[This article appeared in The Review and Herald, June 3, 1890.]
“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 any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:1-9).
The question has been asked me, “Do you think that the Lord has any more light for us as a people?” I answer that He has light that is new to us, and yet it is precious old light that is to shine forth from the Word of truth. We have only the glimmerings of the rays of the light that is yet to come to us. We are not making the most of the light which the Lord has already given us, and thus we fail to receive the increased light; we do not walk in light already shed upon us.
We call ourselves commandment-keeping people, but we do not comprehend the exceeding breadth of the far-reaching principles of the law of God; we do not understand its sacred character. Many who claim to be teachers of the truth, have no real conception of what they are doing in teaching the law of God, because they do not have a living knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
As we read of Luther, Knox, and other noted Reformers, we admire the strength, fortitude, and courage possessed by these faithful servants of God, and we would catch the spirit that animated them. We desire to know from what source they were out of weakness made strong. Although these great men were used as instruments for God, they were not faultless. They were erring men, and made great mistakes. We should seek to imitate their virtues, but we should not make them our criterion. These men possessed rare talents to carry forward the work of the Reformation. They were moved upon by a power above themselves; but it was not the men, the instruments that God used, that should be exalted and honored, but the Lord Jesus who let His light and power come upon them. Let those who love truth and righteousness, who gather up the hereditary trusts given to these standard-bearers, praise God, the Source of all light.
If it should be announced that angel messengers were to open before men the treasures of the knowledge which relate to heavenly things, what a stir would it create in the Christian world! The atmosphere of heaven would be about the messengers, and how eagerly would many listen to the words that should fall from their lips! Men would write books calling attention to the angels’ words, but a greater Being than angels has been in our world; the Lord Himself has come to reflect upon men the light of heaven. He has announced Himself as one with the Father, full of grace and truth, God manifest in the flesh.
The Lord Jesus, who is the image of the invisible God, gave His own life to save perishing man, and, oh, what light, what power, He brings with Him! In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead, bodily. What a mystery of mysteries! It is difficult for the reason to grasp the majesty of Christ, the mystery of redemption. The shameful cross has been upraised, the nails have been driven through His hands and feet, the cruel spear has pierced to His heart, and the redemption price has been paid for the human race. The spotless Lamb of God bore our sins in His own body upon the tree; He carried our sorrows.
An Inexhaustible Theme
Redemption is an inexhaustible theme, worthy of our closest contemplation. It passes the comprehension of the deepest thought, the stretch of the most vivid imagination. Who by searching can find out God? The treasures of wisdom and knowledge are opened to all men, and were thousands of the most gifted men to devote their whole time to setting forth Jesus always before us, studying how they might portray His matchless charms, they would never exhaust the subject.
Although great and talented authors have made known wonderful truths, and have presented increased light to the people, still in our day we shall find new ideas, and ample fields in which to work, for the theme of salvation is inexhaustible. The work has gone forward from century to century, setting forth the life and character of Christ, and the love of God as manifested in the atoning sacrifice. The theme of redemption will employ the minds of the redeemed through all eternity. There will be new and rich developments made manifest in the plan of salvation throughout eternal ages.
Were Jesus with us today, He would say to us as He did to His disciples, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now” (John 16:12). Jesus longed to open before the minds of His disciples deep and living truths, but their earthliness, their clouded, deficient comprehension made it impossible. They could not be benefited with great, glorious, solemn truths. The want of spiritual growth closes the door to the rich rays of light that shine from Christ. We shall never reach a period when there is no increased light for us. The sayings of Christ were always far-reaching in their import. Those who heard His teachings with their preconceived opinions, could not take in the meaning attached to His utterances. Jesus was the source, the originator of truth.
The great themes of the Old Testament were misapprehended and misinterpreted, and Christ’s work was to expound the truth which had not been understood by those to whom they had been given. The prophets had made the statements, but the spiritual import of what they had written, was undiscovered by them. They did not see the meaning of the truth. Jesus reproved His disciples for their slowness of comprehension. Many of His precious lessons were lost to them, because they did not understand the spiritual grandeur of His words. But He promised that the Comforter should come, that the Spirit of truth should recall these lost utterances to their minds. He gave them to understand that He had left with them precious jewels of truth whose value they did not know.
Precious Gems in Mines of Truth
After the crucifixion and the resurrection of Christ, His disciples listened with wonder and amazement to His lessons of truth; for they seemed as new ideas to them; but He told them, “These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures” (Luke 24:44, 45). The truth is constantly unfolding and presenting new features to different minds. All who dig in the mines of truth, will constantly discover rich and precious gems. We are anxious that all who claim to believe the truth now open before us, and especially those who take the responsibility of teaching the truth to others, should have a clearer conception themselves of the all-important significance of the themes of the Bible.
Those who stand in vindication of the law of God, are in a position where they need much of the Spirit of God. If ministers are wanting in meekness, if they are easily irritated when opposed, it is evident that they need divine enlightenment. Men must manifest the grace of Christ as they labor for souls. The truth as it is in Jesus will have altogether a different influence upon the minds of unbelievers, from that which it has had when presented as a theory or as a controversial subject.
If we do our very best to present the truth in its stirring character, crossing the opinions and ideas of others, it will be misinterpreted, misapplied, and misstated, to those who are entertaining error, in order to make it appear in an objectionable light. There are few to whom you bring the truth, who have not been drinking of the wine of Babylon. It is hard for them to comprehend the truth, therefore the necessity of teaching it as it is in Jesus.
Those who claim to be lovers of truth can afford to be meek and lowly of heart, as was the Great Teacher. Those who have been diligently working in the mines of God’s Word, and have discovered the precious ore in the rich veins of truth, in the divine mysteries that have been hidden for ages, will exalt the Lord Jesus, the Source of all truth, by revealing in their characters the sanctifying power of what they believe. Jesus and His grace must be enshrined in the inner sanctuary of the soul. Then He will be revealed in words, in prayer, in exhortation, in the presentation of sacred truth, for this is the great secret of spiritual success.
When self is woven into our labors, then the truth we bear to others does not sanctify, refine, and ennoble our own hearts; it will not testify that we are fit vessels for the Master’s use. It is only through fervent prayer that we may hold sweet fellowship with Jesus, and through this blessed communion the words and the spirit are made fragrant with the spirit of Christ. There is not a heart that will not bear watching. Jesus, the precious Saviour, enjoined watchfulness. The oversight of self must not be relaxed for a moment. The heart must be kept with diligence, for out of it are the issues of life. Watch and discipline the thoughts, that you may not sin with your lips.