Larger font
Smaller font

General Conference Bulletin, vol. 1

 - Contents
  • Results
  • Related
  • Featured
No results found for: "".
  • Weighted Relevancy
  • Content Sequence
  • Relevancy
  • Earliest First
  • Latest First
    Larger font
    Smaller font


    L. T. NICOLA

    Reading for Tuesday, December 24

    WE will consider this subject under four heads; viz., 1. The Church; 2. Its Privileges; 3. Its Responsibilities; 4. The Manifestation of Christ through it.GCB December 1895, page 613.1

    1. — THE CHURCH


    What is the church, or of what is it composed? This is an important question in this age of the world, when there are so many sects which profess to take their faith from the Bible. It is a question that cannot be answered by human wisdom, for outside of revelation it would be mere conjecture. If the Lord has in any way revealed what he calls his church on earth, and we can find that revelation, we may be able to find an answer to our question.GCB December 1895, page 613.2

    In the days of Israel’s sojourn in the wilderness, God speaks of them as follows; — “The Lord’s portion is his people.” Deuteronomy 32:9. Then the Lord had a people which he called his portion at that time. In Acts 7:37, 38, we read of that people, “This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear. This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sinai, and with our fathers.” This company with Moses as their earthly leader, is called a church. But the more general name was Israel, which signified a prevailer with God.GCB December 1895, page 613.3

    We find Paul expressing the same idea in his epistle to the Romans. “They are not all Israel which are of Israel; neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.” To belong to that church in the wilderness meant more than to be circumcised and be enrolled as one of the twelve tribes. It was necessary to have faith in the promises of God, and go forward at his word.GCB December 1895, page 613.4

    Although all the members had been properly enrolled and circumcised, only two of that vast number succeeded in reaching the promised land. Why was this? — Because these only had faith, and the promises were only to the faithful. God would not destroy his own church, therefore these unfaithful ones, when they willingly turned from the Lord were not of his church. “I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts.” Again it is said, “But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself.” Then godliness is the necessary qualification for membership in the church of Christ. But the question may be asked, “Who is godly?” The answer is now, as it has been since man fell, “There is none that doeth good, no not one.”GCB December 1895, page 613.5

    “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly his faith is counted for righteousness.” Romans 4:5. The Lord does not require men and women to become holy before he will receive them, but he does require them to submit themselves entirely to him so that he may make them godly by receiving them. “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:33. To be his disciple is to be connected with his church. To be a member of this body is to be changed, for Christ is not of this world. This change is often spoken of as a birth, a coming into a new life. “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” A new birth makes a new creature, and such are those who are born again. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17.GCB December 1895, page 613.6

    To be a new creature after a life of sin must be to live contrary to sin. And so says the word of truth. “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” His mind has been renewed, his desires and affections have been changed, and his appetites and passions have been recreated. He cannot practice sin; i.e., habitually pursue it as a course of action, not because he is shut up so that there are no temptations, but because his desires are so changed that he is kept by the word of God. He is of that class of whom Christ spake, when he said, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.... He that is of God heareth God’s words.” John 8:31, 32, 47. He knows the voice of God. “When he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.” John 10:4.GCB December 1895, page 613.7

    We must therefore conclude that the church of Christ is not merely some human organization, but all those who listen for his voice and follow where he leads. They are set apart for a holy or sacred use, for the Lord has chosen them for himself. Among them may be hypocrites, who, like Judas, are willing to sell their master for a few pieces of silver, yet those who know his voice, go not after those who betray sacred trusts. They are faithful, being children of the promise and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. They are in touch withGCB December 1895, page 614.1


    “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him [Christ] to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” Ephesians 1:22, 23. The head is that part of the body which directs. So Christ is the one who directs his body, which is the church. They are all his, and are safe as long as the Lord directs them.GCB December 1895, page 614.2

    “The husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church; and he is the Saviour of the body.” Ephesians 5:23. The true body is as closely connected with him as their head, as is the physical body with its head. “Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church.” Colossians 1:24.GCB December 1895, page 614.3

    We have now seen, (1) that Christ has a church; (2) This church is called his body; (3) He calls himself its head; (4) The members of this church are those who fully submit to him according to the light they have.GCB December 1895, page 614.4



    In considering the privileges of the church as a body, we must at the same time consider the privileges of each member. The body is made up of members, and what is the right of one is the right of all.GCB December 1895, page 614.5

    There are a variety of figures and illustrations used in the Scriptures to show the relation of believers to Christ. The relationship is so close that there is no figure that fitly represents every part of this union. So inspiration has made use of many illustrations, each of which has its peculiar part to illustrate, but as a whole they show how the body of believers is united to Christ, who is their head and director.GCB December 1895, page 614.6

    “I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing.” John 15:5. It is our privilege to have a union with him, so close that we will be recognized in character as Christ. When the vine with its branches is seen, there is but little said about the latter. It is the vine that is mentioned, but in a way to include the branches. Thus it is that this parable teaches the nature of this union. The connection between the vine and branch is a living one. It is life. No human work can effect it. It matters not whether the branch is original or grafted, it is only such by the creator’s work, in virtue of which the life, the sap, the fruit, and the fulness of the vine communicate themselves to the branch. This is the privilege of the believer in Christ. His union is no work of human wisdom or human will, but an act of God, by which the closest and most complete life-union is effected between Christ and the sinner. “God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts.” The same Spirit that dwells with Christ, becomes the life of the believer.GCB December 1895, page 614.7

    In this figure the completeness of the union is illustrated. The vine and the branch are so closely united that each is nothing without the other. Each is wholly and only for the other. This is our privilege. As the branch can do nothing without the vine, so we can do nothing without Christ. As the vine cannot bear fruit without the branches, so Christ cannot bear fruit without his church. Thus the true relation of Christ and his body is, that they live entirely for each other. Christ is living entirely for his church, and he asks us to surrender all and live entirely for him.GCB December 1895, page 614.8

    The branch owes its right of place in the vineyard, its life and its fruitfulness, to the vine. So each individual member of Christ’s church owes his right in the church to Christ. “Without me ye can do nothing.” We can only be pleasing to God in that which he does through the power of Christ dwelling in us. The daily inflowing of the life sap of the Holy Spirit is his only power to bring forth fruit. O what a privilege it is to be connected with Christ!GCB December 1895, page 614.9

    Without the branch the vine will fail to bring forth fruit. Such is the wonderful love of Jesus Christ, that just as his church is dependent on him, he has made himself dependent upon it. Without his church he cannot send the gospel to the world.GCB December 1895, page 614.10

    It is his own plan, and we should be thankful that he has conferred this high honor on us, that as indispensable as he is to us, that from him our fruit may be found, so on earth we are essential to him, that through us his fruit may be found. Brethren and sisters, consider this, until your soul bows to worship in presence of the mystery of the perfect union between Christ and the believer. It is indeed a blessed privilege to belong to the body of Christ.GCB December 1895, page 615.1

    But there is still more in this beautiful figure of the vine and the branches. All the vine possesses belongs to the branches. The riches and the sweetness which the vine draws from the soil are for the branches. It is the servant of the branches. So Jesus, to whom we owe our life, gave himself completely for us. “The glory which thou gavest me I have given them.” All his fulness is for those who believe on him. “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” Ephesians 3:20. As the vine does not live for itself, keeps nothing for itself, but exists only for the branches, so Jesus has no interests separate from his church.GCB December 1895, page 615.2

    As all the branch possesses belongs to the vine, so should all we possess belong to Christ. We should esteem it a privilege to surrender all we have to him, for we get all he has in return. Every power of our being, every moment of our life, every thought and feeling, and all our possessions, belong to Christ, that from him and for him we may bring forth fruit. As we fully realize what the vine is to the branch, and what the branch is intended to be to the vine, we will feel that we have but one thing to think of or to live for, and that is, the will, the glory, the work, and the kingdom of God. We will esteem it a happy privilege to bring forth fruit to the glory of his name.GCB December 1895, page 615.3


    It is the privilege of the church to have power with God. “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.” Acts 1:8. They to whom these words were first spoken, did receive that power. It was manifested in various ways before the world. They spoke with tongues, healed the sick, and spoke the truth with converting power. The power was not in the men nor in their organization, but it was in the Holy Ghost. Before they could have it they were obliged to tarry at Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high. This time was not spent in idle conversation, or in discussing resolutions, but in humble, earnest prayer. “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication.” Acts 1:14. They agonized before God, and confessed their sins. They asked for the Holy Spirit, and he who is more willing to give it than parents are to give good gifts to their children, heard their petitions. Neither did they think their work of asking done when they first experienced the promised power. As they met difficulties, they continued to pray for the Lord to work in their midst. “And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, by stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.” Acts 4:29-31. What was the result of this baptism of the Holy Spirit? — “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul.”GCB December 1895, page 615.4

    But what about the work of the Spirit to-day? Does not the cold formality around us call for the power of the Holy Spirit to melt it and free men from their bondage? Is it not the privilege of the church to again call upon the Lord for boldness in speaking his truth to this last generation? If signs and wonders were necessary to move men from sin at that time, are they not needed to-day? If multitudes could be moved to believe and become of one heart and mind at that time, cannot the Holy Spirit do the same work again? Are we to conclude, as did backslidden Israel, that the Lord’s hand is shortened, and his ear heavy? Listen to his answer to them, and let it be an answer to us: “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” Isaiah 59:1, 2.GCB December 1895, page 615.5

    It is as much the privilege of the church to-day to have the power that was given to the church in the days of the apostles, as it was for them to have that power. The same seeking and confessing of sin, will bring the same results. But as we are guilty of the sins spoken of by the prophet, we need not expect this power. “For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, and your tongue hath uttered perverseness. None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth.” Let us examine our hearts and see if these sins be in us.GCB December 1895, page 615.6

    Is it not time to arise and accept our privileges? Shall we not at this time believe the Lord and accept the pentecostal blessings? The power is ours, and as every energy of Satan is now being exercised to keep men in darkness, let this people to whom God has given great light, accept all their privileges in Christ Jesus.GCB December 1895, page 615.7



    Great privileges must always bring great responsibilities. This is especially so in the church of Christ. “Ye are the light of the world.... Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14, 16. From whence comes this light which the believer gives to the world? “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12. Christ is the light, and through his church he is to be seen by the world. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path,” says the psalmist. Then the only way the church of Christ can shine before the world is to give to sinners the word of truth which is able to make men wise unto salvation. But how can this be done when we ourselves are ignorant of the teaching of this word?GCB December 1895, page 616.1

    The time has now come when the following words of the prophet have a special application, “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee.” Isaiah 60:1, 2. This time of darkness was foretold by the apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 4:3: “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” At this time God holds every believer responsible for holding up the word of truth to those who are being deluded by the wiles of Satan.GCB December 1895, page 616.2

    It is not a time to argue, nor to present theories to attract men and women to ourselves. It is a time to present the straight testimony from the word of God. It is a time when we must know the Scriptures better than ever before, or God will leave us to our idols. We are on the very brink of eternity, and all around us men and women are perishing for lack of light. The Lord has given precious light through his word, yet how few are letting it shine in their lives to those around them? Brother, God is holding you responsible for the light he has sent you. Sister, there will be no excuse for you, if you are not letting the light shine to others.GCB December 1895, page 616.3

    “Take heed therefore, that the light which is in thee be not darkness.” Luke 11:35. Here is the danger. Great light has come, yet too many professors of the present time are not bodies of light. They magnify themselves, serve themselves, and worship themselves, until they are farther from the truth now than they were five or ten years ago. God made them branches in his vineyard, yet instead of producing fruit they are as dried branches, that are only fit for the furnace. Can such be saved, because their names are on the church books? — We say, No.GCB December 1895, page 616.4

    There never was a time when the heathen nations throughout the world were as anxious to receive the gospel as now. Nations that have in the past closed their doors against Christian teachers, are now asking, yes, pleading, for some one to come and teach them from the Scriptures. Who has opened these doors? — It is Christ, the true Vine, who desires his branches to bear fruit in these fields. He is soon to close up his work for sinners. He could devise other means to save these darkened minds, but we need this privilege in order to be saved ourselves. Will we accept the commission, and go forth to every nation?GCB December 1895, page 616.5

    The solemn warning given to the prophet Ezekiel is applicable to us. “When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.” Fearful responsibility! Yet God has given us a message that is to go to every kindred, nation, tongue, and people, which means that he has said unto us, as his watchmen, that we should go tell the ungodly of these nations of their sins. But are there not millions of the earth’s inhabitants that can say, You have not brought me the light? Thousands of these are hourly and daily falling into the grave without any hope, while we are enjoying the luxuries and comforts of our homes! Have we not excused ourselves long enough? Are not the responsibilities too great for us to withhold our means any longer? Are we willing to meet our responsibilities in the Judgment when we have done so little? May the Lord stir every soul to sense the times in which we live, and act as faithful stewards.GCB December 1895, page 616.6



    When Christ comes, he has promised to redeem all his faithful ones and take them to himself. How will he know them? — “I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; even every one that is called by my name; for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.” Isaiah 43:6, 7. Christ knows them because they bear his name. But what is his name? — “And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood; and his name is called THE WORD OF GOD.” Revelation 19:13. Then, if his name is to be in his body, it must be expressive of his character. That is just what the word of God does. “Righteous art thou, O Lord, and upright are thy judgments. Thy testimonies that thou hast commanded are righteous and very faithful.” Psalm 119:137, 138. He is called, “The Lord our righteousness,” because he is righteous.GCB December 1895, page 616.7

    Then in his church must be found his righteousness, if his name is there. It is not that he has a few in his church that bear his name, and have his righteousness, but each member must have this righteousness. In fact it is those that have his name and righteousness that form his church, regardless of sect or denomination. And this leads us to the question,GCB December 1895, page 617.1


    We read, “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.” Isaiah 32:17. If the work of righteousness is peace, it must be that which is in harmony with God. Peace is the opposite of rebellion, and the sinner is the one that is rebellion against God. “The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” Romans 8:7, 8. Then a carnal mind has not the peace of God, therefore cannot have Christ’s righteousness. As long as we mind the things of the flesh, “Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like,” we are not Christ’s, for we have not his spirit. His name is not found in us, and we have not his righteousness.GCB December 1895, page 617.2

    The sinner finds peace by surrendering, confessing he is wrong, and ceasing to fight against God and his truth. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.” “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1. All the past life has been forgiven, and Christ’s righteous life is placed in the place of the sinner’s past rebellious life, and he is counted righteous. This is Christ manifested in and for the sinner.GCB December 1895, page 617.3

    But how is he manifested through the believer? Here is where many are deceived. They think because they have confessed their past sins, and have been justified, that it makes but little difference how they live in the future, if they only profess to be justified by faith. Such may be as far from having Christ manifested through them as the heathen who know not the first principles of justification.GCB December 1895, page 617.4

    “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Romans 14:17. If the kingdom and the king are righteous, what must the subjects be?GCB December 1895, page 617.5

    “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens, and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” 2 Peter 3:13. Where do they get this righteousness? — “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.” Isaiah 61:10.GCB December 1895, page 617.6

    Righteousness is right doing, and he who has it does right. “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.” 1 John 3:7. The Syriac version reads, “he that doeth righteousness, is righteous, as the Messiah also is righteous.” It is not he that professeth righteousness, but he that doeth righteousness. But Jesus said, “there is none good but one, that is, God.” Then no one can do righteousness but God. How then can man be required to do that which he is unable to do? Ah, here is where Christ is manifested in his church. The righteousness which man must have must have come from outside of himself. He must be made into another person. And here is the test as to whether Christ is manifested through us. The apostle says, “If so be that ye have heard him [Christ], and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: that ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Ephesians 4:21-24.GCB December 1895, page 617.7

    This recreated man must have a new life entirely different from his old life. But as we have already seen, God alone is good. His life is goodness itself. He is all righteousness. We are admonished to “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.” Then it is something that comes from God, and how? Of Christ it is said, he is made unto us “wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” Then it is the life of God lived in us by Jesus Christ that makes our lives righteous. And this is what Paul declared of himself. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now 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. This is Christ manifested through the church.GCB December 1895, page 617.8

    Brethren, have you thus received Christ? Or are you trusting to your own works of righteousness to recommend Christ to the world? Is it not time for the people who profess to have the last message, to come up on higher grounds? He says, “They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.” Psalm 34:10. The great Shepherd will see that his people lack nothing; no good thing will he withhold from them. “My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19. We may boldly, then, cast all our care upon him, since he careth for us, and may rest assured of his managing our whole outward estate infinitely better than we could for ourselves.GCB December 1895, page 618.1

    With Christ thus manifested through each believer, legal duties become Christian privileges. It will no longer be a task to attend prayer-meeting and Sabbath-school, or to give of our means to sustain the gospel. Christ working in our heart leads us to the place of worship by saying, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Two or three believers with Christ in their midst, make a church that all the powers of Satan cannot pull down.GCB December 1895, page 618.2

    Through the church where Christ is manifested, the gifts of the Spirit will be seen. “These signs shall follow them that believe.” God wants to manifest himself to the world through “the branches,” in the gifts of healing and miracles. Will we accept our privileges? Will we put away sin and stand in Christ’s righteousness? Will we accept all his promises and through them become partakers of the divine nature? Will we at this time, during this week of prayer, seek for the baptism of the Holy Ghost, and thus be fitted to be his witnesses to the world? May the God of all grace help us that it may be so.GCB December 1895, page 618.3

    J. H. DURLAND.

    Larger font
    Smaller font