The Signs of the Times


February 3, 1888

“Serve the Lord with Gladness”

[Sermon preached at Christiania, Norway, November 11, 1885.]


“Your words have been stout against me, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, What have we spoken so much against thee? Ye have said, It is vain to serve God; and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts? And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered. Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another; and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.” ST February 3, 1888, par. 1

There are times when under adversity and sorrow, the servants of God become discouraged and despondent. They brood over their circumstances, and, contrasting their condition with the prosperity of those who have no thought or care for eternal things, they feel aggrieved. They manifest a spirit of reproach, and murmur and repine at their lot. They seem to consider that God is under special obligation to bless them and prosper their undertakings, and therefore, as they are placed in situations of trial, they grow rebellious, and look with envy on the wicked who flourish in their iniquity. They seem to regard the condition of the transgressor as preferable to their own. These bitter thoughts are suggested to the mind by the deceiver of mankind. It is his delight to stir up rebellion in the breasts of the children of God. He knows it causes them weakness, and is a source of dishonor to their God. He desires us to think that it is a vain thing to serve God, and that those who are unmindful of the claims of Heaven are more favored than those who strive to obey the commandments of God. ST February 3, 1888, par. 2

The psalmist David had this experience. When he looked upon the flourishing condition of the wicked he was envious of their success, and said, “Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches. Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. For all the day long have I been plagued.” But when he went into the sanctuary, and communed with the Lord, he no longer desired the portion of the wicked; for then he understood their end. He saw that their way led to destruction at last, and their pleasure was but for a season. Envy had no more a place in his heart. His rebellious spirit bowed in humble submission to his God, and he declared, “Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.” He saw that the guidance of the Lord was of infinitely more value than all the temporal prosperity of the world; for the way of the Lord kept the feet in the paths of righteousness that lead to eternal glory. ST February 3, 1888, par. 3

The true servant of God will take the suggestions and temptations of Satan to the throne of grace, where peace and submission will flow into the soul. When he enters into the sanctuary he will know the end of those who have not the fear of the Lord before their eyes. The Lord has heard our murmuring. He says, “Ye have said, It is vain to serve God; and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance?” This question will present itself, with more or less force, to the minds of the people of God; but before you answer it think of the exalted honor that the God of Heaven has conferred upon you. Think how he has given his only begotten Son, that a way of salvation might be opened for you. Think how he has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light, called you to be the children of the Most High, called you to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away. Is this no compensation? no encouragement? ST February 3, 1888, par. 4

In these last days there is a call from Heaven inviting you to keep the statutes and ordinances of the Lord. The world has set at naught the law of Jehovah; but God will not be left without a witness to his righteousness, or without a people in the earth to proclaim his truth. The door of the heavenly sanctuary has been opened, and no man can shut it, and the light of the Holy of Holies is shining into the world. The people of God have had their attention called to the ark of the testimony, and the law within it has been revealed with its unalterable precepts. In holy vision, John saw the remnant church on the earth, in an age of lawlessness, and he points them out in unmistakable language: “Here is the patience of the saints; here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” They are in harmony with that law that rests in the ark in the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary. The whole duty of man is summed up in its sacred precepts. In the heart of the law is the commandment enjoining upon man the observance of the Sabbath of Jehovah, which the world and the church have trodden under their feet. For centuries men have walked in blindness concerning the true Sabbath, and the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now is the day of reformation, and he calls upon men everywhere to repent. When the light of God's disregarded commandment shone upon the path of those who sincerely loved God, they delayed not to keep his statutes. They realized that they must come out from the world and be separate, and touch not the unclean, that they might claim the promise, “I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” They became the repairers of the breach that has been made in the law of God, because they turned away their feet from the Sabbath, from doing their pleasure on God's holy day, and called the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable, and did honor him, not speaking their own words or finding their own pleasure. ST February 3, 1888, par. 5

Now the question is, Will we ally ourselves with those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus? Will we cease to trample upon the Sabbath of the Lord our God? We want to be sure that we are the children of light; that we are following in the footsteps of our Redeemer and Example. The cross lies in our pathway, but shall we not take it up and bear it for his sake who bore the cross for us? All who are seeking to serve God will have trials; but shall we say, What does it profit to come out from the world and be separate? Shall we call the proud happy? Shall we say that those who work wickedness are set up? that those who tempt God are even delivered, and we are left unaided in the midst of sorrows? ST February 3, 1888, par. 6

This is the evil that will prevail in the hearts of many. They will grow despondent in their service, because they are not prospered as the wicked are. Some are acting on the suggestions of the enemy today, and are distrusting their best friend. But we want you to understand that if you rely on God in your trial, with living faith, not one of his gracious promises will fail. The Lord is acquainted with all our sorrows and self-denials. Those who have embraced the truth in all ages have had to suffer for its sake, and shall we be exempt? Let the mind dwell upon the sufferings of our precious Saviour. “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” He made himself of “no reputation,” took upon him the “form of a servant,” and humbled himself “even to the death of the cross.” “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen; but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” ST February 3, 1888, par. 7

There must be a coming up, lest Satan divert the mind from the contemplation of the spiritual and eternal, to the earthly and temporal. God is willing to give you grace and strength for every time of need, if you seek for it with a sincere heart. ST February 3, 1888, par. 8

We read that “they that feared the Lord spake often one to another; and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name.” When the people that are engaged in the service of God come together, they are to speak words that will encourage and comfort and upbuild their brethren in the faith. They are not to find fault with their lot, and question the dealing and work of God. They are not to murmur against each other, and magnify their trials and sacrifices, thus leaving the impression that it is unprofitable to serve God. Let them remember the loving-kindnesses of the Lord, and the multitude of his tender mercies, and, out of hearts melted with gratitude and love, let them praise his name and inquire, “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits?” Angels record the words of your lips in the books of remembrance. God hearkens and hears the utterances of his servants; and those who appreciate his mercy and love his name “shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.” ST February 3, 1888, par. 9

Do not say it is a vain thing to serve God. Have respect unto the recompense of the reward. Even in this life you are to cast all your care upon him; for he careth for you. His promise is, that if you seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, all necessary things shall be added unto you. Not a sparrow falls to the ground without his notice, and the hairs of your head are all numbered. ST February 3, 1888, par. 10

The glory of the eternal world has been opened before me, and I want to tell you that Heaven is worth your winning. An infinite price has been paid that you might share in its indescribable glories, and enjoy its exalted privileges. The God of Heaven did not spare even his only Son, that rebel man might be restored to the favor of Heaven; and shall we hesitate to yield to him grateful and whole-hearted service? Oh, that no word of murmuring might ever escape the lips of those who have tasted of the heavenly gift! This is no time to ask, What does it profit to keep the ordinances of our God? The celestial city is just before us. If you could get one glimpse into the glories of that place, you would not count any loss too great if you might only walk its streets of transparent gold, and sing the song of triumph with the white-robed company of Heaven. You would not wish for the prosperity of earth, or be envious of the wicked. ST February 3, 1888, par. 11

There are traces, even amid the havoc that sin has wrought, of what God has done to make the earth beautiful. I enjoy these prospects of loveliness in nature. My mind is carried up through nature to nature's God, and I adore him who has created such scenes of beauty; but I know that if I love God and keep his commandments there is “a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” awaiting me in the kingdom of Heaven. Beautiful as are the landscapes of earth, “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” God designs that we should contemplate heavenly things, and that we should dwell upon the attributes of his character, till we see matchless charms in our God, and become changed into the same image. When we are renewed in the spirit of our minds, we shall have no disposition to murmur at our lot; the praise of God will be welling up in our hearts continually. The solemn responsibilities that God has laid upon us for the salvation of souls will absorb our whole heart and mind, and we shall have no time to talk of our trials and sacrifices. Oh! we must wash our robes of character from every stain, in the blood of the Lamb, and prepare for the great day of God. We must not wait till the Lord comes in the clouds of heaven before we make our calling and election sure. ST February 3, 1888, par. 12

Enoch walked with God three hundred years before his translation to Heaven. He had the daily testimony that his ways pleased God. Why should not every Christian follow Christ as did this faithful servant? Do you love Jesus a great way off? Do the tidings of his coming seem a message of joy to your heart? Do you find his service a profitable service? How can you win others to the truth, if your own heart is not in the work, and you do not see matchless charms in your Redeemer? The prayer of Christ was, that he might be glorified in those he had left upon earth to carry on his work, and we do not glorify our Redeemer when we complain of the difficulties of the way, and murmur at the providences of God. ST February 3, 1888, par. 13

Jesus is soon coming in power and great glory, and we are not to sit down in idle expectation of this event. We are to show our faith by our works. He has committed to every man his work. A great truth has been given to us, and the world must be warned of the fast-approaching judgments. Every talent must be given out to the exchangers, that it may be used for the good of man and the glory of God. And those who are faithful to the small trusts of earth, will be made rulers of many things in the eternal world. Now we have the precious privileges of probation. We have the opportunity of laboring in the greatest cause that ever engaged the attention of the servants of God. Let us not spend these valuable moments in discontent at our lot. Let us praise God, and speak often one to another and to all that we meet, of his marvelous truth. The Lord will count such among his jewels, and will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. ST February 3, 1888, par. 14