You are to clear away the rubbish from the portals, and throw wide the door, that the heavenly Guest may find a welcome and an entrance. Christ will not enter a heart that is defiled with sin. It is our work to put away all iniquity. We are to represent the character of our divine Lord. RH October 30, 1888, par. 12

Christ prayed to his Father in regard to his disciples, saying, “Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth.” If this prayer is answered in us, we must have a daily experience in divine things. Jesus has made an infinite sacrifice, that we may build up our lives in pure, holy, upright deeds, and may grow up into an holy temple for God. We cannot afford to have our minds dwelling upon things of minor importance. We are building for time and for eternity. We must cherish the loveliness of Christ. We are nearing the end of earth's history, and we are to be laborers together with God to the end of time. We must do our work with fidelity, bringing life and vitality into the church of Christ. Jesus has pledged himself to do for us abundantly, above what we are able to ask or think. Heaven is worth everything. If we gain the eternal reward, we gain everything; and if we lose it, we lose everything. RH October 30, 1888, par. 13

There is a work for each one to do in enlightening others; for we are responsible for the souls of those who are around us. There are but few in this place who are obeying the commandments of God. The Sabbath of the fourth commandment is not observed by many; but this very fact makes it more necessary that those who know the truth should let their light shine out in clear, steady rays. As professed Christians, we are a spectacle unto the world, to angels, and to men. We stand before many witnesses, and we must reach a high standard of character. If the unbelieving world see that we are no better than others, they will not be constrained to believe that the faith we profess is worthy of their attention. I wish to impress upon you the necessity of strengthening every God-given ability, that you may double the powers you now possess, by improving them to the glory of God. It is by revealing the transformation that the truth has worked in our characters, in giving us a Christ-like mold, that we show our appreciation of the great sacrifice that has been made in our behalf. We bear fruit to the glory of God, when we show to the world that the truth has sanctified our lives, and changed our characters. We are then registered in the books of heaven with those who have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. We shall receive the heavenly benediction, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” RH October 30, 1888, par. 14

Those who have labored for the glory of God will meet around his throne many who have been influenced through their efforts to accept the truth as it is in Jesus. With them they will exclaim, “Saved! eternally saved!” And while all honor and majesty and glory shall be given to God and to the Lamb, yet those who have sought for the salvation of their associates will share in the joy of their Lord. Many will say to the faithful followers of Jesus, “It was your constant efforts, your Christ-like character, that influenced me to seek the salvation of my soul;” and this acknowledgment will not detract in the least from the glory that shall flow forth from immortal tongues to the Father and to the Son. Let us have more earnest zeal for the souls that are out of Christ. We need to broaden our efforts, enlarge our plans, and make it manifest that the truth has a vitalizing power in our life. If you work with earnestness and unselfish effort, you will see the salvation of souls. We must have the spirit of supplication to God. The enemy holds many of you from prayer, by telling you that you do not feel your prayers, and that you would better wait until you realize more of the spirit of intercession, lest your prayers should be a mockery. But you must say to Satan, “It is written” that “men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” We should pray until we do have the burden of our wants upon our souls; and if we persevere, we shall have it. The Lord will imbue us with his Holy Spirit. The Lord knows, and the Devil knows, that we cannot resist the temptations of Satan without power from on high. For this reason the evil one seeks to hinder us from laying hold upon Him who is mighty to save. Our Lord made it our duty, as well as our privilege, to connect our weakness, our ignorance, our need, with his strength, his wisdom, his righteousness. He unites his infinite power with the effort of finite beings, that they may be more than victors in the battle with the enemy of their souls. RH October 30, 1888, par. 15

Let no one be discouraged, for Jesus lives to make intercession for us. There is a heaven to gain, and a hell to escape, and Christ is interested in our welfare. He will help all those who call upon him. We must mingle faith with all our prayers. We cannot bring Christ down, but, through faith, we can lift ourselves up into unity and harmony with the perfect standard of righteousness. We have a wily foe to meet and to conquer, but we can do it in the name of the Mighty One. I am glad we have a Saviour whose love cannot be measured, except as we look to the cross of Calvary with comprehensive faith. The light that streams from Calvary shows us the value of the soul and of eternal life. If we, then, lift up Jesus, and humble ourselves, we shall finally receive honor, glory, and eternal life. RH October 30, 1888, par. 16