Third Angel's Message
And the Message to Laodicea #11
Talks given at the 1993 General Conference Session
by A.T.Jones


Sermon No. 11 White Raiment

The place where we were in the Scriptures, you remember, in this series of lessons, is that counsel of the True Witness, the second thing that He tells us to buy. We studied the first the other night. "I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich." That was our study the last lesson. Our study tonight begins with the next thing: "I counsel thee to buy of me white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear."

What is that raiment? [Congregation: "Righteousness."] Whose righteousness? [Congregation: "Christ's."] Whose is that? [Congregation: "The righteousness of God."] Whose are we to seek? [Congregation: "The righteousness of God."] What is righteousness? [Congregation: "Right doing."] Is righteousness right doing? [Congregation: "Yes."] [Voice: "All thy commandments are righteousness."] What are they to us? What do they say? {Voice: "Do."] Do they? The commandments require doing, do they? [Congregation: "Yes, sir."] The first of all the commandments is, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind and with all thy strength," and the second is like unto it. "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." Righteousness is right doing, then; that's plain enough.

Whose righteousness are we to seek? [Congregation: "God's righteousness."] Whose are we to have? [Congregation: "God's."] Whose right doing are we to have? [Congregation: "Christ's."] But whose right doing is in Christ? [Congregation: "God's."] Christ did not do anything of Himself. He says, "Of mine own self I can do nothing." John 5:30. Whose right doing do we find in Christ? [Congregation: "God's."] "God was in Christ." 2 Cor. 5:19. Whose right doing are we to have? [Congregation: "God's."] Now is that so? [Congregation: "Yes, sir."] Will you stick to that for a week? [Congregation: "Yes, sir." Elder Wm. Hutchinson said: "For life."] All right. But if some people in this audience will stick to that for a week, I shall be happy. And so will they, because there are some here who are not sticking to it at all. They haven't it, they don't know it, and there are a good many of them, too, and for that reason we want clearly to understand as we start, what kind of raiment it is that we are to buy--what we are after. Whose right doing is it that we are to have? [Congregation: "God's."] Whose righteousness are we to seek? That is what we are to find out in this lesson.

Now calling attention again to a thought that we have studied before, with which to begin this study tonight directly, that is, what this righteousness is to us now, let us turn back to that passage in Joel, the second chapter, and 23rd verse, and notice also the marginal reading. "Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God, for he hath given you the former rain moderately and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain and the latter rain."

Our study on that was in Bulletin No. 7, p. 183. What is the margin? "He hath given you the former rain?" What is that? "A teacher of righteousness." "Given you the former rain moderately." What is that, moderately? What was the former rain at Pentecost? "A teacher of righteousness." "He hath given you a teacher of righteousness according to righteousness." Was that the former rain? And He will give you "the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain," as at the first. What will the latter rain be? "A teacher of righteousness" again. According to what? [Congregation: "Righteousness."] But what is another expression for the latter rain? [Congregation: "The outpouring of the Spirit." What is another one? [Congregation: "The times of refreshing."] What is the latter rain to the third angel's message? [Congregation: "The loud cry."] What is the latter rain in connection with the fall of Babylon? It is the bestowal of that power and that glory with which the angel of Rev. 18 comes down and lightens the earth.

Now let us read a few passages of those that we have had already to get the connection here definitely. On page 58 of the Bulletin in Brother Haskell's lesson, we had, as it was read from the Review of November 22nd, these words:

The time of test is just upon us, for the loud cry of the third angel has already begun in the revelation of the righteousness of Christ. . . . This is the beginning of the light of the third angel, whose glory shall fill the whole earth.

Another passage on page 16 of the Bulletin, in that Testimony that was read: Yet the work will be cut short in righteousness.

What "work will be cut short in righteousness"? [Congregation: God's work."]

The message of Christ's righteousness is to sound from one end of the world to the other. This is the glory of God which closes the work of the third angel.

What is this message of Christ's righteousness as we read here before in these other places? "This is the beginning of the light of the third angel, whose glory shall fill the whole earth." Now, "This is the glory of God which closes the work of the third angel." Then, when we have come to that time what time have we reached? [Congregation: "The loud cry of the message."] We have reached the time when God is going to close it up. That is the glory that closes the work of the message.

Now another thing: What is that first expression which we have just read? "He will cut it short in righteousness." Then when that message of God's righteousness--the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ, God's right doing--when that is received and is allowed to be carried on and is held by His people, what does that mean about the work of God on earth? It will be but a short time until the whole thing is done.

Then, when we reach the time of the latter rain, the loud cry, the angel coming down from heaven having that great power, all these things coming together, as thus stated by the words of the Lord, we are simply brought to the same point where we were brought by the study of the things which are before us and which led us to view what is coming upon us. That line of study that we had--studying the things that are before us to see what is soon to come upon us--led us face to face with six or seven different events that shut us up to this very thing, that now is the time that the work will be closed up shortly, and we are in the midst of the scenes that close up this world's history. Here are these different expressions in the Testimony of the Spirit of God, when put together, that show that it is the same thing from that side.

Well, the latter rain is the loud cry of the third angel's message; it is the beginning of that message of glory that lightens the earth. But the latter rain is the teaching of righteousness. When did that message of the righteousness of God, as such, come to us as a people? [Congregation: "Four years ago."] Where? [Congregation: "At Minneapolis."] Yes. This point was brought up the other night and can be read again in Bulletin No. 7, p. 183. I do not know that we can state it any more clearly than we did that night.

Now that message of the righteousness of Christ is the loud cry. It is the latter rain. We have been praying for the latter rain here at this Conference already, haven't we? Have you? [Congregation: "Yes, sir."] What were you looking for when your prayer was answered? Are you ready now to receive the latter rain? We have been praying here for the latter rain. Now there is the connection. The testimonies tell us what it is and Joel tells us what it is. I simply ask now, are you ready to receive the latter rain? That is, are you ready to receive God's message of righteousness, according to righteousness? Let us look at that a little further. Joel says, according to the margin, that it is a teacher of righteousness, that which brings the teaching of righteousness according to righteousness. Whose idea of righteousness? [Congregation: "God's"] No, mine. [Congregation: "No."] Yes, mine will do! [Congregation: "No."] Why? If I receive the righteousness of Christ according to my idea, is not that enough? Is not that receiving the latter rain? Is not that receiving the righteousness of Christ? [Congregation: "No, sir. It is your own righteousness."] But that is what is the matter with a good many people who have heard this message of the righteousness of Christ. They have received the message of the righteousness of Christ according to their own idea of what His righteousness is, and they have not the righteousness of Christ at all.

Now, let us ask again, how are we to receive that? How is that to be given? "According to righteousness." How, then, is it to be received? "According to righteousness." It is given "according to righteousness," and we must receive it "according to righteousness." We must receive it as it is given.

But let us dwell further upon that thought, and I am in no hurry to get away from it either. When we receive the teaching, that teaching of righteousness "according to righteousness," we must receive it according to God's idea of righteousness and not according to our own measure of it. And he who thinks of receiving that message of Christ's righteousness according to his own idea of it will miss it entirely. We are to receive it according to God's idea of it and nothing else than God's idea of righteousness, nothing else than that, is righteousness.

There is a thought again that we had the other night that when it was presented four years ago and all along since some accepted it just as it was given, and were glad of the news that God had righteousness that would pass the judgment and would stand accepted in His sight. A righteousness that is a good deal better than anything that people could manufacture by years and years of hard work. People had worn out their souls almost, trying to manufacture a sufficient degree of righteousness to stand through the time of trouble and meet the Saviour in peace when He comes, but they had not accomplished it. These were so glad to find out that God had already manufactured a robe of righteousness and offered it as a free gift to every one that would take it, that would answer now and in the time of the plagues and in the time of judgment and to all eternity that they received it gladly just as God gave it and heartily thanked the Lord for it. Others would not have anything to do with it at all but rejected the whole thing. Others seemed to take a middle position. They did not fully accept it, neither did they openly reject it. They thought to take a middle position and go along with the crowd, if the crowd went that way. And that is the way they hoped to receive the righteousness of Christ and the message of the righteousness of God. Others deliberately discounted the message about fifty percent and counted that the righteousness of God. And so, all the way between open and free deliberate surrender and acceptance of it, to open, deliberate and positive rejection of it--all the way between--the compromisers have been scattered ever since, and those who have taken that compromising position are no better prepared tonight to discern what is the message of the righteousness of Christ than they were four years ago.

Some of these brethren, since the Minneapolis meeting, I have heard, myself, say "amen" to preaching, to statements that were utterly heathen and did not know but that it was the righteousness of Christ. Some of those who stood so openly against that at that time and voted with uplifted hand against it and since that time I have heard say "amen" to statements that were as openly and decidedly papal as the papal church itself can state them. That I shall bring in here in one of these lessons and call your attention to the Catholic church's statement and her doctrine of justification by faith. I shall bring that in at some future lesson and will let you see what the doctrine of the Catholic church is as to justification by faith. "Why," says one, "I didn't know that the Catholic church believes in justification by faith." Oh, yes, she does. Yes, indeed she does. You can read it out of her books. Says one, "I thought they believed in justification by works." They do and they do not believe in anything else, but they pass it off under the head of justification by faith. And they are not the only people in the world that are doing it (I mean the members of the Catholic church.). They are not the only ones that are doing it.

So I appeal to all to just let us come together now and let us lay aside everything, every preconceived notion, every thought of just how this or that opinion is or should be, and come together now to hear the message of the righteousness of Christ and study it in the fear of God, praying with all the heart that He may in this Conference give us the Teacher of righteousness according to His own idea of righteousness. That is what we want.

And brethren, as certainly as we pray for Him to do that, that is what He will do. And then when He sends to us, by His Spirit, the teaching of the message of His righteousness, let us take it exactly as He gives it, and do not discount it a particle, no difference if it takes away all that we ever thought was the right idea in that connection. We have nothing to do with that. We agreed at the beginning of this institute when we came here to study, to stand upon this platform, that if anyone of us thought we knew anything, we knew nothing as we ought to know it. That is applicable to this subject, to those who have received it, just as certainly (though not in the same degree perhaps) as those who have not received it. Because those who have received it cannot boast now, and stand up and say, "I am all right now. I do not need to learn anything now." If anyone gets into that position, he is the one who needs most to learn of anyone.

So what you and I want to do is to lay aside every thought of this kind, every deduction we have made upon it, every discount we have put upon it, every shape we have given to it--drop all these, and let us come, as Christ said, "as little children," asking what is the kingdom of God, for the kingdom of God is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. These that will not receive the kingdom of God as little children, Jesus Himself says, cannot enter into it. And if we come with what we have already learned, and try to frame it upon that, it will not fit upon that. If we come and try to mould everything else that He will give us now, upon our conception of what we have, we will spoil the whole thing, and just shut ourselves out from it all. Therefore that text abides with us still: "If any man thinketh he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know." That belongs to us.

Now taking that thought a little further. The latter rain, this message, is the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ. That is the loud cry, but that message is the teaching of righteousness according to righteousness, and that means God's idea of righteousness and not our own. Is my idea of God's righteousness--my idea at its broadest stretch--is that God's idea of righteousness? [Congregation: "No."] Then when I get the broadest idea I possibly can of God's righteousness and am satisfied with that and say that that is to save me, then whose righteousness is it that is to save me? [Congregation: "Your own."] Of course it is. Because when I measure up His ideas and mine and make Him like myself, I confine Him within my comprehension and I am my own saviour, because that makes Him no greater than I am. Do you see that? [Congregation: "Yes, sir."]

Yes, indeed. We are to receive this message, this latter rain, this righteousness of God, according to His own ideas and in His own way and when He says it, when He gives it, we are to take it up and thank Him for it, not to question how it comes, or anything of the kind, but to receive it as He speaks it, as He gives it, and let Him do just as He pleases in carrying it forward in the world. Because, what is righteousness? Right doing. Whose righteousness is it that we are to have? [Congregation: "God's."] Then it is God's right doing that we are to have. It is not our own right doing. It is His idea of His right doing and not our idea of right doing. It is not our idea of His right doing. It is His own idea of His own right doing. It is, in fact, His own right doing when He does things. Therefore that calls upon you and me to yield up everything of ourselves to Him and let Him do the doing as He pleases with this which is His own. He is to do the doing. We are to be instruments. "Yield yourselves as instruments of righteousness." Your members as instruments of righteousness. Yield them to whom? To God. He uses the instruments. Rom. 6:13. Will you let Him? [Congregation: "Yes, sir."] Will you stick to that for a week? [Congregation: "Yes, sir."]

Now another thought that leads us thus. We know it is God's idea only. That is the true idea of this righteousness of God. Then can I grasp His idea of righteousness with my own mind? [Congregation: "No, sir."] Can I have a mind that will grasp it, and that can grasp it? Yes. Is there any mind in the universe that can grasp God's idea of righteousness? Yes. Whose? Christ's. Then does not that shut you and me up to that fact, that without the mind of Jesus Christ we have not and cannot have the righteousness of God? I care not how much of a theory a man may have of the righteousness of God; I care not how much he may say he believes in the righteousness of God. I care not how much he may say he believes in justification by faith, if he has not the mind of Christ itself, he does not understand God's idea of justification by faith, and he cannot tell it.

No man can grasp the righteousness of God without the mind of Jesus Christ, which alone of all minds in the universe can grasp it or comprehend it or know it. No is that so? [Congregation: "Yes, sir."] But I can have my mind turned into the mind of Christ? Can't I? Re-made, re-vamped, and transformed into the mind of Christ? [Congregation: "No, sir."] [Someone in the audience quoted the text: "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus."] All right, will you let it? Will you do that? Is that what you have made up your mind to do? [Congregation: "Yes, sir."] That is the thing to start with, then, is it not? Let us get that clear and I think that by that time the hour for the study this evening will be expired. That the only possible way in which anybody in this world can know the righteousness of God, can receive the righteousness of God, can receive the teaching of this righteousness according to righteousness. . . .the only way, the only possible way, that any man in this world can receive it or know it is by having the mind of Christ itself.

Here is an expression we will give, correct enough in itself, that the commandments of God are the reflection, the transcript, the expression, of God' righteousness. The ten commandments are the manifestation in writing, in letters of the will of God. Rom. 2:17, 18: "Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law and makest thy boast of God and knowest His will and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law." Then the law being the expression of God's will, that expresses what is God's will that shall be done in the way of right doing. Will the ten commandments accept any doing from anybody that comes short of God's own idea of what is right doing? No. Then the ten commandments simply require such a measure of right doing as God's own mind measures, as His will expresses. Well then, when the ten commandments require just that, and will accept nothing short of that, how in the world are the requirements of the ten commandments to be met in any man's life in this world who has not the mind of God? It cannot be done.

Where do we get that mind? [Congregation: "In Christ."] Then is it possible for any man, by any possible means, to render to the ten commandments what they require and what only they will accept, without having the mind of Jesus Christ itself? [Congregation: "No, sir."] Well, can I have the mind of Christ without the rest of Him? No, I cannot. Therefore as I cannot have the mind of Christ without the rest of Him, it follows that I must have the personal presence of Christ Himself.

What is it that brings to you and me the personal presence of Jesus Christ? The Spirit of God. Turn to two texts, one in John and one in Ephesians, and I think that will be all we will have time to read tonight. John 14:18, "I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you." He does not leave us comfortless, that is without a comforter. So He says, I will come to you, but when He comes to us thus, we are not without a Comforter. Then He does come to us by the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost.

Now turn to Eph. 3:16, 17. Let us read that carefully together. This is the prayer: "That he would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts." [Some one quoted the words of the text, "by faith."] Of course faith belongs there. But there is a double attachment to the middle statement: First, strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts, but He dwells in the heart by faith.

We receive the promise of the Spirit through faith; but what brings it? The Spirit of God; and when we have that, Christ dwells in the heart. Then it is the Holy Spirit that brings the personal presence of Jesus Christ, and in bringing His personal presence to us, He brings Himself. Then it is the mind of Christ, by which we may comprehend, investigate, and revel in, the deep things of God which He reaches down and brings forth to our understanding and sets them before us in their plainness. That is what we must have, in order to have the presence of Christ, in order to have the righteousness of Christ, in order that we may have the latter rain, in order that we may give the loud cry.

NEXT -- SERMON #12 The Righteousness of Christ -- discussing Catholic concepts of Justification