THE SIGNS OF THE TIMES
May 29, 1884
The Christian's Hope
[Remarks in the 9 o'clock morning meeting at Oakland, Cal., April 21, 1884.]
By Mrs. E. G. White
“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.”
This world is a training-school, and the great object of life should be to obtain a fitness for those glorious mansions that Jesus has gone to prepare. Let us remember that this work of preparation is an individual work. We are not saved in groups. The purity and devotion of one will not offset the want of these qualities in another. Each case must bear individual inspection. Each of us must be tested, and found without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.
We are living in the great antitypical day of atonement. Jesus is now in the heavenly sanctuary, making reconciliation for the sins of his people, and the judgment of the righteous dead has been going on almost forty years. How soon the cases of the living will come in review before this tribunal we know not; but we do know that we are living in the closing scenes of earth's history, standing, as it were, on the very borders of the eternal world. It is important that each of us inquire, How stands my case in the courts of Heaven? Will my sins be blotted out? Am I defective in character, and so blinded to these defects by the customs and opinions of the world, that sin does not appear to me to be as exceedingly offensive to God as it really is? It is no time now to allow our minds to be absorbed with the things of earth, while we give only occasional thoughts to God, and make but slight preparation for the country to which we are journeying.
In the typical day of atonement, every man was required to afflict his soul before God. He was not to afflict the souls of others, but the work was between God and his own soul. The same work of self-examination and humiliation is required of each of us now; and I entreat you to make thorough work for eternity. “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found; call ye upon him while he is near.” Precious, golden moments which should be spent in seeking the inward adorning of a meek and quiet spirit, are frittered away in adorning the dress, and in other trifling matters not at all essential to comfort.
We should choose the society most favorable to our spiritual advancement, and avail ourselves of every help within our reach; for Satan will oppose many hindrances to make our progress toward Heaven as difficult as possible. We may be placed in trying positions, for many cannot have their surroundings what they would; but we should not voluntarily expose ourselves to influences that are unfavorable to the formation of Christian character. When duty calls us to do this, we should be doubly watchful and prayerful, that, through the grace of Christ, we may stand uncorrupted. Lot chose Sodom as a place of residence, because he looked more to the temporal advantages he would gain than to the moral influences that would surround himself and his family. What did he gain so far as the things of this world are concerned? His possessions were destroyed, part of his children perished in the destruction of that wicked city, his wife was turned to a pillar of salt by the way, and he himself was saved so as by fire. Nor did the evil results of his selfish choice end here; but the moral corruption of the place was so interwoven with the character of his children that they could not distinguish between good and evil, sin and righteousness.
It will not answer to follow our own judgment and inclination in choosing our surroundings. We should seek counsel of God, and let him lead. We drive holy angels from our homes, and displease God, when we place ourselves and families in an atmosphere of unbelief. “Come out from among them, and be ye separate,” is his command; and he will not alter his word to suit the convenience of any. Many fail to realize that their physical and mental powers are not their own, to be devoted exclusively to their selfish interest in the accumulation of property. They place themselves in positions favorable for worldly gain, and as a consequence amass wealth; but it is at the expense of their eternal interests. Had they exercised true wisdom, they would have gained less earthly substance, but made sure of a title to the immortal inheritance. Like Lot, they may be stripped of their earthly treasure, and barely save their own souls. Their life-work is lost; their lives are a miserable failure. They are not rich toward God. They have not laid up treasure in the bank of Heaven. Instead, they have laid up treasure on earth, just the thing that Jesus warned them not to do; and their heart is on their treasure, just as he told them it would be. Let us be willing to become pilgrims and strangers here, that we may gain a better country, even a heavenly.
The way of the cross is an onward, upward path. As you advance, seeking the things that are above, you will necessarily leave in the distance the things that belong to the world. The conduct and disposition must be in harmony with God's requirements. We can reach this standard; for he would not enjoin upon us an impossible task. When tempted to speak harshly or impatiently, resist the suggestion of the adversary. Do not gratify him by speaking his words, or manifesting the spirit which pleases him. The truth that commends itself to your conscience will consume and destroy, or it will sanctify and transform the soul. The word of God is our guide and counselor. We must have it in our heart; for the heart is the mainspring of action. By becoming familiar with the words of life, we shall be able to use them skillfully in our warfare against Satan. While the hands are engaged in labor, the soul may receive rich comfort from the promises of God.
“Ye are not your own; ye are bought with a price.” Your physical and mental powers belong to God, and should be used in his service. There are souls to save; there is earnest work to be done for the Master; and half-hearted, indolent efforts will not be accepted. As faithful servants, we should inquire, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? Send me any way, with any message of mercy thou shalt choose.” No longer rob God of the service that belongs to him, but yield your powers to be controlled by his spirit. You need the transforming grace of Christ; you need his fashioning hand laid upon you, that your wills, and even your thoughts, may be brought into subjection to the will of God.
We must learn to pray without ceasing. Wherever we are, our thoughts may be a prayer to God. Nehemiah, standing before the idolatrous king, was of a sad countenance as he thought of the city of his fathers’ sepulchers lying waste. And when the king, learning the cause of his sadness, asked him, “For what dost thou make request?” he did not venture to reply until he had first darted a petition to the living God, the God of wisdom and grace. Nehemiah felt that he had a sacred trust to fulfill which required help from the king, and everything depended upon addressing him in a right manner and striking the right chord. In that brief prayer, Nehemiah pressed into the presence of the King of kings, and enlisted on his side a power that can turn hearts as the rivers of water are turned. And he says, “The king granted me according to the good hand of my God upon me.” The Lord moved upon the heart of the king, and Nehemiah received greater favors than he had dared to hope for.
Nehemiah could not thus readily have found access to God, had he not been accustomed to prayer, and to dependence upon divine strength. We have the same source of help. In the affairs of daily life, in business transactions, and when brought into unexpected difficulties, we too may telegraph our silent petitions to the God of Heaven, and receive aid. All Heaven is interested in our welfare; every provision has been made for us to gain strength. We have everything to make us thankful and glad. Then let us not talk of our weakness and discouragements, but build one another up by our words of courage and faith.
We are living in an important and eventful age. We are almost home. Soon the many mansions that our Saviour has gone to prepare, will burst upon our sight. Let us shake off the stupor that oppresses us. Let us study the Bible more, that we may know for ourselves the great landmarks we are passing. We need deeper draughts from the well of Bethlehem, that we may refresh our own souls and refresh others. We should be more earnest and persevering to save those with whom we associate. This work rests not alone upon ministers; every one who has named the name of Christ should be a co-laborer with him. Why do we not show the unconverted that we love them? Why do not our tongues speak in words of affectionate entreaty to win them to Christ? Why do we not oftener speak words of praise and gratitude to God for the rich and abundant promises he has left on record in his word? We may now have in our hearts joy and peace that is unspeakable and full of glory; and soon, at the coming of Christ, the prize that lies at the end of the Christian race will be ours to enjoy throughout ceaseless ages.