More on Righteousness by Faith
More on Righteousness by Faith
Camp-meeting at Rome, N.Y.
Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, September 3, 1889
We left Williamsport, Pa., June 12 for Rome, N.Y. We were glad to leave the flooded district. As I looked at the ruins from the car windows, and as I read the harrowing details of the destruction of human life at Johnstown, I could but think of the greater disasters that are yet to come upon the world. As the restraining power of the Holy Spirit shall be withdrawn, because of the impenitence and ingratitude of men, terrible things will be witnessed in the earth.
The diligent Bible student knows that the end of all things is at hand. Those who look to the word of God for instruction, have light to see the binding claims of the law of God. They see that the love of God underlies every precept, and that obedience to these precepts will keep man from working his own unhappiness and ruin. The paternal character of God is revealed in his holy law, proving him to be full of mercy, goodness, and truth. God has manifested unparalleled love in giving his beloved Son to die for fallen man; but men have not appreciated this love, and have refused the gift of salvation. How patiently God has borne with sinners, and will still bear with them till the measure of ingratitude and iniquity is full, and the world is ripe for judgment and wrath.
As I looked upon the destruction around me, I determined to be more earnest in warning the people, and in presenting the claims of God's law upon them. Have those who have had great light and great privileges made corresponding improvement? Have they become pure, faithful, and humble before God? The Lord calls for the improvement of every talent he has given, and he will accept the efforts of his servants to become channels of light to others.
There were many delays on our journey, but we finally reached Rome Wednesday forenoon. We were heartily welcomed by our friends in New York, and were soon comfortably situated in a tent prepared for us. I felt worn and exhausted, but I esteemed it a privilege to speak to the people who were assembled. I was compelled to use crutches because of again turning my ankle. The pain was so severe that my heart was affected, and has not even yet fully recovered from the shock.
I was unable to attend the Sabbath services; but I was glad to learn that our brethren had an excellent meeting. The Spirit of the Lord moved upon the hearts of those assembled, and quite a number came forward for prayers. On Sunday afternoon I spoke from the words, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Man will have something with which to occupy his thoughts. The soul cannot be empty. We either love and serve God, or we love and serve mammon. The affections of men cannot be broken from earthly objects unless something of higher value is presented to attract the mind. The enduring treasure and glory of heavenly things must be opened before men, and love of the nobler things of God will win the love of men from the inferior things of earth.
As I spoke to the people, the Lord raised me above my infirmities. In my intense interest for souls, I forgot that I was lame and in need of support. On Monday I had special freedom in addressing the people.
I have felt anxious that the grace of Christ should come to our brethren in the New York Conference. Our people in this Conference have had much to discourage them; but the Lord sent them special messages of mercy and encouragement. If our brethren will let the light which they have received shine in the various churches of which they are members, it will be diffused, and their own hearts will be more decidedly enlightened; but if they neglect to communicate the light, they will be left in darkness. The Lord would have his church arise and shine; for the brightness of the light of God has shone upon his people in the message of present truth. If all will heed the precious words given them from the Great Teacher through his delegated servants, there will be an awakening throughout our ranks, and spiritual vigor will be imparted to the church. We should all desire to know the truth as it is in Jesus. There are good things in store for those who love God, and all who fervently desire his blessing, will receive light and truth as meat in due season.
I felt anxious that the light of heaven might shine upon the people of God in this Conference, that they might zealously repent of their sins, and realize in themselves the fulfillment of the truth uttered by Christ: "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." The affections of the heart must be changed by the life and power of the word of God, and those who profess the name of Christ must live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. We felt thankful to our Heavenly Father that his message of hope and courage and faith could come before our brethren and sisters in New York, and we deeply regretted that there were not many others present to share the important instruction that was given.
It was a pleasure to meet precious souls with whom we have been acquainted for thirty or forty years. Age is telling upon them; but we rejoice that they still hold aloft the banner of Prince Emmanuel. As the servants of the Lord brought forth things new and old from the treasure house of his word, hope came to the hearts of these old soldiers in the truth. They knew that the message was what they needed, and felt that it came from God. The feeling of many hearts might be expressed in the words of the apostle: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."
The present message--justification by faith--is a message from God; it bears the divine credentials, for its fruit is unto holiness. Some who greatly need the precious truth that was presented before them, we fear did not receive its benefit. They did not open the door of their hearts to welcome Jesus as a heavenly guest, and they have suffered great loss. There is indeed a narrow way in which we must walk; the cross is presented at every step. We must learn to live by faith; then the darkest hours will be brightened by the blessed beams of the Sun of Righteousness.
We are not safe if we neglect to search the Scriptures daily for light and knowledge. Earthly blessings cannot be obtained without toil, and can we expect that spiritual and heavenly blessings will come without earnest effort on our part? The mines of truth are to be worked. Says the psalmist, "The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple." The word of God must not be kept apart from our life. It must be entertained in the mind, welcomed in the heart, and be cherished, loved, and obeyed. We need also much more knowledge; we need to be enlightened in regard to the plan of salvation. There is not one in one hundred who understands for himself the Bible truth on this subject that is so necessary to our present and eternal welfare. When light begins to shine forth to make clear the plan of redemption to the people, the enemy works with all diligence that the light may be shut away from the hearts of men. If we come to the word of God with a teachable, humble spirit, the rubbish of error will be swept away, and gems of truth, long hidden from our eyes, will be discovered.
There is great need that Christ should be preached as the only hope and salvation. When the doctrine of justification by faith was presented at the Rome meeting, it came to many as water comes to the thirsty traveler. The thought that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, not because of any merit on our part, but as a free gift from God, seemed a precious thought.
The enemy of man and God is not willing that this truth should be clearly presented; for he knows that if the people receive it fully, his power will be broken. If he can control minds so that doubt and unbelief and darkness shall compose the experience of those who claim to be the children of God, he can overcome them with temptation. That simple faith that takes God at his word should be encouraged. God's people must have that faith which will lay hold of divine power; "for by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God." Not all will receive the light, forsake their sins, and believe the words of eternal life, and without drawing back, go on from one truth to another, until guided into all truth. Those who believe that God for Christ's sake has forgiven their sins, should not, through temptation, fail to press on to fight the good fight of faith. Their faith should grow stronger until their Christian life, as well as their words, shall declare, "The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth me from all sin."
Many are in a lukewarm condition, because they do not live by faith, increasing in the knowledge of the truth, going on from light to greater light. Such have need to be greatly alarmed lest that which the Lord has placed within their reach at infinite cost, should be taken away, and given to others who will prize the gift and use it for his glory. There is need of fear and trembling, watchfulness and prayer, lest there be in any of us an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God. If the light that God has given us is held in indifference, if it is not appreciated, it will not increase, but will become darkness.
Our only safety is in continually looking to Jesus. By living faith we must appropriate the precious promises; for every promise and command, necessary for our salvation, must become a part of us, that we may become one with Christ.
In the days of Christ, there were many who beheld his mighty works, listened to his divine instruction, were impressed, and almost persuaded; but they did not profit by their privileges, for confession was not made unto salvation. The impressions did not last because they did not act out their convictions, and those who had been almost persuaded, were not reckoned on the side of Christ. It is perilous to the soul to hesitate, question, and criticise divine light. Satan will present his temptations until the light will appear as darkness, and many will reject the very truth that would have proved the saving of their souls. Those who walk in its rays will find it growing brighter and brighter unto the perfect day.
Every ray of light that Heaven sends is essential for our salvation. We are living in the last days, and the Lord does not mean to leave us in darkness and uncertainty. There are great blessings in store for those who keep the commandments of God, not in name merely, but in sincerity and truth. It has been necessary to exalt the great standard of righteousness, but in doing this, many have neglected to preach the faith of Jesus. If we would have the spirit and power of the third angel's message, we must present the law and the gospel together, for they go hand in hand. As a power from beneath is stirring up the children of disobedience to make void the law of God, and to trample upon the faith of Christ as our righteousness, a power from above is moving upon the hearts of those who are loyal to exalt the law, and to lift up Jesus as a complete Saviour. Unless divine power is brought into the experience of the people of God, false theories and erroneous ideas will take minds captive, Christ and his righteousness will be dropped out of the experience of many, and their faith will be without power or life. Such will not have a daily, living experience of the love of God in the heart, and if they do not zealously repent, they will be among those who are represented by the Laodiceans, who will be spewed out of the mouth of God.
The Lord can do little for his people, because of their limited faith. The ministers have not presented Christ in his fullness to the people, either in the churches or in new fields, and the people have not an intelligent faith. They have not been instructed as they should have been, that Christ is unto them both salvation and righteousness. The love that Christ manifested in taking human nature, in bearing insult, reproach, and the rejection of men, in suffering crucifixion on the cross, should be presented in every discourse. It is Satan's studied purpose to keep souls from believing in Christ as their only hope; for the blood of Christ that cleanseth from all sin is only efficacious in behalf of those who believe in its merit, and who present it before the Father as did Abel in his offering.
The offering of Cain was an offense to God, because it was a Christless offering. The burden of our message is not only the commandments of God, but the faith of Jesus. A bright light shines upon our pathway today, and it leads to increased faith in Jesus. We must receive every ray of light, and walk in it, that it may not be our condemnation in the judgment. Our duties and obligations become more important as we obtain more distinct views of truth. Light makes manifest, and reproves the errors that were concealed in darkness; and as light comes, the life and character of men must change correspondingly to be in harmony with it. Sins that were once sins of ignorance because of the blindness of the mind, can no more be indulged in without incurring guilt. When light, searched out carefully and prayerfully, is flashed upon the mind from the living oracles, individuals and churches are placed under greater responsibility than before. As increased light is given, men must be reformed, elevated, and refined by it, or they will be more perverse and stubborn than before the light came.
Our present position is interesting and perilous. The danger of refusing light from heaven should make us watchful unto prayer, lest we should any of us have an evil heart of unbelief. When the Lamb of God was crucified on Calvary, the death knell of Satan was sounded; and if the enemy of truth and righteousness can obliterate from the mind the thought that it is necessary to depend upon the righteousness of Christ for salvation, he will do it. If Satan can succeed in leading man to place value upon his own works as works of merit and righteousness, he knows that he can overcome him by his temptations, and make him his victim and prey. Lift up Jesus before the people. Strike the doorposts with the blood of Calvary's Lamb, and you are safe. By Mrs. E. G. White.