It is Satan's constant effort to misrepresent the character of God, the nature of sin, and the real issues at stake in the great controversy. His sophistry lessens the obligation of the divine law and gives men license to sin. At the same time he causes them to cherish false conceptions of God so that they regard Him with fear and hate rather than with love. The cruelty inherent in his own character is attributed to the Creator; it is embodied in systems of religion and expressed in modes of worship.
The warnings given to the Hebrews against assimilating with the heathen were not more direct or explicit than are those forbidding Christians to conform to the spirit and customs of the ungodly.
A Christian reveals true humility by showing the gentleness of Christ, by being always ready to help others, by speaking kind words and performing unselfish acts, which elevate and ennoble the most sacred message that has come to the world.
At the very crisis, when Satan seemed about to triumph, the Son of God came with the embassage of divine grace.
But Jesus, our Advocate, presents an effectual plea in behalf of all who by repentance and faith have committed the keeping of their souls to Him.He pleads their cause, and by the mighty arguments of Calvary vanquishes their accuser.
It was only by faith in Christ that they could secure pardon of sin and receive strength to obey God's law. They must cease to rely upon their own efforts for salvation, they must trust wholly in the merits of the promised Saviour, if they would be accepted of God.
The fatal effects of sin can be removed only by the provision that God has made. The Israelites saved their lives by looking upon the uplifted serpent. That look implied faith. They lived because they believed God's word, and trusted in the means provided for their recover. So to sinner may look to Christ, and live. He receives pardon through faith in the atoning sacrifice. Unlike the inert and lifeless symbol, Christ has power and virtue in Himself to heal the repenting sinner.
Unless therefore I am convinced by the testimony of Scripture or by the clearest reasoning, unless I am persuaded by means of the passages I have quoted, and unless they thus render my conscience bound by the word of God, I cannot and I will not retract, for it is unsafe for a Christian to speak against his conscience. Here I stand, I can do no other; may God help me. Amen.-Martin Luther
Our acceptance with God is sure only through His beloved Son, and good works are but the result of the working of His sin-pardoning love. They are no credit to us, and we have nothing accorded to us for out good works by which we may claim a part in the salvation of our souls. Salvation is God’s free gift to the believer, given to him for Christ’s sake alone. The troubled soul may find peace through faith in Christ, and his peace will be in proportion to his faith and trust. He cannot present his good works as a plea for the salvation of his soul. But are good works of no real value? Is the sinner who commits sin every day with impunity, regarded of God with the same favor as the one who through faith in Christ tries to work in his integrity? The Scripture answers, ‘We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should work in them.’ In His divine arrangement, through His unmerited favor, the Lord has ordained that good works shall be rewarded. We are accepted through Christ’s merit alone, and the acts of mercy, the deeds of charity, which we perform, are the fruits of faith; and they become a blessing to us; for men are to be rewarded according to their works. It is the fragrance of the merit of Christ than makes our good works acceptable to God, and it is grave that enables us to do the works for which He rewards us. Our works in and of themselves have no merit. When we have done all that it is possible for us to do, we are to count ourselves as unprofitable servants. We deserve no thanks from God. We have only done what it was our duty to do, and our works could not have been performed in the strength of our own sinful nature. The Lord has bidden us to draw nigh to Him, and He will draw nigh to us; and drawing nigh to Him, we receive the grace by which to do those good works which will be rewarded at His hands.
False religion may prevail, iniquity may abound, the love of many may wax cold, the cross of Calvary may be lost sight of, and darkness, like the pall of death, may spread over the world; the whole force of the popular current may be formed to overthrow the people of God; but in the hour of greatest peril the God of Elijah will raise up human instrumentalities to bear a message that will not be silenced.
We need to have far less confidence in what man can do and far moreconfidence in what God can do for every believing soul. He longs to haveyou reach after Him by faith. He longs to have you expect great thingsfrom Him. He longs to give you understanding in temporal as well as inspiritual matters. He can sharpen the intellect. He can give tact andskill. Put your talents into the work, ask God for wisdom, and it will begiven you.
Even under false accusation those who are in the right can afford to be calm and considerate. God is acquainted with all that is misunderstood and misinterpreted by men, and we can safely leave our case in His hands. He will as surely vindicate the cause of those who put their trust in Him as He searched out the guilt of Achan. Those who are actuated by the spirit of Christ will possess that charity which suffers long and is kind.
Before there could be any permanent reformation the people must be led to feel their utter inability in themselves to render obedience to God.
Let no one take the limited, narrow position that any of the works of man can help in the least possible way to liquidate the debt of his transgression. This is a fatal deception. If you would understand it, you must cease haggling over your pet ideas, and with humble hears survey the atonement. This matter is so dimly comprehended that thousands upon thousands claiming to be sons of God are children of the wicked one, because they will depend on their own works. God always demanded good works, the law demands it, but because man placed himself in sin where his good works were valueless, Jesus' righteousness alone can avail. Christ is able to save to the uttermost because He ever liveth to make intercession for us. All man can possibly do toward his own salvation is to accept the invitation, Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.
The heart must be renewed by divine grace, or it will be in vain to seek for purity of life. He who attempts to build up a noble, virtuous character independent of the grace of Christ is building his house upon the shifting sand.
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. John 1:12Divine sonship is not something that we gain of ourselves. Only to those who receive Christ as their Saviour is given the power to become sons and daughters of God. The sinner cannot, by any power of his own, rid himself of sin. For the accomplishment of this result, he must look to a higher Power. John exclaimed, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. Christ alone has power to cleanse the heart. He who is seeking for forgiveness and acceptance can say only,--Nothing in my hand I bring;Simply to Thy cross I cling.But the promise of sonship is made to all who believe on his name. Every one who comes to Jesus in faith will receive pardon.The religion of Christ transforms the heart. It makes the worldly-minded man heavenly-minded. Under its influence the selfish man becomes unselfish, because this is the character of Christ. The dishonest, scheming man becomes upright, so that it is second nature to him to do to others as he would have others do to him. The profligate is changed from impurity to purity. He forms correct habits; for the gospel of Christ has become to him a savor of life unto life.God was to be manifest in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself. Man had become so degraded by sin that it was impossible for him, in himself, to come into harmony with Him whose nature is purity and goodness. But Christ, after having redeemed man from the condemnation of the law, could impart divine power, to unite with human effort. Thus by repentance toward God and faith in Christ, the fallen children of Adam might once more become sons of God.When a soul receives Christ, he receives power to live the life of Christ.
But in all His dealings with His creatures God has maintained the principles of righteousness by revealing sin in its true character-by demonstrating that its sure result is misery and death.
Sensual indulgence weakens the mind and debases the soul. The moral and intellectual powers are benumbed and paralyzed by the gratification of the animal propensities and it is impossible for the slave of passion to realize the sacred obligation of the Law of God, to appreciate the atonement, or to place right value upon the soul.
While it is important on the one hand that laxness in dealing with sin be avoided, it is equally important on the other to shun harsh judgment and groundless suspicion.
Christ was treated as we deserve that we may be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our sins, in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no share. He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which was His. 'By His stripes we are healed.
There is not a point that needs to be dwelt upon more earnestly, repeated more frequently, or established more firmly in the minds of all than the impossibility of fallen man meriting anything by his own best good works. Salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ alone.
A minister of Jesus Christ should not be regardless of his attitude. If he is the representative of Jesus Christ, his deportment, his attitude, his gestures, should be of that character which will not strike the beholder with disgust.
Ministers should be Bible students. They should thoroughly furnish themselves with the evidences of our faith and hope, and then, with full control of the voice and their feelings, present these evidences in such a manner that the people can calmly weigh them, and decide upon the evidences presented.
Study and work and work and study will keep in active exercise both the physical and mental. These two, rightly conducted, will not war against each other.
True love is not a strong, fiery, impetuous passion. It is, on the contrary, an element calm and deep. It looks beyond mere externals, and is attracted by qualities alone. It is wise and discriminating, and its devotion is real and abiding.
Ministers should not pray so loud, and long, as to exhaust the strength. It is not necessary to weary the throat and lungs in prayer. God's ear is ever open to hear the heart-felt petitions of his humble servants, and he does not require them to wear out the organs of speech in addressing him.
The perfection of Christian character depends wholly upon the grace and strength found alone in God.
It is labor that keeps the strong man strong. And spiritual labor, toil and burden-bearing, is what will give strength to the church of Christ.
If you have other gods before the Lord, your heart will be turned away from serving the only true and living God, who requires the whole heart, the undivided affections. All the heart, all the soul, all the mind, and all the strength, does God require. He will accept of nothing short of this.
The death of Christ proclaimed the justice and perpetuity of his Father's law in punishing the transgressor, in that he consented to suffer the penalty of the law himself, in order to save fallen man from its curse.
God gave our first parents the food He designed that the race should eat. It was contrary to His plan to have the life of any creature taken. There was to be no death in Eden. The fruit of the trees in the garden was the food man's wants required.
All the food that is put into the stomach that the system cannot derive benefit from, is a burden to nature in her work.
Religion does not consist in making a noise, yet when the soul is filled with the Spirit of the Lord, sweet, heart-felt praise to God glorifies him.
Do not borrow the productions of other men's brains and pens and recite them as a lesson; but make the most of the talents, the brain power, that God has given you.
As we lay hold upon the truth of God, its influence must affect us. It must elevate us. It must remove from us every imperfection.
The sin which is indulged to the greatest extent, which separates us from God and produces so many spiritual disorders, and which are contagious, is selfishness.