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    SERMON ONE

    INTRODUCTORY

    TEXT: But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. 1 Peter 3:15.OFH1 3.1

    OUR name, Seventh-day Adventists, is expressive of two prominent features of our faith and hope. As Adventists, we are looking for the personal appearing and reign of Jesus Christ. And in seeking for that readiness necessary to meet our soon-coming Lord with joy, we have been led to the observance of the seventh day of the week as the hallowed rest-day of the Creator.OFH1 3.2

    These distinguishing features of our religious faith are unpopular. We are fully aware that much prejudice exists in the religious world against many of our opinions of Bible truth. This, however, exists mainly for want of information as to our real positions, and, probably, in some degree from the want of intelligence and piety on the part of some who have represented our views. May God help us to overcome this prejudice by a clear and intelligent defense of the truth, in the spirit of humility and love, that shall melt its way into the hearts of the people. The text suggests -OFH1 3.3

    1. A preparation of heart before engaging in the work of teaching our fellows. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts.” In our hearts we should set the Lord God apart as the object of supreme love, and the only object of worship. We should be cleansed from sin, and imbued with the Spirit of God, before engaging in the responsible work of teaching the truth of God to others, lest we mar the work, and create prejudice, instead of removing that already existing.OFH1 3.4

    2. A preparation of the mind by study is suggested in the text. This is necessary in order to be always ready to teach those of inquiring minds. “And be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you.” Divine truth appeals to the understanding. The people ask for reasons, not assertions merely. Those who teach should be intelligent. They should be ready. They should be “ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh.” The veriest novice in heavenly things may give assertions with all the confidence of experienced Bible students, and yet for want of disposition to “search the Scriptures,” and to “study to show himself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed,” he may not be able to give one forcible reason.OFH1 4.1

    3. The people have a right to demand the reasons of our faith and hope. This is clearly shown in the language of the apostle, requiring readiness to answer every man that asketh. It is also seen in the prophetic inquiry and answer, especially applicable to our time, “Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night? The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night. If ye will inquire, inquire ye. Return, come.”OFH1 4.2

    4. The manner in which the reasons of our faith and hope should be given, is expressly stated - “with meekness and fear.” In the absence of meekness, and fear to offend God, his truth is feeble, and is almost sure to be reproached. But when it is taught with meekness and fear, it appears in its beauty and strength. Christ in his life was a pattern of meekness. The first ministers of Jesus, who went forth to the world newly baptized with the Spirit of their Master, were meek men. With meekness they presented Jesus as the only Saviour of men. And with fear and trembling, lest they should fail to fulfill their high and holy mission, they went out leaning upon the strength of him who had said, “Lo, I am with you always.”OFH1 4.3

    All who are really imbued with the Spirit of their divine Master, will manifest in a good degree the meekness which characterized his life. When such speak in defense of Bible truth, they will do it with meekness and with fear. The great apostle, in view of the responsibilities of teaching the word of God, uses these forcible words: “For we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish. To the one we are the savor of death unto death, and to the other the savor of life. And who is sufficient for these things 2 Corinthians 2:15, 16.OFH1 5.1

    How beautiful, and how efficient will be that church whose ministry and membership bear the happy burden of truth, intelligent in the word of God, ready always, with meekness and fear, to give an answer to all who inquire for the reasons of the hope they cherish! Seventh-day Adventists are making some efforts to reach this position. Would God that our zeal in the work of preparation was proportionate to our wants, and the great work before us.OFH1 5.2

    It is true that we differ in some respects with other religious bodies of the present time, and with most of them we differ widely. But we do not differ with others from choice. We do not love to differ for the sake of being odd. No, we choose to be in harmony, if possible, with our fellow-men, especially with those who revere God and his word. We believe it to be a sin to differ with others, unless there be good reasons why we should differ.OFH1 5.3

    We do not believe as we do for the sake of advantages in this life. It is not always convenient to observe the seventh-day Sabbath. It is often inconvenient to be out of harmony with all the rest of the world two days in the week. We frequently sustain losses of friends and worldly advantages on account of our adherence to the Bible Sabbath.OFH1 6.1

    We do not believe as we do from being of the same cast of mind. We differ in respect to natural temperament and education, probably, as much as the members of any other religious body in existence.OFH1 6.2

    We do not believe as we do from denominational mould. We are gathered from Methodists, Regular Baptists, Free-will Baptists, Seventh-day Baptists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Episcopalians, Dutch Reformed, Disciples, Christians, Lutherans, United Brethren, Catholics, Universalists, worldlings, and infidels.OFH1 6.3

    Neither is it from national cast that we believe as we do. We are composed of native Americans, English, Welsh, Scotch, Irish, French, Germans, Norwegians, Danes, Swedes, Poles, Swiss, and others. The bringing together of a body of believers composed of such material, affected more or less by the religious sentiments and forms of the several denominations, with all their national peculiarities - enjoying, in a very large degree, unity of sentiment and spirit - is evidently the work of God.OFH1 6.4

    But the governing principle of our faith and practice, as Seventh-day Adventists, is our respect for the great God, his living word, and the recompense of the reward.OFH1 7.1

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