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ADVANCING IN CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE [message #2871] Sat, 28 December 2019 06:07
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ADVANCING IN CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE




"Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue: and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth" (2 Peter 1:1-12).

Now mark, it is these graces, this righteousness, that is to be constantly added; and if these things be in you and abound, they make you that you shall be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now here is subject matter that we might dwell upon, and subject matter for many discourses; but we want to present merely a few ideas to your mind at this time, and we want you to see the necessity of progress. You cannot be a fruitful Christian and have a knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ unless you are a practical Christian, unless you are making progress all the time in divine life. This is all important. Many seem to think that as soon as they go down into the water and receive baptism, and their names are entered upon the church book, then the work is all done. They might have tasted of the knowledge of the world to come; they might have received the evidence that they are children of God; but they cannot retain it unless they go on making progress.

It is impossible for them to obtain a knowledge of Jesus Christ and of His light and knowledge unless they are advancing and are learners, adding grace to grace. If they do not bring into their households practical religion, they will soon lose it all; and they will go into the meeting and carry through a form, and pray and exhort, and perhaps hold some office in the church; but unless they are making advancement all the time there is a decided want, and they will swing back to their old position of ungodliness, just like any other sinner. It is important that we keep all the time adding grace to grace, and if we will work upon the plan of addition, God will work on the plan of multiplication; and just as fast as we add, God multiplies His graces unto us.

Those who live doing the works of the enemy, yet bearing the name of the Lord, are lying; they profess to believe the Bible, yet they are working right away from it in their lives and character. In the place of representing Jesus in the character that they shall give to the world, they represent the works of Satan, the works of darkness. Now any such names that may be on your church books, although they may give of their means to help to sustain the church, notwithstanding all that, they are stumbling blocks to the church every day they are in it.

Now, what we want to present is how you may advance in the divine life. We hear many excuses: I cannot live up to this or that. What do you mean by this or that? Do you mean that it was an imperfect sacrifice that was made for the fallen race upon Calvary, that there is not sufficient grace and power granted us that we may work away from our own natural defects and tendencies, that it was not a whole Saviour that was given us? or do you mean to cast reproach upon God? Well, you say, it was Adam's sin. You say, I am not guilty of that, and I am not responsible for his guilt and fall. Here all these natural tendencies are in me, and I am not to blame if I act out these natural tendencies. Who is to blame? Is God? Why did God let Satan have this power over human nature? These are accusations against the God of heaven, and He will give you an opportunity, if you want it, of finally bringing your accusations against Him. Then He will bring His accusations against you when you are brought into His court of judgment.

How is it that He is pleading, "I know all the evils and temptations with which you are beset, and I sent My Son Jesus Christ to your world to reveal to you My power, My mightiness; to reveal to you that I am God, and that I will give you help in order to lift you from the power of the enemy, and give you a chance that you might win back the moral image of God." God sent His Son, who was as Himself, one with the Father, and He bore insult and shame and mockery for us, and suffered at last the ignominious death upon Calvary. Satan met Him with opposition just as soon as He came into the world; but He met it all; He did not swerve a bit. Had it not been for the power that God gave Him, He could not have stood the assaults of the enemy; but He did, and although He had him to meet at every step, and was pressed step by step, yet here was the battle fought in this world with the powers of darkness.

Why was not the devil destroyed? Why do you ask such a question? Did not God know what was best? Would it not have destroyed confidence in God? Would it not have cast a reflection upon God if He had destroyed him, him that had taken hold of the very heart of the universe, and the world that was created? The only way to show the disposition of Satan was to give him a chance to develop himself as one who would be worthy of condemnation and death. So the God of heaven, while He did not destroy Satan, gave His Son to counteract the influence of Satan; and when He gave His Son He gave Himself, and here was the image of God that was brought to our world. What for? That we might become mighty with God.

Christ had to meet the enemy. What had he [Satan] been doing prior to Christ's coming to this earth? Why, he had been trying to gain the hearts of evil men and evil women. When Christ came to our world, Satan had been working with all the deceptive powers that he could command with his angels to gain the hearts of evil men and women, and combined with Satan they will work on the children of disobedience; and it seems that when Christ made His appearance in our world that Satan had planted himself on the throne as the sovereign of this world. He had the control of human minds. He had taken the human bodies and wrought upon them so that they were possessed with demons. He wrought upon them so that the moral image of God was almost obliterated in them. He was weaving himself into the Jewish nation, and they were led captive and would not acknowledge Christ as the Son of God, notwithstanding the mighty evidences which accompanied Him.

Now Christ takes the field and commences to press back this power of moral darkness. In Luke He announces what His work is to be. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord" (Luke 4:18, 19). Even while Christ announced His mission and "all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth," Satan was on the ground. And there is no meeting but that he is there, and as the truth is being impressed on minds, Satan presents the difficulties.

Christ said, "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears." But a state of unbelief arose and the questions began to come up, Is not this the son of Joseph and Mary? What is this that He claims? Is not this Joseph's son? We have seen Him walking with His father to the carpenter shop. "And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country. And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; but unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian" (verses 23-27).

Now this widow was a heathen woman. God did not send Elijah to those who were in Samaria. Why? Because they had great light, blessings, and privileges, and did not live up to them. And because they had had this great light and had not lived up to it, they were the most hardhearted people in the world, the hardest to impress with the truth. They were not susceptible to the influences of the Spirit of God. There were many lepers in Israel, and none of them were cleansed save Naaman, the Syrian. What was the matter? He who had lived up to the light that he had was in a more favorable position before God than those on whom He had bestowed great light, power, and spiritual advantages, and yet their lives did not correspond to their advantages and privileges.

What did the people do [with Christ] in their madness? They "rose up, and thrust him out of the city." Could their eyes have been opened they would have beheld angels of God all around Him, that all heaven was engaged in this warfare between Christ and the prince of the powers of this world. They could have seen this, but their eyes were holden that they might not see it.

Here I want to tell you what a terrible thing it is if God gives light, and it is impressed on your heart and spirit, for you to do as they did. God will withdraw His Spirit unless His truth is accepted. But Christ was accepted by some; the witness was there that He was God. But a counterinfluence pressed in, and the evil angels were working through the congregation to raise doubts that would cause disbelief so that it would shut out every ray of light that God would permit to shine. No more could Christ do in such a place. You can see what a hold Satan had and what mistakes the people had made; they had not advanced, and because they had not advanced they had been working under the generalship of Satan and yet claimed that they were working under the generalship of God. But God had nothing to do with their unbelief and their rising up against Jesus Christ.

I wish you could see and feel that if you are not advancing you are retrograding. Satan understood this; he knew how to take advantage of the human mind, and he had taken advantage of the human family ever since they had first stood upon the field of battle against the powers of darkness. Christ knew what the warfare was to be.

Who was watching this warfare that was going on? Who was watching when Christ stood on the banks of Jordan and offered such a prayer as heaven had never listened to before, and a light like a dove broke forth from the heavens, and a voice was heard to say, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased"? There were those who heard these things and spread the news everywhere among the Jews, and it went from one to the other, so this manifestation of God's power was not lost at that time.

What does that say to us? "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." It says to you, I, God, have sent My Son into your world, and through Him is opened all heaven to fallen man. After the sin of Adam man was divorced from God, but Christ came in. He was represented through the sacrificial offerings until He came to our world. Here Christ offers this prayer, and what does it say to us? The human race is accepted in the Beloved. His long human arm encircles the race, while with His divine arm He grasps the throne of the Infinite, and He opens to man all of heaven. The gates are ajar today. Christ is in the heavenly sanctuary and your prayers can go up to the Father.

Christ says, If I go away, I will send you the Comforter, and when we have the Holy Spirit we have everything. We have knowledge, wisdom, power, and we have a connection with the God of wisdom. When heaven was opened to man, and God said, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased," He said it to us. Your prayers, through faith in your substitute, Jesus Christ, are accepted. God accepts Christ, our substitute. He took human nature upon Himself and fought the battles that human nature is engaged in. He is connected with the divine and was to fight the battles with Satan.

Now, what we want you to see is the relation which you sustain to the work of God. What condescension God has shown that He should give His Son that we might defeat the powers of darkness! God was not the originator of sin, in order that He might rid the human race of sin. Here was the law of God, and He could not alter it a jot or tittle. It was a representation of His character. He could not change it because it is by that law that we are to be judged in the last day. It is no excuse to say that iniquity abounds, and that the law of God is done away or changed or altered. It is this that causes the existence of iniquity. This is the very work that Satan commenced in heaven, and he will carry it forward to the end. I ask you what position shall we take that we may be partakers of the divine nature? Why should we not see in that law the righteousness of Jesus Christ? Christ comes in and imputes to me His righteousness in His perfect obedience to that law.

Here the battle is before us. We see the battle, how Christ contended with the powers of darkness; and we see what He has done, and why the cross of Calvary had been erected between God and man. Then what? Man comes to Christ, and God and man are united at the cross, and here mercy and truth have met together, righteousness and truth have kissed each other. This is drawing man to the cross, where Christ died in behalf of man, to elevate the law of Jehovah, but not to lessen it one iota. Could He have done this, Christ need not have died. The cross of Calvary will stand in the judgment and testify to everyone the immutability and changeless character of the law of God, and not a word can be offered for sin in that day.

"And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." What does that mean? The work must be carried on, and this little world was chosen in which to carry on this work. All the universe of heaven was interested in the great work. Every world that God has created is watching to see how the battle between the Lord of light and glory and the powers of darkness will end. Here is Satan, who has been seeking with all his power to shut out the true character of God, so that the world could not understand it, and under a garb of righteousness he works upon many who profess to be Christians, but they represent the character of Satan instead of the character of Jesus Christ. They misrepresent my Lord. They misrepresent the character of Jesus every time that they lack mercy, every time that they lack humility.

Satan, by instigating in man a disposition to transgress the law of God, mystifies the character of God. Someone must come to vindicate the character of God, and here is Christ, who stands as the representation of the Father, and He is to work out the salvation of the human race.

That wonderful plan of salvation will bear investigation. All heaven is interested in this work. Up to the time when Christ died, though He was human, He was without sin, and He must bear His trials as a human being. There was to be no miracle interposed for Him. There had been miracles wrought for Him, as at the time the people were going to cast Him over the brow of the hill. Miracles have been wrought for men who have been followed by mobs, when the angel of the Lord would take their arms and protect the servants of God against the work of Satan.

I knew something of this in my early experience. I know whereof I am speaking. [The reporter indicates that here Ellen White related the experience of her husband when an angel walked with him through an angry mob. Recorded in Life Sketches. . . of James White and His Wife, Ellen G. White, pp. 54, 55.]

All can testify that God has wrought in these cases; then just such things will take place with us as did with Christ. He was to work no miracle for Himself, but angels protected His life till the time came when He was to be betrayed by one of His disciples, till He was to give His life on Calvary's cross, and Satan stirred up the minds of men to think that the angels of heaven were indifferent. But every one was watching the contest with interest. From the moment that Christ knelt in prayer on the sod of Gethsemane till He died on the cross and cried out, "It is finished," the angels and all the universe of God looked on with the greatest interest. When those words were spoken, the plan was completed--the plan whereby Satan's power should be limited and broken, and whereby Christ should finally die. And when Christ rose from the dead His triumph was complete. Satan knew that his battle with Christ was lost, but yet he is at enmity with God.

It is man who has apostatized from God. Satan works on men's minds, trying to instill his devices into their minds and make them think that he is at last to be sovereign of this world. But not so, for the God of heaven lives and reigns, and has children on the earth that He will translate to heaven without their seeing death, when He shall come with power and great glory. We want to ask, What excuse have you when this has been done in your behalf? Just as soon as the trial was ended and Christ was hanging on the cross, Satan thought he had gained the victory; but as soon as Christ arose that thought was uprooted forever for every world that God had ever created. It was final. Never again could he have the least power over the worlds or in heaven.

The justice of God was seen in that He gave Christ to die to save man, for the law condemned man to death; but the righteousness of Christ was brought in and imputed to him that he might be brought back to his loyalty to God. And when Christ's work was done, the news was heralded through the heavenly hosts.

When Jesus arose triumphant over the grave, and when He ascended from the Mount of Olivet, He was not only in sight of a few disciples, but many were looking on. There was a multitude of angels, thousands upon thousands who beheld the Son of God as He ascended on high. And as He approached the city of God their voices were raised and the highest angels sang, "Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in." The question arises, "Who is this King of glory?" Then the answer comes back, "The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory." Then the gates are thrown back and the heavenly train enter in, and the angels would bow in adoration before the Son of God, but He waves them back. Not yet; He must first hear from the Father that the sacrifice has been accepted, and He says, I have a request. What is that request? That those whom Thou hast given Me be with Me where I am. Then comes the answer, Let all the angels worship Him; and they bow in adoration before Him, and they touch their golden harps, and raise their voices in praise, saying, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, and lives again, a conqueror. And how the arches of heaven ring with rejoicing!

Now Christ is in the heavenly sanctuary. And what is He doing? Making atonement for us, cleansing the sanctuary from the sins of the people. Then we must enter by faith into the sanctuary with Him, we must commence the work in the sanctuary of our souls. We are to cleanse ourselves from all defilement. We must "cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." Satan will come and tempt you and you will give way to his temptations. What then? Why, come and humble your hearts in confession, and by faith grasp the arm of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary. Believe that Christ will take your confession and hold up His hands before the Father--hands that have been bruised and wounded in our behalf-- and He will make an atonement for all who will come with confession. What if you cannot understand about this matter? He says, "He that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins" (2 Peter 1:19).

Now brethren and sisters, I want you to see that you must "add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Now when you commence to work, Satan is going to work in an opposite direction; and if you are unkind and harsh, and if you are not seen in the house of God bearing your cross, you have not the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ; you do not discern Him in His love and matchless purity.

Many will say, I am saved, I am saved, I am saved. Well, have they been cleansed from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit? and can they cleanse themselves by the righteousness of the law? Jesus Christ came to this world, and there is His righteousness to impart to the children of men who are obeying the law of God. The whole world can say, I am saved, as well as any transgressor today. They can say, I believe on Christ that He is my Saviour, but why do they disregard His law which is the transcript of His character? When they disregard the law of Jehovah they disregard the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now, I want to say to you before closing, that we have a wonderful friend in Jesus, who came to save His people from the transgression of the law. What is sin? The only definition of sin is that it is the transgression of the law. Then here is Jesus Christ, who comes right in and imparts His righteousness to us; we cannot overcome in our own strength, but by faith in Him. If you will believe on Jesus Christ, you will have Him today. You must believe that He is your Saviour now, and that He imputes to you His righteousness because He has died, and because He has been obedient unto every requirement of that transgressed law of God. If you do this, you will have a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Adam and Eve lost Eden because they transgressed that law, but you will lose heaven if you transgress it.

We can be filled with all the fullness of God. Our lives may measure with the life of God. Then can we press back the powers of darkness. Glory to God in the highest! I love Him because He first loved me. I will magnify His name. I rejoice in His love, and when we shall enter in through the gates into the city it will be the highest privilege to cast my crown at His feet. Why? Because He gave me the victory, because He wrought out the plan of salvation. And when I look at the glory, and at the saints redeemed, just like a flash will I cast my crown at the feet of my Redeemer. It is His; it was He who purchased my redemption. Glory to God in the highest! Let us praise Him and talk of His mightiness and of what He will do for us. Let us keep His law and then He can trust us, for He has a law and He will reward obedience to that law; He will give us a crown of glory.

Now, brethren, we are almost home; we shall soon hear the voice of the Saviour richer than any music, saying, Your warfare is accomplished. Enter into the joy of thy Lord. Blessed, blessed, benediction; I want to hear it from His immortal lips. I want to praise Him; I want to honor Him that sitteth on the throne. I want my voice to echo and re-echo through the courts of heaven. Will you be there? Then you must educate your voice to praise Him on earth, and then you can join the heavenly choir and sing the song of Moses and the Lamb. God help us, and fill us with all fullness and power, and then we can taste of the joys of the world to come.







SOURCE:

1888 The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials
Chap. 12 - Sabbath Talk

Advancing in Christian Experience

Minneapolis General Conference
Sabbath, October 20, 1888 - Ms 8, 1888



Your brother in Christ
Mel
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