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    July 18, 1895

    “Doubts and Thistles” The Signs of the Times, 21, 28.

    E. J. Waggoner

    Doubts and Thistles.-It is very bad for a farmer to have thistles growing abundantly in a field. The best thing for him to do is to kill their roots, and thus clear the field of them. But if he will not do that-if he is determined to raise thistles-then let him cut off the tops before they ripen, so as not to sow thistles in his neighbor’s field. We have seen the air full of thistledown from the field of a slack farmer, providing a crop for all his neighbors, yet we never saw the original crop diminished by so much as one thistle. Remember this! You cannot diminish you own crop of thistles by sowing your neighbor’s field with them. Even so it is with doubts. If you have them, the best thing to do is to root them out. But if you will not do this, do not sow them in the heart of your neighbor. Keep them to yourself. By giving expression to them, you sow the seed in the hearts of others, and do not in the least diminish the amount in your own heart. Keep your thistles and your doubts to yourself. E. J. W.SITI July 18, 1895, page 433.1

    “How do You Know?” The Signs of the Times, 21, 28.

    E. J. Waggoner

    “But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) or, who shall descend into the deep (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead)? But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart; that is, the word of faith, which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:6-10.SITI July 18, 1895, page 434.1

    This is the way of righteousness, and this is what we want to learn. Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. Righteousness come by him; but where shall we find him? Who knows anything about him? We have in the Bible the story of his life, and have read about his crucifixion and resurrection ascension to heaven; but how do we know that it is true? We never saw the men who wrote the Bible, nor anybody who did see them. Who knows that Christ ever came into the world to save sinners, about which we have read? If we should ask the average man whom we meet to-day if he believes there was and is such a being as Jesus of Nazareth, he would say, Yes, of course. You say you believe it, but what reason have you for believing it? Can you give any evidence of it?SITI July 18, 1895, page 434.2

    This is a fair question, and one that we ought to expect that the world will ask. The Lord expects that people will ask us a reason of the hope that is in us, and tells us that we should always be ready to give an answer. There are different ways people have of answering this question; but there is only one right way. Now and again we see in papers professedly devoted to Christian evidences, efforts to substantiate the truth of the Gospel by references to contemporary heathen writers who had mentioned the Scriptures, or by quotations from the ancient fathers, who professed faith in them. We sometimes see quotations from the sayings of great men of past days, or from men still living, who said they believed the Bible; and if they, with all their learning and greatness, believed it, why should not we? But that is no reason to us at all. We cannot believe it because somebody else does. We may believe the person to be honest in his belief, but that cannot make us know it. No man, however great and learned, can believe, but that cannot make us know it. No man, however great and learned, can believe for another, no matter how mean and ignorant he may be.SITI July 18, 1895, page 434.3

    Now the question comes to every professor of Christ, How do you know that such a person as Jesus of Nazareth ever lived? It is a question which every disbeliever in the Bible has a right to ask, and to which he has a right to expect an answer. It will do no good to berate him as an infidel; that will only serve to confirm him in his unbelief by leading him to think that his questions cannot be answered. How will you answer?SITI July 18, 1895, page 434.4

    You may tell him you believe it. Very good; but that will not convince him, for there are other people who believe other things that are not true. He does not question the fact that you believe, but wishes to know why. You may quote to him great men, but what of that? The Lord himself would not admit that as evidence. On one occasion he said, “I receive no testimony from men.” It makes no difference how many men the questioner might be referred to, he would still want to know how they knew it was true.SITI July 18, 1895, page 434.5

    Knowing by Faith

    There is only one way of knowing, and these words of Paul in Romans point that out. We have searched for him, but this scripture says we have not to ascend into heaven to bring him down, nor into the deep, to bring up Christ, but “the word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart; that is, the word of faith, which we preach.” “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness.” This is the righteousness of faith; and in Ephesians 3:17 we read that Christ dwells in the heart by faith. We can really know nothing in this world about Christ except that which we know by personal experience. The testimony of hearsay is valueless. We must tell only what we know. We have read about the crucifixion and resurrection, that Christ “suffered for sins, the just for the unjust;” that, “in that he died, he died unto sin, and in that he liveth, he liveth unto God;” and that “death hath no more dominion over him;” but how do we know this is true?—By proving it.SITI July 18, 1895, page 434.6

    Witnessing to the Truth

    “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus.” Now to confess a thing ean to tell the truth about it. We are here as witnesses for God, just as the believers were sent out after Pentecost to be witnesses unto the Lord in Jerusalem, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth. “Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord.” Isaiah 43:10. We are to be witnesses with him, who is the “Faithful and True Witness.” When the Saviour was asked before the Roman governor if he was a king, he “confessed and denied not.” And Paul says he “witnessed a good confession” before Pontius Pilate. 1 Timothy 6:13. In doing this he said, “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.” John 18:37. We are to confess with him to the truth.SITI July 18, 1895, page 434.7

    One who is a witness must run no risk in his testimony. When we go into the witness box, we are put under oath to tell the truth, and only what we know to be truth. It will not do to tell what we think is true, or what others think is true. There is always the possibility that what we merely think is true is not so, and if we tell what we merely think is true, we run the risk of perjuring ourselves. So we dare not speak of things which we do not know positively.SITI July 18, 1895, page 434.8

    Is Jesus of Nazareth raised from the dead? It may be you have talked about Christ and the resurrection. Do you know that he was dead, and is risen? The whole Gospel is summed up in that. The angels announced to the shepherds the birth of Christ, and said that the message was one of glad tidings of great joy, which should be to all people. Then if you have known the fact, and do know it, it is joy to you, and you must have found joy in proclaiming it. If you have not found all joy and peace in it, then you must have missed the Gospel in some way, and if you have professed to believe it, then you have been bearing false witness in your testimony.SITI July 18, 1895, page 434.9

    It may be that you have assumed the birth of Jesus as a fact so well established that you thought it was hardly necessary to prove it. “Everybody,” you say, “believes that Christ lived and was crucified.” No; there are more who do not believe it than there are who do believe it. Even in what are termed “Christian lands,” there are many who do not believe it, and we cannot rest in the assumption that everybody believes it.SITI July 18, 1895, page 434.10

    False Witnesses

    Perhaps in the very telling about it to others, there was a dolefulness in the testimony which belied it. Unbelievers coming into a meeting where professed believers were in the witness box testifying before the Judge, would often get the idea that it is a very gloomy thing to be always giving up something. There is such a sadness, such a feeling of want and dissatisfaction in many testimonies, that they would think there was little attractiveness in Christ. There is a bearing of false witness before God; because the angel from heaven announced that this was a message of great joy, and here are those talking about it who give the impression that there is no joy in witnessing to it, but a hard striving after something that we hoped to get but did not have.SITI July 18, 1895, page 434.11

    Then, again, you have perhaps said that Jesus was raised from the dead, and have assumed that this was so generally accepted that you did not need to prove it. Some day some one may come to you face to face, and ask you how you know that Jesus was raised from the dead. You may say, O, the Bible says so! But he will ask you how you know that the record is true. Here is a live question which comes to us eighteen hundred years after Christ. And were it not possible for us to-day to give just as sure evidence, and to speak just as positively as did the apostles, we should have to give up. If you do not know of positive knowledge that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, then it is not possible for you to witness to it. Surely witnesses for God ought to be as sure of their testimony as witnesses before an earthly magistrate are required to be; and that means that you know of your own personal knowledge, irrespective of what others have told you. If you can not do that, you know nothing about it, and must stand down from the witness box.SITI July 18, 1895, page 434.12

    The apostle Paul was brought before the magistrate on this very question at one time. He was on trial for his life, accused for saying that there was another King than Cæsar, namely, one Jesus. But the Roman government, on investigation, said he found it a question of religion only, about one Jesus whom the Jews said was dead, but whom Paul affirmed to be alive. Acts 25:17-19. A very simple question, but one which involved the whole Gospel. Paul could stand before the court and testify under oath that Jesus was risen from the dead.SITI July 18, 1895, page 434.13

    It is a wonderful thing. You are telling men that One who was dead came to life. How do you know it?—I was reading it in a book and-But hold, if we want the testimony of a book, we will get the book; you must tell only what you know. Well, I was at a place and heard a man speaking very positively, and he told a story which fitted together perfectly; and he made the matter so plain that I believed it. But again you are missing the point; it is not some other man’s testimony that you are to give, but only your own. Did Jesus really die, or is the whole story a myth? Was it merely assumed that he died and rose again?SITI July 18, 1895, page 434.14

    How do we know that Jesus lives?—We have talked with him, we have heard his voice, and we can say positively that he lives at our house. Suppose that a man has disappeared, and foul play is suspected. We are called to testify as to our knowledge of him, and can say that he is not dead, because he is living at our house, and we have been in conversation with him every day. That is evidence enough as to our knowledge of him. Moreover, there is a record to put in evidence. The record says that Jesus was declared to be the Son of God with power, by the resurrection from the dead. Now this Being with whom we are in communion every day corresponds exactly with the specification of the records. We find the truth of the record demonstrated by him every day.SITI July 18, 1895, page 435.1

    Here are habits of one kind and another, which might be enumerated by the score. In fact, our whole life was perverse. In spite of ourselves, we found that these habits would assert themselves and make us miserable. There was impatience, and we would say words that were wrong, and, although resolving most solemnly to refrain from allowing such feelings to enter the heart, we found that it was impossible to shut them out. We were helpless in the hands of these habits, and could not shake them off.SITI July 18, 1895, page 435.2

    What We Have Seen

    Well, we saw Jesus of Nazareth. We saw him being led to Calvary. We saw him crucified. Some one may say, “I don’t believe you saw that.” We cannot help it; we saw Jesus set forth crucified before our eyes, and that for which he was crucified was the sin of the world, our sin. And when he told me that he “loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20), I believed him. In fact, we had had evidence of his love before that. He had borne witness from our earliest infancy to his love, and, although we had gone our own way and denied him, yet “he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” He did not withdraw his love and his life from us. So we had had previous witness of his love for us and his power.SITI July 18, 1895, page 435.3

    Created with Him

    So when he told us again that he loved us and would deliver us from the sin that bound us, we believed him, and gave ourselves to him. He said he would identify himself with us, and he did; although sinless, “he was made to be sin for us,” counting our sin as his. We had gone astray, and the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all. So when he was crucified, he was crucified for our sin. We saw him lifted up, and we consented to be crucified with him. And we knew it was a crucifixion too. It was no fancy; for when we came to give up these evil things, we found that the whole life was composed of them, and it was giving our life. We found that the disease of sin was in the blood itself, and it was taking our very life to have it taken away. But we said to the Lord, “We identify ourselves with you, as you with us;” and so we were crucified with him. And in that crucifixion we found him a wonderful Being, the like of which had never lived on the earth before; for, although crucified, he still lived, and when we accepted his terms, and told him that he might take our life in the crucifixion, we took his life for us, and ever since he has lived with us.SITI July 18, 1895, page 435.4

    Living with Him

    How do we know he lives? Is there any evidence that we are not dreaming?—Yes; because our faith brings him as a living being into our heart, and that thing which we found utterly impossible is now done. We can say, “The life which I know live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20. Therefore we can witness that Jesus Christ is not in the heavens, nor in the deep, but in our heart. And this is the way in which the apostle Peter says we are to be able to give a reason for our hope. He says, “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. It could not be done in any other way, because Christ in us is the only hope of glory. Colossians 1:27. He in whom Christ is not formed, has no hope at all.SITI July 18, 1895, page 435.5

    Some one may say, “I should like to know this.” You may know it just as well as anybody if you wish. “The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart; that is, the word of faith, which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness.” The reason is that Christ is righteousness, and he dwells in the heart by faith; our faith in that which is a fact, makes us know the fact.SITI July 18, 1895, page 435.6

    Faith in a Fact?

    If the story of Jesus of Nazareth were a myth, no faith that we could put in it would make it a fact. One cannot believe a lie so strongly as to make it a truth. We cannot believe in a thing which does not exist, so strongly as thereby to make it exist. Therefore that which through faith we find to be an actual fact, must have been a fact before we believed it. Our faith in the story of Jesus, that he was born, and was crucified, and that he lives, produces an actual power in us to do that which we could not do ourselves, or which no power of man could do. And this shows that the story is not a myth, but a present, living reality.SITI July 18, 1895, page 435.7

    We did not believe in that thing before the power operated in our heart, but the power worked in us because we believed. We saw Jesus Christ lifted up before us, and we were crucified with him, and in that crucifixion we demonstrated the fact that he is risen from the dead. The crucifixion is because of sin, and it is a giving up of life in all there is of this life. But “if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son; much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” 1 Corinthians 5:10. “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” Galatians 2:20. The living is the life of Christ in us. The joy of the Lord is the strength of our life. Nehemiah 8:10. So let us not tell our neighbors and friends that the Christian life is a doleful one. But there is no use in our telling them that it is not a good life, unless the joy and peace of it are seen in the telling of it, and are manifested in the life.SITI July 18, 1895, page 435.8

    Giving and Taking

    One part of the life is a giving up, a crucifixion. But do not tell the world that that is all there is of Christianity. We cannot persuade men to give up their sinful habits and pleasures by simply talking about giving up. “What is there left?” they will say. If they give their sinful pleasure up in Christ, seeing him crucified, and are crucified with him, in the very giving up they get something else,—they get his life, and this life is peace and righteousness. In him are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. In him all things come which are in heaven and earth. “Wherein he that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” Each man may have but a very small portion of this world, but if a man had all the world, we can say to him, “Give this up, and take Christ and in him you will have all the treasures of the universe; for in him are all things, and in him we have obtained an inheritance.” Ephesians 1:11. The Spirit of God is to make known to us “what is the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what are the exceeding greatness of his power,” to us. We are to give everything we have, and what vast possessions are ours to give up? What have we?—Our wretchedness, misery, poverty and blindness. We had an impatient disposition. What returns did it make to us? The dislike and ill-will of many. The pleasures we thought were yielding us something at the time, but afterwards they left emptiness or disease behind them. “What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.” Romans 6:21. Although we had not felt to the full the death, there was a certain looking forward to the judgment; and the fear of death resulted from the continued bondage. Now the word comes, “Give up all this, and take Christ and his riches, and in his strength you will overcome the evil habits whenever they attempt to put you under the old bondage,” and your faith in that act makes it a fact to you. Your belief in the fact that Christ is crucified and risen, makes it a fact that Christ lives in you, and brings all the joy of the universe into your life.SITI July 18, 1895, page 435.9

    We go to Calvary. We may never have seen that spot just outside the walls of Jerusalem. Not many have either the time or the means to go there; and it would not add to their faith in Christ if they could. We are glad we do not have to go to Jerusalem, either to see the place or to see him crucified. Calvary is right here. Here is the cross set up, and we see Christ set forth crucified among us. Galatians 3:1. We see him as Isaiah saw him, “high and lifted up.” He is crucified for all the sins of the flesh, and they are all ours. We say, “Lord, I will go to the cross with thee, and be crucified with thee.” And as we see him lifted up from the earth we see in him something wonderful,—we see in him joy in the midst of tribulation; we see in him righteousness under provocation such as no man on earth ever had. There are power and attractiveness in all these things.SITI July 18, 1895, page 436.1

    Lifted Up from the Earth

    And now we believe, and are crucified with him; and what comes to us? As he is lifted up from the earth, we are lifted up with him from the earth. O, the preciousness of this fact to every one who knows and believes that there is anything better than this earth and its sin, and who can joy in the sunlight of heaven! The marvel of it is that our belief, makes us know it, because we experience the same thing, and so can bear witness that it is a fact. Then we can go and bear witness to the world that Jesus Christ is crucified and risen again. We know it is so, because we not only saw him crucified, but were crucified with him, and are raised to life with him.SITI July 18, 1895, page 436.2

    And that was not the end of it. We found that, although it was an unequal partnership, he made it equal. We gave our life, which had only poverty and death in it; his part was to give his life, an endless life, which we took as righteousness and peace to us.SITI July 18, 1895, page 436.3

    Peace in Christ

    This is how we know that the Bible is true, and that Jesus of Nazareth is raised from the dead. We say from the heart that Jesus is crucified for our sins; he died for us, and now he lives, and we know he lives; for our faith brings him into our life, and faith keeps him there, so that in the midst of temptation there is peace and deliverance. Yes, even in the face of the enemy, he gives rest and assurance. “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.” Psalm 23:5. The enemy surrounds us, and is ready to make a charge upon us, but the Lord says: “Never mind them; come and let us sit down at the table, and feast our souls upon the good things prepared. Their power is gone, and they can do no harm.” So we laugh them to scorn, and delight ourselves in the abundance of his table, with the enemy raging all about us.SITI July 18, 1895, page 436.4

    Every enemy that comes against the soul to destroy it is the same old enemy that came against Jesus of Nazareth, and he conquered them. They know him; for Christ gained the victory on the cross. On the cross he completed the work, and the enemy was everlastingly overthrown, and all his strength taken away, together with all his armor wherein he trusted. When the enemies come, we know that it is only a show of armor they bring; so we say to them, “Christ is risen, and Christ lives in us.” That which we state with positiveness because we believe it, and our belief makes it true to us because it is everlastingly true in itself, whether we believe it or not,—that act puts the enemies to flight; for they have been beaten and overthrown by the same life, and therefore have no desire to try conclusions with it again. So we hold up the life, and claim it as ours, and it is our safety and defense. The victory is already gained for us in the life of Christ, so that all we have to do is to allow ourselves to be continually crucified with him, that thus we may have his life in us. And thus any man who is a sinner, and knows himself to be a sinner, and desires to be free from that bondage of evil habits, may say, “Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57. E. J. W.SITI July 18, 1895, page 436.5

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