The Signs of the Times


January 28, 1886

“Preach the Word”


“Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth,” was the prayer of Christ for his disciples. In every age God has committed to his people some special truth which is directly opposed to the desires and purposes of the human heart, and which tends to separate his church from the world; and it has been the duty of his ministers to proclaim this truth, whether men would hear or forbear. ST January 28, 1886, Art. A, par. 1

When Christ came as the teacher and guide of mankind, he brought to them truths glowing with the light of Heaven, showing in contrast the darkness of error, and revealing the superstition, self-righteousness, and bigotry of that age. His heart overflowed with love for the poor, the ignorant, the afflicted, and the fallen. He healed the sick, comforted the desponding, cast out devils, raised the dead, and preached to all the words of eternal life. But many who listened to the divine Teacher received his words with little favor. The priests and elders, the professed expositors of divine truth, were sending forth no rays of light. In their self-righteousness they held themselves aloof from the benighted people, who needed instruction and guidance. When Jesus took up the work which they had left undone, they felt that his life was a constant rebuke to them, and they feared that he would turn the hearts of the people from them, and destroy their influence. They were filled with pride, love of ostentation, and desire for praise; and they despised the humility and self-denial of Jesus. They hated the purity while they feared the power of his teachings. They refused to accept him themselves, and bent all their energies to hinder others from believing in him. No wonder he brought against them the terrible accusation: “Ye have taken away the key of knowledge. Ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.” ST January 28, 1886, Art. A, par. 2

It is no argument against the truth that there are few who are willing to accept it. Few accepted the world's Redeemer. Though the multitude flocked around him, eager to receive temporal blessings, yet he sadly declared: “Ye will not come to me that ye might have life.” Men are now no more favorable to practical godliness; they are just as intently seeking earthly good, to the neglect of eternal riches. And reformers of the present day will meet with the same discouragements as did their Master. ST January 28, 1886, Art. A, par. 3

Of the people in his day Christ said: “For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” The Jews willfully closed their eyes and their ears, and barred their hearts with prejudice, lest they should see a better way, and be aroused from their dream of security. The people of the present generation are pursuing a similar course. New truths are constantly unfolding; new and clearer light is shining upon the pathway of God's people. But the great mass of mankind are satisfied with their present condition, and are unwilling to exchange error for truth. But we are to be sanctified through obedience to the truth. For want of this Bible sanctification, the soul of many a professed Christian has become a desecrated shrine, the haunt of hollow formalism, of selfishness and hypocrisy, pride and passion. ST January 28, 1886, Art. A, par. 4

It is harder to reach the hearts of men today than it was twenty years ago. The most convincing arguments may be presented, and yet sinners seem as far from repentance as ever. The work of the faithful minister is no child's play. Earnest, untiring effort is required to wrench the prey of Satan from his grasp. But God will sustain his servants in the work which he himself has committed to their hands. Said Christ to his disciples, as they toiled upon the Sea of Galilee, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” When the gospel net is cast, there should be a watching by the net, with tears and earnest prayers. Let the workers determine not to let the net go till it is drawn ashore, with the fruit of their labor. Sometimes, indeed, we may say with Peter, “We have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing;” but still it is the Master's command, as of old, “Let down the net on the right side of the ship,”—work on in faith, and God will give success. ST January 28, 1886, Art. A, par. 5

Whatever the trials and difficulties that the ambassador of Christ may have to meet, he can carry them all to God in prayer. He can weep between the porch and the altar, pleading, “Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach.” And by study of the Scriptures and earnest, wrestling prayer, he may become “a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Labor on, then, while the day lasts, you who have been called to preach the good news of salvation through Christ; for the night cometh, wherein no man can work. God has called us to labor in his vineyard, and if we neglect our duty, souls will be lost through our unfaithfulness. ST January 28, 1886, Art. A, par. 6

Though the servants of Christ may, at times, feel almost disheartened as they see how many obstacles there are in the way of Christian living, and how slowly the work of God seems to advance, their duty remains the same. They are to sow the seed of truth beside all waters. A constant effort to promote personal piety should be seen in all their public labors. They should not preach sermon after sermon on doctrinal subjects alone. Practical godliness should find a place in every discourse, and the discourses should be short and to the point. ST January 28, 1886, Art. A, par. 7

The minister should not merely present the truth from the desk, but as the shepherd of the flock he should care for the sheep and the lambs, searching out the lost and straying, and bringing them back to the fold. He should visit every family, not merely as a guest to enjoy their hospitality, but to inquire into the spiritual condition of every member of the household. His own soul must be imbued with the love of God; then by kindly courtesy he may win his way to the hearts of all, and labor successfully for parents and children, entreating, warning, encouraging, as the case demands. Let him seek to keep the church alive, and laboring with him for the conversion of sinners. This is good generalship; and the results will be found far better than if the minister performed all the work alone. ST January 28, 1886, Art. A, par. 8

Jesus bids his people, “Go forward.” The minister may labor for the people, but he cannot take the responsibility that God has placed upon them. There are higher attainments for us, there is a purer love, a deeper experience, if we will consecrate ourselves to God, and humbly take him at his word. The reason why we have no greater confidence and joy, is that we are not sanctified through obedience to the truth. There is in us an evil heart of unbelief. Our heavenly Father is more willing to give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him than are earthly parents to give good gifts to their children. Then let us shake off the spiritual sloth that dishonors him and imperils our own souls. If we draw near to God, he will draw near to us. We must not wait for better opportunities, for strong persuasions, or for holier tempers. We can do nothing for ourselves. We must trust to the power of Jesus to save us. He is holding out to us the crown of life, and shall we not accept it? Let us come to him just as we are, and we shall find him a present help in our time of need. ST January 28, 1886, Art. A, par. 9

The sweet sense of sins forgiven, the light and love which Christ alone can give, fill the soul with peace and joy. The assurance that we are under the protection of Omnipotence imparts courage and confidence, inspires a hope that is “as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the vail.” This assurance is a source of strength unknown to the worldling or to the half-hearted professor. So long as we have the presence of our Saviour, difficulties cannot dismay nor dangers appall us; and we are ready cheerfully to perform whatever duty God requires of us. If we were only as free to speak of the blessings we receive from God as we are to talk of our doubts and discouragements, we should enjoy far more of his presence. Our kind heavenly Father declares: “Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me.” Let us praise him more, and complain less; let us talk more of the love and wondrous power of our Redeemer, and we shall be brought nearer and nearer to him, into closer and still closer relations with him in whom our hope centers. ST January 28, 1886, Art. A, par. 10

Shall we not consecrate ourselves to God without reserve? Christ, the King of glory, gave himself a ransom for us. Can we withhold anything from him? Shall we think our poor, unworthy selves too precious, our time or property too valuable, to give to Jesus? No, no; the deepest homage of our hearts, the most skillful service of our hands, our talents of ability and of means,—all are but too poor an offering to bring to Him who was slain, and has redeemed us to God by his blood “out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” ST January 28, 1886, Art. A, par. 11