“The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”
It greatly dishonors God for any one to disregard the wonderful salvation brought to mankind at so infinite a cost—even the life of the Only-begotten of the Father. Men and women are inexcusable for refusing to accept the invitation of Him who has died for their redemption. Christ offers life eternal to those who choose to be obedient and submissive to God’s will. By bearing the yoke of willing obedience, men and women testify to worlds unfallen, to angels, and to men that they have accepted Christ as their Ruler, and are conforming their lives to His will.
Those who refuse to accept Christ’s invitation to wear His yoke of obedience and to learn of Him His meekness and lowliness, will not form characters that fit them to become members of the royal family, children of the Heavenly King. Before the universe such persons bear a direct testimony against Christ. They do their Saviour a great wrong. By their choice they reveal that they despise the great salvation which the heavenly Father has placed within their reach. They do not fully appreciate the value that Christ has placed on them. They fail of realizing that He has purchased them at an infinite cost. “God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Co-operation with Christ
Christ took upon Himself the nature of humanity, to make it possible for Him to suffer and to die as a propitiation for the sins of the fallen race. Through His merits, repentant sinners may unite with Divinity. His they are by creation and by redemption. “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.”
The Lord is doing a great work in the earth. With intense interest He is examining every man’s fitness to associate with the sinless angels and with the redeemed family in heaven. Not one of the ransomed host will be disposed to begin a rebellion similar to the one that Satan began before the creation of our race. The Lord gives men and women probationary time in which to acquaint themselves with His terms of salvation. They are given opportunity to unite with Him, as “laborers together with God,” to mould their characters after the similitude of the divine character. By improving this opportunity, they heed His words of counsel: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.”
In these closing days of probation let us profit by the words of warning: “Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.” Those who are careless and indifferent, those who have given themselves to the world—body, soul, and spirit—will find themselves, whatever their position, unready for His appearing. “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Christ is made the judge of every man’s character. All judgment is given by the Father into His hands. Daily an examination of the characters of men and women is being carried on. God is particular in requiring every one to conform to His standard of character.
The Fabric Ofttimes Marred
Many, many are trusting to their own righteousness. Refusing to submit to the will of Christ or to allow Him to clothe them with the robe of His righteousness, they set up a standard for themselves, forming characters according to their own will and pleasure. They misrepresent the perfect character—the righteousness—of Christ. Themselves deceived, they deceive others, leading many into false paths. Satan is well pleased with their religion, but they are not accepted of God. They will at last receive punishment with the great deceiver.
There is a large number of professing Christians who do not really follow Jesus. They do not bear the cross with willing self-denial and self-sacrifice. Altho making a high profession of being earnest Christians, they weave into the fabric of their characters so many threads of personal imperfections that the beautiful pattern is spoiled. Of them in effect Christ says: You boast of being rich and increased with supposed spiritual attainments. In reality you are neither cold nor hot, but are filled with conceit. Unless converted, you can not be saved; for with your unsanctified wisdom you would mar heaven. I can not endorse your spirit or your work. You do not act in accordance with the divine example, but are following a pattern of your own invention. Because of your lukewarm condition I must spew you out of My mouth.
I, your Redeemer, know your works. I am familiar with the motives that prompt you to declare boastingly, in regard to your spiritual condition, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.” Thou “knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.”
Those who are in this condition are wilfully ignorant. They do not discern the real character of sin. By their wrong doing, they constantly misrepresent the character of Christ and put Him to open shame. Professing to have a knowledge of the truth, they act as novices. They do not seem to understand the truth that must be expressed in word and deed in order to show a decided difference between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not. They are false claimants of every Christian blessing and privilege. They claim to be Christ’s representatives, but they are not rich in spiritual grace or in good works. Standing in their own light, they are wretched, poor, blind, maimed. What a position to be in!
Be Zealous, and Repent
Notwithstanding their wilful ignorance, they are not left by the Lord without adding warning and counsel. “I counsel thee,” He pleads, “to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”
There are some who will not hear. So long have they chosen to follow their own way and their own wisdom, so long have they cherished hereditary and cultivated tendencies to wrong, that they are blind and can not see afar off. By them, principles are perverted; false standards are raised; tests are made that bear not the signature of heaven. They are assimilating worldly ideas and forming characters that will exclude them from heaven. And yet some of these very ones make their boasts in the Lord as a people who do righteousness, and forsake not the ordinances of their God!
The Reward of the Upright
“O fear the Lord, ye his saints.” “Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear Him, upon them that hope in His mercy.” “Trust in Him at all times; … pour out your heart before Him.” “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.”
“Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass.” “For evil-doers shall be cut off; but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.” “The Lord knoweth the days of the upright; and their inheritance shall be forever.”
— E.G. White, Signs of the Times, June 24, 1903