Some have said they cannot see how a man can acknowledge himself to be wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, and not know it and at the same time be rejoicing in the Lord. Well, I would like to know how anyone else can. I would like to know how a man is going to rejoice in the Lord when he thinks he is all right himself. Can you tell? I can't imagine. But when a man knows that he is what the Lord says he is, and acknowledges that, and then finds that the Lord is so good that He will take him just as he is and fit him to stand in the presence of God through all eternity, then that man has something to rejoice for. He can't do anything else.
Why, brethren, the Lord does not save us because we are so good, but because He is so good. Do not forget that. He does not save us nor bless us in the work of God because we are so good at all, but because He is good. And the blessedness of it is that He will bless us so in our unworthy state . And the rejoicing of the whole thing is that He saves us and makes us to reflect His own image, as wretched as we are. That is where the rejoicing comes in.
Well, about understanding that--I cannot understand it, but I know it is so, and that is all I care for. It will take eternity to explain it so we can understand it, but as long as I know that it is so, I am not going to trouble myself and worry about how the Lord can do it or whether I can understand it. Are you? [Congregation: "No."]
There is another point right here that we may bear in mind--those who can't see that this is so. Brethren, you acknowledge to the Lord over and over that it is so, and then you will see it. You will not understand it, but you will see it. And that is the only way you can see it. Can I see it as long as I deny it? No. It is a thing that pertains to the heart, and you can't see it with your eyes. You must see it with your heart, and it is only the Spirit of God who gives the eyesalve that you can see it.
Here is something that will -- well, not really explain it, but it will perhaps help you to get the idea a little better. In "Testimony No. 31," page 44, I read these words:
Are you in Christ? Not if you do not acknowledge yourselves erring, helpless, condemned sinners. Not if you are exalting and glorifying self. If there is any good in you, it is wholly attributable to the mercy of a compassionate Saviour. Your birth, your reputation, your wealth, your talents, your virtues, your piety, your philanthropy, or anything else in you or connected with you, will not form a bond of union between your soul and Christ. Your connection with the church, the manner in which you brethren regard you, will be of no avail unless you believe in Christ. It is not enough to believe about Him; you must believe in Him. You must rely wholly upon His saving grace.
That is what some of the brethren say they can't see. They say, "I can't see how, if I am in Christ, I am to acknowledge myself a helpless, undone sinner. I thought if I was in Christ, then I could thank the Lord I was good, sinless, entirely perfect, sanctified, and all that." Why, no. It is He Who is entirely perfect and good, not you. When you are in Christ, He is perfect; He is righteous; He is holy and never errs, and His holiness is imputed to you--is given to you. His faithfulness, His perfection is mine, but I am not that.
Perhaps you can get this thought a little more clearly by that word with which we are all familiar in 1 Cor. 1:30: [Christ]"Who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption." Then where is my righteousness?--In Christ. Where is my wisdom? In Christ. Where is my sanctification? In Christ. Where is my redemption? In Christ.
O yes, but when I come to Him for wisdom and ask Him for wisdom and He gives it to me, then can't I boast and say, "I am wise"? Why, no. Just the moment that I say that, I'm a bigger fool than I ever was before in this world. Because by yielding to the Lord He has deigned to stand by me, and so give me His wisdom, that it may lead me and guide me in wisdom's ways and that I should walk in the way that is right. His having done that, can I then pride myself upon it and say, "Now I am wise"? Don't you see, in the nature of things, that would be the biggest piece of foolishness that ever struck me. He did it; He helped me. He gave me His wisdom; He was my wisdom. When I did not walk wisely, He gave me His wisdom. His wisdom guided me. His wisdom took hold of my mind and heart and led me and kept me in wisdom's ways. Then He is my wisdom and I have no wisdom at all but His wisdom. Don't you see? Now you just get it that way and then you will know that it is a fact.
"I will guide thee with mine eye." When He says He guides me with His eye, I shall answer, It is His eyes. Then the only thing to do is to just let ourselves go, utterly, completely, and let ourselves be His, utterly and completely, that He may be all, and in all of us.
Therefore He is our wisdom, our sanctification, our redemption, and our righteousness. Then He is my satisfaction where I am wretched. He is my comfort where I am miserable. He is my sight where I am blind. He is my riches where I am poor. And He is my knowledge where I do not know.
And now about that thought last night--some thought that I was going entirely too far. They could say, it is well enough when he says, "You are wretched," I say I am wretched. When He says, "You are poor," I say, I am poor. When He says, "You are blind," I say, I am blind And when He says, "You don't know it, then I am to say, "I know it"? No, no. When He says, "You don't know it," I am to say, "I don't know it." Do not go to putting constructions upon His way. When I say I am wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked and on top of it He says that I don't know it, I say, "Lord, I don't know it." That brings us right to the text we started with that night, "If any man thinketh he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know it." I do not know yet, as long as I have been acknowledging that thing, yet, I know not how wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked I am, if He should show myself just as I am. Just as certainly as we take that Laodicean message as He speaks it, we shall receive all He has in it. Then, brethren, that is what it is intended for. That is just what the Laodicean message is intended to do. Let it do its own work in His own way. Look here. Let us notice this testimony in Vol. 1, pages 186 and 187. This was given in 1859:
That is what it is going to do at this time. Let it do its work then. But there has been an intervening time since it was first presented. I read further:
Sins were confessed, and the people of God were stirred everywhere. Nearly all believed that this message would end in the loud cry of the third angel. But as they failed to see the powerful work accomplished in a short time, many lost the effects of the message.
They gave it up, as this testimony that has not yet been published says:
But when it was first presented, because it didn't do the work "in a short time," they said, "The time hasn't come," and so they gave up and missed it. Again I read from Testimony, Vol. 1, page 186:
That is where we are. While that message is preparing us for the loud cry, God is sending angels everywhere to prepare people for the truth. And when we go forth from this Conference with this message as it is now, the people will hear it.
The particular point I wanted to read is this, that it is to prepare us that we "may be favored with the presence of Jesus, and be fitted for the loud cry of the third angel." Then what is it that fits us for the loud cry of the third angel? the Laodicean message.
Now, brethren, that place where I was reading last night gives us the reason why it is so important that we should have this anointing of the eyes with eyesalve just now. I had merely read the passage last night. I will read it again now for further use:
Have you "been preparing" yourself "for moral inefficiency" at this time? Have I been at that?
What we want to study just now is the point, that many have "been preparing themselves for moral inefficiency in this great crisis." We want to inquire what that "moral inefficiency" amounts to, what the danger is, and how we got into it, don't we? If I am in that place, then don't I want to know what that means, that "moral inefficiency," what the danger is that is involved and how I got into it? The difficulty is, to get the people where they will see what they need. The Lord will take us out every time. He shows us the way. But the first thing we want is to understand the danger, and then how we got into that. Let us study that. Let us go at it, and we want to go at it in the same spirit that we studied this lesson last night, for it is all one lesson.
In Special Testimonies, "Danger in Adopting Worldly Policy in the Work of God," page 5 [see Testimonies to Ministers, pp. 460-471 --Publisher], I read these words:
Now that is a fearful position to be in. For a person to be thinking that he is "working for God" and yet his whole service is for the enemy! Who will be in that position? Those who have not earnest faith, who have not surrendered all and have not Christ. In other words, those who have not heeded the Laodicean message.
Brethren, we are in the time, and we shall be in it from this time to the end of the world, when we may be brought at any hour or any day to a place where if we wait to reason, we are lost. We will take the wrong side, just as certainly as we wait to reason, we will take the wrong side. We can discern it only by that heavenly eyesalve by which "Ye shall know the truth," and as soon as the thing is suggested you can see the way all before you. We will be in places where the cause of God will hang upon what you or I shall say, and advantages that the enemy may have over us, will depend upon what you or I say. And in these times which are all the time, if you and I do not see and have the heavenly Spirit to give us the right word to say, we shall say the wrong word, and it will throw every one of our brethren on the defensive, and every soul of us will be at a disadvantage, because the enemy is getting to that place where he is scrutinizing every position we take.
The enemy is now watching every position we take, for the sole purpose of perverting it and to put us at a disadvantage. You and I need something more than human wisdom or our own reason to know how to take the right position. We will be in places where the honor of the cause will depend upon us. Questions will be asked that you never heard in your life before. Before a committee, legislature, or something of that kind--in some place where God has called us and given us an opportunity to spread the light and the truth--a question may be asked that you never heard in your life. You will have to know at that instant what answer to make, you will not have time to think or reason about it. Questions will be asked which, if you take time, and pause to reason about it, the probabilities are that the reasonableness of the thing would appear directly the opposite to what the Spirit of God would say about it, because His ways are not our ways.
And, brethren, I am not talking at random. Some of these things have actually been done, and today you and I are at a disadvantage, and there are burdens which have been put upon you and me that we shall have to bear, because of this very blindness of some Seventh-day Adventists. That is where we are. And when our enemies get hold of these things, if unfortunately, they shall, and bring them against you and me to compromise our position when we stand for the truth as it is in Christ, we shall simply have to repudiate the whole thing and declare that it is not the truth, although it came from a Seventh-day Adventist. It is a fearful position in which to be placed. I do not want to place you there, and I do not want you to place me there. Well, then you and I both need the heavenly anointing that we may know what to say and what to do at a moment's notice. "Anoint thine eyes that thou mayest see."
Here on page 7, is the word:
But what sacred, holy trusts have we? Is not the cause of God, the work of the third angel's message, is not that the only trust that we have? Then when you and I betray sacred, holy trusts, what are we betraying? We are betraying the third angel's message. And we are betraying every brother that we have, putting him at a disadvantage, selling him into the hands of the enemy. I would like to know why you and I do not need to walk straight.
A Voice from the audience: Isn't there a passage where it says the Spirit of God will tell us what to say?
Elder Jones: Exactly, and that is the very point. This exhortation is that we should depend upon the Spirit of God and be sure we have that, not slight the teachings of the Spirit of God, nor the way of the Spirit of God. On page 13 a reference is made to Elijah:
The third angel, flying in the midst of heaven, and heralding the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus, represents our work. The message loses none of its force in the angel's onward flight; for John sees it increasing in strength and power until the whole earth is lighted with its glory. The course of God's commandment-keeping people is onward, ever onward. The message of truth that we bear must go to nations, tongues, and peoples. Soon it will go with a loud voice and the earth will be lighted with its glory.
Now the word comes, not that it is soon to go, but that it is "begun" and "goes" with the loud voice.
Who went into the land of Canaan? [Audience: Caleb and Joshua.] The men who said they could go in. And because God was with them they went into the land when all the rest fell in the wilderness. They went with their perishing brethren, as they wandered because of their unbelief all the thirty-eight years. But God had promised, "You shall go in." Who will go into the land now? Has not the testimony been read to us that as Israel was on the borders of Canaan, so are we? Who shall go in? Those who "make a strong report in favor of immediate action." They will go in. God says so. It may be that the doubting, fearful ones will linger, and cause the cause of God to linger, but do not be afraid. God has promised that we shall go in; the Calebs shall go in. That is settled.
What are we here for? We have had in our lessons hitherto that we are not to be afraid of all the powers in this world and the powers of the enemies that will stand against us and against the cause of God. We have seen that in the lessons here. Now this brings us to the point where we are to stand faithful to the message of God and not be afraid of cowardly Seventh-day Adventists even. That is where God wants us to stand. He wants us to know what the message is now. He wants us to give the message as it is now, and if there are those who would beat you down with stones and clubs in their hands, and revile you or anything of the kind, thank God that now is the time for "immediate action."
Another word or two from this Special Testimony, p. 6:
In the same chapter I read again:
On page 4 I read again:
What is that warning for? Is there any danger of our following worldly ways? If there were no danger, God would not have told us that there is. Is there any danger of our allying ourselves with, or taking up the pattern of, worldly organization and get himself or herself at the head of it, and then because they have a little show of success because of "temperance" or "morality" or something of that kind, we think we have to copy after them and take up their plans.
God has something better than that. He wants us to listen to the plans that come from above. He has told us long ago that although some of these organizations might have things that were in themselves good enough--temperance he has mentioned as one of them--but as long as they are allied to the mark of the beast, Sunday institutions, working for that, and for laws to compel people, and to force the conscience, we cannot join with them. That testimony has been there all these eight years that I know of--nine years now nearly. What the Lord wants is us, and the question now is, at this time, Shall He have us? Shall He have us to use us? Shall we be fully submissive to His will? and listen for orders from above, and obey these orders?
There is a word on this point in Vol. I of the Testimonies, p. 183, speaking of the cause when the loud cry begins:
All seemed to have a deep sense of their unworthiness and manifested entire submission to the will of God.
On page 2 of the Testimony, "Danger of Adopting Worldly Policy in the Work of God," I read these words:
I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.' He who wept over impenitent Israel, noting their ignorance of God and of Christ their Redeemer, looked upon the heart of the work at Battle Creek.
But, brethren, we are in Battle Creek now and this means us. This same Redeemer is now looking upon us.
Great peril was about the people, but some knew it not. Unbelief and impenitence blinded their eyes, and they trusted to human wisdom in the guidance of the most important interests of the cause of God.
And from the Testimony entitled "To Brethren in Responsible Positions," p. 10, I read these words:
The original apostasy began in a disbelief and denial of the truth. We are to fix the eye of faith steadfastly upon Jesus. 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 the more positive and unflinching.
And on page 12 we read:
That means you and me. That means me especially.
I tell you, a good thing to do if you have not done it yet, is to read that first-page article in the Review of February 7. It speaks quite fully on this subject. I will read a few sentences:
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. . . . Some may not apparently engage in the conflict on either side. They may not appear to take sides against the truth, but they will not come out boldly for Christ, through fear of losing property or suffering reproach. All such are numbered with the enemies of Christ.
Now we have a few minutes to talk upon how we got into this position, how these dangers came upon us.
You remember the other evening when I was reading that second chapter of Joel, that one of the brethren, when I had read that 23d verse--Brother Corliss--called attention to the margin. Do you remember that? And I said we would have use for the margin at another time. Now all of you turn and read that margin. The 23d verse says: "Be glad, then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for he hath given you the former rain, moderately." What is the margin? "A teacher of righteousness." He hath given you "a teacher of righteousness." How? "According to righteousness." "And he will cause to come down for you the rain"; then what will that be? When He gave the former rain, what was it? "A teacher of righteousness." And when He gives the latter rain, what will it be? "A teacher of righteousness." How? "According to righteousness." Then is not that just what the testimony has told us in that article that has been read to you several times? "The loud cry of the third angel," the latter rain has already begun, "in the message of the righteousness of Christ." Is not that what Joel told us long ago? Has not our eye been held that we did not see? Did not we need the anointing? Brethren, what in the world do we need so much as that? How glad we ought to be that God sent His own Spirit in the prophets to show us, when we did not see! How infinitely glad we ought to be for that!
Well then the latter rain--the loud cry--according to the testimony and according to the Scripture, is "the teaching of righteousness," and "according to righteousness," too. Now brethren, when did that message of the righteousness of Christ, begin with us as a people? [One or two in the audience: "Three or four years ago."] Which was it, three? or four? [Congregation: "Four."] Yes, four. Where was it? [Congregation: "Minneapolis."] What then did the brethren reject at Minneapolis? [Some in the Congregation: "The loud cry."] What is that message of righteousness? The Testimony has told us what it is; the loud cry--the latter rain. Then what did the brethren in that fearful position in which they stood, reject at Minneapolis? They rejected the latter rain--the loud cry of the third angel's message.
Brethren, isn't it too bad? Of course the brethren did not know they were doing this, but the Spirit of the Lord was there to tell them they were doing it, was it not? But when they were rejecting the loud cry, "the teaching of righteousness," and then the Spirit of the Lord, by His prophet, stood there and told us what they were doing--what then? Oh, then they simply set this prophet aside with all the rest. That was the next thing. Brethren, it is time to think of these things. It is time to think soberly, to think carefully.
On page 8 of "Danger of Adopting Worldly Policy in the Work of God," I read the following:
As man's Intercessor and Advocate, Jesus will lead all who are willing to be led, saying, 'Follow me upward, step by step, where the clear light of the Sun of Righteousness shines.' But not all are following the light. Some are moving away from the safe path, which at every step is a path of humility. God has committed to His servants a message for this time; but this message does not in every particular coincide with the ideas of all the leading men, and some criticize the message and the messengers. They dare even reject the words of reproof sent to them from God through His Holy Spirit.
You know who it was. I do not mean for you to look to somebody else. You know whether you yourself were at it or not. And, brethren, the time has come to take up tonight what we there rejected. Not a soul of us has ever been able to dream yet the wonderful blessing that God had for us at Minneapolis and which we would have been enjoying these four years, if hearts had been ready to receive the message which God sent. We would have been four years ahead, we would have been in the midst of the wonders of the loud cry itself, tonight. Did not the Spirit of prophecy tell us there at that time that the blessing was hanging over our heads? Well, brethren, you know. Each one for himself. We are not to begin to examine one another, let us examine ourselves. Each one for himself knows what part he had in that thing, and the time has come to root up the whole business. Brethren, the time has come to root up the whole thing. I will read another passage upon that presently.
Again I read:
This testimony was given in the fall of 1890, on the 3d of November. Two years from that takes us back to the fall of 1888 in the month of November, and that was at Minneapolis at the very time when this thing was done. There are a half a dozen brethren in this house, yes, perhaps a dozen of them, who, at another time, after Minneapolis, in an institute, heard the Spirit of God reprove and rebuke in open words that Minneapolis spirit that was in that Institute where we were and said plainly it was "the spirit of Satan." That was the next spring after Minneapolis had passed.
But I continue:
To accuse and criticize those whom God is using, is to accuse and criticize the Lord, who has sent them. All need to cultivate their religious faculties that they may have a right discernment of religious things. Some have failed to distinguish between pure gold and mere glitter, between the substance and the shadow.
Before I read the next paragraph I want to read two paragraphs from this testimony that has not yet been published:
The false ideas that were largely developed at Minneapolis have not been entirely uprooted from some minds. Those who have not made thorough work of repentance under the light God has been pleased to give to His people since that time will not see things clearly and will be ready to call the messages God sends a delusion.
There is another statement on the same subject, that I will read:
Brethren, God is getting in earnest about that thing. It is time for you and me to seek the Lord now, while mercy yet lingers that we may be able to see the burden of woe in all its enormity, while yet there is mercy to free us from it. God calls us to Himself.
Now this additional paragraph in the Special Testimonies:
There has been a departure from God among us, and the zealous work of repentance and return to our first love, so essential to restoration to God and regeneration of heart, has not yet been done. Infidelity has been making its inroads into our ranks, for it is the fashion to depart from Christ and give place to skepticism. With many the cry of the heart has been, 'We will not have this man to reign over us.' Baal, Baal, is the choice. The religion of many among us will be the religion of apostate Israel, because they love their own way and forsake the way of the Lord. The true religion, the only religion of the Bible, that teaches forgiveness only through the merits of a crucified and risen Saviour, that advocates righteousness by the faith of the Son of God has been slighted, spoken against, ridiculed, and rejected. It has been denounced as leading to enthusiasm and fanaticisms. But it is the life of Jesus Christ in the soul; it is the active principle of love imparted by the Holy Spirit that alone will make the soul fruitful unto good works. The love of Christ is the force and power of every message from God that ever fell from human lips. What kind of future is before us, if we shall fail to come into the unity of the faith?
Brethren, I do not say these things to find fault, or to condemn, but I say them in the fear of God, that each one of us may know where we stand. And if there be any of those roots from Minneapolis lingering these four years or any caught from this and have been crops of this four years' standing, let us see that we here and now root up the whole thing and prostrate ourselves at the feet of Christ with only that one plea--"I am wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked, and I do not know it." That is where we are.
I know that some there accepted it. Others rejected it entirely. You know the same thing. Others tried to stand half way between and get it that way, but that is to the way it is to be had, brethren, that is not the way it is received. They thought to take a middle course and although they did not exactly receive it or exactly commit themselves to it, yet they were willing to go whichever way the tide turned at the last, whichever way the body turned they were willing to go.
Since that time others have seen that God is moving the body of the cause forward in this very line and they have proposed to go along with the body as they see it moving that way. Brethren, you need to get that righteousness of Jesus Christ nearer to your heart than that. Every man needs to get the righteousness of God nearer to him than simply weighing up things and compromising between parties or he will never see or know the righteousness of God at all.
Others have apparently favored it and would speak favorably of it when everything was that way, but when in the fierceness of this spirit--this spirit described there as the persecuting spirit--when that spirit would rise up in its fierceness and make war upon the message of righteousness by faith, instead of standing nobly in the fear of God and declaring in the face of that attack, "It is the truth of God and I believe it in my soul," they would begin to yield, and in an apologetic way offer excuses for those who were preaching it, as though it were a matter only of men's persons, to be held in advantage because of admiration.
Brethren, the truth of God needs no apology. The man who preaches the truth of God needs no apology. The truth of God wants your faith; that is what it wants. All that the truth of God needs is that you and I shall believe it and receive it into our hearts and stand by it in the face of all the attacks that can be made upon it and let it be known that you do stand by the messengers whom God sends to preach, not because they are certain men, but because God sends them with a message.
That, however, is but a sample. There will be things to come that will be more surprising than that was to those at Minneapolis, more surprising than anything we have yet seen. And, brethren, we will be required to receive and preach that truth. But unless you and I have every fiber of that spirit rooted out of our hearts, we will treat that message and the messenger by whom it is sent, as God has declared we have treated this other message.
I will read the balance of this testimony in Volume 1 of the Testimonies, pages 186-7, and then close for tonight:
God will prove His people. Jesus bears patiently with them and does not spew them out of His mouth in a moment. The angel said, 'God is weighing His people.' If the message had been of as short duration as many of us supposed, there would have been no time for them to develop character. Many moved from feeling, not from principle and faith, and this solemn, fearful message stirred them. It wrought upon their feelings and excited their fears but did not accomplish the work which God designed that it should. God reads the heart. Lest His people should be deceived in regard to themselves, He gives them time for the excitement to wear off, and then proves them to see if they will obey the counsel of the True Witness.
So, do not let us be weary of seeking God in this Conference and if the blessing does not come in a day, or a week or a month, let us keep on in the way, for God has said it shall come.
Again, I read on page 187: