A Holy People
Hear my voice, O God, in my prayer; preserve my life from fear of the enemy. Hide me from the secret counsel of the wicked; from the insurrection of the workers of iniquity: who whet their tongue like a sword, and bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words: that they may shoot in secret at the perfect: suddenly do they shoot at him, and fear not. They encourage themselves in an evil matter: they commune of laying snares privily; they say, Who shall see them? They search out iniquities; they accomplish a diligent search: both the inward thought of every one of them, and the heart, is deep.
But God shall shoot at them with an arrow; suddenly shall they be wounded. So they shall make their own tongue to fall upon themselves: all that see them shall flee away. And all men shall fear, and shall declare the work of God; for they shall wisely consider of his doing. The righteous shall be glad in the Lord, and shall trust in him; and all the upright in heart shall glory.
This scripture will be literally fulfilled. Everything is to be shaken that can be shaken, that those things that can not be shaken may remain. I am amazed as I consider the past, present, and future of the people of God. The Lord will have a pure, holy people,–a people who will stand the test. Every believer needs now to search his heart as with a lighted candle.
We may well ask the question asked by the lawyer, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Christ said unto him, “What is written in the law? how readest thou?” The answer came, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.” And Christ said, “Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.”
The Sinner’s Only Hope
“God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” God is our creator, benefactor, preserver. The author of all good, he is able to fulfil his purpose in the creation of human beings.
The wickedness that fills our world is the result of Adam’s refusal to take God’s word as supreme. He disobeyed, and fell under the temptation of the enemy. “Sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” God declared, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” And, apart from the plan of redemption, human beings are doomed to death. “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” But Christ gave his life to save the sinner from the death sentence. He died that we might live. To those who receive him he gives power that enables them to separate from that which, unless they return to their loyalty, will place them where they must be condemned and punished.
Christ is the sinner’s only hope. By his death he brought salvation within the reach of all. Through his grace all may become loyal subjects of God’s kingdom. Only by his sacrifice could salvation be brought within man’s reach. This sacrifice has made it possible for men and women to fulfil the conditions laid down in the councils of heaven.
Christ came to this earth and lived a life of perfect obedience, that men and women, through his grace, might also live lives of perfect obedience. This is necessary to their salvation. Without holiness no man shall see the Lord.
Before us is held out the wonderful possibility of being like Christ— obedient to all the principles of the law of God. But of ourselves we are utterly powerless to attain to this condition. All that is good in man comes to him through Christ. The holiness that God’s Word declares we must have before we can be saved is the result of the working of divine grace as we bow in submission to the discipline and restraining influence of the Spirit of truth.
Man’s obedience can be made perfect only by the incense of Christ’s righteousness, which fills with divine fragrance every act of true obedience. The part of the Christian is to persevere in overcoming every fault. Constantly he is to pray to the Saviour to heal the disorders of his diseased soul. He has not the wisdom and strength without which he can not overcome. They belong to the Lord, and he bestows them on those who in humiliation and contrition seek him for help.
The work of transformation from unholiness to holiness is a continuous work. Day by day God labors for man’s sanctification, and man is to co-operate with him by putting forth persevering efforts in the cultivation of right habits. The way in which we are to work out our own salvation is plainly specified in the first chapter of Second Peter. Constantly we are to add grace to grace, and as we do this, God will work for us upon the plan of multiplication. He is always ready to hear and answer the prayer of the contrite heart, and grace and peace are multiplied to his faithful ones. Gladly he grants them the blessings that they need in their struggle against the evils that beset them. Those who listen to the counsels of his Word shall not want any good thing.
The reason that many who once knew and loved the Saviour are now in darkness, wandering far from him, is because in self-confidence and self-sufficiency they have followed their own inclinations. They walked not in the way of the Lord–the only way of peace and happiness. By disobedience they cut themselves off from receiving his blessings, when by obedience they might have gone forward in his strength.
The abundant evidence given by God that he desires the salvation of all, will be the condemnation of those who refuse the gift of heaven. At the last great day, when all will be rewarded or punished according to their obedience or disobedience, the cross of Calvary will appear plainly before those standing before the Judge of all the earth to receive sentence for eternity. They are made capable of comprehending something of the love that God has expressed for fallen human beings. They see how greatly he has been dishonored by those who have continued in transgression, choosing sides with Satan, and showing contempt for the law of Jehovah. They see that obedience to this law would have brought them life and health, prosperity and eternal good.
Today angels are sent to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation. to help them to escape from the thraldom of Satan’s power, and stand as faithful volunteers in the army of him who in their behalf came to this world and endured suffering and affliction. Each human being is given the freedom of choice. It is his to decide whether he will stand under the black banner of rebellion, or under the blood-stained banner of Prince Emmanuel. With deep solicitude heaven watches the conflict between good and evil. None but the obedient can enter the gates of the city of God. Upon those who choose to continue in transgression, the death sentence must at last be pronounced. The earth will be purified from their misdoings, their defiance of God.
“Yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.” “For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. . . . They shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts.”
Those who refuse to conform their characters to the divine similitude can never enter the city of God. They have cut themselves off from the happiness, and hope, and peace, and joy that might have been theirs. Had they accepted the grace of Christ, they would have been made strong to resist the temptations of the enemy; and they would at last have been received into the holy city as sons and daughters of God, to be eternally blessed, to live a life measuring with the life of God.
But the mournful words that God spoke of Israel, he will be obliged to speak of many, many living on the earth today: “My people would not harken to my voice; and Israel would none of me. So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked in their own counsels.” God would have rejoiced to number them with the saints in light, but he could not; for they refused all his invitations and appeals. He says, “O that my people had harkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways! I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries. The haters of the Lord should have submitted themselves unto him: but their time should have endured forever. He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat: and with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee.”
The Divine Standard of Character
God’s law is the transcript of his character, and those only who obey this law will be accepted by him. Every departure from obedience to the law of God is rebellion. It is for the highest interest of man to obey the law of God; for conformity to the principles of this law is essential to the formation of a righteous character. The rules of life that the Lord has given will make men pure and happy and holy. Those only who obey these rules can hear from the lips of Christ the words, “Come up higher.”
Idolaters are condemned by the word of God. Their folly consists in trusting in self for salvation, in bowing down to the works of their own hands. God classes as idolaters those who trust in their own wisdom, their own devising, depending for success on their riches and power, striving to strengthen themselves by alliance with men whom the world calls great, but who fail to discern the binding claims of his law.
God will more than fulfil the highest expectations of those who put their trust in him. He desires us to remember that when we are humble and contrite, we stand where he can and will manifest himself to us. He is well pleased when we urge past mercies and blessings as a reason why he should bestow on us higher and greater blessings. He is honored when we love him, and bear testimony to the genuineness of our love by keeping his commandments. He is honored when we set apart the seventh day as sacred and holy. To those who do this the Sabbath is a sign, “that they might know,” God declares, “that I am the Lord that sanctify them.” Sanctification means habitual communion with God. There is nothing so great and powerful as God’s love for those who are his children.
— E.G. White, The Review and Herald, March 15, 1906