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    August 16, 1883

    “The Sabbath-School. Acts 13:50-52; 14” The Signs of the Times, 9, 31.

    E. J. Waggoner

    Lesson for the Pacific Coast.-Aug. 26. Acts 13:50-52; 14.
    NOTES ON THE LESSON.

    Paul perceived that the lame man at Lystra had faith to be healed. He had heard Paul preach the gospel-forgiveness of sins through Christ-and he believed. In this case, doubtless, as in that of the palsied man whom Christ healed (Matthew 9:2-8), forgiveness of sins preceded the miracle; the healing of the soul was first the healing of the body second. As the man heard of the great love of Christ for suffering humanity, and his power and willingness to forgive sins, how naturally the question would arise in his mind, “Why may I not as well be healed of my lameness as of my sins?” As Christ said, “Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise and walk?” Divine power is required for both, and it is no more wonderful that the sick should be healed than that sins should be forgiven. Most religious teachers at the present time scoff at the idea that in this age of the world God miraculously healed diseases in answer to prayer; yet they profess to believe in the forgiveness of sins. There is a close relation between the two acts. They go together in the promise in James 5:14, 15; also in Psalm 103:3. Why should not Christians depend on God for the healing of the body as well of the soul? “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?” Romans 8:32.SITI August 16, 1883, page 365.1

    At Lystra the Lord wrought a notable miracle through Paul; a man was healed who had been a crippled from his birth. The people, in their astonishment, cried out that they were gods, and the priest of Jupiter, with the people, was about to offer sacrifices to them. But Paul earnestly spoke against their idolatry. Verses 18, 19, convey a striking lesson:-SITI August 16, 1883, page 365.2

    “And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them.”SITI August 16, 1883, page 365.3

    “And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.”SITI August 16, 1883, page 365.4

    The man was healed; the miracle remained among them. Yet the same people who were scarce restrained from offering sacrifices to them as gods, with a little persuasion stoned Paul, and supposing he was dead, drew him out of the city and left him as they would a dead dog.SITI August 16, 1883, page 365.5

    This is a most remarkable illustration of the fickleness of man and of the utter worthlessness of popular applause. A minister of God should never be elated when the multitude praised him. Especially if the hearts of the people are not stirred by the truth and the Spirit of God, and if the current of popular favor is setting in his direction for the time he should look with great distrust upon words spoken in his praise. Satan would not at all object to having the priests of Jupiter or Mammon do homage to the servants of God, if he could persuade those servants to accept the worship; for he well knows if they do accept it he has destroyed their influence for good. “Beware of the flatterers.” Christian workers have no worse enemies.SITI August 16, 1883, page 365.6

    Neither should the minister be discouraged if the people turn against him. It is no evidence that God is not with him. The well-worn saying: “The voice of the people is the voice of God,” is a miserable falsehood, and will lure to ruin all those who trust in it. The people of Lystra had not as good reason to stone Paul as they had to do him reverence; but while he could dissuade them from worshiping him, he could not prevent their stoning him. So it always was, and so it is. A little playing upon the evil passions of men will quickly cause them to forget the best deeds and the greatest benefits.SITI August 16, 1883, page 365.7

    We have no doubt that if Paul had permitted them to worship him, they would not have been so easily persuaded to stone him; for man does not so readily turn against his own idols. Forgetting this, many of a minister has gone to destruction because he measured his success in his work by the applause he received. It was not without an evident reason that the Saviour said: “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! For so did their fathers to the false prophets.”SITI August 16, 1883, page 365.8

    “Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.” Verse 16. Of course “all nations” does not here include the Jews, since God had given them his law so that they might not walk in their own ways. The reason why the other nations were allowed to do so is stated by Paul in the first chapter of Romans: “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.” God does not force himself upon any. If they do not wish to remember and acknowledge him, he withdraws from them, and lets them have their own way. The depraved condition of the Lystrans, and the heathen of other nations, shows the level to which men soon sink when they cast off from God. It may be said that infidels and atheists are often men of good morals. The answer to that is that they have the good fortune to live in a land where the public opinion is to a certain extent against immorality. Whatever of good there may be in an atheist is due solely to his surroundings or to the force of early instructions, for there can be no principle to hold him. Let those that fear God be removed from a country, leaving only atheists to and have it, having no communication with any who fear God, and the country would soon be worse than the vilest heathen country on earth.SITI August 16, 1883, page 365.9

    Although God one time suffered the nations to walk in their own ways, they were not without excuse. “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.” Paul uses the same argument in Romans 1:19-21. Since the creation of the world, the eternal power and godhead of the Creator clearly seen through the things that he has made, so that all unbelievers are without excuse, even though they have not his revealed word. Paul did not preach Christ to these men of Lystra, on this occasion; that would have been beyond their comprehension. They must have a knowledge of the true, and see that they had sinned against him, before they could receive Christ, the remedy for sin.SITI August 16, 1883, page 365.10

    Many professed teachers of the gospel do not profit by Paul’s example. They tell sinners to come to Christ, but do not tell them why they should come; or, if they tell them to come and find pardon for sin, they do not tell them what sin is, nor of what sins they must repent. We say that Paul did not preach Christ, but he was working toward it as fast as possible. He told the people that they were sinners; and not in any general way, but directly. He pointed out the special sin of which they were guilty. Had they acknowledged that much, he would have proceeded to point them to Christ. The only true order is, first the law and the gospel of good news-the relief from sin.SITI August 16, 1883, page 365.11

    The testimony of Paul and Barnabas to the brethren was that “we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” But we are told that the world is constantly growing better, and that soon the whole world will accept the gospel. If this be so, then those words of Paul do not apply now as they did when spoken, and there will come a time when they will not apply at all. In another place, however, Paul said that “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution;” and by a further examination of the chapter in which these words occur, we find that they apply “in the last days;” and further, the reason why the godly will suffer persecution is that “men shall be lovers of their own selves,” corrupt in mind, and “reprobate concerning the faith.” This state of things will not improve this time passes, but “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” It must be, then, that Paul’s words to the brethren apply to all, and to none so much as to those who live in the last days.SITI August 16, 1883, page 365.12

    Suppose that the time should come when we would not be obliged to enter the kingdom through tribulation. Then we should have the wonderful spectacle of the disciple being above his master, and the servant greater than his lord. Who is there that aspires to such a position? Who is there that would rejoice to hear the Master say, “This one endured nothing for me”? Said Christ, “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers unto the false prophets.” There are religious teachers who commend themselves to the world, and are applauded; but we never hear them boldly condemning all sorts of sin. They speak against sin in a general way, but they keep silent concerning sins that are popular. Such are not to be envied. The Christian may and should be like Daniel, so that no fault can be found in him except it be concerning the law of his God; but when he is universally popular, he should tremble for himself. Christ will purify to himself a “peculiar people,” and peculiar people are not usually held in high repute. Their peculiarity consists not in grotesqueness, but in goodness.SITI August 16, 1883, page 365.13

    It does not necessarily follow from Paul’s words in Acts 14:22 that all who strive to enter the kingdom will suffer outward persecution; that they will all be stoned, or burned at the stake, or cast into prison, or even brought before the council. Tribulation includes more than this. The word is derived from the Latin, a threshing-sledge. This was “a wooden platform studded underneath with pieces of flint, or with iron teeth.” It was dragged over the grain to cut up the straw, separating the chaff from the grain. All Christians have to undergo this process. Burdens that are very unpleasant have to be borne; duties the most distasteful have to be performed. We may take ourselves off from the threshing-floor of Christ, but the chaff of evil dispositions and inherited faults will remain upon us, effectually shutting us out of the heavenly garner.SITI August 16, 1883, page 365.14

    When the clumsy instrument had finished its work, a strong wind was directed against the mass, and all the chaff was blown away; the sound, heavy kernels of grain alone remained. But if wheat was still encased in its covering, the chaff became as it were a sail, by which it was borne away to destruction. So it will be with us, if we do not submit to God’s cleansing process, however hard it may be at the time. E. J. W.SITI August 16, 1883, page 365.15

    “The Honor Due to God. No. 3” The Signs of the Times, 9, 31.

    E. J. Waggoner

    We notice briefly, in passing, the object of the tithe, and to whom it should be paid. From the statement in Leviticus 27:30, “the tithe is the Lord’s,” we would naturally gather that it is to be used in his service; and if used in his service it must, of course, be given to his servants. From the instances of its use their recorded in the Bible, it seems to have been designed wholly for the support of the ministry. Abraham paid his tithes to Melchizedek, the priest of the Most High God. Under the Levitical law the tithe went for the support of the tribe of Levi, who were engaged in work pertaining to the sanctuary. They, in turn, were to devote a tenth of what they received in tithes, to the support of the priests. See Numbers 18:20-26. “All the tenth to Israel” is said to have been given to the tribe of Levi for an inheritance. The remaining nine-tenths was again tithed for charitable purposes. Numbers 14:22-26; Deuteronomy 26:12-14. This is additional evidence that the tithe was designed solely for the support of the ministry.SITI August 16, 1883, page 357.1

    Whether or not a portion of the tithe might be appropriated to any other use than the support of the ministry, it is certain that the individual never disposed of his own tithe, further than to bring into the treasury. When Nehemiah was restoring the worship of God, he cleansed the chambers of the temple, and brought in the holy vessels. Then he says:-SITI August 16, 1883, page 357.2

    “And I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given them; for the Levites and the singers, that did the work, or fled everyone to his field. Then contended I with the rulers, and said, Why is the house of God forsaken? And I gathered them together, and set them in their place. Then brought all Judah the tithe of the corn and the new wine and the oil unto the treasuries [margin, storehouses]. And I made treasurers over the treasuries.... and their office was to distribute unto their brethren.” Nehemiah 13:10-13.SITI August 16, 1883, page 357.3

    That the tithe is to be brought to one place, and distributed from thence, is proved by Malachi 3:10: “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house.” Every man is under solemn obligation to pay tithes, but no individual has any right to dispose of it according to is own notions. “It is the Lord’s.”SITI August 16, 1883, page 357.4

    And right here we wish to emphasize the fact that, strictly speaking, we cannot “give” a tithe. We cannot give what does not belong to us, and the tithe is the Lord’s. Earthly Governments, in consideration of the protection they afford to the lives and property of their citizens, collect taxes for the support of their officers; but men do not speak of “giving” their taxes, nor do they usually take credit to themselves for liberality, when they have paid them. In God’s government the same plan exists. In return for the protection and many blessings that God bestows upon his creatures, he demands a tithe of all their increase, which may be considered as the taxes of his Government. But let it be distinctly understood that the church levies no taxes; the tax is levied by God himself, nor does he compel men to pay. Each one must decide for himself whether or not he will thus honor God. There is no compulsion; but the punishment for dishonoring God in this regard, though delayed, is none the less sure.SITI August 16, 1883, page 357.5

    It is evident from what we have just said, that a man can by no means be called liberal merely because he pays his tithe, no matter how great it may be. The wise man says, “The liberal soul shall be made fat; and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.” Proverbs 11:25. Now while it is true that blessings will follow the strict payment of the tithe, it is clear that that is not what is meant here, for paying tithes is not liberality in any sense of the word. This brings us to a brief consideration ofSITI August 16, 1883, page 357.6

    OFFERINGS

    In addition to their tithes, the Israelites spent much in offerings. There were special offerings, such as sin-offerings, peace-offerings, and thank-offerings. The name of each of these is sufficiently descriptive. For the law in regard to them, see Leviticus 4; 5; 7. The point to be remembered is that these sacrifices cost something, the cost of varying with the wealth or position of the one making the offering. Those ancient Jews had no idea that a man could profess to be a religious man for a score of years, and yet contribute nothing to the cause. And they really seemed to think that there was something disreputable in dead-head worship, even when they could worship for nothing as well as not. When there was a plague upon Israel on account of David’s sin in numbering the people, the prophet directed the king to “rear an altar unto the Lord in the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” Accordingly David went up, and was met by Araunah, to whom he told his errand. “And Araunah said unto David, Let my Lord the king take and offer up what seemeth good unto him: behold, here be oxen for burnt sacrifice, and threshing instruments and other instruments of the oxen for wood. All these things did Araunah, as a king, give unto the king. And Araunah said unto the king, The Lord thy God accept thee.” 2 Samuel 24:22, 23.SITI August 16, 1883, page 357.7

    Imagine now that you hear David say, How providential! Here is everything ready; I could worship God, and it will cost me a farthing. But no; David had a better idea of what true worship is. “And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely by it of thee at a price.” That, you say, was very natural; the king did not want to be under obligation to anybody. But it was not because he was averse to receiving a gift that he refused Araunah’s offer; there was a principle involved. Here is his reason: “Neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing.” And the result was that “David bought the threshing-floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.”SITI August 16, 1883, page 357.8

    We hear much about the superior privileges of the Christian dispensation; of the increased light that we enjoy. Very true; but do we realize the responsibility that these rich blessings bring? If the ancients had such exalted ideas of the sacredness and importance of the worship of God, what ought we to do? Do we appreciate the blessings that God is showering upon us without measure? Gratitude will show itself in a tangible form as well now as it would three thousand years ago. It is true that “salvation is free,” but is it any freer now that it was then? Did the patriarchs and prophets buy their salvation with their tithes and offerings? Did not they obtain pardon for sin through Christ alone, as well as we? Most certainly. All that they could do or give would not purchase the pardon of a single sin, and this they knew; but they had a deep sense of the amazing love of God in holding out to them a free pardon through Christ, and their hearts overflowed with gratitude. Salvation is indeed free, but it has cost a price beyond the comprehension even of angels, and when men begin to realize its value, they will not be anxious to avoid making sacrifices, but, with David, their cry will be, “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people.” E. J. W.SITI August 16, 1883, page 357.9

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