A Failure To Honor God
One who sees beneath the surface, who reads the hearts of all men, says of those who have had great light: “They are not afflicted and astonished because of their moral and spiritual condition.” “Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before Mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.” “God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie,” “because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved,” “but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” Isaiah 66:3, 4; 2 Thessalonians 2:11, 10, 12.
The heavenly Teacher inquired: “What stronger delusion can beguile the mind than the pretense that you are building on the right foundation and that God accepts your works, when in reality you are working out many things according to worldly policy and are sinning against Jehovah? Oh, it is a great deception, a fascinating delusion, that takes possession of minds when men who have once known the truth, mistake the form of godliness for the spirit and power thereof; when they suppose that they are rich and increased with goods and in need of nothing, while in reality they are in need of everything.”
God has not changed toward His faithful servants who are keeping their garments spotless. But many are crying, “Peace and safety,” while sudden destruction is coming upon them. Unless there is thorough repentance, unless men humble their hearts by confession and receive the truth as it is in Jesus, they will never enter heaven. When purification shall take place in our ranks, we shall no longer rest at ease, boasting of being rich and increased with goods, in need of nothing.
Who can truthfully say: “Our gold is tried in the fire; our garments are unspotted by the world”? I saw our Instructor pointing to the garments of so-called righteousness. Stripping them off, He laid bare the defilement beneath. Then He said to me: “Can you not see how they have pretentiously covered up their defilement and rottenness of character? ‘How is the faithful city become an harlot!’ My Father’s house is made a house of merchandise, a place whence the divine presence and glory have departed! For this cause there is weakness, and strength is lacking.”
A Call For Reformation
Unless the church, which is now being leavened with her own backsliding, shall repent and be converted, she will eat of the fruit of her own doing, until she shall abhor herself. When she resists the evil and chooses the good, when she seeks God with all humility and reaches her high calling in Christ, standing on the platform of eternal truth and by faith laying hold upon the attainments prepared for her, she will be healed. She will appear in her God-given simplicity and purity, separate from earthly entanglements, showing that the truth has made her free indeed. Then her members will indeed be the chosen of God, His representatives.
The time has come for a thorough reformation to take place. When this reformation begins, the spirit of prayer will actuate every believer and will banish from the church the spirit of discord and strife. Those who have not been living in Christian fellowship will draw close to one another. One member working in right lines will lead other members to unite with him in making intercession for the revelation of the Holy Spirit. There will be no confusion, because all will be in harmony with the mind of the Spirit. The barriers separating believer from believer will be broken down, and God’s servants will speak the same things. The Lord will co-operate with His servants. All will pray understandingly the prayer that Christ taught His servants: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10.
Chapter 41—Homeward Bound
As I hear of the terrible calamities that from week to week are taking place, I ask myself: What do these things mean? The most awful disasters are following one another in quick succession. How frequently we hear of earthquakes and tornadoes, of destruction by fire and flood, with great loss of life and property! Apparently these calamities are capricious outbreaks of seemingly disorganized, unregulated forces, but in them God’s purpose may be read. They are one of the means by which He seeks to arouse men and women to a sense of their danger.
The coming of Christ is nearer than when we first believed. The great controversy is nearing its end. The judgments of God are in the land. They speak in solemn warning, saying: “Be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” Matthew 24:44.
But there are many, many in our churches who know little of the real meaning of the truth for this time. I appeal to them not to disregard the fulfilling of the signs of the times, which says so plainly that the end is near. Oh, how many who have not sought their souls’ salvation will soon make the bitter lamentation: “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved”!
We are living in the closing scenes of this earth’s history. Prophecy is fast fulfilling. The hours of probation are fast passing. We have no time—not a moment—to lose. Let us not be found sleeping on guard. Let no one say in his heart or by his works: “My Lord delayeth His coming.” Let the message of Christ’s soon return sound forth in earnest words of warning. Let us persuade men and women everywhere to repent and flee from the wrath to come. Let us arouse them to immediate preparation, for we little know what is before us. Let ministers and lay members go forth into the ripening fields to tell the unconcerned and indifferent to seek the Lord while He may be found. The workers will find their harvest wherever they proclaim the forgotten truths of the Bible. They will find those who will accept the truth and will devote their lives to winning souls to Christ.
The Lord is soon to come, and we must be prepared to meet Him in peace. Let us be determined to do all in our power to impart light to those around us. We are not to be sad, but cheerful, and we are to keep the Lord Jesus ever before us. He is soon coming, and we must be ready and waiting for His appearing. Oh, how glorious it will be to see Him and be welcomed as His redeemed ones! Long have we waited, but our hope is not to grow dim. If we can but see the King in His beauty we shall be forever blessed. I feel as if I must cry aloud: “Homeward bound!” We are nearing the time when Christ will come in power and great glory to take His ransomed ones to their eternal home.
“And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.” Isaiah 25:9.
“Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people. Behold, the Lord hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him. And they shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the Lord: and thou shalt be called, Sought out, A city not forsaken.” Isaiah 62:10-12.
In the great closing work we shall meet with perplexities that we know not how to deal with; but let us not forget that the three great powers of heaven are working, that a divine hand is on the wheel, and that God will bring His promises to pass. He will gather from the world a people who will serve Him in righteousness.
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:1-3.
Long have we waited for our Saviour’s return. But nonetheless sure is the promise. Soon we shall be in our promised home. There Jesus will lead us beside the living stream flowing from the throne of God and will explain to us the dark providences through which on this earth He brought us in order to perfect our characters. There we shall behold with undimmed vision the beauties of Eden restored. Casting at the feet of the Redeemer the crowns that He has placed on our heads, and touching our golden harps, we shall fill all heaven with praise to Him that sitteth on the throne.
Section 5—The Essential Knowledge
“The light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6.
Chapter 42—God In Nature
Before the entrance of sin not a cloud rested upon the minds of our first parents to obscure their perception of the character of God. They were perfectly conformed to the will of God. For a covering a beautiful light, the light of God, surrounded them. This clear and perfect light illuminated everything which they approached.
Nature was their lessonbook. In the Garden of Eden the existence of God was demonstrated, His attributes were revealed, in the objects of nature that surrounded them. Everything upon which their eyes rested spoke to them. The invisible things of God, “even His everlasting power and divinity,” were clearly seen, being understood by the things that were made.
Results of Sin
But while it is true that in the beginning God could be discerned in nature, it does not follow that after the Fall a perfect knowledge of God was revealed in the natural world to Adam and his posterity. Nature could convey her lessons to man in his innocence. But transgression brought a blight upon the earth and intervened between nature and nature’s God. Had Adam and Eve never disobeyed their Creator, had they remained in the path of perfect rectitude, they would have continued to learn of God through His works. But when they listened to the tempter and sinned against God, the light of the garments of heavenly innocence departed from them. Deprived of the heavenly light, they could no longer discern the character of God in the works of His hand.
And through man’s disobedience a change was wrought in nature itself. Marred by the curse of sin, nature can bear but an imperfect testimony regarding the Creator. It cannot reveal His character in its perfection.
A Divine Teacher
We need a divine Teacher. In order that the world might not remain in darkness, in eternal spiritual night, God met us in Jesus Christ. Christ is “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” John 1:9. “The light of the knowledge of the glory of God” is revealed “in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6. The light of Christ, illuminating our understanding, and shining upon the face of nature, enables us still to read the lesson of God’s love in His created works.
Nature Testifies Of God
The things of nature upon which we look today give us but a faint conception of Eden’s beauty and glory. Yet much that is beautiful remains. Nature testifies that One infinite in power, great in goodness, mercy, and love, created the earth and filled it with life and gladness. Even in their blighted state all things reveal the handiwork of the great Master Artist. Though sin has marred the form and beauty of the things of nature, though on them may be seen traces of the work of the prince of the power of the air, yet they still speak of God. In the briers, the thistles, the thorns, the tares, we may read the law of condemnation; but from the beauty of natural things, and from their wonderful adaptation to our needs and our happiness, we may learn that God still loves us, that His mercy is yet manifested to the world.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament showeth His handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, And night unto night showeth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, Where their voice is not heard.” Psalm 19:1-3.
Man’s Failure to Interpret Nature
Apart from Christ we are still incapable of interpreting rightly the language of nature. The most difficult and humiliating lesson that man has to learn is his own inefficiency in depending upon human wisdom, and the sure failure of his efforts to read nature correctly. Of himself he cannot interpret nature without placing it above God. He is in a condition similar to that of the Athenians, who, amidst their altars dedicated to the worship of nature, had one inscribed: “To the unknown God.” God was indeed unknown to them. He is unknown to all who, without the guidance of the divine Teacher, take up the study of nature. They will assuredly come to wrong conclusions.
In its human wisdom the world knows not God. Its wise men gather an imperfect knowledge of Him from His created works; but this knowledge, so far from giving them exalted conceptions of God, so far from elevating the mind and the soul, and bringing the whole being into conformity with His will, tends to make men idolaters. In their blindness they exalt nature and the laws of nature above nature’s God.
God has permitted a flood of light to be poured upon the world in the discoveries of science and art; but when professedly scientific men reason upon these subjects from a merely human point of view, they are sure to err. The greatest minds, if not guided by the word of God, become bewildered in their attempts to investigate the relations of science and revelation. The Creator and His works are beyond their comprehension; and because these cannot be explained by natural laws, Bible history is pronounced unreliable.
Those who question the reliability of the Scripture records have let go their anchor and are left to beat about upon the rocks of infidelity. When they find themselves incapable of measuring the Creator and His works by their own imperfect knowledge of science, they question the existence of God and attribute infinite power to nature.
In true science there can be nothing contrary to the teaching of the word of God, for both have the same Author. A correct understanding of both will always prove them to be in harmony. Truth, whether in nature or in revelation, is harmonious with itself in all its manifestations. But the mind not enlightened by God’s Spirit will ever be in darkness in regard to His power. This is why human ideas in regard to science so often contradict the teaching of God’s word.
The Work of Creation
The work of creation can never be explained by science. What science can explain the mystery of life?
The theory that God did not create matter when He brought the world into existence is without foundation. In the formation of our world, God was not indebted to pre-existing matter. On the contrary, all things, material or spiritual, stood up before the Lord Jehovah at His voice and were created for His own purpose. The heavens and all the host of them, the earth and all things therein, are not only the work of His hand; they came into existence by the breath of His mouth.
“Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” Hebrews 11:3.
“By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth…. He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.” Psalm 33:6-9.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 8 pp. 249-258