The Signs of the Times


January 17, 1878

Christ's Promises to the Disciples


The hearts of the disciples were troubled at the words of their Master who had said that all his faithful followers would be offended because of him that same night. In their affection and care for their Saviour it seemed to them a hard saying. Peter especially was grieved that Jesus should not accept his assurance of fidelity under all circumstances. But the Saviour knew the test that awaited his little flock, so soon to be left without a shepherd. He knew the agony that awaited him in the garden, that on the morrow he was to pass through the mockeries of a trial in the judgment hall, to be followed by his crucifixion. He knew that no sleep would refresh his weary frame until he closed his eyes in death. ST January 17, 1878, par. 1

But his loving heart was drawn out in sympathy for his disciples who were to endure a fearful trial in his betrayal and death upon the cross. The grief of the Son of God was not for himself but that his disciples were to be left without his presence to comfort and strengthen them. It had been impossible for them to comprehend the terrible scenes they were now entering upon, and their very ignorance of what was before them, notwithstanding his statements in regard to the future, moved the Saviour's compassionate heart. He read the peculiar character of each disciple, knowing who were in greatest danger of being overcome by temptation. But this knowledge did not bring one word of harshness or rebuke from his lips; their very weakness bound his companions to his heart in bonds of sympathy and love. His great anxiety was to shield his followers from suffering and from the abandonment of unbelief. He addressed them in these words: ST January 17, 1878, par. 2

“Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.” Doubting, questioning Thomas feels called upon to express his discouragement and unbelief: “Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?” Jesus mildly and patiently instructed his doubting disciples in the way of life: ST January 17, 1878, par. 3

“I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also; and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.” Jesus would have him understand that the Father had been revealed in the Son—in his teachings that reflected the wisdom of Heaven, and in his works that showed the power of Omnipotence. ST January 17, 1878, par. 4

Philip perceiving but dimly the meaning of his Lord said to him, “Lord, show us the Father and it sufficeth us.” Philip, and also the other disciples were filled with apprehension and doubt, and they desired that Jesus should give them a last convincing proof of his divinity by showing them the Father. Christ appeared in the disguise of humanity as a servant. But those who were partakers of his divine nature had eyes to perceive his divinity, the glory of which had upon special occasions, flashed through his human disguise, revealing indeed the Father. Sad indeed was it that one of his disciples who had been his companion, and witnessed his mighty works, had so failed to discern the character of his Saviour as to ask him for another sign. Jesus looked upon him with mild reproach: ST January 17, 1878, par. 5

“Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me or else believe me for the very works' sake. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.” ST January 17, 1878, par. 6

All that men were able to witness of God had been revealed to them in Christ, and had their spiritual perception been what it should have been they would have discerned in him the Father. Jesus, now about to remove his powerful presence from his disciples, promised that they should do greater works even than he had done. He was soon to stand by his Father's side as the Advocate of men, to plead in their behalf, and he promised to do whatsoever they should ask in his name, that the Father might be glorified in the Son. “If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.” Precious promise to the needy and sorrowful. When the Spirit was afterward poured out upon the disciples wonderful results followed through the gifts which Christ had just promised them. He continued: “If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me. Because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.” ST January 17, 1878, par. 7

Jesus had been the teacher and counselor of his disciples, their pitying friend. Now, when about to leave them, he assured them that he would in no case forsake them, but would be clothed with power, and would become their Friend and Advocate in the presence of the Father, to present any petition they might offer in the name of his Son. He promised them a comforter when his personal presence was taken from them. The disciples did not comprehend at the time, the full meaning of their Master's words; but afterward, in their religious experience, they cherished the precious promise and presented their petitions to the Father in the name of Jesus. ST January 17, 1878, par. 8

That promise given by Jesus to his disciples was for the benefit of all who should comply with the conditions of Christ to the end of time. God is omnipotent, and man may be strong to accomplish his purpose while he has the promise of divine help in every emergency. God's power is hidden from the unbelieving; his ways and purposes are not understood by them. “The world knoweth him not.” But mighty victories are gained through the prayers of the obedient children of God, presented in the name of Jesus. The secret of the success of the people of God is connection with him in prayer, and humble obedience of his requirements. Jesus urged upon his disciples the necessity of obeying the commandments he had given them if they would abide in his love. The comfort promised to his followers was on this condition. ST January 17, 1878, par. 9

God's blessing was never withheld from his obedient people. The wrath of God was brought upon the Jews by their disobedience of his law. Many persons contrast the freedom found in Christ with what they regard as the severe requirements of the law of God. Their words and example say to the world, Christ is so lenient and forgiving that we need not be particular to keep to the strict letter of the law. They slide away from their allegiance in a loose reckless manner, doing the works of Satan, while professing to love the Lord. Yet Jesus positively declared in his last conversation with his disciples, that those who love him will keep his commandments. In the Old Testament entire obedience is required in order to secure blessings, and entire obedience is also required in the New Testament as the conditions of receiving the approval of God. Obedience of the divine requirements is the demonstration of our faith, and the test of our love and discipleship. Professing theories, and observing forms will not answer the requirements of God. The vital principle of love is kept active through obedience. “Except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” ST January 17, 1878, par. 10

All through his ministry Jesus impressed upon his followers the necessity of obeying the law, and his own life was a demonstration of its principles, and now, as his time of agony and trial approaches, his mind, instead of dwelling upon himself, turns to his disciples, and he seeks to impress upon them the lesson of obedience. The Savior when about to leave his disciples promises to manifest himself to those who love him and keep his commandments: “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” ST January 17, 1878, par. 11

“Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?” ST January 17, 1878, par. 12

The Savior patiently explains his former words: “If a man love me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” Here is the mystery of godliness: Christ revealed by his Spirit to those who love him. When he should pass from the world he would be unknown by those who love the world and obey not the requirements of God. But the highest form of truth was presented to the disciples in the fact that the Savior would be discovered by those who love and walk in the light, while he is hidden from those who do not accept the light. Every step in the life of faith and consecration is additional knowledge of the world's Redeemer. Though no longer personally with his disciples, Jesus takes the hand of the faithful and becomes their Guide through all the dangers and trials of life's journey. Jesus continued: ST January 17, 1878, par. 13

“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father; for my Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.” The Savior encouraged his disciples with the assurance that when he was no longer with them his Spirit would refresh their memories, so that the words which he had spoken to them would be imprinted on their hearts, to be afterward given to all nations, tongues and kindred on earth. The Savior settled his peace upon his disciples as a legacy, and exhorted them not to be overwhelmed with anguish, for they should enjoy that peace which is a mystery to the world. ST January 17, 1878, par. 14

He led their minds from the great loss they would soon sustain, to the advantages they would gain by his leaving them. He told them that the Father was greater than himself, that he would stand by the Father's side as the friend of his followers, to speak in their behalf. He is acquainted with human nature and the tendencies of the human heart, and promises to unite his petition with theirs, that the comforter, the spirit of truth might abide with them and shine forth in their lives and works, winning many to Christ. This promise has been the comfort and stay of millions who have since followed Jesus in humble obedience. ST January 17, 1878, par. 15

Through the strength of Jesus men may be made strong; through his love they may become lovely in character. He would have his followers understand that they cannot go to the people of the world for sympathy and comfort in their religious difficulties and trials; because the spirit of the truth is not discerned by them. ST January 17, 1878, par. 16

Our Savior had one more work to do in evidence of his own complete obedience to the Father. It was to die for the world. Said he: “Hereafter I will not talk much with you; for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.” His hour was fast approaching; and he with his disciples passed on his way to Gethsemane. Many times had he traveled these paths on messages of love and mercy; and he had lately passed that way in triumph hailed by the glad acclamations of thousands as Him that cometh in the name of the Lord. ST January 17, 1878, par. 17