MEN do not usually put out danger signals unless in their minds at least there is danger, and God does not deal any the less honestly with his people. And when God puts out a danger signal, it is time to note the time and place and to remember that there is danger there. When the signal is repeated, the sense of danger should be impressed upon our minds; and when the danger signal - the warning - is repeated again and again, it is to stir the hearts with the solemnity of fear, as in the very presence of the actual danger.
I wish to bring the situation just as briefly as I can before you with reference to the warnings that have been sent to us very recently, all in one line, and I will select some extracts to show how the warning has been repeated and repeated again. From the Special Testimony, “Appeal to Ministers and Conference Committees,” page 9:-
“Unless you watch, and keep your garments unspotted from the world, Satan will stand as your captain. It is no time now to hide your colors, no time to turn traitor, when the battle presses sore.... It is no time now to lax our efforts, to become tame and spiritless.... Every power is to be employed wholly and entirely for God. Maintain your allegiance, bearing testimony for God and for truth. Be not turned aside by any suggestions the world may make. We can make no compromise....
“When the days come, as they surely will, in which the law of God is made void, the zeal of the true and loyal should rise with the emergency, and should be the more warm and decided, and their testimony should be more positive and unflinching. But we are to do nothing in a defiant spirit, and we shall not if our hearts are fully surrendered to God....
“God has no place in his heart for half-hearted men and women, those who are neither cold nor hot. Christ says, ‘I will spew thee out of my mouth.’ God calls for men who are whole-hearted.... Let his truth be received into the heart, that you may be spiritualized by its living, sanctifying power. Then let the distinct message for this time be sent from watchman to watchman on the walls of Zion....
“By many, the words which the Lord sent, will be rejected, and the words that man may speak will be received as light and truth. Human wisdom will lead away from self-denial, from consecration, and will devise many things to tend to make of no effect God’s messages. We cannot with any safety rely upon men who are not in close connection with God. They accept the opinions of men, but cannot discern the voice of the True Shepherd, and their influence will lead many astray, though evidence is piled upon evidence before their eyes, testifying to the truth that God’s people will have for this time....
“As the end approaches, the testimonies of God’s people will become more decided and more powerful, flashing the light of truth upon the systems of error and oppression that have so long held the supremacy.”
Again from “Danger of Adopting Worldly Policy,” beginning on page 4, I read:-
“We must obey the orders that come from above. We are not to hear the counsel or follow the plans suggested by unbelievers. Suggestions made by those who know not the work that God is doing for this time, will be such as to weaken the power of the instrumentalities of God. By accepting such suggestions, the counsel of Christ is set at naught....
“Those who are self-sufficient, who do not feel the necessity of constant prayer and watchfulness, will be ensnared. Through living faith and earnest prayer the sentinels of God must become partakers of the divine nature, or they well be found professedly working for God, but in reality giving their service to the prince of darkness. Because their eyes are not anointed with the heavenly eye-salve, their understanding will be blinded, and they will be ignorant of the wonderfully specious devices of the enemy. Their vision will be perverted through their dependence on human wisdom, which is foolishness in the sight of God....
“Those who believe the truth must be as faithful sentinels on the watch-tower, or Satan will suggest specious reasonings to them, and they will give utterance to opinions that will betray sacred, holy trusts. The enmity of Satan against good will be manifested more and more, as he brings his forces into activity in his last work of rebellion, and every soul that is not fully surrendered to God and kept by divine power, will form an alliance with Satan against heaven, and join in the battle against the Ruler of the universe....
“The message we have to bear is not a message that men need cringe to declare. They are not to seek to cover it, to conceal its origin and purpose. Its advocates must be men who will not hold their peace day nor night.... God has given us light in regard to the things that are now taking place in the last remnant of time, and with pen and voice we are to proclaim the truth to the world, not in a tame spiritless way, but in demonstration of the Spirit and the power of God....
“To-day the world is full of flatterers and dissemblers; but God forbid that those who claim to be guardians of sacred trusts, shall betray the interests of God’s cause through the insinuating suggestions and devices of the enemy of all righteousness.
“There is no time now to range ourselves on the side of the transgressors of God’s law, to see with their eyes, to hear with their ears, and to understand with their perverted senses. We must press together. We must labor to become a unit, to be holy in life and pure in character. Let those who profess to be servants of the living God no longer bow down to the idol of men’s opinions, no longer be slaves to any shameful lust, no longer bring a polluted offering to the Lord, a sin-stained soul.”
Now as though that were not sufficient, I want to call your attention to the instruction that has come very recently, and I will read from articles by Sister White in REVIEW of Jan. 31, and Feb. 7, 1893:-
“There will be among us those who will so blind their eyes that they will fail to perceive the most wonderful and important truths for this time.”
Who knows whether that means me or not? I think we had better, every one, take it as belonging to “myself.”
“Those who have not a daily experience in the things of God will not move wisely....
“Scores of men have preached the word when they themselves had not faith in it, and did not obey its teachings. They were unconverted, unsanctified, unholy.... No longer question your need of a personal Saviour....
“Many accept the theory of truth, and compromise with the world, the flesh, and the devil.... We are to feel, to act, as one with Christ....
“Christ says to his followers, ‘Ye are the light of the world.’ Shall we envelop our light in a thick covering of worldly policy? Shall we seek for scientific measurement of how much light shall emanate from us to the world? God help us to live under the direct rays of the Sun of Righteousness, that we may be channels of light to the world....
“There are men of the world who will volunteer to be our guides; they regard their course as wise, but they are of the class who, professing to be wise, need to become fools in order to become wise in God’s wisdom. They lead away from the path where the voice of Jesus is heard, saying, ‘This is the way; walk ye in it.’ They are false teachers, blind leaders of the blind. They divert the attention from the very work to be done in this period of the world’s history.”
Now mark the following:-
“But those who follow the leader step by step, will hear and recognize the voice of the True Shepherd....
“The people of the world will try to induce us to soften down our message, to suppress some of its more distinctive features. They say, ‘Why do you make the Seventh-day Sabbath so prominent in your teaching? This difference is always thrust before us. We could harmonize with you if you would not say so much on this point. Let arguments in the Sentinel be free from mention of the Seventh-day Sabbath, and we will give it our influence and support.’ This is their invitation to compromise, and there has been a disposition on the part of some of our workers to adopt this policy. But those who favor this action, entertain deceptive sentiments, are bound by false modesty and caution, and manifest a disposition to withhold the confession of faith. Seventh-day Adventists have discussed the feasibility of conceding to these demands; but shall we permit the world to shape the messages that God has given us to bear to them? Shall we entertain the proposal of Satan, and thereby entangle our souls, and the souls of others, for the sake of policy? Shall we betray sacred trusts? If the world are in error and delusion, breaking the law of God, is it not our duty to show them their sin and danger? We must proclaim the third angel’s message.
“What is the Sentinel for? It is to be as the voice of the watchman on the walls of Zion, ready to sound the danger signal. We should cry aloud, and spare not, and show the people their transgressions. We are not to cringe, and beg pardon of the world for telling them the truth. We should scorn concealment. Unfurl your true colors to the gaze of men and angels. Let it be understood that the Seventh-day Adventists can make no compromise. In our opinions and faith there must not be the least appearance of wavering. The world has a right to expect something of us, and will look upon us as dishonest, as hiding our real sentiments and principles out of policy, if we present even the semblance of being uncommitted.
“We are not to voice the sentiment of the world.... Shall we be time-servers? Now, before we advance another step, let us look carefully to see what are our feelings, our aims, and purposes.”
I will now leave these extracts, and read from the REVIEW of Feb. 7:-
“Those who are more desirous of securing promotion and a good name in the world, than of maintaining right principles, will betray sacred trusts. They will cripple their own influence, they will darken counsel by their words, and make false reasoning to look sound and right. All the success and patronage that can be secured by policy plans will serve only as a snare to those who work on this principle.
“Some are flattering themselves that a more auspicious time is coming, when God will vindicate his honor by lifting up his holy law. Many who now look upon the cross as too heavy to bear, think they will then obey the truth, and triumph with it. But in maintaining the right, it is not safe, because of circumstances, to yield in any degree firm adherence to duty, or to teach others that they may yield with comparative safety.... To place ourselves in a position where we have an appearance of yielding, is a new position for this people.... Many who claim to believe the truth have rested in the theory, and have not felt the necessity of maintaining vital connection with the pure, sacred springs from which they must derive their life and inspiration. When they should have been earnestly praying to heaven, humbling their hearts before God, they have been busy with human calculations, human imaginings, have been exalting self in place of exalting the Lord. Yet they seemed unaware of their danger of leaving the precious principles of truth. We need to pray continually that God will help us to abide in the truth, and not be swayed from the principles by those who are not sanctified to God, or allow the principles of worldlings to mould our institutions.... This is the work now to be done on earth. Those who are living in the transgression of the holy law of God, will not find the truth palatable. When it is made plain that Sunday is a spurious Sabbath, founded in the power of the man of sin, they will say in language too plain to be misunderstood, ‘We want not a knowledge of thy ways, O Lord.’ Others will say as did Pharaoh, ‘Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice?’ But in the face of all opposition, we must hold aloft the banner of the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. It takes both of these to make up the burden of the message to the world.... We should be alarmed at the least manifestation of a disposition to hush the voices that proclaim the third angel’s message. That angel represents the people of God, who give the last warning to the world. Let not the fear of man, the desire for patronage, be allowed to obscure a ray of heaven’s light. Should the sentinels of truth now fail to sound the warning, they would be unworthy of their position as light-bearers to the world; but should the standard fall from their hands, the Lord would raise up others who would be faithful and loyal.”
Now, that is so, brethren, and it seems to me, as never before, that we have come right up to the time when God wants to know who is going to be faithful and loyal, that he may know who is going to do this work. “It will require moral courage to do God’s work unflinchingly. Those who do this can give no place to self-love, to selfish considerations, ambition, love of ease, or desire to shun the cross. We are commanded to ‘cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet!’ Shall we labor to make the name of God a praise in the earth? Shall we obey his voice, or shall we listen to the soothing voice of the evil one, and be rocked to a fatal slumber just on the eve of eternal realities? The truth is everything to us, or it is nothing. Let those who want to make a name in the world, go with the world; but let those who would serve God, obey God, and not man. Now, what does that mean just at this time? It means, we, you and I, need the warning to take our orders from God, and be where we can recognize the voice of the True Shepherd. How can we receive orders from above and obey them unless the channels of communication are open between our souls and God?
Now there are two ways of compromising: one is that one compromises and don’t know it; the other is that one compromises because he has not the moral courage to do otherwise. And, there is just one cure for both difficulties. Let us read it; turn with me to Isa. the eleventh chap., and I will read three verses: “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots: And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord: And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears.”
The special point that I want to make there is this, that one who is endowed with the Spirit of God does not depend upon what he hears with his ears, or sees with his eyes. Notice the marginal reading of “he shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord.” The Hebrew is “quick of scent or smell.” It seems to me that the idea there, is a kind of instinct, but that is not the word: it is the kind of perception that comes outside of the senses, and gives it the thought of an immediate consciousness of the situation. The idea is that it does not come through what I see or hear, but when the channels of the soul are open to God, there is immediate consciousness of the situation, even perhaps against the sight of the eyes and the hearing of the ears.
There will be plans suggested in the work of God that you cannot find any fault with, that is outwardly, I mean: but anyone that is connected with God will say, They are wrong. You may be put in that place, but if you are connected with God, you will say, I cannot follow them, because we are not to judge after the sight of the eyes nor the hearing of the ears: “It is very hard for self to occupy a subordinate place. It lifts up itself in many ways, runs without Christ, works without prayer and consecration. Man’s wisdom is foolishness: but many do not yet know this. They form connections with persons no more pious or consecrated than themselves. They counsel and plan with them, and if their devising is accepted, it will surely lead away from the right path. Their self-sufficiency is great, they do not feel the necessity of prayer at every step. They judge after the sight of the eyes, and the hearing of the ears, but they have not the discernment that God gives, which would enable them to look beneath the surface.”
Not to enlarge upon that point, the only thing that can save us from changing leaders and not knowing it, is that the spirit of perception shall come by the inflowing of the Spirit of God into the soul. That is certainly so. Our only safety, then, in this time, when the specious devices of Satan will be brought to bear, when Satan, who is manifested as an angel of light, shall work himself in through every possible channel to suggest plans that will soften down the message, to turn us away from the one thing that God is giving us to declare at this time, I say the only safety for us, for you, for me, is that the Spirit of discernment, which comes only through the indwelling of the Spirit of God, shall take possession of us and save us from those things.
Now the other side. The other way of compromising is through lack of sufficient moral courage to do otherwise, and the only cure is the same cure. It is no use whatever for you and me to say now, even in our hearts, I know what I am about. You never will catch me betraying the third angel’s message. I stand firm. Let me whisper in your ear, “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” And let me say, that our only safety is in saying continually, “Lord, save, or I perish.” We are now in the perils of the last days. Now Satan will work with all signs and lying wonders. Now he will begin to increase the power with which he works until it will reach the climax in his actual personal presence here, to work himself, visibly.
A little while ago, one who had formerly been connected with this people was advertised to speak in this city. One came to me and said, “I would like to go and hear him. Of course I know he has not the truth, but I never heard him, and I would like to go and hear what he has to say. I do not think it will hurt me. I do not think he will turn me from the truth.” And I said in reply: “The time will come when the announcement will be made, ‘A wonderful being of light and splendor is here working miracles, speaking the same tones which Jesus spake when he was here preaching to the people.’ I wonder how many Seventh-day Adventists will say, ‘Now I never saw the devil, I never heard him preach. Of course I know he has not the truth but really I would like to go and hear what he has to say against it?’ I want to tell you that one spirit is just of a piece with the other. What have we to do with chasing after those who we know have not the truth? There is one who says, “I am the truth.” We had better spend our time and efforts going to hear what he has to say to us. Now I say, the only thing that will keep us, is the presence of the Spirit of God. It is not will-power. It is not a determination to stand firm. That is our greatest weakness, if we put it in that light. If we put it in the light of our determination to stand firm and our will-power, there is our very weakness. Our strength is in saying, “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” Our strength is in our weakness, because “my strength is made perfect in weakness.”
Now I wish in the brief time remaining to me to call attention to the lesson which to me applies with great force at this time. We have now come to the time of the second fulfillment - and that in large measure - of the outpouring of the Spirit of God, and I wish to speak of the effect of the outpouring of the Spirit of God on the disciples.
You know how those disciples, everyone of them, forsook Christ and fled; you know how they denied that they would leave him, and Peter said: “Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended,” and they all said they would not deny him. And that very night everyone left him. Their weakness was in the fact that they refused to believe what he told them. When he said, “You are going to fall,” they said, “No, we are not going to fall,” and they fell. If, when he told them they were going to fall, they had said, “Lord, save us from it,” they would have had a different experience. But it was their determination that they would not fall, and that they did not need any such warning and instruction, that led them into that experience.
Let us come to the experience after the outpouring of the Spirit. I will hastily sketch some of the facts brought out in the book of Acts. This book is a wonderful book to study at this time.
What was the one thing which to declare at that time would rouse up the opposition and the passions of men, more than anything else? It was to tell them, that Jesus was the Christ, and “You crucified him.” That was the thing that did it. In the face of what consequences was it? In the face of the law which forbade any new religion, and the penalty of which was death to one of the common rank. And these men were all Galileans, of the common rank. So when they went out proclaiming that religion they went with their lives in their hands, and they knew it.
What was the burden of the message that they were all declaring? That they were witnesses of his resurrection. They were to go out and tell the story to those rulers, the religious leaders, that they had taken Jesus Christ the Son of God and had put him to death; that he was risen from the dead; that he had ascended to heaven, and that only through him was there salvation for anyone, - for the leaders, the managers, the rank and file of the Jews, for anyone. The only hope of salvation was in that Christ whom they had taken and crucified. That was the message they were to go out and declare, and that in the face of the law which said, “Death.” When the Spirit was poured upon them, the very first day that Peter stood up, what was the message? Read Acts 2:22, 23: “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.”
What was it? He charged them face to face with murder. That was what it was. God’s Spirit witnessed to this word, and to those who were ready to receive light and truth, conviction came, and three thousand souls were converted that day.
Then Peter and John went up into the temple to pray, and they saw a lame man there and healed him. Then the people came together to know about it, and Peter said: “Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince of Life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.”
Then the managers began to be stirred. The people began to be converted under this sort of a message, and the rulers were “grieved,” and they laid hold on them and put them in prison, saying that they would examine them on that matter, with the firm determination, however, that nothing should be said about Christ. They wanted nothing to do with that. So they asked them in the first place, What about this lame man that you healed yesterday? We do not want to know anything about your religion, however. Then Peter, “filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel.” And notice the way in which he said it. Here were these poor despised men, the despised of the despised, brought in before that array of official authority, and this man, who, you will remember, a short time before was scared almost out of his senses by the simple inquiry, “Are you not one of this man’s followers?” - and who had replied, No; I am not. I do not know anything about him. - Now in the face of the law whose violation was death, and in the presence of the dignitaries and rulers of the nation, when asked about that lame man whom they had healed, said:-
“Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This was the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which has become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:8-12.
Did they declare the message that was given them to declare? Indeed they did. Did they dare to stand in the presence of the officials and those high in authority and say, You put him to death, you murdered him? They did. Did they tone down the message any and say that because of some laxness in some official capacity, this man was taken by parties to us unknown, and as near as we can find out some violence was done to him, for which we are very sorry? Oh, think of it! You murdered him. That was the word. You took him and by wicked hands crucified him. That was the charge.
And those unlearned men, whom these rulers thought they could scare by their official authority, stood right there and said: You men of Israel, and rulers and elders of the people, This is the man you crucified. - You put him to death. You are the murderers. What was the consequence? “When they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus. I hope they will take knowledge of us in the same way. I do, indeed. Well, they thought this thing must be stopped in some way, but here was the man, healed, and they could not say anything against that, and so they thought they would command them, and threaten them, and let them go. But when they had commanded them to speak no more in this name, Peter and John said, “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.”
I tell you, those men had a message that was like fire shut up in the bones. It would come out. And when it came out in that way, it had converting power in it. And the power was not in them as men, but they were filled with the Holy Ghost. The Holy Spirit is a cure for cowardice. The Holy Spirit is the cure for cringing before men. But I tell you it makes a man humble before God.
Well, when they had threatened them and let them go, what did they do? “Being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them. And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is. [Do you not see that their trust was in the Creator as their Redeemer?] Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak the word.” Acts 4:25-29.
They did not say, Let us stay at home, because there is great danger ahead. The Holy Spirit is a cure for moral cowardice. The Holy Spirit inspires men to declare the message of God without cringing, and that in the face of death.
Now I say in all sincerity that we might as well make up our minds here and now, before we go a step farther, to face death and down it. That is true. I understand, just as well as you, that it is a great deal easier to talk about that in a warm, comfortable room, lighted by electricity, with a nice carpet on the floor, than it is to say it when we come up to the point where we have to give up our lives. But I want to tell you that that is an actual fact, and unless we stand right there at this moment, and say that we will give up friends, homes, and that nothing shall separate us from the Love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord, we might as well stop now. That is a fact. It is a simple statement of the fact, and it is an awfully solemn fact to me.
I will touch on one other point. I will briefly sketch the experience of Paul and Silas. You will remember the commission of Paul to go to the Gentiles, and that as he and Silas preached they were forbidden by the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia. Then “a vision appeared to Paul in the night; there stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.” Then they started right away to go over. The first place at which they stopped any time was Philippi, and after a few days there, what was their experience? They were put in jail and whipped, and their feet placed in the stocks. Listen, and hear the conversation that passed between them.
“Well, Paul,” said Silas, “are you sure that that was a vision that said, Come over into Macedonia and help us? Are you sure that you were led by the Spirit of God when we came over here? Don’t you see, about the first thing we are in jail, and my back is awful sore. Paul, what do you think about it? Do you not think we would better go back?”
“And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God.”
“Now, Silas,” said Paul, “what do you think? Would we better pray?”
“Well, I think we would better have silent prayer. There is a rough crowd of people around here, and if we pray, we would better have silent prayer.”
“And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.”
Yes. They did not hear that other conversation you have heard. They heard them praying and singing praises to God, and the Holy Ghost came and shook the place and opened the doors.
Do you not see in that a lesson to us? Come over into Macedonia and help. What do you think? Was it the Spirit of God that called you? “Those who follow the Leader step by step, will hear and recognize the voice of the True Shepherd.” And they will not go back on it, even though their backs are beaten, and their feet are put in the stocks, and they themselves in jail. The endowment of the Spirit of God is a wonderful cure for moral cowardice. It makes men bold in the Lord, yet humble in the Lord.
Then, there are two ways in which we may compromise the truth. The Spirit of God gives that discernment that goes below the surface and shows us these things, so that we do not judge after the sight of the eyes, nor hear after the hearing of the ears, and the Spirit of God confers upon us the moral courage.
I will close by reading a paragraph from that little article, “The Holy Spirit Awaits Our Demand and Reception“:-
“The Christian must build all the foundation if he would build a strong symmetrical character, if he would be well balanced in his religious experience. It is in this way that the man will be prepared to meet the demands of truth and righteousness, as they are represented in the Bible; for he will be sustained and energized by the Holy Spirit of God. He who is a true Christian combines great tenderness of feeling with great firmness of purpose, with unswerving fidelity to God; he will in no case become the betrayer of sacred trusts. He who is endowed with the Holy Spirit has great capacities of heart and intellect, with strength of will and purpose that is unconquerable.”
You may put him to death. That does not touch the strength of will and purpose that comes through the endowment of the Spirit of God.
Taken from the General Conference Daily Bulletin, February 13, 1893