Study No. 16: A Review of the truths we hold
This is the last evening allotted to our Bible study, and it therefore seems proper that we should take a little review of the truths we have been considering. We shall find this review outlined in Revelation 14:6-12:
The Three Angels and Their Message
And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him, for the hour of his judgment is come; and worship him that made heaven and earth and the sea and the fountains of waters. And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image and receive his mark in his forehead or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation, and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb, and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever, and they have no rest day nor night who worship the beast and his image and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the saints; here are they that kept the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.
We are accustomed and rightly so, to speak of these three messages as one threefold message. The word which is rendered "followed" means properly, "went with." Thus rendered the text would read, "and the third angel went with them." It is the same word that is used in 1 Corinthians 10:4, "And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual rock that went with them (margin), and that rock was Christ." Thus the first angel sounded, the second joined him, and the third joined them both, and together they all three go sounding the message. There is therefore but one message for us to consider, and that one comprises all three.
The message prepares a people who are described in the twelfth verse: "Here is the patience of the saints; here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus." There are three points which these people have--patience, keeping the commandments, and the faith of Jesus. While they are all combined in one, I think we may consider them in a reverse order to that in which they are stated: faith, obedience, and patience. For faith is the foundation upon which everything is built and out of which everything grows. Faith that works obedience and the crowning grace is patience, for the apostle James says, "Let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." James 1:4. When patience is perfected in the saints, then they themselves are perfect. So it is that this threefold message brings out a people who are perfect before God. They are just what the Saviour says they must be, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." Matthew 5:48.
Perhaps some in the audience have not realized the fact that the lessons we have been studying for the last dozen evenings on the book of Romans have been nothing but the third angel's message. I wish to show you this evening that the third angel's message is all summed up in the preaching of the apostle Paul, as described in 1 Corinthians 2:2. "For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified." That was all that Paul preached, and that which he preached was powerful. He says, "And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. . . . And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power." 1 Corinthians 2:1,4.
Now the things which Paul preached he describes in 1 Corinthians 1:17, 18: "For Christ sent me not to baptize but to preach the gospel; not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, but unto us which are saved it is the power of God." Christ sent him to preach the gospel and he did it, not using the wisdom of man's words, in order that his preaching might not be disannulled. He says, "Lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect." Then when Paul preached among the Corinthians, he preached nothing but Christ and Him crucified, and that was the gospel. That gospel--the cross of Christ--is the power of God unto salvation unto every one that believeth.
Now the question arises, Was this preaching of Paul's anything like the third angel's message or the threefold message which is committed to us? Did his preaching differ from the preaching which we preach? If it differs, are we preaching what we ought to preach? In other words, should our preaching embrace anything more than what the apostle Paul had? If it does, then whatever may be, we had better get rid of it as soon as we can. Now let us see why:
"But though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." That is a strong statement, but he repeats it and emphasizes it. "As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed." Galatians 1:8, 9.
These words are not in vain, for there have been men that have preached other gospels or other things for the gospel and more than that, there have been angels who have preached other gospels and other things for the gospel. We shall yet see those fallen angels coming to us and preaching that which they call the gospel, which will have a power with it and which will be accompanied by dazzling light. But the things which they tell us we are to pronounce false and the one who preaches them to us accursed, because it will differ in some particular from that which the apostle Paul preached.
Leaving this point, we return to Revelation 14:6, where we read, "And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to them that dwell on the earth . . . saying with a loud voice, Fear God and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come." This is a work that prepares men for the last judgment and consequently a work which carries everything for man's perfection, as we saw by the twelfth verse. But that message is nothing more nor less than the everlasting gospel. The second angel went with the first, and the first accompanied them both, and all three together sounded one cry.
The question arises, If the third angel came along and added his sound to the cry of the first and the second angel, do not we have something more to tell the world than those who labored under the first message had? Well, we certainly can have nothing more to preach than the everlasting gospel. The second angel announces a fact, that Babylon is fallen, because of her apostasy from the gospel. Mark you, the second angel has no new truth to tell; merely a fact, that something has occurred. The third angel merely announces the punishment that will fall on the men who do differently from the truth announced by the first angel, but the first angel keeps sounding and the three go together, and since the three keep sounding together and the first is telling the everlasting gospel--that which is to prepare men to stand blameless before God--and the third angel is telling the punishment that will befall them if they do not receive the everlasting gospel, it necessarily follows that the entire threefold message is the everlasting gospel.
Mark it, the first angel proclaims the everlasting gospel; the second proclaims the fall of everyone who does not obey that gospel; and the third proclaims the punishment that will follow that fall and come upon those who do not obey. So the third is all in the first--the everlasting gospel. Yes, that everlasting gospel carries with it all truth. It is the power of God. That everlasting gospel, remember, is summed up in one thing--Jesus Christ and Him crucified, and of course risen again. We have nothing else in this world to proclaim to the people, whether we be preachers, Bible workers, colporteurs, or canvassers, or simply people who in the humble sphere of their own home let the light shine. All that any of us can carry to the world is Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
Says one, That is taking an extreme view; are we going to throw away all the doctrines we have preached--the state of the dead, the Sabbath, and the law, and the punishment of the wicked? Throw them away? No, by no means. Preach them in season and out of season, but, nevertheless, preach nothing but Christ Jesus and Him crucified. For if you preach those things without preaching Christ and Him crucified, they are shorn of their power, for Paul says that Christ sent him to preach the gospel, not with words of man's wisdom, lest the preaching of the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. The preaching of the cross and that alone is the power of God. I say again, the gospel is the power of God and the cross is the center of the gospel. "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." Galatians 6:14. To Paul there was nothing else worthy of glorying in, save the cross of Jesus Christ his Lord.
We will now take up a few of the different lines of doctrine that we preach and see how we may preach them and at the same time preach only Christ and Him crucified.
And first, as to the doctrine of the Bible. The Bible is all doctrine. "If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God or whether I speak of myself." John 7:17. The word doctrine means "teaching." Sometimes we get afraid of doctrine. We talk of doctrinal and practical sermons. But doctrine means teaching, and if any man do the will of God, he shall know the teaching. But teaching must be practical, or it is useless; then, brethren, the teaching of the Bible is all practical.
Now if we do not know the doctrine of the Bible, we do not know how to practice what it teaches. If a thing is not practical, it is impractical. But we will not say the teaching of the Bible is impractical, something that cannot be practiced. So perhaps we can throw aside that distinction of doctrinal and practical sermons. A servant of God ought never to preach anything but practical sermons; but as all the teaching or doctrine of the Bible is practical, it is evident that in preaching really practical sermons, we must preach nothing but doctrine, and that doctrine must be the doctrine of Christ.
Now as to the specific lines of doctrine in Christ. We will first consider the law. I have only to call your attention to the fact that Christ is in the law and the law is in Christ and that you cannot separate one from the other to prove that the two go together and that preaching the law without Christ in it will have no power or effect on the hearts of men. Our study of the book of Romans has brought this plainly before your minds. We do not make void the law by faith, but it is only by faith in Christ that we establish the law in our hearts.
The law condemns the sinner and therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight. But it is by the obedience of one that many shall be made righteous, and that obedience can be made ours by faith in the word of God and by making Christ ours. To make Christ ours is to bring Him into our lives and to have Him in our lives is to have life eternal. Christ is the truth, and the law is in Him in its perfection, and if we keep Christ in our hearts day by day, we have the law in our hearts in its perfection, so long as we do not waver.
If we have Christ, He is our salvation, but we must have Him every moment of our lives. One act of faith will not suffice for all time; "the just shall live by faith." But we can live only one moment at a time; and since faith is our salvation, it is evident that we are saved moment by moment. There is no power in the law apart from Christ, and the preaching of the law without Christ in it is simply preaching damnation to men and not hope. But Christ has sent men as His ambassadors to proclaim liberty to the captives, to tell them that they are prisoners of hope. Then we are preaching the preaching of Christ; are we carrying out His commission, if we preach the law, which only condemns, without Christ? No. We are to preach "hope." While the law is held over the sinner with all the terrors of Sinai, he is to have his mind directed to, not simply the law, but to the giver of the law, who has grace as well as truth in Himself. Truth and grace are in His hand, and when that truth condemns men, the grace that is held out by the same hand converts from sin.
When men have Christ, they have His righteousness, which is the righteousness which the law demands. But the righteousness of Christ carries everything else with it, for He has said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." Matthew 6:33. That is the one thing needful, and if we have it, we have the whole gospel, for it is Christ and His righteousness, and He is our righteousness, our salvation, and our life, both here and hereafter.
The particular truth that must be held up in these last days is the Sabbath. We cannot believe it or preach it too strongly. It is there that the great breach has been made in the law of God. Have you ever stopped to consider why it is that Satan has concentrated all his forces on that fourth commandment? The root of the whole matter is found in Hebrews 1:10. In speaking to the Son, God the Father says, "And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of thine hands."
Then when we read, "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork," we know that they simply manifest the power that there is in Christ. John says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made." John 1:1-3. Everything that is made is made by Christ.
In Psalm 111:2-4, I read, "The works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein. His work is honorable and glorious, and his righteousness endureth forever. He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the Lord is gracious and full of compassion. Literally, and according to the Jewish rendering of the Hebrew, the first part of verse 4 would be, "He hath made a memorial for his wonderful work." What is His work? The heavens are His works and He laid the foundations of the earth. I wish you to note that those three words--righteousness, gracious, and compassion, are grouped together by the psalmist with these thoughts on the creation of the world. We shall see why, presently.
What is the memorial of God? "Thus the heavens and the earth were finished and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it, because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made." Genesis 2:1-3. What then is the memorial? The seventh day, which is the Sabbath. It is the crowning day of the week, a memorial of creation completed--a creation in which the power of God's word was manifested, "for he spake and it was; He commanded and it stood fast." If you will just keep the word of God and the power of the word of God before your minds, it seems that you cannot fail to see why it is that David groups grace, compassion, and righteousness all together with the works of God's hands.
It is the word of God that created the heavens and the earth. The Sabbath is the memorial which is given that we might commemorate and meditate upon the power of God's word. In Ezekiel 20:20 God says that the Sabbath is to be a "sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God." Now mark, it is to be a sign so that we may know that the God of heaven is our God.
Now turn to Jeremiah 10:10-12, and there we read, "But the Lord is the true God, He is the living God, and an everlasting king. . . . Thus shall ye say unto them, the Gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth and from under these heavens. He that made the earth by his power, he hath established the earth by his wisdom and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion." Turn to Psalm 96:5 and there we read, "For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the Lord made the heavens."
Now anything that will bring the mind of man to a knowledge of the fact or that will recall the fact that the God which we serve is the Creator, will also prove to us that all other gods are false gods. For the power to create is the distinctive attribute, it is the sole prerogative, of the God of heaven. He can create, and everything else that pretends to be worthy of worship is shown to be a false pretender because it cannot create.
But why does God want us to remember Him as God? What particular thing does God want us to have in mind when we think of Him as God? The keynote to these questions is found in Hebrews 11:6: "But without faith it is impossible to please him, for he that cometh to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." We must believe that God exists and from that idea of existence cannot be separated the idea of reward and help from the God that we believe exists. If we do not regard God as a rewarder as a present help in trouble, we do not know Him as God. If we do not know that He is exactly what He says He is, then we do not know Him.
Since the Sabbath is a memorial of God's wonderful work of creation, and is given that we may know that He is God, therefore the Sabbath is given that we may know God as a rewarder, for He is not anything else but a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. this is conclusively proved in Ezekiel 20:12. "Moreover I gave them my Sabbaths to be a sign between me and them that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them." Then the object of giving the Sabbath to man was that he might know that that God who gave it was a God that sanctifies him. That idea of sanctification is the one we want to make prominent in this connection.
It may be objected that the Sabbath was given before the fall of man, so that at the time it was given he was sanctified and therefore did not need Christ to save him from sin. Adam was placed in the garden of Eden by the Lord. He lived in spotless purity, but he could keep that purity only by faith in God. It was the power of God that kept him. Adam did not live in himself. Yes, he did at last--and he fell. But just so long as he was kept from falling, it was by the power of God and the Word of God. Then he needed the power of God to keep him from falling, as he did afterwards, when he had fallen, to save him from the sins which he had committed and to keep him from committing others.
We make the same mistake regarding the time after probation is closed. We think that because there will be no mediator then, that we stand in our own strength. There will come a time when there will be no mediator, but those who stand at that time will not stand in their own strength, but in the power of Christ that will keep us at that time, because we will be without sin, we shall need no mediator, but we shall need a Saviour every moment. Christ is the one "who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 1:8.
If Adam had never fallen, the Sabbath would have been there, as the memorial of the power of God to keep him from falling from the position and place in which God had made him. That is just exactly what the Sabbath is for now. It is to prove to us that God is our sanctification and that He puts His righteousness on us and in us by the same word by which He made the heavens and the earth. Then the Sabbath is for the purpose that we may meditate upon the power of God and to remember that that same power which made the earth is the power that keeps us from sin unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
In Colossians 1:11-19 we read, "Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness, giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: for by him were all things created, that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions or principalities or powers: all things were created by him, and for him, and he is before all things and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the pre-eminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell."
The apostle presents Christ as the one through whom we have redemption--why? Because by Him were all things created. This thought will settle the objection that is so often raised in connection with the Sabbath, that redemption is greater than creation, because redemption is creation, and it is and can be nothing else. It is the same power and the same thing. By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the word of the Lord is righteousness declared in us. Speaking this universe into existence, was an act of creation and speaking righteousness into the heart of man that has a wicked heart is also an act of creation. Christ is set before us as the Creator that we may know His power to redeem. And the way in which Christ is set before us is by the word of His power.
The Sabbath day is the day that calls to remembrance God's wonderful works. In that day we are to meditate more especially than upon any other day on the works of the hands of God. As upon that day we meditate upon the work of His hand and the wonderful power that is exhibited in the universe, so also do we meditation upon His power to save us from sin, for it is the same power throughout. That is why children from their earliest years should be taught to look upon creation as the power of God. If this is done, principles will be imbedded in their minds that no infidel sophistry can change.
In the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, Paul brings to view the power of faith to work righteousness, but you will notice that the opening thought expressed is, "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God." Then by directing the minds of the young to the power of God in creating the universe, they will understand it by faith, and their minds will grasp the thought that the same One who made all they see is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.
How plain it is why Satan has massed all his forces against that fourth commandment, because it is the one above all others that brings to view the power of our Lord Jesus Christ. Satan is antichrist and he does not do anything in this world that is not directed against Christ. That is why he has covered up that fourth commandment--that he may take the minds of men from God in Christ as Creator, because just so far as men lose sight of the creative power that there is vested in Christ, so will they lose sight of His power to redeem. So preach the Sabbath more and more, yet in so doing be sure that you preach Christ and Him crucified as the Saviour from sin.
"If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable, and shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words; then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord." Isaiah 58:13, 14. Then the keeping of the Sabbath perfectly, as God wants it kept, is to delight ourselves in the Lord but this we cannot do, if we do not know Christ, and make Him our joy.
The Saint's Inheritance
We will now consider the saints' inheritance and see if in that we cannot also preach Christ and Him crucified. There was an inheritance promised to Abraham and his seed. It was promised to him and to his seed that they should be heirs to the world. That seed is Christ and all who are in Christ. The earnest, the pledge, of that inheritance is the Spirit of God. "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory." Ephesians 1:13, 14.
The Spirit of God is the advance payment on our inheritance, and then Paul prays that "the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead."
The whole gospel has reference to the inheritance of the saints. That inheritance is obtained, not by the law, but through faith in Jesus Christ. If we are Christ's then are we heirs according to the promise. What is there in the preaching of the saints' inheritance, if we do not carry with it Christ, as the one through whom that inheritance is obtained? He is the One "in whom we have obtained an inheritance." The promise to Abraham was that in him should all the nations of the earth be blessed. In making that promise to Abraham, Paul says that God preached the gospel unto him. See Galatians 3:8.
Can we preach Christ in the resurrection? The resurrection goes with the promise of the inheritance. When God gave the promise to Abraham, he staggered not at it, but was fully persuaded that what God had promised He was able to perform. He had faith in God to raise the dead and that faith was shown in perfection when he offered Isaac on the altar. So his belief in the promise was based on his belief in Christ as the resurrection and the life. In Christ is the law and the Sabbath; in Him is the inheritance. Christ crucified and risen again is the means by which we can obtain that glorious home.
Immortality of the Soul
Can Christ be preached when we talk on the subject of the immortality of the soul? Yes, for that is nothing else but life through Christ. Through Christ we have life, and there is no other way that we can get it. We may prove conclusively from the Bible that there is no consciousness in the grave and that man is mortal and still not have the true principle of the question of the immortality of the soul.
Some say that when people understand that man is mortal, they are safe against spiritualism. Is that so? No, for many people have acknowledged that and still have gone into spiritualism. Why? Because they did not have Christ in their doctrine. He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son hath not life. He that believeth the Son hath life, and he that believeth Him not shall not see life. Christ has bought life for man, and we can have that life by believing His word. Aside from Christ there is no life, and aside from Him we can have no life.
In Ezekiel 13:22 we read, "Because with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad, and strengthened the hands of the wicked that he should not return from his wicked way by promising him life." The reason why men are fastened in their iniquities and why they go down into perdition is because they are promised life when there is no life for them as long as they remain in that sinful state. Darkness is going to cover the earth and gross darkness the children of men, and it will be as it was before the flood, when all the imaginations of the hearts of men were only evil continually. It is because they believe that they will have life without Christ.
Christ must be set forth as the only means of life, and that that life comes by faith, which is the only means of righteousness, that men may acknowledge "as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men to justification of life." That life is the life of Christ. Those that are justified will be saved, and those that are not justified will be lost, and the only way that we can be justified is by the life of Christ.
Therefore we preach justification through Christ--life in Him, and death out of Him. Then he that hath not the Son hath not life and shall not see life, and all that there remains for him to have is the everlasting death, the punishment of the wicked. Therefore it is impossible for us to present the question of the immortality of the soul in any other way but through Christ. If we do, it will not be accompanied by power, for nothing but the preaching of the cross is the power of God.
Now let us consider spiritualism. It is true that a man may believe that men are mortal and that they do not go to heaven at death, but if he does not know the power of that, he is not safe from spiritualism. If he does not know the power of the life of Christ, there is nothing that will save him from the wiles of this terrible delusion. But if he does know the weakness of man and that he has no life in himself but that there is life in Christ and that faith makes that life his own, then he has a safeguard.
Did you ever know a man who believed that Scripture, "The dead know not anything," to go off into spiritualism? I presume you have, and I know that I have. Then if men who have known and believed that Scripture do go off into spiritualism there is no power in that belief that the dead do not know anything to keep them from spiritualism. I have known men who have believed it and who have preached it, but they went off into spiritualism. I have heard them preach it and I have heard the same men afterward preach the most blasphemous spiritualism. Then if the positive belief that man is mortal will keep men from the wiles of spiritualism, why did those men go into it? Because they did not know the secret of life in Christ.
Said Christ, "He that is not with me is against me, and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad." Matthew 12:30. There is no half-way measure. It is either Christ or Satan. It is Christ or it is antichrist. Everything that is not for Christ is what? against Christ. What does the word "antichrist" mean? Against Christ. Then he that is not for Christ is antichrist or he is actuated by the spirit of antichrist. "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." Romans 8:9. Then if he has not the Spirit of Christ, what spirit must he have? He must have the spirit of antichrist. There are only two contending forces in the world--the power of Christ and the power of antichrist--the Spirit of Christ and the spirit of antichrist.
"And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in times past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience." Ephesians 2:1, 2. Who is the prince of the power of the air? Satan. Then it is the spirit of Satan that actuates the children of disobedience.
Then the fact that a man may acknowledge that man is mortal, will not save him from spiritualism. He must acknowledge and know that Christ is our life, and that without Him we have no life. To merely acknowledge it will do no good; he must know it by personal experience. Christ must live in him and Christ alone, and then he will not be actuated by the spirit of antichrist, for the Saviour said that the prince of this world had no part in Him.
What is the secret of spiritualism? Separation from Christ, and every man who does not receive Christ whether he professes to believe the Sabbath, the coming of the Lord, that man is mortal--no matter whether he believes all that--if he does not receive Christ into his own heart, sooner or later that man is bound to be carried away in this great deception of Satan.
It is those who receive not the love of the truth to whom God will send strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; that they all might be damned who believe not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. Now it is possible for me to acknowledge all the different lines of present truth that are contained in the third angel's message, but just so long as I have unrighteousness in my heart I have the seeds of spiritualism there. All unrighteousness is the work of antichrist. Having unrighteousness, I have that by which Satan can work deceit in me. It is the "deceivableness of unrighteousness." It is not the deceivableness of ignorance, but it is the deceivableness of unrighteousness.
Then the sole source of safety lies in a belief in Christ as my life, and in justification by faith. It must be Jesus Christ and Him crucified as our righteousness, our life, our joy, our everything that is to be desired; yea, more than can be desired, or even thought of, the only one who can keep us from antichrist.
"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God, because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know we the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God." 1 John 4:2.
Now what is it to confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh? To say so--no--to believe it for all that it is worth. What does it mean? God was manifest in the flesh; God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. God sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin that He might condemn sin in the flesh. "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." Hebrews 4:15.
Brethren, to acknowledge that Christ has come in the flesh, means that we must take Christ as He came in the flesh and for all that He came in the flesh to do. He came in the flesh that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us--that we might have His righteousness and His endless life. Every spirit that denieth Christ as the sole means of life and righteousness is the spirit of antichrist.
Now take your bearings and see where you are. Is it the spirit of Christ that works in us when we say that we are going to overcome if Christ will give us a little assistance? When we say that, we are going to have heaven by our own work, in part at least; we deny Christ and deny that He is come in the flesh. That spirit is the spirit of antichrist working in us.
In the papacy we recognize a form of antichrist. The secret of obtaining life as the papacy teaches it is not Christ and His life but penance, the monastery and the Virgin Mary. So the spirit that leads a man into a monastery and scourges the flesh and does penance is simply the logical outcome of the thought that we must do something to free ourselves from sin. It is the spirit that teaches that we cannot trust all to Christ and let Him work out our own righteousness for us. So everything that is not totally subject to Christ is actuated by the spirit of antichrist.
"Every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God, and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come, and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world." 1 John 4:3, 4. We overcome antichrist only by having Christ in us. It is Christ first and last and all the time; Christ in the law and the law in Christ, Christ in the Sabbath, as Lord of the Sabbath, because He made it and because the Sabbath simply shows the power of the word of Christ by which the heavens were made and by which they are upheld.
The power of the word of Christ also works righteousness in us. The preaching of the cross of Christ presents life and immortality to men. It is the preaching of the cross of Christ that warns men of destruction. It delivers us from the snares of the world and gives us access into the grace wherein we stand and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. The preaching of that cross of Christ makes known to us all Christ wants us to know. It lays before us the glories of the saints' inheritance and it warns us of the perils of the last days.
The Power unto Salvation
While we are loyal to the third angel's message and to all the doctrines that make us distinct from the world, let us determine to know nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified. It is the power of God unto salvation. It is the everlasting gospel which shall prepare men for the judgment which is even now set. And oh, if that first angel declared, "Fear God and give glory to him, for the hour of his judgment is come," how much more should we declare that message--the everlasting gospel--now, when that judgment is not only come, but even now nearly done.
I thank God that He is revealing the truths of His word to us and that He has shown us that the third angel's message is the whole gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord. Why do we know so much more about the word of God? Because God is revealing Christ to us and in us. All we know of the power of Christ we know from the word and by this we are made clean from sin. Our faith lays hold of Christ and He becomes a reality in our own hearts and in our lives.
When we have strong faith that Christ is abiding in us, we can go forth to work for others with power and join our voices with those of the angels in heaven and then the message will go with a loud cry. The reason that it has not gone with a loud cry is because we have not grasped it in its fullness. In the past many of us have not had that kernel of the message that it is all Christ.
When we have Christ, we have everything, and we know the power that there is in Him. Then we submit ourselves to Him, and the power will rest upon us, and the word that we preach will go with power, and the loud cry of the third angel's message will be here. I rejoice tonight in the belief that the loud cry is now beginning.
The grand consummation will soon be here, when Christ shall come. Then we shall see Him, whom having not seen we love; in whom, though now we see Him not, yet believing, we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. In that glad day we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
May God grant that that day may come soon. God grant that every one in this house may give their hearts to Him and be able to say, "Here am I, Lord, take me; I am Thine, and Thou art mine; use me, Lord, in Thine own way, that Thou mayest make known to the Gentiles through me the unsearchable riches of Christ."